Australia’s Outlook on Asia

  • Philip Towle
Part of the RUSI Defence Studies book series (RUSIDS)


For a quarter of a century Australian politicians and commentators regarded China as the main threat to stability in Asia. In 1965 a leading Australian academic, Coral Bell, commented that ‘attitudes towards China may justly be regarded as the central or catalytic element in Australia’s diplomatic alignments since 1949’. It was primarily against the Chinese that Australian forces had fought alongside other UN troops in Korea and during the 1960s it was against North Vietnam and the Viet Cong — which were then regarded as Chinese agents — that the Australians fought in Indochina. When President Sukarno dominated Indonesia, Australia’s closest Asian neighbour, many believed it to be in danger of falling under Chinese influence. Yet for the last decade and more, Australians have been adapting to a situation in which relations between China and the West have improved dramatically, in which China is perceived as an agent of stability rather than of discord, and in which a striking growth of Soviet naval power in Asia has focused Western concerns on Vladivostok and Cam Ranh Bay rather than Beijing.


Australian Defence Australian Industry Common Frontier Asian Affair Australian Trade 
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Copyright information

© Royal United Services Institute 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Towle

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