The U.S.-Australia Alliance and partnership have never been stronger, or more vital to regional peace and prosperity. At a high-level ministerial meeting in early December, representatives of the United States and Australia agreed that the Indo-Pacific region must remain free, open, stable, peaceful, prosperous, and respectful of sovereignty.
To maintain this status quo, the four officials -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defense Richard Marles -- committed to advancing a stable, rules-based international order where differences are resolved peacefully and without coercion, and where states cooperate transparently to address shared challenges.
A chief topic of discussion among the four was the PRC’s destabilizing activities in the region. “We agreed on the need to responsibly manage the relationship with China to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict,” said Secretary of State Blinken.
“We also discussed our efforts to address challenges posed by the PRC to the international rules-based order, including attempts to disrupt the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, efforts to unilaterally change the status quo and undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and attempts to intimidate other countries through economic coercion.”
“We have a strong stake in preserving peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said Secretary Blinken. “This has been the status quo for decades; we’re determined to preserve it.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin agreed. “China’s dangerous and coercive actions throughout the Indo-Pacific, including around Taiwan, and toward the Pacific Island countries and in the East and South China Seas threaten regional peace and stability,” he said.
“The United States and Australia share a vision of a region where countries can determine their own futures, and they should be able to seek security and prosperity free from coercion and intimidation.”
“In the face of these challenges,” said Secretary of Defense Austin, “the United States and Australia stand united and determined to be a force for stability and to work with likeminded partners for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”