4. Australia: Managing a dilemma
The economic, geographic and geopolitical considerations for Australia are quite different to New Zealand’s. Where New Zealand is a remote, moderately small island nation with a relatively small population, Australia is a wealthy if massive sparsely occupied country with its main population centres concentrated on the eastern and southern coasts, it is rich in resources and poised on the southern periphery of Asia. With a GDP of USD1,432.2 billion its economy is nearly five times that of New Zealand’s and its population of 25.1 million is more than five times as large.
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3. New Zealand: Pragmatic trader
With an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of some 4 million km2 (and continental shelf rights that cover another 1.7 million km2 beyond), much of New Zealand’s air and sea defence resources are dedicated to monitoring and securing the fisheries and resources in its surrounding seas and also to providing civil defence and other support to its Pacific island neighbours. Significantly, of New Zealand’s top five trading partners, China accounts for 24.9% of New Zealand’s total exports (USD9.6 billion) with Australia coming in behind at 14.8% (USD5.7 billion), the USA at 9.6% (USD3.7 billion), Japan at 6.3% (USD2.4 billion) and South Korea at 3.1% (USD1.2 billion).
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2. US saviour and defender — From one empire to another
After World War II, Britain was so depleted that these relatively young and militarily weak nations needed a new alliance that could protect them from possible invaders in the radically altered geopolitical landscape that came out of the war. The obvious candidate for this role was the USA which, in economic and geopolitical terms, was the only real winner of the two world wars. So, in 1951 Australia and New Zealand signed the Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty (ANZUS Treaty) with the USA “to protect the security of the Pacific”.
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It is readily apparent that the balance of power and geopolitical landscape is undergoing a period of rapid change where the uni-polar empire headed by the USA and its elites is being challenged by a combination of a resurgent and reinvigorated Russia and the rising economic and industrial might of China. Caught in this dynamic, Australia and New Zealand need to find a way to individually and perhaps collectively navigate their way from the past certainty of being a part of an apparently unchallenged dominant Anglo-US empire to a new multi-polar world.
Continue reading “Australia and New Zealand — losing an empire, who will protect us now? Part 1. Early Days”