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Dialogue a guardrail to avert disaster amid US-China rivalry

Chen Dongxiao    source:The Straits Times

Australia’s defence policies have drawn global attention, as it acquires its first nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus pact with Britain and the US, and implements plans to build a stronger armed forces.

Mr Albanese said Canberra’s latest defence investments were “an investment in regional stability”.

“Multilateral institutions are essential to writing the rules and keeping them relevant. But reinforcing the rules and upholding them depends on our capability as well.”

Dr Chen Dongxiao, president of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and a delegate at the summit, agreed that constructive dialogue is vital to building trust and reducing the risk of miscalculations between China and the US.

“It takes two to tango, and both sides need to take further steps… But talking for the sake of talking won’t make a difference, particularly on the Taiwan issue,” he said.

“The guardrail, if any, is about whether and how the ‘one China’ principle would be observed… For the objective of regional stability and peace, it would be critical for Washington to reassure Beijing that it will continue to observe the fundamentals in good faith of the ‘one China’ principle.”

Dr William Choong, a senior fellow at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, said he saw Australia’s security frameworks such as Aukus starting to gain some traction among Asian nations in terms of their ability to deter and reassure.

But from Beijing’s view, he said, “there is a very fine line that separates deterrence and potential escalation”.

“The Chinese will see it as tantamount to provocation, set in the broader context of containment of China. And it is highly unlikely that Mr Albanese’s comments, which are totally rational and pragmatic, will go down well with the Chinese.”