China’s military build-up: Australia, India each other, says Envoy

Against the backdrop of growing military build-up of China in the region, Australia’s High Commissioner to India Phillip Green called for enhancing cooperation between India and Australia in building an “open, stable, and prosperous” Indo-Pacific.

In his remarks at an interactive session hosted by Asia Society Policy Institute, the Australian envoy highlighted that China is covertly extending its presence not only in the military domain, but across multiple sectors, sparking a strategic competition.

While speaking about Australia’s ongoing efforts to improve its defence capabilities, the envoy said that Canberra is procuring nuclear-powered submarines, long-range attack systems, manufacturing guided missiles, and modernising vital air bases throughout northern Australia.

Alluding to the China threat, the envoy sought closer partnership with India in confronting adversaries and handling expanding geopolitical dangers and difficulties. Describing India as an “indispensable partner” for Australia, Mr Green underlined that New Delhi and Canberra “need each other” to build a “open, stable, and prosperous” Indo-Pacific.

Ties between India and Australia have grown rapidly in the last few years, with the two sides forging a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP). The envoy mentioned that an Indian submarine docked in Australia for the first time, and that two Indian military aircraft visited the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The Australian envoy also spoke about expanding economic partnership between the two G20 economies. “This flourishing economic partnership serves as a testament to the growing integration of our two economies,” Mr Green said. He spoke about “robust growth” in bilateral commerce as a result of the Economic Cooperation and commerce Agreement (ECTA) and current negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

When asked about repeated attacks on Hindu temples in Australia, the envoy stressed that the Australian government is taking the vandalism very seriously and highlighted Australia’s unwavering commitment to religious tolerance and safety. “We take the kind of acts that you’re talking about in relation to Hindu temples as seriously as we would take any act in relation to any religious element in our society,” he said. “We’ve dealt with similar circumstances before. Our police, intelligence, intercultural agencies, and state officials are all concerned.”

Several incidents of temple vandalism have reported in Australia in recent months. In May 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese discussed this sensitive topic. PM Albanese assured the Indian leader that Australia will not tolerate such behaviour and will continue to take stern action against it.

In remarks that acquire added significance in the context of rising Khalistani activities in the US, Canada and Australia, Mr Green said that Australia regards India as a good friend and a respected partner when it comes to Khalistani radicalism.

“Our engagement with India on this issue is motivated not so much by our Five Eyes partnership as by our deep friendship and respect for India, with whom we have a mature relationship,” he said. “We discuss these sensitive issues in private and with the utmost respect,” he stated, emphasising the partnership’s mutual regard and confidentiality,” he added.

(Sujal Shah has contributed inputs for this article)



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