Australia sees dynamics behind military spend
Australia's defence minister denied that the country was massively boosting military spending solely because of China's emergence as a global power.
Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon unveiled plans Saturday to spend more than 70 billion US dollars in the next 20 years boosting Australia's military capability.
Fitzgibbon said the move was prompted by global power shifts which meant that, while the United States would remain the world's dominant power, other countries would take on a more significant role.
"It's not about China necessarily," he told Channel Nine television when asked if Australia was over-reacting to Beijing's rise.
Fitzgibbon said shifting power dynamics meant more uncertainty and Australia, a strong US ally, had to be prepared to defend itself.
"We do think that there will be a number of other powers floating about, China and India for example, the re-emergence of Russia," he said.
"It's natural that that sort of change can, and probably will, lead to strategic competition and maybe strategic tension, which in turn can turn into miscalculation.
"This country is determined to ensure that we are ready for any such contingencies.
"That's why we're substantially increasing our military capability so that we can defend this nation without necessarily relying on the armed forced of any other nation state."
Fitzgibbon confirmed that Canberra sent the author of Australia's military spending plan, Mike Pezzullo, to Beijing to brief the Chinese on Australia's intentions and explain the strategic thinking behind the move.
But he denied reports that the Chinese were unimpressed with Australia's plans and had told Pezzullo Canberra was aligning itself too closely with the United States.
The author of Australia's last major defence review, Hugh White, who now works at privately funded foreign policy think tank the Lowy Institute, said the latest review, or white paper, was clearly prompted by China's rise.
"One of the important things about this white paper is that it puts the Asia-Pacific region -- and the way it changes as China grows -- right at the centre of the government's approach to defence," he told ABC television.
White said he did not believe China was a direct threat to Australia but its rise could create instability in the region.
"I think we need to move away from a narrow focus on the China threat and think more broadly about the kind of region we're living in and what role we as Australians ought to be trying to play," he said.
Under the plan, Canberra will acquire long-range cruise missiles, double its submarine fleet to 12 and buy 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets and eight new warships.