The US and China have been embroiled in a bitter battle of wills over trade and Beijing’s attempts to expand its area of influence into the Indo-Pacific by claiming sovereignty of the dispute South China Sea. Washington DC last month announced its departure from it policy on neutrality in regards to the area, pledging to help Southeast Asia allies seeking to contain China’s expansionist drive. But University of Melbourne academic Michael Wesley warned the US will not be able to “balance” the growing power of Beijing as he suggested the need for an international alliance to rein in China.
Speaking to Sky News Australia, Prof Wesley said: “That power balancing response is an important one, it is really the only option that we’ve got on the table.
“It means Australia really does need to start to put a lot more effort and a lot more resources into building those priority relationships that the prime minister was talking about.”
He added: “Australia, the US and a range of other countries feel somewhat uncomfortable about that, they feel less than comfortable with the idea of a region that is unipolar and dominated by China.
“And so the question is what do we do about it.”
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Canberra last week committed to ramping up deterrance mechanism in a bid to better contain China after Australia branded as “illegal” Beijing’s claim over the South China Sea.
The are has long been at the centre of a dispute with other Southeast Asian countries staking a claim over the key maritime passage.
Beijing on Tuesday sparked further controversy after nominating a candidate for a judge position in the International’s Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
The court specializes in cases about navigation rights and settles maritime disputes.
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The election of the new judges is expected to take place between August and September and will require all 168 signatories of the United States Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to cast a vote.
But the US will not be able to take part in the vote as the country has never ratified the convention.
Hua Chunying, from China’s Foreign Ministry, hit out at Washington for attempting to sway the vote while still refusing to sing the treaty.
Ms Hua said: “So far, the United States has not ratified the UNCLOS, but has always posed as a defender of it.
“Judges of the Tribunal perform their duties in their personal capacity.”