The Australian government has announced that it will spend $186 billion over the next decade, in increased defense spending, to strengthen its capabilities. This will amount to a 40 percent increase in its defense budget. This development happened in the context of rising tensions with China in the Indo-Pacific region.

The increase in defense spending will help better protect Australian interests in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea, where the Chinese government is growing increasingly belligerent.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke to the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra last week. While he did not mention China specifically there was little doubt whom he referring to when he stated that Australia was facing its toughest international situation since the beginning of World War II.

“We need to… prepare for a post-COVID-19 world that is poorer, that is more dangerous and that is more disorderly,” Morrison said.

Morrison added that the “risk of miscalculation and even conflict” is growing and called the Indo-Pacific region the “focus of the dominant global contest of our age.”

What the announcement left unsaid, was that Australia is taking a more proactive approach to defense spending.

While the stated purpose of the increased defense spending is to deter Chinese expansion into Australian space, it is also an admission that, for the first time since WWII, the Australians are not counting on the United States’ aid in any conventional conflict. Yet, Australia and Japan are currently the two lynchpins in the U.S.’s Pacific strategy.

However, the Australian government is buying from the U.S. Navy the AGM-158C long-range anti-ship missile, which can travel up to 370 kilometers (230 miles). The cost will be about $800 million dollars. Still, this anti-ship missile is still far below the Chinese DF-26 missile which has a 4,000 km range.