Australian Associated Press

Australia and the United States have an incoherent strategy when it comes to China, a new report says.

The criticism comes in a new report, The ANZUS Alliance in an Ascending Asia, published by the Australian National University on Monday.

The report calls for Australia and the US to focus on two core issues: dealing with maritime challenges and using the ANZUS alliance to build better partnerships with countries such as Japan, India and Indonesia.

"The reality is that neither Washington nor Canberra has a clear or consistent China policy," the report says.

The Obama administration's policy has waxed and waned over the past six years, from respecting China's "core interests" to astonishment over China's inaction in 2010 when North Korea sank a South Korean ship.

A 2013 US agreement with China on "great power relations" was overshadowed by China announcing its East China Sea air defence zone and pushing ahead with a new infrastructure investment bank which Australia has supported but not the US.

The writers say closer co-operation between Australia, the US and India could help countries in the region better deal with security challenges such as China's military muscle-flexing.

"Each partner can help to convey similar messages to Beijing in different ways, helping to reinforce shared expectations of China's role and responsibilities in the regional and international order," the report said.

Including Indonesia in three-way security talks would also be of value not only in terms of regional security and finding a new way of addressing China, but improving Australia's "sometimes shaky" relationship with Indonesia.

The report warns the most concerning security scenario for Australia lies in not only aircraft attacks but hostile navy vessels and long-range missile strikes.

It recommends boosting aerial and space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to deal with the potential for missile strikes.

The rollout of new submarines to replace the Collins class and purchase of long-range anti-ship cruise missiles would also be of benefit.

This article was originally published at Australian Associated Press