As conversation about Australia’s public policy response to Beijing’s increasing antagonism towards the nation continues to evolve, Dr Peter Layton, visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, has responded to senator Jim Molan’s critique of Dr Layton’s ‘Grand Strategy’ concept.
Senator Jim Molan recently critiqued my post that suggested Australia’s grand strategic thinking on China should be framed around three factors: economic interdependence, Chinese technological aspirations and increasing unpredictability. Jim’s main thrust was that these design criteria do not adequately consider security.
Jim has an important point. He’s highlighted that a major issue in our national debate on China is whether Australia should build its grand strategy around economic or military power.
Grand strategies involve applying diverse forms of power, often expressed in shorthand as DIME: diplomacy, information, military, economic. In my post the grand strategy core is economics with the D, I and M in support.
Jim implies having the core military with D, I and E in support might be more prudent. However, an economic focus could give broader and harder geostrategic options that at first apparent.
The Australia/China economic interdependence is complementary. We send China iron ore and coal while China sends us people (tourists and students). With our minerals China is building a bigger military than Australia will ever be able to.
On the other hand, if those tourists and students take home a belief that democracies have a better way of life that undermines China’s Communist Party.