Asean can add momentum to Australia’s call for US-China detente, ex-minister says
A congregation of Asean leaders in March could prove timely in providing an impetus to a detente between the United States and China called by a group of notable Australians, a former minister has said.
Bob Carr, Australia’s former foreign minister, and 49 ex-statesmen and politicians as well as academics and advocates on Wednesday called for the establishment of a detente – or an “easing of hostility or strained relations” – between the US and China to avoid the possibility of Australia being dragged into conflict.
It follows the detente struck between the US and the Soviet Union in the 1970s that led to arms control agreements and easing of political tensions between the superpowers, and was critical to averting the escalating danger of nuclear war at that time.
It is now when relations between the US and China are “less alarming” – compared with a year ago – that no country should be complacent, according to both Carr and former foreign minister Gareth Evans, who is also a signatory.
Others who have joined the call for detente include former diplomats John Menadue, Alison and Richard Brionowski, ex-politicians Bob Brown and John Hewson, as well as human rights lawyer Greg Barns and economist Saul Eslake.
In a statement, they said they were concerned tensions between Australia’s closest ally and key trading partner “might lead to direct military conflict, which would risk dragging Australia into war”.
While a detente was not easily achieved, it could reduce those threats and potentially bring about cooperation between the two superpowers in tackling global issues such as the war in Ukraine and cyber regulation.
How the detente takes shape can also be influenced by conversations that Australia has with other regional leaders,