Thank you Dr Chipman for your warm welcome.
Dr Fox, Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom
Mr Kim, Minister for National Defence of the Republic of Korea.
Ladies and gentleman.
Thank you for inviting me to the 10th Anniversary of the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri La Dialogue and giving me the opportunity to present Australia’s views on Asia’s new distribution of power and its implications.
Historic shift towards Asia
Economic, political, military and strategic influence is moving to the Asia-Pacific, to our part of the world.
In this century, the Asia-Pacific will become the world's centre of gravity.
The rise of China is a defining element of Asia's growing influence, but it is not the only or whole story.
Everyone sees the rise of China but the rise of India is still underappreciated, as is the rise of the ASEAN economies combined.
The enduring economic strengths of Japan and South Korea must continue to be acknowledged.
So must the great individual potential of Indonesia – as it emerges from a regional to a global influence.
On average, the Asia-Pacific region's economic growth has been outpacing other regions for many years. APEC's 21 member economies represent approximately half the world's GDP and trade.
The ongoing shift in influence is, however, not just about economics or demographics.
Economic power underpins military modernisation. It contributes to political and strategic weight.
The Asia-Pacific is home to four of the world’s major powers and five of the world's largest militaries - the United States, Russia, China, India, and North Korea.
The implications of this historic shift continue to unfold. No one can say with certainty what the new international or regional order will look like.
Some people seem implicitly to assume that the economic and strategic influence of the United States, the world's largest economy and superpower, will somehow be eclipsed overnight.
The United States, which has underwritten stability in the Asia- Pacific for the past half-century, will continue to be the single most powerful and important strategic actor in the region for the foreseeable future, both in its own right and through its network of alliances and security relationships, including with Australia.
The Asia-Pacific region has prospered because of the foundations laid down by this stability.
Present and Future Challenges
With the rise of the Asia-Pacific region comes a range of challenges.
Some have been with us for years. Others are more recent, non-traditional security challenges.
Our region contains a number of conventional security problems, some of which, like the Korean Peninsula, are leftovers of past conflicts and others stem from past grievances and unresolved territorial disputes.
In November last year we saw the shelling of Yeonpyeong-Do Island. This followed reports of North Korea developing a sophisticated uranium enrichment program in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions and the earlier North Korean attack on the South Korean corvette Cheonan which claimed 46 lives.
These events have been deeply troubling. They threaten stability on the Korean Peninsula and North Asia. In the face of these great provocations, the Republic of Korea showed great restraint.
Australia’s collaboration with the Republic of Korea on defence and security extends back to the Korean War and has taken on renewed strength in recent years. Australia and Korea share a common interest in the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific, and especially the Korean Peninsula.
In 2009 Australia and Korea signed a Joint Statement for Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation. This was Korea’s first such bilateral security declaration with a country other than the United States. It commits Australia and Korea to deepening our cooperation on defence and security matters and on regional as well as bilateral issues.
Tensions have also increased over maritime and territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas.
As a region of trading nations, we are all dependent on, and benefit from, secure maritime trading routes.
Australia understands the importance of maintaining stable maritime trade routes to foster continued economic growth and prosperity.
Australia does not take a position with respect to competing territorial and maritime boundary claims in the South China Sea or elsewhere. We encourage all States to invest in their own continued prosperity by resolving maritime disputes patiently and calmly through multilateral security and negotiation mechanisms, consistent with international legal norms.
Australia regards the proposed ASEAN Code of Conduct as a good starting point in this respect.
Some of the countries in our region have endured terrible terrorist attacks.
The death of Osama Bin Laden and the capture of Umar Patek, were both a potent reminder that terrorism still poses a serious threat in our region, that it respects no jurisdiction, and that to fight it, regional and international efforts remain crucial.
Our region is also prone to natural disasters on a tragic scale.
The pattern of natural disasters in our region – from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami through to the recent earthquake in Christchurch and tsunami in Japan – is a stark reminder that countries adversely affected by natural disasters often need significant and rapid assistance to alleviate human suffering and to begin the process of recovery and reconstruction.
None of these challenges can be addressed or solved by any one nation. They can only be addressed by nations acting together regionally and internationally.
The Importance of Regional Architecture
Australia believes that the region’s best guarantee of security and stability will continue to be an international environment in which nation states calmly address their differences before resorting to the use of force.
Australia will continue to help build and shape regional norms and institutions to ensure the long-term peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia recognises that ASEAN has been the region’s premier regional institution, and has been central to Australia’s strategic approach to the region. In 1974, Australia became ASEAN’s first dialogue partner. Since then Australia’s relationship with ASEAN has gone from strength to strength.
While ASEAN continues to evolve and has set itself ambitious new goals under the ASEAN Charter, it is important to recognise just how successful ASEAN has been in advancing the goals set out at its establishment.
ASEAN is an outstanding example of the notion of interdependence, that the destiny of a nation is shaped by the nations around it.
ASEAN shows us that by building a strong community of nations, all of its member reap greater rewards than they could by working alone.
Australia is a founding member of the East Asia Summit (EAS) and welcomes its recent expansion to include the United States and Russia.
As the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard has said, “With the EAS, the region now has an institution with the right membership and mandate to address the full range of security, political and economic issues.
“The Asia-Pacific is a region in strategic flux, where changing power relativities are playing out against the backdrop of historical mistrust and conflict.
“It is vital that we build a robust architecture of security and cooperation to guarantee the peace and prosperity of our people in the years ahead.”
Australia believes it is important to develop a practical security cooperation agenda in the East Asia Summit.
Australia welcomes the establishment of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus, or ADMM plus, the inaugural meeting of which I attended in Hanoi in October last year.
By involving the countries of the East Asia Summit, the ADMM plus creates an institution in which Defence Ministers of the region’s key powers can have a conversation about the full range of peace and security matters in our region.
Australia looks forward to the development of more direct links between the EAS and the ADMM plus.
Australia welcomes the opportunity to co-chair with Malaysia the maritime expert working group of the ADMM plus.
The Asia-Pacific is also critically dependent on seaborne trade for its dynamic economic growth.
It is vital for trade, investment and prosperity purposes that these sea lanes be protected from potential threats such as piracy or maritime terrorism.
The establishment of the ADMM plus is an opportunity to move our regional security cooperation beyond humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
It will allow the region to cooperatively tackle the emerging peace, stability and security challenges in the years to come.
Allies and Partners
The engagement and presence of the United States remains vital to the Asia-Pacific.
Australia welcomes the United States commitment to maintaining its presence in Northeast Asia while enhancing its presence in Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean.
Australia and the United States have resolved to work collaboratively on the United States Global Force Posture Review.
In November last year, Secretary Gates and I agreed that a bilateral Australia-United States Force Posture Review Working Group would develop options to align Australian and United States force postures in ways that are of benefit to both our countries' national security.
Australia and the United States will work together to, for example:
develop options for increased US access to Australian training, exercise and test ranges; consider the prepositioning of US equipment in Australia; and
develop options for greater use by the United States of Australian facilities and ports.
In addition to our work with the United States, trilateral cooperation between Australia, the United States and Japan continues to grow and make an important contribution to regional stability
Australia’s support to Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami has been an important reaffirmation of the comprehensive Australia-Japan strategic, security and economic partnership and also the growing strength and capability of our trilateral cooperation with the United States.
At one stage during the relief operation Australia had three C-17 aircraft in Japan providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support. In another historic first, Australian C-17 aircraft transported Japanese Self Defence Force personnel and equipment to the disaster zone to begin the relief effort.
Australian C-17 strategic lift aircraft worked closely with the United States Forces Japan Air Operations Command in providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. This was also a historic first and a very practical demonstration of Australia-Japan-United States Trilateral Strategic Cooperation and the benefit this can provide to the region in responding to an emergency situation of this size.
Australia's bilateral defence and security partnership with Japan is growing in strength. Australia’s so-called 2+2 dialogue with Japan – a joint meeting between Foreign and Defence Ministers – is the first formal Foreign and Defence Strategic Dialogue that Australia entered into in Asia.The 2+2 dialogue reflects our shared perspectives of regional and global security, as well as our shared values.
In May last year Australia and Japan took a vital step toward further improving bilateral security cooperation by signing an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, the ACSA, which will enable logistics support between Australian and Japanese forces cooperating in international operations, such as peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
What I have not spoken about in detail today is the importance of India and the Indian Ocean. In the Asia-Pacific Century when economic, political, military and strategic influence is moving to our part of the world, our region needs to look west, as well as east. Australia has enhanced its defence, military and strategic cooperation with India and the Indian Ocean Rim countries in recent years but much more needs to be done.
The Role of China
The continuing rise of China is part of the defining change in the world order.
Australia is positive and optimistic about China’s emergence. Australia wants, as the Chinese would say, China to emerge into a harmonious environment or as Bob Zoellick would say to be a responsible stakeholder.
With this rise comes added strategic responsibilities for China, including the need for greater openness and transparency in relation to capabilities and strategic doctrine.
Australia has committed to developing strong and positive military and defence relations with China through dialogue and practical activities.
As part of our growing military cooperation with China, the Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Warramunga conducted reciprocal visits in September last year to the Chinese ports of Qingdao and Zhanjiang. During her visit HMAS Warramunga successfully completed the first live firing exercise of its kind with the Chinese Navy off the coast of China. HMAS Warramunga also conducted joint helicopter operations, search and rescue drills and personnel exchanges.
As HMAS Warramunga's Commanding Officer Commander Legge said at the time, "There is nothing more effective than working closely together in a military exercise to build trust and friendship between Navies and nations."
At the same time, two PLA-Navy ships, the training ship Zhenghe and frigate Mianyang, conducted reciprocal visits to Sydney and Darwin. In a historic first, the PLA Navy extended an invitation for two Australian Midshipmen from the Australian Defence Force Academy to join the training ship Zhenghe on her journey from Auckland to Sydney.
In December last year, the Secretary of our Department of Defence and our Chief of the Defence Force held the 13th Defence Strategic Dialogue with the Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, General Chen Bingde, in Nantong in China.
This followed the 2010 visit to Australia by General Guo Boxiong, China's most senior uniformed military officer.
Australia values these senior visits and exchanges and the opportunity to have frank and open conversations in issues of mutual concern and to exchange views on areas of common interest.
The Asia-Pacific is a region in strategic flux.
In this environment it is important that the region builds the institutions that can help us manage these security challenges.
The expanded EAS and the inauguration of the ADMM plus are welcome developments in this regard.
The region must continue to build habits of dialogue which will help us withstand and resolve serious tensions if and when they arise.
Practical military and defence cooperation – in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping training and operations, exercises and training and maritime security – will build habits of mutual respect, trust and cooperation between and amongst our militaries.
These elements of defence cooperation – regional defence and security architecture and practical military and defence cooperation – will help equip us to make the most of the growth and prosperity of the Asia Pacific Century.