Comunidad del pacífico en perspectiva - Volumen 2

.AN AUS'IRALIAN vmw OF THE PAClFIC BASIN practices, as well as whide differences in income level and econo· míe development. It ineludes some of the world's most affluent na– tions as well as some of the most wretched. The non-Comunist coun– tries alone account for about 5"0% of the free world's G.N.P. and for about one-third of its trade. The picture is, of course, very much dominated bythe u.S. and to a lesser extent by Japan; if these two countries are exeluded the figures become 9~'2% and 12% respectí– vely. Situated at what in the Army would be caBed 7 o'elock on the map, Australia is well placed to observe the Pacific Basin as a whole from a central vantage point. 2. The Australía Geo-political Position Australia for the first 160 years oí its short history was part oí the British Imperial system. This period carne to an end with the fall of Singapore in 1942. For the íollowing 33 years it was part of the American protective system in the Pacifico That came to an end in 1975 with the fall oí Saigon and the removal of American trooPS from the region. Now Australia stands alone in some doubt as to the path it should follow. A few months ago the Minister for Immigration stated that Aus– tralia was not a part of Asia, but a separate continent. That mar well be true, but, in terms oí its geopolitical position, the question must be asked, is Australia an Asian continent inhabited by Euro– peans or a European continent situated in Asia? There is no sim– ple answer to thís question and, although it may appear to be a matter of semantics, until an answer is found Australía's position will at best be ambivalent. The distance between the West and East coasts of Australia is greater than the distance between Australia and Vietnam or Indo· nesia. This proximity ís too close for comfort to countries of great volatility, which look upon Australia as an anachronism in the Asían world -. vast, rich and underpopulated. Its vastness is demonstrated by the fact that the five ASEAN coun– tries, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand, the tmee countries of Indochina -Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos- 77