When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week called for the formation of an unspecified “alliance of democracies” to counter China, Australia was among the countries he probably had in mind. The South China Morning Post reports that Australia’s top diplomat and defence official made it clear this week that Canberra would not march in lock-step with its treaty ally – even as they joined their US counterparts to emphasise common interests and issue some of their strongest criticisms of Beijing. USSC director of foreign policy and defence Ashley Townshend is quoted in the SCMP article.