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South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Australia


South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Australia

Photo: Yonhap News Agency

South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrives in Canberra today to celebrate 60 years of bilateral South Korean-Australian relations.

Both countries view China’s rise as a direct regional threat to their national security, and are trying to mitigate that risk. For Australia, bolstering its military hardware appears to be its best response to the China threat, as made clear by the recent AUKUS deal.

Arms sales—chiefly, Australia’s acquisition of land-based military hardware—are top of the agenda for President Moon’s trip. Moon’s tenure, expiring in May, coupled with the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations means it is an opportune time for the two countries to push through arms deals without the risk of appearing strategically anti-China.

Hanwha Corp, a South Korean business conglomerate, is at the center of these deals. During this trip, Australia is expected to finalize a $1.7 billion deal for Hanwha to supply mobile howitzer systems for its Huntsman defense program.  Short-term, expect Moon to solidify this contract and push forward a future $30 billion contract for Hanwha to supply Australia with mobile infantry vehicles. Medium-term, expect the trade in military hardware from South Korea to Australia to increase as Australia modernizes its defense systems in response to China.

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