Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this week that Australia will spend hundreds of billions of dollars to significantly ramp up its military capabilities as it faces increasing threats from communist China amid fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement comes after the Chinese Communist Party reportedly threatened Australia for pushing for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China. China’s attempts to pressure Australia to drop the request for an investigation into the origins of the outbreak only strengthened Australia’s resolve against China, as Australia later came out and backed an initiative to have Taiwan rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO).
Morrison announced the $270 billion increase to Australia’s defense strategy, which includes “the purchase of long-range anti-ship missiles from the United States to equip its fleet of Super Hornets,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported. “It will also investigate the possibility of acquiring new long-range missiles that can be launched from the land in the future, including hypersonic missiles that can travel at least five times the speed of sound.”
“This includes developing capabilities in areas such as longer range strike weapons, cyber capabilities, area denial systems,” Morrison said. “We are undertaking the biggest regeneration of our Navy since the second world war, and have charted the transition to a fifth generation air force. This includes the F35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter, the most advanced Strike Fighter in the world. The Joint Strike Fighter. We’re strengthening our high tech industrial capability, as well.”
“It will expand our plans to acquire sophisticated maritime long range missiles, air launched strike, and anti ship weapons, as well as additional land-based weapons,” Morrison continued. “That’s right. That’s what we’re going to do. We will also invest in more highly integrated and automated sensors and weapons, including potential development of hypersonic weapons systems.”
Morrison noted that a lot has changed in the world due to the coronavirus pandemic and that Australia needed to be prepared to deal with a world that is “more dangerous” and “more disorderly.”
“The simple truth is this: Even as we stare down the COVID pandemic at home, we need to also prepare for a post-COVID world that is poorer, that is more dangerous, and that is more disorderly,” Morrison said. “We have been favored with many natural advantages for many decades. But we have not seen the conflation of global, economic and strategic uncertainty, now being experienced here in Australia, in our region, since the existential threat we face when the global and regional order collapsed in the 1930s and 1940s. That is a sobering thought. And it’s something I have reflected on quite a lot lately, as we’ve considered the dire economic circumstances we face.”
Morrison specifically highlighted the need for Australia to be competitive in the Indo-Pacific region given the increasing aggression from China in its border disputes with India and its territorial aggression in the South China Sea and in the East China Sea.
“Since the government’s 2016 Defense White Paper was released, we have witnessed an acceleration of the strategic trends that were already underway,” Morrison continued. “The pandemic has accelerated and accentuated many of those trends. And that is why today, I’m launching the 2020 Defense Strategic Update. It represents a significant pivot. It outlines the shifts and challenges I’ve foreshadowed and mentioned. It makes clear the strategic environment we face. And this clarity will guide Australia’s actions. The update sees an evolution of strategic defense objectives, in accord with our new strategic environment.”