Find this publication at:
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Published in Contemporary Southeast Asia, 30(1) 2008: 29-51.
Recent changes of government in Australia and Japan, and a pending one in the United States, signifies a historical crossroads in these three allies’ security politics in the Asia-Pacific region. In recent years, all three countries have tended to rationalize their strategic collaboration on the need to build innovative and competitive-oriented ‘strategic geometries’ as a means to counter China’s growing power and to meet new types of threats in the region. Yet the Australian Government under John Howard simultaneously pursued a hedging strategy, exploiting its growing economic relationship with China while strengthening its diplomatic and strategic profile with the United States. Despite Tokyo’s own substantial economic relationship with Beijing, recent Japanese leaders were unable to pursue the same type of ‘dual track’ strategy to the same extent as Howard. With Kevin Rudd’s election as the new Australian Prime Minister and Yasuo Fukuda’s ascent to power in Japan, prospects for Australia and Japan to cultivate more independent politico-security ties with Beijing have strengthened. If so, the evolving regional security postures of both these US allies may compel the United States to reassess its own traditional skepticism towards multilateral security groupings in the region.