Prime Minister Turnbull dismisses notion that Australia must choose between China and US


SINGAPORE – Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says that he expects the Trump Administration will realize continued engagement in the Indo-Pacific region is in the interest of the U.S., during a speech at an annual regional security summit in Singapore.

In a wide-ranging speech that was well-received by the audience, Turnbull also urged China to respect the sovereignty of other nations and called on regional countries to continue to work together to combat terrorism.

He was speaking at the keynote address of the Shangri La Dialogue, an annual intergovernmental summit that brings together defense and security professionals from the region and the wider world to discuss the security challenges that affect the region.

Turnbull gave a passionate defense of the rules-based structure that has existed in the region, crediting it with enabling regional countries to succeed “in creating the fastest growing, most dynamic part of the world,” adding that “the peace and stability of our region has been enabled by consistent U.S. global leadership.”

However, he also acknowledged the substantial cost of the U.S. commitment to stability in the region, noting that he understood President Donald Trump’s “request that those who benefit from the peace America secures do more militarily and financially to contribute.” Australia, for one, has firm plans to increase its defense spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2020-21, he said, in order for it to “pull its weight in an increasingly multipolar region” marked by the restoration of China and India to the ranks of economic giants.