Subscribe to receive The 45th in your inbox each week
The Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2020 have concluded and the joint statement picks up on the major themes the United States Studies Centre (USSC) have covered in recent analysis and webinars.
In alignment with recommendations from the USSC report Bolstering Resilience, Australia and the United States affirmed their commitment to Indo-Pacific collective recovery from the pandemic. The statement mentions the World Health Assembly resolution to identify the source of the coronavirus and its transfer from animals to humans. It also says the World Health Organization (WHO) response needs to be evaluated. USSC Non-resident Fellow Adam Kamradt-Scott addressed the impact of this move in a recent article.
Notably, the meeting said the pandemic “reduced States’ resilience to shocks” and called out the risks of foreign actors exploiting weaknesses, especially China. In response, both countries are ending extradition treaties, fast-tracking immigration for Hong Kong residents and are pushing back on China’s unlawful actions in the South China Sea. State-backed disinformation, democracy-threats and cyber attacks were also addressed with urgency, supported by the discussion in a recent USSC webinar, reports on tech wars and economic power rivalry, and articles on coercion in the era of COVID-19.
Cooperation with the US-Australia-India-Japan Quad was underscored as a key tactic. This follows the USSC discussion with Lt Gen HR McMaster in June and will be covered more in Friday’s webinar on the Sino-Indian border crisis.
Bilateral defence cooperation
A bilateral Force Posture Working Group has been established and will become a critical agent of defence cooperation for Australia and the United States. Three of the USSC's recommendations for AUSMIN 2020 address the need to step up the defence capabilities in the Indo-Pacific. Both the Australian Government’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the new working group clearly signal the pre-eminence of defence and deterrence as a strategic priority for the year ahead.