Australia and Asia’s Maritime Disputes: Continuity amidst Chaos

For a relatively distant country with no territorial claims, Australia has been a remarkably vocal presence around the East and South China Sea disputes. Canberra issued arguably the strongest rebuke of any capital when it called in the Chinese ambassador and released a robust public statement following Beijing’s November 2013 declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over disputed islands in the East China Sea.1 In May 2014, at the most heated gathering to date of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the Australian defense minister literally stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his American and Japanese counterparts in condemning China’s “unwarranted” and “damaging” unilateral behavior in the East and South China seas.2 Prime Minister Tony Abbott used even stronger language in June 2015 when he stated bluntly that Australia “deplores” unilateral action that would alter the status quo in the South China Sea.3 During the 2014-2015 period, Australia also reportedly began increasing military surveillance flights over the South China Sea, much to the chagrin of the Chinese government.4


When Malcolm Turnbull became the twenty-ninth prime minister of Australia in September 2015 following a “bloodless coup” to depose Abbott, speculation was rife that this development would bring about nothing short of a sea change in Australia’s relations with Asia’s major powers and, consequently, in its approach towards this region’s maritime disputes. The prominent Australian defense intellectual Hugh White observed that Turnbull believes that the rise of Asia “will inevitably drive major changes in the way the world works,” but that he “does not assume that America has necessarily worked out how best to respond to this challenge” and “certainly doesn’t buy [the] idea of muscling up to China militarily.” White went on to note that Turnbull exhibits a “deep curiosity about China…simply because he seems to see it as the most interesting, as well as perhaps the most important, place in the world today.”5 Turnbull’s ascendency, thus, caused some in the Australian business community to salivate. Billionaire James Packer, for instance, has reportedly predicted that “Turnbull will lead Australia towards its economic destiny because he understands China and its importance.”6 Indeed, such concerns had also allegedly generated anxieties within the US intelligence community that the new prime minister is dangerously “soft” on China.7


Prediction is an inevitably perilous exercise, especially so when it comes to Australian prime ministers. As Michael Wesley documents in his highly acclaimed book The Howard Paradox, initial expectations that the prime ministership of John Howard would irreparably damage Australia’s standing in Asia failed to be proven true. Instead, Howard presided over what amounted to a “golden decade” in Australia’s engagement with this region.8 Similarly, speculation that Howard’s successor, the mandarin-speaking Kevin Rudd, would essentially be a “Manchurian candidate” given his longstanding scholarly interest and diplomatic experience in China also never were confirmed by reality. Instead, Rudd was ultimately revealed to be a self-described “brutal realist” on China, who was prepared to publicly raise such sensitive issues as Beijing’s human rights practices and whose government produced a defense white paper widely considered to be Australia’s most confrontational thus far in relation to that country.9


In truth, as these examples illustrate, it remains far too early to judge in any definitive sense whether the Turnbull government will chart a markedly different course for Australia in its relations with Asia’s major powers and, in turn, in Canberra’s approach towards the East and South China sea disputes. That said, while there will almost certainly be a change in the tone of Australia’s foreign policy away from that adopted by the divisive and sometimes abrasive Tony Abbott, this article argues that the initial months of the Turnbull government suggest that there is likely to be a greater level of continuity than change when it comes to the substance of Canberra’s approach towards Asia’s maritime disputes. Indeed, barring a handful of temporary policy oscillations, the case is made that the trajectory of Australia’s approach towards Asia’s major powers more broadly has actually remained remarkably consistent for the better part of two decades. Several sources of continuity identified in the concluding section strongly suggest that it will remain so under Turnbull’s watch.


Turnbull and China

Commentators predicting that Canberra will tilt toward China under a Turnbull government point to a range of factors. Reference is often made, for instance, to the new prime minister’s deep and longstanding business ties with the “middle kingdom,” which date back to investments in the Chinese mining industry during the 1980s.10 Commentators also observe that Turnbull has consistently advocated a reversal of the ban imposed against involvement of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in Australia’s National Broadband Network. This ban was put in place in 2012 under the Labor government of Julia Gillard, based reportedly upon advice received from intelligence agencies raising concerns as to the close relationship between Huawei and the Chinese government.11 Turnbull’s speeches prior to becoming prime minister have also been dissected for evidence of a bias toward Beijing. One oft-cited example is an August 2015 address delivered to the Australia-China business forum in which he made reference to China’s role as a “staunch, indefatigable ally” of Australia during the Second World War.12 Last, but not least, commentators have pointed to Turnbull’s family ties with Beijing, by way of his son’s marriage to a Chinese national whose family reportedly has links to the Communist Party.13


It came as somewhat of a surprise, therefore, when Turnbull used his first major televised interview on the subject of foreign policy to accuse Beijing of “pushing the envelope” in the South China Sea and of generating regional “resistance” as a result of its activities there. In answer to a question during the same interview regarding the “greatest threat to world peace,” Turnbull made direct reference to China as a challenge requiring “careful diplomacy” and “balancing.” As the respected Australian journalist John Garnaut (who has since become Turnbull’s senior media advisor and speechwriter) observed at the time, in so doing, Turnbull became “the only Australian prime minister to publicly articulate a ‘balancing’ and ‘resistance’ strategy toward China. Not even Abbott managed to do that.”14


Subsequent statements confirmed that these opening salvos were by no means an aberration. In a similar vein, new defense minister Marise Payne used her first public remarks to make clear that “Australia continues to strongly oppose the use of intimidation, of aggression or coercion to advance any country’s claims or to unilaterally alter the status quo.” Payne went on to observe that “the government does remain concerned about the destabilizing impact of land reclamation activities in the South China Sea.”15 Turnbull reportedly delivered the same message when he met with Prime Minister Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the November 2015 East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, cautioning his Chinese counterpart as to the perils of Beijing’s “counterproductive” behavior in the South China Sea and the larger danger of falling into Thucydides’ trap in a reference to the Peloponnesian Wars—an historical episode Turnbull is fond of invoking as evidenced by the fact that he employed it most recently during a high profile address to Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in January 2016.16


To be sure, during the early months of the Turnbull administration there have also been some hints of moderation in Canberra’s dealings with Beijing, particularly in relation to the South China Sea disputes. In the immediate aftermath of the “freedom of navigation” exercise undertaken by the USS Lassen in October 2015, for instance, Canberra opted to proceed with an already scheduled joint exercise with the Chinese navy. And while the Turnbull government publicly supported the principle of freedom of navigation underpinning the US exercise, it refrained from diverting its frigates to undertake a similar operation on route to or from the Chinese port of Zhanjiang for fear of insulting its Chinese hosts.17


Some commentators subsequently questioned whether Turnbull’s opposition to Chinese activities in the South China Sea may ultimately be more rhetorical than real. In a hard-hitting opinion piece intended as an obvious slight on the Turnbull approach, Tim Huxley and Ben Schreer pointed out that “simply hoping China will stop its efforts to alter the rules-based order in Asia or that others will do the job is not good strategy.” In their view, “Australia needs to think about its strategic interests and decide what costs it would be prepared to incur in standing up to China.”18


Adding further substance to such arguments, a somewhat unusual episode occurred in December 2015 when Canberra and Beijing held their annual “Defense Strategic Dialogue,” which was used as an opportunity to formally upgrade the Australia-China bilateral relationship to the status of a “comprehensive strategic partnership.” Interestingly, while Chinese media were invited to attend events organized around the talks, Australian journalists were given no prior notification and reportedly ended up learning of the dialogue’s outcomes from a media release prepared by the Australian Department of Defense that was sent to the Chinese Embassy and distributed from there to Chinese media outlets.19 That said, while the initial release suggested that the talks had been “candid and friendly,” reports emerged during the ensuing days that a “direct and blunt” exchange over Beijing’s South China Sea policies had also occurred during the course of the dialogue.20


On balance, therefore, rather than reflecting any noticeable tilt towards China, the course of Canberra-Beijing relations during the early months of the Turnbull tenure would instead appear to have followed a similar pattern to that of successive Australian governments over the previous two decades. Indeed, the same Gillard Labor government which implemented the Huawei ban also worked with Beijing to upgrade the bilateral relationship to the status of a “strategic partnership,” which would include annual leaders’ meetings and twice-yearly cabinet-level strategic dialogues.21 On the South China Sea, Gillard’s foreign minister Bob Carr took a decidedly moderate line in a well received speech at the Australian National University in August 2012 when arguing that “it can often be better for parties to ‘agree to disagree’ about who owns what and to focus on how all parties can benefit.”22 Likewise, the hawkish Abbott administration presided over the conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China—a process initiated by Abbott’s pro-American mentor John Howard a decade earlier. As discussed below, the Abbott government also sought membership in the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the face of strong American opposition. Far from being the aberration that many commentators were predicting, the early months of the Turnbull government, thus, appear entirely consistent with the conventional Australian approach to China policy.


Turnbull and Japan

While Canberra-Tokyo ties improved steadily through the 1990s, during the period since they have arguably been the most inconsistent of any of Australia’s relationships with Asia’s major powers. During the last year of the Howard government in 2007, for instance, Canberra tilted sharply towards Tokyo as a new “joint declaration” on security was reached, which Howard, reportedly, would have preferred to have been a fully-fledged alliance treaty.23 The relationship moved in the opposite direction during the Rudd government as the new prime minister bypassed Tokyo completely in favor of China on his first overseas trip and took Japan to the International Court of Justice over its illegal whaling practices. The relationship thawed considerably during the Gillard prime ministership, particularly as a consequence of her being the first world leader “on the ground” in Japan following the “triple disaster” of March 2011. Canberra-Tokyo ties then accelerated considerably under Abbott, who controversially described Japan as a “strong ally” and as Australia’s “best friend in Asia.”24 With Japan’s longstanding arms export ban relaxed, Abbott was also said to be strongly in favor of procuring Australia’s next generation of submarines from Japan in what affectionately came to be known in Canberra as “Option J.”25


Along what might be termed the Abbott-Rudd continuum of relations with Japan, there had been early speculation that Turnbull would gravitate closer to the Rudd end of the spectrum. Again, some of this speculation stems from the analysis of Turnbull’s speeches prior to his becoming prime minister. During his aforementioned August 2015 address in which he referred to China as an historical Australian ally, for instance, Turnbull’s remarks were “diplomatically offending” to Tokyo in the eyes of some commentators. As a critical editorial carried in the Australian Financial Review observed, “Turnbull offered no balancing remarks citing China’s unilateral attempts to claim disputed territory in international waters, the military expansion that has precipitated a regional arms race, or its intelligence conflicts with the West, which are the most heated since the Cold War.”26 Others suggested that Canberra-Tokyo ties would inevitably stall simply because Turnbull does not have the same close personal connection that Howard had with his Japanese counterpart Koizumi Junichiro or that Abbott shared with Abe Shinzo.27


Although still very much early, the first few months of the Turnbull tenure have looked anything but Rudd-like when it comes to Japan. The “two-plus-two” talks involving the Australian and Japanese foreign and defense ministers that were held in late November 2015, for instance, resulted in a further deepening of the bilateral security relationship, including greater cooperation on maritime security and “a closer trilateral relationship with the United States amid continuing tensions in the South and East China seas.”28 Perhaps even more significant, and unlike Rudd, Turnbull chose Japan for one of his first major overseas trips following visits to New Zealand and Indonesia. Interestingly, the joint statement resulting from the Abe-Turnbull meeting of December 2015 made specific mention of Asia’s maritime disputes, making clear the strong opposition of both to “coercive or unilateral actions” and calling for a halt to “large-scale land reclamation.”29 Unsurprisingly, these outcomes of Turnbull’s Tokyo trip were not well received in the Chinese media, which accused the new prime minister of favoring Japan and America over Beijing.30


Turnbull and the United States

If Australia’s relationship with Japan has ostensibly been its most inconsistent with an Asian major power, then one might have expected ties between Canberra and Washington to have been its most steady and enduring. Australian forces have fought alongside those of the United States in every major conflict since the First World War. Successive prime ministers have characterized the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States) alliance as Australia’s most important strategic relationship. Speaking before both houses of the US Congress in March 2011, for instance, Gillard famously declared, “Australia is an ally for all the years to come.”31 Since the early 1990s Australian public support for the alliance has also been exceptionally strong. Polling conducted by the Lowy Institute for International Policy in 2015, for instance, put public support for the alliance at 80 percent;32 however, when it came to Asia’s maritime disputes, another poll conducted earlier the same year indicated that 71 percent of Australians would opt to stay out of an East China Sea conflict, even if the United States were to become involved militarily.33


Such contradictory polling results may simply be the product of a largely uninformed public on matters of foreign policy. They might also reflect the fact that the US-Australia alliance has become the subject of intensifying public debate in recent years driven in large part by prominent former politicians and senior officials. Former foreign minister Bob Carr, for instance, has argued that the treaty upon which the alliance is based does not amount to an “automatic call to arms,” but that it is, rather, “an invitation to consult.” In his view, therefore, Australian interests dictate that Canberra is better off maintaining a position of neutrality in relation to Asia’s maritime disputes.34


Based again upon speeches he had delivered prior to assuming the prime ministership, some commentators speculated that a Turnbull government might exhibit similar tendencies. In a September 2014 speech that has been interpreted as reflecting his support for a Carr-like position of Australian neutrality, for instance, Turnbull observed that he made no judgment on the merits of the competing claims in the East and South China seas and that Canberra’s “interest is simply in their peaceful resolution.” In Turnbull’s view “a real risk is that an incident at sea escalates, drawing in the United States with unpredictable consequences.”35 Consistent with these remarks, several years previous Turnbull had observed—only a matter of weeks following President Obama’s historic first visit “down under”—that Australia needed to be wary “not to allow a doe-eyed fascination with the leader of the free world to distract from the reality that our national interest requires us truly (and not just rhetorically) to maintain both an ally in Washington and a good friend in Beijing.”36


An episode that occurred early in Turnbull’s tenure seemed to confirm that his government would seek a greater degree of independence from the United States than had its predecessors. In October it emerged that the local government of the Northern Territory had agreed to lease for a period of 99 years a commercial port in Darwin to a Chinese company, Landbridge, which allegedly had links to the Chinese Communist Party. While the Australian Department of Defense had been consulted and given the leasing arrangement the “all clear” to go ahead, Washington was particularly disgruntled by the fact that it had not been briefed in advance and that the subject had not even been raised at the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), which had been held in Boston during the same month.


Washington’s concerns regarding the Landbridge lease stemmed primarily from the fact that US air and marine forces have a growing presence in the north of Australia that constitutes a central element of the Obama administration’s “rebalance” to Asia. Andrew Krepinevich summarized the mood in Washington with his observation that the deal “threaten[ed] to undermine Australia’s relations with its closest security partner, the United States.”37 Consistent with this observation, reports later emerged that senior American and Australian defense officials were engaged in “emergency talks” regarding the Darwin Port leasing and over Canberra’s reluctance to adopt a stronger position in response to China’s South China Sea activities.38 Turnbull responded to such concerns both by making light of the saga and by reassuring critics that the Australian Defense Force would be in a position to legitimately reassert control over the Port of Darwin in the event of a crisis. These reassurances notwithstanding, Obama reportedly reaffirmed American concerns and when he and Turnbull met for ninety minutes on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in November 2015 asked that Canberra “let us know next time”.39


A survey of recent Australian governments reveals that such public displays of criticism have become a more regular feature of the alliance in recent years and that they are not limited to the Turnbull tenure. Indeed, somewhat surprisingly, a number of similar episodes surfaced during the tenure of the avowedly pro-American Tony Abbott. In June 2014, for example, Abbott’s defense minister David Johnston stated during a live television interview his belief that the ANZUS treaty would not commit Australia to an East China Sea contingency where the United States had deployed forces in support of Japan.40 This particular episode drew comparisons with another a decade earlier, when Foreign Minister Alexander Downer suggested, while visiting China, that ANZUS would not necessarily apply in the context of a Taiwan Strait contingency, generating some concern in Washington that Canberra may be softening on the alliance.41 Abbott himself then defied American protestations in April 2015 when Australia formally applied for membership in the Chinese-led AIIB. Further tensions were apparent the following month, when the Abbott government swiftly and vigorously denied spontaneous statements made by a senior US official suggesting that B-1 bombers would be coming to Australia to deter Chinese coercion in the South China Sea.42


Ultimately, successive Australian governments have been able to navigate through such alliance difficulties by making clear their commitment to the bilateral relationship and by consistently reaffirming its paramount importance to Canberra relative to any other such strategic tie. While it remains early in his government and while some commentators continue to hold out for the possibility that Turnbull will ultimately pursue a more independent line in relation to the alliance,43 all indications, thus far, point in the opposite direction. The communiqué resulting from the October 2015 AUSMIN, for instance, was hard hitting on China’s land reclamation activities in the South China Sea, explicitly referring to these for the first time in the history of those meetings. This development did not go unnoticed in Beijing, which issued a sharp rebuke of its own in return.44 Similarly, and in contrast to the Port of Darwin debacle, the Turnbull government in November 2015 rejected a Chinese bid to purchase the historic Kidman cattle empire in South Australia, reportedly due to national security concerns given that a portion of this property is home to the Woomera weapons testing range.45 Perhaps most importantly, Turnbull’s first prime ministerial visit to the United States in January 2016 was widely interpreted as one reflecting a reaffirmation of the importance of American power and of the alliance to Australia.46


Sources of Continuity

Contrary to initial predictions, therefore, Australia under a Turnbull government has not tilted sharply toward Beijing, relations with Tokyo have not stalled, nor has significant daylight opened up between Washington and Canberra as a result of the new prime minister charting a more independent foreign policy course. Instead, the early months of the Turnbull tenure have exhibited a much greater degree of continuity with recent Australian governments than many commentators were anticipating. While it remains early days, Turnbull has, thus far, pursued what might be termed an “engage and hedge” strategy toward rising China, as did the Abbott, Gillard, Rudd, and Howard governments before him. While reaching out to Beijing, he has simultaneously continued to keep Tokyo close by both broadening and deepening Australia-Japan security ties, as his predecessors—with the possible exception of Rudd—had also done. Indications, thus far, are that a Turnbull government will continue the long tradition of viewing the ANZUS alliance as the central pillar of Australian foreign and strategic policy.


All of this, in turn, points toward continuity in Canberra’s approach towards Asia’s maritime disputes. The involvement of some of the same senior officials across successive Australian governments—such as the respected defense secretary Dennis Richardson—and of the influential foreign minister Julie Bishop—who will almost certainly act as an important bridge across the Abbott and Turnbull periods—provides one obvious source of continuity. Australia also has a series of enduring interests that will likely see Canberra remain a prominent non-claimant in Asia’s maritime disputes. A significant proportion of Australian trade, for instance, passes through the waters of the East and South China seas. As a middle power, Australia also has an oft-stated commitment to a rules-based international order and, thus, opposes coercive policies such as those pursued by China over recent years in Asia’s contested waters. Perhaps most important of all, however, Australia has a longstanding interest in a stable Asian balance of power. While recognizing that it lacks the requisite strategic weight to directly impact that balance, Canberra has for decades now behaved in ways that are consistent with keeping its relations with Asia’s major powers on an even keel.47 Notwithstanding the political turbulence that has been a feature of the Australian political landscape for almost a decade now due to repeated prime ministerial changes, this balanced approach looks set to continue during the Turnbull tenure.

1. Nick Bisley, “ADIZ: Australia right to speak plainly,” The Interpreter, November 28, 2013, (accessed January 18, 2016).

2. Robert Ayson, “Japan steals the show at the Shangri-La Dialogue,” East Asia Forum, June 13, 2014, (accessed 18 January 18, 2016).

3. James Massola and John Garnaut, “Australia ‘deplores’ unilateral action in South China Sea,” Sydney Morning Herald, June 29, 2015, (accessed January 18, 2016).

4. David Wroe and Philip Wen, “South China Sea: Australia steps up air patrols in defiance of Beijing,” Sydney Morning Herald, December 15, 2015, (accessed January 18, 2016).

5. Hugh White, “What a Turnbull-led foreign policy might look like,” The Interpreter, February 8, 2015, (accessed  January 18, 2016).

6. Cited in John Garnaut, “Malcolm Turnbull changes direction on foreign policy: China trumps the Islamic State death cult,” Sydney Morning Herald, September 24, 2015, (accessed  January 18, 2016).

7. Christopher Joye, “Liberal Leadership: Malcolm Turnbull the most gifted PM since Menzies,” Australian Financial Review, (accessed January 18, 2016).

8. Michael Welsey, The Howard Paradox: Australian Diplomacy in Asia 1996-2006 (Sydney, NSW: ABC Books, 2007).

9. Michelle Grattan, “Rudd stands by China comments,” Sydney Morning Herald, December 7, 2010, (accessed January 13, 2016).

10. Peter Cai, “Malcolm Turnbull well placed to meet China challenge,” The Australian, September 16, 2015, (accessed January 19, 2016).

11. See Australian Centre on China in the World, “Huawei,” The Australia-China Story, (accessed January 19, 2016).

12. Malcolm Turnbull MP, “ChAFTA and rebalancing of Chinese and Australian economies: Speech to Australia-China Business Forum” (speech, Australia-China Business Week, Sydney, August 6, 2015), (accessed January 19, 2016).

13. John Garnaut, “Is Malcolm Turnbull ‘soft’ on China because of his family connections?” Sydney Morning Herald, September 15, 2015, (accessed January 19, 2016).

14. Garnaut, “Malcolm Turnbull changes direction on foreign policy.”

15. David Wroe, “Marise Payne: Australia will oppose ‘intimidation’ and ‘aggression’ in veiled warning to China,” Sydney Morning Herald, October 7, 2015 (accessed January 19, 2016).

16. Phillip Coorey, “PM warns China risks isolation,” Australian Financial Review, November 23, 2015, 1; and Prime Minister, “Australia and the United States: New Responsibilities for an Enduring Partnership,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC, January 18, 2016,  (accessed January 21, 2016).

17. Brendan Nicholson, “Aussie frigates join China in live-fire exercise,” The Australian, October 29, 2015, 4.

18. Ben Schreer and Tim Huxley, “Standing up to China is essential, even if costly,” The Australian, December 21, 2015, 12.

19. Brendan Nicholson, “Top brass strengthens military ties with China,” The Australian, December 2, 2015, 1.

20. David Wroe, “Australian, Chinese officials’ tough talk,” Sydney Morning Herald, December 3, 2015, 14.

21. Linda Jakobson, “Breakthrough: Australia and China set to announce strategic partnership,” The Interpreter, April 9, 2013, (accessed January 19, 2016).

22. Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs, “Dr Lee Seng Tee,” (speech, Australian National University, August  21,2012), (accessed January 19, 2015).

23. Hugh White, “An Australia-Japan alliance?” Centre of Gravity Series, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University (December 2012): 3.

24. Graeme Dobell, “The Abbott Strategic Trifecta: Japan as ‘strong ally,’” The Strategist, December 17, 2013, (accessed January 21, 2016).

25. Graeme Dobell, “Tony Abbott and a Japanese sub,” The Strategist, May 25, 2015, (accessed January 21, 2016).

26. “Turnbull’s China challenge over trade v. security,” Australian Financial Review, September 18, 2015, 7.

27. Malcolm Cook, “Malcolm Turnbull and bilateral relations with Japan,” The Interpreter, September 16, 2015, (accessed January 21, 2016).

28. Brendan Nicholson, “Defense ties with Japan to deepen,” The Australian, November 23, 2015, 6.

29. David Wroe, “Push back against China in disputed waters,” Sydney Morning Herald, December 19, 2015, 9.

30. Primrose Riordan, ‘Turnbull’s visit favours Japan: Chinese media,” Australian Financial Review, December 21, 2015, 6.

31. “Julia Gillard’s speech to Congress,” Sydney Morning Herald, March 10, 2011, (accessed January 24, 2016).

32. Alex Oliver, The Lowy Institute Poll 2015, Lowy Institute for International Policy, June 2015, 9, (accessed January 24, 2016).

33. Rowan Callick, “’Don’t take sides’ in China-Japan Islands Conflict, says survey,” The Australian, January 6, 2015, (accessed January 24, 2016).

34. Bob Carr, “ANZUS call to arms would fail the pub test,” Sydney Morning Herald, November 4, 2014, (accessed January 24, 2016).

35. Malcolm Turnbull MP, “More than a mine, more than a market – history, empathy, economics in the China relationship,” Speech to NAB Australia-China Business Week, Sydney, September 5, 2014, (accessed January 24, 2016).

36. Malcolm Turnbull MP, “Launch of 2011 PWC/Melbourne Institute Asialink Index” (speech, November 28, 2011), (accessed January 24, 2016).

37. Andrew F. Krepinevich, “Darwin port deal with China’s Landbridge group an unforced error” The Australian, November 17, 2015, (accessed January 24, 2016).

38. Lisa Murray, “US in talks on Darwin Port,” Australian Financial Review, December 4, 2015, 3.

39. Phillip Coorey and Laura Tingle, ‘“Let us know next time: how Obama chided Turnbull over Darwin Port sale,” Australian Financial Review, November 19, 2015, (accessed  January 24, 2016).

40. “Australia supports Japan’s return to ‘normal defense posture,’” Lateline, June 12, 2014, (accessed January 24, 2016).

41. Greg Sheridan, “Taiwan gaffe puts delicate balance at risk,” The Australian, August 21, 2004, 31.

42. Hugh White, “B-1 Bombers Brouhaha: Minor Dispute, Big Rift,” The Age, May 19, 2015, (accessed January 24, 2016).

43. See, for example, Hugh White, “Turnbull in Washington: a missed opportunity,” The Interpreter, January 19, 2016, (accessed January 24, 2016).

44. Greg Sheridan, “Hint of a challenge to China,” The Australian, October 17, 2015, 24.

45. Brendan Nicholson, “Darwin’s profit our loss?” The Australian, December 18, 2015, 11.

46. See, for example, Tom Switzer, “Malcolm Turnbull the clear eyed realist,” Australian Financial Review, January 19, 2016, (accessed January 24, 2016).

47. For further reading see Hedley Bull, “Australia and the Great Powers in Asia,” in Australia in World Affairs 1966-1970, eds. Gordon Greenwood and Norman Harper (Melbourne: F.W. Cheshire, 1974), 325-352.