The US and its would-be allies, including Australia, lack a coherent, joined-up plan to counter Beijing’s growing sway
The unusually rumbustious Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit that shuddered to an ill-tempered halt at the weekend proved one thing beyond any doubt: the US and China are intent on doing to the Indo-Pacific region in the 21st century what the US and the Soviet Union did to Europe in the last. Namely, use it as the primary battleground in a global turf war for power and influence.
The jousting superpowers – described by Peter O’Neill, Papua New Guinea’s prime minister and Apec host, as the the “two big giants” in the room – managed to turn what is supposed to be a peaceable platform for advancing multilateral cooperation into a noisy reprise of Captain America versus the Evil Empire. This is not what Bob Hawke and Paul Keating had in mind when Apec was launched in Canberra in 1989.