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Smooth sailing? Australia, New Zealand and the United States partnering in–and with–the Pacific islands

By Joanne Wallis & Anna Powles

Australia, New Zealand and the United States should help create an ASEAN-style forum for Pacific island nations to discuss security and manage geopolitical challenges.

The call for a dialogue, modelled on the ASEAN regional forum, is one of several recommendations to improve security partnerships and coordination in the region, reducing the risk that the three countries trip over one another and lose sight of the Pacific’s own priorities as they deepen their Pacific ties out of strategic necessity amid China’s growing interest.

While focussing on those three countries, this report stresses that wider partnerships should be considered, including with France, India, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and European Union.

The report states that the three countries will have to get used to greater Chinese involvement in the Pacific, even if they don’t accept it, much less like it.