Asia’s middle powers face a trilateral dilemma stemming from their relationships with the U.S. and China. This paper uses the Australian example to examine the dilemma. It shows that Australia has bound itself to the U.S. because of domestic political factors, cost considerations, a belief that it can keep its interests separate, and its perception of regional threats. The paper then argues that others are likely to resolve their trilateral dilemmas in ways that make the regional strategic dynamic more competitive.

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