Oceania and ASEAN closer than people think


Australia and New Zealand do not yearn to participate in the Asia-Pacific power confrontation. And they have similar goals to the countries of the Southeast

"It is wrong to talk about the West versus Russia. We are a liberal democracy and we try to promote, of course, the values that are important to us but we also try to ensure that our foreign policy responses are based on facts, not assertions and assumptions." Speaking, during a speech from Sydney, is Jacinda Ardern. More: "We do not assume that China, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, does not have a role to play in pressuring Russia" on the invasion, the New Zealand premier added. A more subtle view of diplomacy than the "ideological clash" between democracies and authoritarian regimes that the United States often talks about, especially after the start of the war in Ukraine. Despite Washington's charm offensive in the Asia-Pacific and despite its unquestioned inclusion in the list of liberal democracies, the countries of Oceania demonstrate a pragmatic approach; even Australia, which has seen its relations with China hit an all-time low in recent years, does not seem intent on promoting confrontations. On the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Summit, a very meaningful bilateral between China's Wang Yi and Australia's Peggy Wong was staged. "We spoke frankly and listened carefully to each other's priorities and concerns. We have our differences, but it is in both of our interests for relations to stabilize," said the minister of the new Australian government led by Labor's Anthony Albanese. As The Straits Times wrote, for decades Australia has been seen as an Anglo-Saxon outpost and America's "deputy sheriff" in the Pacific. Canberra, however, seems intent on increasing engagement with Southeast Asia in order to tighten ties with a region that wants to keep the competition between powers from becoming a full-blown confrontation. And it seems to want to do so without stopping at clashing with Beijing to exert influence over the Pacific islands, but by cooperating in concrete ways with ASEAN and governments in the area. Greater involvement in Asia by the Albanian government may highlight, once again, the unique position of Australia and Oceania in general between East and West.

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