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Iran Press TV

Australia to up military budget by 40% amid tensions with China

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 01 July 2020 5:25 AM

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the country will increase its military budget by a sharp 40 percent in the next 10 years and will shift the focus of its military to the Indo-Pacific region, amid rising tensions with China.

At a major policy speech at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra on Wednesday, Morrison said that Australia would spend 186.5 billion dollars over the next 10 years to acquire longer-range strike capabilities on air, sea, and land platforms.

The declared figure marked a 40-percent rise compared to Australia's intended budget in 2016, when the country promised to spend 134 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

Morrison also said Australia would buy 200 long-range anti-ship missiles from the United States and would consider developing hypersonic missiles.

He said a greater focus would be placed on the Indo-Pacific region.

The Indo-Pacific, he said, is the "epicenter" of rising strategic competition and "the risk of miscalculation – and even conflict – is heightening [there]."

"We want an Indo-Pacific free from coercion and hegemony. We want a region where all countries, large and small, can engage freely with each other and be guided by international rules and norms," Morrison said, without referring to China by name.

Last year, Morrison had described a decade-old security pact between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States known as the ANZUS Treaty as "the single most important achievement" of the Liberal Party in any term of government. The non-binding 1951 security agreement calls on the co-consignees to cooperate on military matters in the Pacific Ocean.

A number of countries are involved in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, in the Pacific Ocean. While Australia is not among them, it is well inclined against China and has in the past joined provocative maneuvers by the United States in the region.

More recently, tensions ratcheted up between Australia and China when Canberra backed a call by US President Donald Trump for an investigation into the origins of the new coronavirus. Trump calls the coronavirus "the Wuhan Virus," a reference to the name of the Chinese city where it first emerged, and an attempt to stigmatize China.

In the wake of Canberra's repetition of Trump's call, China has cut back on its imports from Australia.

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