ANZUS and Taiwan: What are Australia’s obligations?

Event details

SDSC Public Lecture

Date & time

Wednesday 27 April 2022


China in the World Lotus Theatre, building 188 Fellows Lane, ANU


Dr Iain D. Henry


Bell School Marketing Team

The likelihood of another Taiwan Strait crisis is increasing. Some argue that if the U.S. chose to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, then Australia would be obliged—under the ANZUS alliance—to assist. Defence Minister Peter Dutton has opined that it would be “inconceivable” for Australia to not “support the U.S.”

Using declassified documents from Australia and the United States, Henry investigates how the ANZUS alliance has previously approached the issue of Taiwan. He finds that Australia’s obligations are minimal and that the potential alliance consequences of Australian inaction are likely overstated.


Iain D. Henry is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at The Australian National University. His first book, Reliability and Alliance Interdependence: The United States and Its Allies in Asia, 1949-1969, will be published by Cornell University Press in May 2022.

About the series

The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre Public Lecture Series seeks to stimulate public discussion on major challenges relating to Australia’s strategic and defence policy and to contribute to the vital national conversation about Australia’s future in the Indo-Pacific.

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