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Stay-at-Home Intervention in the South China Sea


The new US Secretary of Defense James Matthis this week allayed immediate concerns the US would take military action to deter China in the South China Sea. But the new US administration’s defence priorities and capabilities remain unclear amid widely varying claims. What does the uncertainty mean for the Australia-US alliance and the region? 

Former US deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia Dr Amy Searight says defence cooperation between Australia and the US is deep enough to withstand any potential presidential hiccups. But she says a top-down strategic review by Matthis and his colleagues is necessary to ensure the broader US presence in this part of the world continues to promote stability and security.

Dr Searight spoke with Madeleine Durand of the AIIA’s National Office when she attended the ANU National Security College’s recent conference, Strengthening Australia-Japan-US Strategic Cooperation: Prospects and Challenges in Canberra.

Dr Amy Searight is the senior adviser and director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. She is also a former US deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia – a role she filled during the Obama administration. 

Interviewed by Madeleine Durand

Filmed by Lisa Green

Published February 9, 2017

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