Australia's Strategic Edge in 2030
This report analyses the dramatic changes anticipated in Australia's security environment by 2030 and the best options for Australia in response. The most fundamental changes are being caused by the nature, scale and speed of China's military expansion. China is rapidly deploying a range of very advanced military capabilities that, for the first time since the Second World War, challenge the Western allies' superiority and freedom of action in the Western Pacific. China is starting to contest the Western allies' operational sanctuary in space, the security of their main operational bases in the Western Pacific, the security of their naval vessels at sea, the security of Western Pacific airspace and the security of allied surveillance, situational awareness, logistic and other information networks. These developments, and those anticipated during the coming 20 years, threaten many of Australia's key security interests and they pose numerous dilemmas for Australia's security decision-makers. This paper concludes that Australia does not have the option of ignoring or standing aloof from these developments. Moreover, a 'steady as she goes' simple modernisation of Australia's current national security capabilities would not be effective in balancing and offsetting the rising PLA and optimising Australia's security for the medium and long term. There are, in consequence, strong incentives to consider at least four alternative options for moving forward. This report recommends the early and disciplined implementation of a strategy of engagement and high-leverage hedging.
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