Caroline Kennedy ‘struggles’ to answer significant questions
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Caroline Kennedy, who was nominated by US President Joe Biden for the US ambassador to Australia role, seemed unaware of several agreements pivotal to the safety of Australia when speaking to the US senate’s foreign relations committee. She confessed to not being “fully read in” on the draft pact between China and the Solomon Islands, a move so significant to Indo-Pacific peace that Australia reacted by spending roughly £2 billion on military rearmament. Her apparent lack of knowledge bodes poorly for her potential confirmation as the ambassador.
During her Senate hearing for the new role, Ms Kennedy was asked about the landmark AUKUS agreement but admitted she needed to “learn more” about it.
She said: “If confirmed, I look forward to learning more about the details of that partnership. I know that a lot of work is happening now.”
Speaking in worryingly vague terms, she added: “There are many working groups on all aspects [of this agreement] and, as you said, it involves the submarines.
“I think that is really the kind of partnership that, as it grows and strengthens, we are able to build on it and deliver great results.”
When faced with questions on the China pact with the Solomon Islands, her awareness of the issues at hand was similarly concerning.
Despite the significance of the move, with Australia’s defence minister Peter Dutton warning that it had “dramatically compressed” the time in which they had to prepare for potentially-nuclear Chinese aggression, Kennedy seemed hardly aware of its existence.
Experts have suggested that the pact could spell China’s most prominent step towards Taiwanese invasion, following the lead of their Russian allies in Ukraine.
But Kennedy said: “Obviously, I’m not fully read in on that, but if confirmed I would work very hard. Australia has a very active diplomacy embassy in every pacific island nation.”
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When her nomination was announced four months ago by Biden, both major Australian political parties welcomed the choice.
It was reported that the move was seen as a beneficial senior appointment that guaranteed Australia the President’s ear.
Kennedy had previously served as the ambassador to Japan from 2013 to 2017 as well and was believed to be well-versed in Asian relations and the threat of China.
Australia had been without an ambassador in Canberra for several years, with the senior diplomat Mike Goldman filling in as the embassy’s charge d’affaires.
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Australia finds itself at the centre of geopolitical strain as China looks to disturb the peace in the Indo-Pacific.
Having signed a defence pact with the UK and USA for the supply of nuclear-powered submarines, they have been effectively nominated as the first line of defence against China.
Following the invasion of Ukraine, experts have warned that Chinese President Xi Jinping will use the West’s timid treatment of Putin to initiate his own invasion of Taiwan.
Australia and Taiwan currently enjoy a strategic partnership jointly committed to the maintenance of peace in the Indo-Pacific.
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