Is Australia's engagement with Asia over?

3 March 2015


A new book on Australia’s role in Asia finds the country has moved to a new phase in its relationships with the region.

From towing back boats to cattle bans and ignored pleas for clemency, it would seem that Australia is picking fights it can’t win with its Asian neighbours.

But this wasn’t and doesn’t always have to be the case.

A new book by ANU College of Asia and the Pacific foreign affairs expert Dr Andrew Carr, confronts the question of just how much influence Australia can have in Asia. He finds that Australia has been surprisingly influential as a middle power, yet some of the key foundations of that influence are slipping away.

To be launched at Parliament House by The Australian’s editor-at-large Paul Kelly this Wednesday, Winning the peace: Australia’s campaign to change the Asia-Pacific provides an innovative re-telling of the story of Australia’s engagement with Asia. It outlines how Australia has flexed its muscle and affected change on issues like weapons of mass destruction, trade and asylum seekers.

“The era of Australia’s engagement with Asia is now over,” says Dr Carr from the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.  

“After thirty years of effort we are thoroughly integrated in the region. However many of the advantages that gave Australia influence during this period are also at an end.”

“The engagement has been confirmed and now the challenges of a married relationship begin, with all the extra roles and responsibilities.”

Head of the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre Dr Brendan Taylor said that “Winning the Peace marks a paradigm shift in Australian foreign policy thinking.”

“After decades of ultimately successful struggle for security with rather than against our region, Carr’s new book is a must read for Australian policymakers tasked with keeping Australia peaceful, prosperous and influential in the so-called Asian century” Dr Taylor said.

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