The resilience of the U.S.-Australia alliance: Does a (Potential) China threat provide a rationale for the alliance?

Jae Jeok Park, Hyun Chung Yoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Despite potentially significant differences between an American superpower’s and an Australian middle power’s global and regional interests and strategies, the U.S.- Australia alliance has remained resilient. Moreover, Australia has recently been very cooperative with the U.S. deployment of its military assets on Australian soil. What lies behind this intriguing set of circumstances in alliance relations? To address this question, this article begins by providing a historical overview to show that the U.S.- Australia alliance is resilient despite the lack of a mutually perceived threat. Then, this article criticizes the argument that the U.S.-Australia alliance continues because it is insurance against potential military threats, especially against potential Chinese threats. First, the likelihood of a “fundamental” attack on the Australian homeland is very slim. Moreover, the ANZUS accord lacks a formal mechanism that triggers an automatic U.S. involvement in the way that NATO’s Article Five mandates such a U.S. response in Europe. Second, currently the American and Australian threat perceptions regarding China vary. Canberra entertains less fear of a “rising China” than does Washington. Instead, this article provides order-centric rationales for retaining and strengthening the U.S.-Australia alliance, and in that context it analyzes the recent development of the alliance’s military aspects, including the deployment of U.S. Marines in Darwin on a rotational basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-434
Number of pages18
JournalKorean Journal of Defense Analysis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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