Australia Deepens Defense Ties with India Amid Growing Concerns Over China

By strengthening ties with India, Australia is working to create a united front capable of addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by China's actions.

Australia is making strategic moves to strengthen its defence relationships with key partners in the Indo-Pacific region. This shift, aimed at countering China’s rising influence and assertive actions, underscores Australia’s commitment to regional security and stability. Recent statements by Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles highlight this strategic pivot, emphasising deeper ties with India among other regional players.

Expanding Defense Relationships

At the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Richard Marles outlined Australia’s expanded defence relationships with nations such as India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian partners. Deputy PM Marles emphasised that these relationships have never been stronger, reflecting a collective effort to bolster regional resilience.

Deputy PM Richard Marles at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore: Image Source; X @RichardMarlesMP
Deputy PM Richard Marles at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore: Image Source; X @RichardMarlesMP

“A strong multilateral dimension is crucial,” Marles noted, underscoring the significance of ASEAN in this regional strategy. He also highlighted the importance of the global rules-based order, which he described as a 200-year project aimed at creating an open and inclusive global system.

“The global rules-based order is not a just a device – as some would cynically suggest – to protect the prerogatives of great powers and to prevent the rise of new ones. Rather, at its core is a two-hundred-year project to build a global system that is open and inclusive,”

Defence Minister Marles said.
- Advertisement -

Strengthening the Indo-Pacific Alliance

India stands out as one of Australia’s most critical Indo-Pacific partners. Robust people-to-people links and close governmental cooperation mark the relationship between the two nations. This partnership is part of a broader strategy to manage the strategic challenges posed by China’s actions in the region.

Marles’ comments on China’s aggressive behaviour in the West Philippine Sea and its stance towards Taiwan further underline the urgency of this cooperation. He called the actions by Chinese vessels, including the use of water cannons and ramming of Philippine vessels, a “serious escalation of tensions” that is inconsistent with international law.

Deputy PM Richard Marles at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore: Image Source; X @RichardMarlesMP
Deputy PM Richard Marles at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore: Image Source; X @RichardMarlesMP

“China’s behaviour towards Taiwan sparks similar concerns,” Marles added, pointing out that PLA exercises simulating attacks and blockades of Taiwan do not inspire confidence in a peaceful resolution. He stressed the importance of China demonstrating its commitment to sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is consistent with the principles of the UN Charter.

He said,

“The Australian Navy has also experienced recent unsafe and unprofessional behaviour by the PLA Navy and the PLA Air Force. I want to stress that the great bulk of the PLA’s interaction with the ADF are safe and professional.”

“But the size and speed of PLA development means that interaction is occurring much more frequently. And activities that the ADF has conducted in the region for decades, safely and consistent with international law, are increasingly contested by the PLA,” he added.

The Role of the United States

Australia’s deepening alliance with the United States is a cornerstone of its defence strategy. Enhanced force posture cooperation in Australia and recent US force posture enhancements in Japan and the Philippines signify a coordinated effort to counterbalance China’s influence. This cooperation extends beyond bilateral ties to a broader network of partnerships to ensure regional stability.

- Advertisement -

Minister Marles emphasised that trust in Chinese intent is crucial for maintaining the global rules-based order and building a stable Indo-Pacific region. He pointed to recent unsafe interactions between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), including incidents in the East China Sea, as examples of China’s increasingly assertive military posture.

Regional Implications and Future Outlook

Australia’s strategic realignment is about responding to immediate threats and shaping a sustainable and secure regional order. By strengthening ties with India and other regional players, Australia is working to create a united front capable of addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by China’s actions.

The emphasis on multilateralism, respect for international law, and collaborative security initiatives is central to this approach. The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue serves as a vital platform for these discussions, bringing together leaders from across the globe to address pressing security issues and promote regional stability.

As Australia navigates the complexities of the Indo-Pacific region, its deepening defence ties with India and other regional partners reflect a strategic commitment to managing the threats posed by China’s assertive actions. This multifaceted approach, rooted in cooperation and respect for international norms, aims to ensure the region’s stable and prosperous future.

Australia’s proactive stance, underscored by recent statements from Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, highlights the importance of building a resilient regional security framework in an era of growing geopolitical challenges.

Support Our Journalism

‘Global Indian Diaspora and Australia’s multicultural communities need fair, non-hyphenated, and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. The Australia Today – with exceptional reporters, columnists, and editors – is doing just that. Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, or India you can take a paid subscription by clicking Patreon and support honest and fearless journalism.