New Delhi, 23 June
China is the “biggest security concern” for Australia as it is trying to shape the world in a way not seen before, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said on Thursday.
Marles, who is on a four-day visit to India, also said that India has similar security concerns and Australia stands in solidarity with New Delhi on its border line with China in eastern Ladakh.
In conversation with a group of journalists, the visiting minister also expressed concern about growing defense and security cooperation between China and Russia, suggesting it could have implications for the region.
Marles, who is also Australia’s defense minister, said both New Delhi and Canberra are strongly committed to expanding defense and security ties as his country sees India as “absolutely central” to its world outlook. Is.
“For Australia, China is our biggest trading partner and so is India. China is our biggest security concern for Australia, the same is for India.
Marles said that India and Australia are working together to build our relationship economically but also in terms of defense so that we can engage more deeply to enhance the defense and security of both countries.
In an apparent reference to the Galwan Valley clashes in eastern Ladakh two years ago, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister said that his country stands in solidarity with India regarding that incident.
“China is trying to shape the world around us in ways not seen before. We have been experiencing more assertive Chinese behavior in that regard especially over the past few years,” he said.
“It is really important that we live in a world where there is a rules-based order, where disputes between countries are resolved according to a set of rules and in a peaceful manner,” Marles said.
Referring to the expansion of defense and military cooperation between China and Russia, he expressed apprehension about its impact and said that maintaining peace in the world is very important.
On the Ukraine crisis, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister said: “What we are seeing in Ukraine is having an impact on the global food supply and this is a real concern.” Asked about the quad of India, Australia, the US and Japan, Marles said it is not a security alliance as it has no defense pillar.
On AUKUS (Australia, UK and US), he said it is not a security alliance as technology sharing was its main objective.
The AUKUS partnership, announced in September last year, will allow Australia to acquire technology to build nuclear-powered submarines.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Marles in their comprehensive talks on Wednesday resolved to further expand bilateral defense and military ties with the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
It is the first high-level visit from Australia to India since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party came to power last month after defeating the conservative coalition of predecessor Scott Morrison in parliamentary elections.
Relations between India and Australia have strengthened over the years.
In April, the two countries signed a trade agreement to diversify bilateral trade. In June 2020, India and Australia extended their ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and signed a landmark agreement for mutual access to military bases for logistical support.
The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the armies of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides enhancing overall defense cooperation.
The Australian Navy was part of the Malabar naval exercise conducted by India in November 2020 as well as last year. mpb