You might know there is a bit of a conflict happening in the South China Sea. China are currently (and some would say aggressively) reclaiming parts of the reef to build man-made islands supposedly part of which will be for military purposes.
The US government have been quite vocal about their disdain for China’s activities and up until recently Australia was quiet on the subject. Until recently when Australian defence minister Kevin Andrews tactfully and carefully voiced his concerns over China’s activities at the Shangri-La Dialogue talks taking place in Singapore.
The laughable thing is Australia needs China more than it needs the US. Even though we do trade with the US, China is our biggest trade partner. If China were to stop accepting our exports, it would kill the Australian economy.
It is for this reason that Australia would never truly tell China to stop what it is doing in a forceful or threatening way unlike the US. We are caught between a rock and a hard place: our biggest ally and our biggest trade partner. We most likely have the US in our ears telling us to speak up, then we have obligations to ensure China remains our dominant trade partner.
We won’t see a war (hopefully) but if Australia doesn’t tread quietly China can legally damage us more than we can damage them without firing a single missile.