50 influential Australians are calling for Australia to increase its diplomatic efforts in order to prevent the potential devastation of a major conflict between the United States and China and lessen the likelihood of being pulled into such a war.
The group, who include the former foreign ministers Bob Carr and Gareth Evans, is urging the Albanese government to play an “activist middle power” role to reduce tensions between Australia’s top security ally and its biggest trading partner.
On Wednesday, well-known Australians expressed concern that these tensions could escalate into a full-blown military conflict, potentially drawing Australia into a war.
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The group, which includes Nobel laureate Peter Doherty and former Liberal ministers Fred Chaney and Ian Macphee, stated that they advocate for a balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region where both the United States and China are viewed as equals and show mutual respect.
Mutual agreement to collaborative security, where neither party seeks complete dominance – a fresh detente – is crucial in minimizing risks to both local and worldwide harmony and success.
The group stated that this detente, which refers to a reduction in hostility or tension between parties, is similar to the agreement reached in the 1970s between the US and USSR by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev.
The individuals who signed the statement on Wednesday include Mike Rann, former premier of South Australia, Carmen Lawrence, former premier of Western Australia, Bob Brown, former leader of the Greens, and Tim Costello, a social justice advocate.
They stated that the proposal was not focused on pacifism or appeasement, but rather a practical attempt to promote peace and prosperity in our region through collaboration with other nations.
They recognized that achieving such a result would not be simple or immediate given the current circumstances.
They stated that Australia has the potential to impact the current situation by reaffirming their dedication to proactive diplomacy as a middle power. This would involve working closely with neighboring countries in the Indo-Pacific region, promoting adherence to international laws and human rights, prioritizing risk reduction, and strongly discouraging the use of force in resolving territorial and other global conflicts.
Some individuals advocating for peace and reconciliation are Louise Adler, a prominent publisher, Craig Foster, a former professional soccer player, Miriam Margolyes, a British-Australian actress, and Larissa Behrendt, a legal scholar.
Possible rewording: According to them, a potential positive outcome of a US-China détente would be a decrease in overall political and military tensions, with the possibility of significantly reducing military expenses through arms control agreements. This could also allow for a resumption of mutually advantageous trade between the two countries.
The statement also recommended “reducing tensions regarding Taiwan by both sides agreeing to maintain the current state of affairs in the cross-strait relationship without any set end date.”
The relationship between the US and China continues to be strained due to the sensitive topic of Taiwan. Beijing insists that the self-governed democracy is an integral part of its territory.
The Chinese Communist party has continuously declined to reject the possibility of using force to accomplish its longstanding objective of “reunification”.
The United States and its allies, including Australia, have cautioned against any potential threat or act of violence aimed at altering the current state of affairs between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
The Albanese administration has continuously stated that Australia is currently facing its most difficult strategic situation since the Second World War while also attempting to improve its relationship with China.
Australia is moving forward with its intentions to obtain nuclear-powered submarines through the Aukus agreement with the US and UK, partly in reaction to China’s swift military expansion.
Carr, the foreign minister from 2012 to 2013 and an outspoken critic of Aukus, said it was “not possible to continue to play war games with the Americans and trade games with China and hope to live on in blissful prosperity”.
Evans, who was foreign minister from 1988 to 1996, said Australia “should strive to create an environment in which the two superpowers can cooperate on regional and global geopolitical problems such as climate change, the war in Ukraine, conflict in the Middle East, nuclear arms control, counter-terrorism, and cyber regulation”.
Evans stated that lasting peace is most effectively achieved by working with others, rather than against them.
“While it’s important to plan for the worst-case outcomes, it would be beneficial for Australia to prioritize diplomacy and avoid policies that aim to contain or confront China. Instead, efforts should be made to foster a political agreement between the United States and China, which could potentially reduce tensions in areas such as the South China Sea, Taiwan, and the Korean peninsula.”