The United States alliance has been, is, and will remain, the centrepiece of Australian foreign policy for the foreseeable future. But it will change. Why? Because the rise of China increasingly means different things for the two nations: for the United States, its main significance is the emergence of a strategic rival; for us, it is the opportunity for a rewarding trade and commercial partnership. None of this means Canberra is faced with a hard, stark choice between China and the United States. But it does mean that Australia must learn to play a more demanding diplomatic game than ever before, one that will on occasion involve the difficult feat of riding two horses simultaneously. Instead of always leading the cheer squad, our leaders will need to cultivate some of the skills of the helpful passenger.