A decade of "delayed and unpredictable funding" for the US military's budget has seen America lose its primacy in the Western Pacific, giving the edge to an increasingly sophisticated China, a Sydney-based think tank warned.
China's "growing arsenal of accurate long-range missiles poses a major threat to almost all American, allied and partner bases, airstrips, ports and military installations in the Western Pacific," the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre said in a report released Monday.
"As these facilities could be rendered useless by precision strikes in the opening hours of a conflict, the PLA missile threat challenges America's ability to freely operate its forces from forward locations throughout the region," it said, referencing China's People's Liberation Army.
The report recommended that Australia, a major ally of the US, should "increase stockpiles and create sovereign capabilities in the storage and production of precision munitions, fuel and other material necessary for sustained high-end conflict."
While China is Australia's largest trading partner, the nations have been at odds over series of issues, including the Australian government's ban on Huawei Technologies Co from bidding for 5G contracts and its accusation that Beijing has been "meddling" in national affairs.