The Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visit to the US from Monday to Thursday was described by a Chinese analyst as “a state visit of awkwardness and disappointment,” noting that the two allies appeared to struggle to produce significant outcomes during the trip, despite the Biden administration’s courtship of Canberra to closely adhere to its strategy of stifling Beijing.
As the Israel-Palestine conflict rages on, US President Joe Biden attempted to demonstrate his ability to maintain focus on the longer-term objective of opposing China by inviting the prime minister of Australia to the White House for a series of high-level meetings, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The US media outlet’s news report attempts to emphasize that despite the country’s focus on the Middle East crisis, China-related issues remain top of the US’s agenda. The Biden administration has prioritized relations with Australia, which is seen as a key component in the US effort to counter China.
On the other hand, the mainstream Australian media conveyed a different sentiment, expressing concern over the unclear and contradictory responses from the US during Albanese’s visit.
While the US and Australia have long boasted of their close alliance, the Australian media outlet ABC News stated that “Albanese is walking a diplomatic tightrope between the US and China.”
The director of East China Normal University’s Australian Studies Center, Chen Hong, described Albanese’s US trip as awkward and disappointing.
Just as the US Congress was beginning to move past its protracted impasse, the prime minister of Australia was scheduled to give a speech there. Finally, a new Speaker of the House was chosen on Thursday morning.
According to ABC News, “the US Congress was doing little this week to show its priorities laid with the Indo-Pacific, AUKUS, the Australian prime minister, or anything other than its own infighting.”
It was not possible to send out an invitation in time for Albanese to speak to a joint session of Congress because the House did not have a speaker until Thursday.
Albanese’s main concern during the US visit is AUKUS because, according to Chen, the agreement has remained a “empty promise” despite its announcement in 2021 having delivered very little.
Albanese went on, “I want to crystallize AUKUS and make it into something meaningful.”
But the agreement has long been met with resistance in the US Congress, where some members have argued that given the enormous amount of effort the nation has put into the Palestine-Israel conflict and the Ukraine crisis, particularly in the military and defense sector, the US’s capacity to produce military hardware has reached its limit. Analysts believe that this casts doubt on whether Australia’s needs can still be met in a timely manner, even in light of Biden’s persistent efforts to advance AUKUS.
The two leaders also announced plans to collaborate on critical minerals, artificial intelligence, and allowing US companies to launch into space from Australia, according to US media.
Analysts noted that Albanese’s visit to the US is also focused on “critical minerals”.
Chen disclosed that the US is a relatively new adopter of the concept of critical minerals. He pointed out that because the US seeks to obstruct China’s peaceful development, any minerals that help China advance economically and technologically are viewed as vital minerals. According to Chen, the US wants to persuade its partners and allies to work with it to limit China’s access to these minerals.
Conversely, Australia possesses the world’s largest known lithium reserves and production, the majority of which is shipped to China. Analysts said that Australia doesn’t really want to listen to the US all the way on the mineral issue because of economic interests.
Several analysts believe that the Australian head’s US trip is unlikely to produce significant results due to the different calculations and interests between the two allies. Albanese’s upcoming visit to China is another factor that these analysts pointed out.