The United States and their pivot to the Asia Pacific region has produced both opportunities and trepidation for Australia. In 2011, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States would be refocusing on the Asia Pacific region, specifically acknowledging China as a key recipient of its revived strategic interest in the area, discussing the challenges of managing the US’s relationship as the Chinese economy continues to grow at immense rates. Former Secretary Clinton clearly elucidated that the United States would be devoting its power to the region in an effort to ensure the status quo is maintained. The rebalancing of US power to the Asia Pacific allows Australia to secure their trade relations in the region from an emerging hegemony – ensuring the status quo is unchallenged. Consequentially though, Australia risks becoming so entangled with the United States that it may be reluctantly drawn into peripheral conflicts with China, risking its Sino trade relations for little or no explicit security benefit to Australia.

Through 2011, the United States began a strategy to rebalance and ‘pivot’ a substantial portion of their diplomatic, economic and strategic assets to the Asia Pacific region1, as it was to become – “the future key driver of global politics”2. The enhancement of existing alliances in the area, including Australia, the development of the United States’s relations with emerging powers, notably China, and the forging of a broader military presence in the region, would be the central tenants of the policy shift. Former Secretary Clinton, in outlining the pivot, specifically illuminated China, describing it as representing “one of the most challenging and consequential bilateral relationships the United States has ever had to manage3. In handling this relationship, the United States identified a variety of core principles necessary to achieve success, including, guaranteeing the defence capabilities of their allies, accentuating Australia, whose commitment to strengthening the regional architecture has been “indispensable”4.