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Asia Minute: Australia’s Strategic Future Means More Submarines


As home to the U.S. Pacific Command, Hawai‘i is a critical part of U.S. military strategy when it comes to the Asia Pacific. Another big player in the region has come out with its latest strategic plans—and some themes sound familiar. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Australia plans to double the size of its submarine fleet to a dozen over the next two decades.  The country also wants to add three destroyers, nine anti-submarine ships and a dozen patrol boats… at a total cost of more than $40-billion.  It’s all part of a 20-year strategic plan to modernize Australia’s military and deal with potential threats including those in the South China Sea.

The United States is Australia’s closest military ally… while China is the country’s largest trading partner.  So far, Australia has not followed the US example of sailing military ships through the South China Sea near territorial claims made by China.

But Australia’s defense minister told a national television audience that the South China Sea is “a point of difference” between China and Australia.  A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry immediately responded to the government white paper saying, “it mentions Australia is willing to enhance cooperation with China, China welcomes that and hopes it can translate these positive statements into concrete actions.”  She continued, “We also noticed that this white paper made some remarks about South China Sea and East China Sea. These remarks are negative and we are dissatisfied about this.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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