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With Australia’s release of its defense white paper last week, the race to build the country’s next generation of submarines enters the home stretch — and some experts say the Japanese bid appears to hold an insurmountable lead.

“The DWP (Defense White Paper) strongly stresses the importance of further strengthening U.S.-Japanese defense relations and is also quite vocal about China’s challenge to the rules-based order in maritime Asia,” Ben Schreer, a professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, said.

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