Australia pivots towards Asia

Julia Gillard

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has laid out a plan to refocus Australia away from Europe's "old countries" towards its Asian neighbors - especially China and India. The 312-page paper, Australia in the Asian Century, sets out 25 national objectives to be achieved by 2025. Among them:

Making studies of Asia a core part of the Australian school curriculum

Giving all students the opportunity to learn a priority Asian language: Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese.

Making sure more business leaders are "Asia-literate" 

While underlining continued strategic ties with the US, Ms Gillard noted that Australia is in the Asian Century and any policy aimed at containing China's military growth would not work.

Rather, Australia seeks to balance its defense ties to the US while backing China's emerging military strength.

The planned refocus is significant because Australia is often described as an European nation, despite its location in Asia. 

The move seems to contradict Australia's role in the US Asia Pivot which includes the deployment and permanent stationing of 2,500 US marines in Australia, ostensibly to participate in "theater exercises" and to respond to humanitarian disasters. The US Asia Pivot is widely seen as a move to "contain" China.