Australia and Japan PM Expected to Sign New Security Declaration in Response to Growing Beijing Threat

Australia and Japan PM Expected to Sign New Security Declaration in Response to Growing Beijing Threat
Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (L) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during their meeting in Tokyo on Sept. 27, 2022, (Japan Pool Via Jiji Press/Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images)
Rebecca Zhu

The prime ministers of Australia and Japan are planning to sign a new security declaration in response to Beijing’s growing regional assertiveness and military power at an upcoming summit to be held in Perth.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will be welcoming Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Oct. 22 and is expected to announce the new Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, according to Kyodo News.

Originally signed by prime ministers John Howard and Shinzo Abe in 2007, the declaration included provisions on counter-terrorism, border protection, and cooperation over the threat of North Korean missiles, but does not specifically mention China.

During their first meeting in May, Albanese and Kishida agreed to work toward a new joint security declaration to deepen security cooperation between the two nations. They also confirmed that they would work together in dealing with economic coercion.

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) has been actively engaging and exerting its influence over the Pacific region, sparking alarms when it signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April.

The Solomon Islands has since continued to overtly deepen ties, most recently dispatching 32 officers to China for training in policing techniques and to improve understanding of Chinese culture. They will stay in the country for one month.
Previously, the Solomon Islands also denied a port call for a U.S. coast guard vessel and signed off a major deal with Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has also encountered a number of military incidents, including a pointed laser at an aircraft by a Chinese military ship and a dangerous interception of another RAAF aircraft by a Chinese plane.
The new declaration will work to complement the new Japan-Australia Reciprocal Access Agreement, according to the ABC, which is an agreement designed to facilitate joint training and strengthening interoperability.
However, Australian authorities currently have concerns that under the agreement, Australian military personnel could face the death penalty.
The Australian Law Council has called on the federal government to withhold making the treaty binding until safeguards are enshrined.

Australia Pushes for Deepened Indo-Pacific Cooperation

Australia has been working to deepen ties with varies allies in response to Beijing’s increasing assertiveness, including with Quad nations.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said working with others, such as partnerships with India, was the only way to ensure the country’s national interest was supported.

In a joint press conference with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Oct. 11, Wong said they agreed to continue to deepen the bilateral relationship.

“We don’t want to see any one country dominating or any country being dominated,” she said. “We both recognise our region is being reshaped economically and strategically, and I think our partnership is a demonstration that we understand that this period of change is best navigated together.”

Albanese also recently met U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Tokyo, with both leaders affirming their commitment to realising a “free and open” Indo-Pacific.

“We live in uncertain times. There is strategic competition; it’s something that we’re very conscious of Indo-Pacific,” Albanese told Harris before an Australia-United States bilateral meeting.

“It is critical that we continue to engage and cooperate and work together on these issues.”

The vice president also said the Quad was an important partnership for the United States to address “some of the most pressing issues facing the world,” referring to Beijing’s increasing aggression and militarization of the region.