In anticipation of next week's Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney has released a new research brief looking at the steps the US-Australia-Japan trilateral arrangement can take to bolster the Asia-Pacific regional order.

Written by Erum Jilani, a former Senior Advisor (Asia Pacific Policy) with the Office of the US Secretary of Defense, the brief suggests that the United States, Australia and Japan are uniquely placed in the Asia-Pacific to champion international rules and norms, demonstrate deterrence, and build security capacity throughout the region.

"The Asia-Pacific region is facing a raft of geopolitical challenges. North Korea is ascending the nuclear ladder, China’s influence in Southeast Asia is growing, as is uncertainty about China’s commitment to the international rules-based order," Jilani says.

“In the last few years, the initiatives the trilateral has put forward have proven the value of the arrangement in meeting the national interests of all three partners. The Trump administration should build upon these existing initiatives and prioritise using the trilateral as a vehicle to address future regional challenges.”

Key points

  • The trilateral should build exercises based on new defence acquisitions, specifically exercises to test interoperability of Aegis ships and the F-35.
  • A standing dialogue should be developed with the Republic of Korea to bring Japan and Australia into contingency planning on the Korean Peninsula.
  • The Trump administration should continue Freedon of Navigation Operations within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea. Discussions should begin on developing a trilateral Passing Exercise in the South China Sea.

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