Whereas the previous episode looked at the early weeks of the Biden administration, this week Allan and Darren examine the new trajectory of US-China relations. A theatrical public session grabbed the headlines when senior officials met in Alaska, but the readouts from the closed door meetings were more positive. What should we take away from the public drama?

Within a few days of that first meeting, the atmosphere became tenser with the EU joining the US, UK and Canada in sanctioning certain Chinese officials over human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Beijing was furious, and retaliated with sanctions against EU and UK individuals and entities, including academic researchers and think tanks (after recording, Chinese sanctions were also announced on individuals in the US and Canada). Was this a reciprocal response, or were the Chinese escalating?

With ratification of an investment agreement between the EU and China before the European Parliament, the sanctions dispute may end up demonstrating how the “adversarial” dimensions of the China’s relationship with the West can spill over and undermine a “collaborative” enterprise, to use Secretary Blinken’s formulation. And given China’s disdain and vitriol towards any criticism of its human rights record, what can the West hope to achieve in this domain?

While Australia did not impose its own sanctions, it supported the effort in a joint statement with New Zealand. Allan and Darren mull over Australia’s own dilemma regarding human rights and China, as well as other news on the relationship. Australia’s Ambassador in Beijing, Graham Fletcher, made some very pointed comments to an Australian business audience, describing the trade disruptions as “vindictive”. Meanwhile, Canberra received support from an unexpected source, the Secretary General of NATO, former Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg, who said China “had behaved very badly against Australia”.

As the podcast draws to a close, Allan and Darren consider the outcomes from the Quad leaders’ meeting, which for Darren are a useful indication of the type of international cooperation that could become the norm in the future. Finally, with former Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann winning his campaign to be elected the next Secretary General of the OECD, Allan discusses the behind-the-scenes effort that would have gone into the campaign, and the significance of his success for Australia.

We thank AIIA intern Dominique Yap for research and audio editing today, and thanks also to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

“How it happened: Transcript of the US-China opening remarks in Alaska”, Nikkei Asia, 19 March 2021: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/US-China-tensions/How-it-happened-Transcript-of-the-US-China-opening-remarks-in-Alaska

Xinhua Commentary, “Dialogue, win-win are right choices for China-U.S. relations”, 21 March 2021: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2021-03/21/c_139824328.htm  

Thomas Wright, “The U.S. and China Finally Get Real With Each Other”, The Atlantic, 21 March 2021: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/03/the-us-and-china-finally-get-real-with-each-other/618345/  

Richard Maude, “Australia’s China Debate – Where to Now? Asia Society , 25 March 2021: https://asiasociety.org/australia/australias-china-debate-where-now

“EU imposes further sanctions over serious violations of human rights around the world”, Press release, 22 March 2021: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/03/22/eu-imposes-further-sanctions-over-serious-violations-of-human-rights-around-the-world/

“Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Announces Sanctions on Relevant EU Entities and Personnel”, 22 March 2021: https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/2535_665405/t1863106.shtml

Bill Bishop, “Xi in Fujian; Xinjiang cotton mess; Yuan Peng on PRC-EU relations”, Sinocism, 26 March 2021: https://sinocism.com/p/xi-in-fujian-xinjiang-cotton-mess

Stephen Dziedzic, “Australia's ambassador to China says Beijing's trade behaviour is 'vindictive'”, ABC News, 26 March 2021: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-26/australian-ambassador-to-china-says-trade-behaviour-vindictive/100030700

Latika Bourke, “‘Behaving very badly’: NATO boss has Australia’s back on China ‘bullying’”, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 March 2021: https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/behaving-very-badly-nato-boss-has-australia-s-back-on-china-bullying-20210324-p57dgp.html

“Quad leaders’ joint statement: ‘The spirit of the Quad’”, 13 March 2021: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/quad-leaders-joint-statement-spirit-quad

The Dismal Science podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-dismal-science/id1214066345

“Patrick Deneen says liberalism has failed. Is he right? | The Ezra Klein Show”, 1 October 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tuG4kqKCd8

The major focus this episode is the early weeks of the Biden administration, which has raced out of the blocks with numerous foreign policy actions, and some have been controversial. Nevertheless, how does it feel to have things (roughly) back to normal again? Putting the news of the day to one side, Allan and Darren direct their attention to two speeches, one given by President Biden, and the other by Secretary of State Blinken, which chart a course for US foreign policy. What will it mean for the US to lead again? Is a “foreign policy for the American people” simply “America First with better manners”? Darren sees parallels with PM Morrison’s concept of “negative globalism”, and he does not see this as a terrible thing! And all the new administration’s emphasis on democratic renewal, what would a realistic plan in this domain look like – is one even possible?

The White House also realised an interim national security strategic guidance entitled “Renewing America’s Advantages”. At an impressive 7,000 words in length, it presents much more detail on how the Biden team sees the world. Darren wonders however at the inherent contradictions in its objectives, while Allan notices—tucked right at back of the document—a remarkable, even radical, vision for reforming the basic structure of national security policymaking in Washington. Canberra should take notice.

Next, with the inaugural Quad leaders meeting happening later that day, Allan and Darren both offer their thoughts about the grouping and what it can become into the future.

Finally, the Pacific Islands Forum is on life-support following the announcement that its five Micronesian members intended to withdraw following a dispute over the election of a new Secretary General. Why does this matter for Australia and what is to be done?

We welcome our new AIIA intern Dominique Yap and thank her for research and audio editing today. Thanks also to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Remarks by President Biden on America’s Place in the World, US State Department Headquarters, 4 February 2021: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/02/04/remarks-by-president-biden-on-americas-place-in-the-world/

Anthony Blinken, “A Foreign Policy for the American People”, Speech, Washington DC, 3 March 2021: https://www.state.gov/a-foreign-policy-for-the-american-people/

Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, “Renewing America’s Advantages”, March 2021: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/NSC-1v2.pdf

Sinica podcast, “Getting Chinese politics wrong, with Jude Blanchette”, 4 March 2021: https://supchina.com/podcast/getting-chinese-politics-wrong-with-jude-blanchette/

Tweet thread from Darren explaining the formation of his Clubhouse group, The IDC: The Interdepartmental Committee: https://twitter.com/limdarrenj/status/1367578015815901185?s=20

Natasha Kassam of the Lowy Institute joins the podcast this week, to join Darren in facing interrogation from Allan arising from their co-authored essay, published this week in Australian Foreign Affairs (Issue 11) entitled “Future Shock: How to Prepare for a China-led World”. The questions the essay tries to answer are: what would China’s leadership of the international order look like, what does this mean for Australia, and what (if anything) can Australia do to protect its interests?

What follows is a genuinely substantive and complex discussion about the nature of China’s intentions for the global order and the consequences of its actions. Does China—or more accurately the Chinese Community Party—really need the liberal dimensions of the order “suppressed or eliminated”, as Natasha and Darren argue? If so, which parts? The issue of transparency is central to their argument, and the domains of public health and human rights are key examples. Nevertheless, is China’s challenge to the order that different from that of any other rising power, or Donald Trump for that matter? And which actions represent genuine challenges, versus a more traditional assertion of interests, such as Joe Biden’s recent claim that America’s democratic values are “the grounding wire of… our global power”? And finally, what can Australia do?

The China debate in Australia has become increasingly fraught and acrimonious in recent years and, as always, this episode represents an effort to hash out complex and truly difficult issues by providing all three participants the time and space to contextualise (and caveat) their views.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with audio editing today and, as he departs, more generally for outstanding work during his time with us, as well as Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Australian Foreign Affairs, Issue 11, “The march of autocracy” (2021): https://www.australianforeignaffairs.com/essay/2021/02/the-march-of-autocracy

Natasha Kassam and Darren Lim “How China is remaking the world in its vision”, The Conversation, 22 February 2021 (extract of AFA essay): https://theconversation.com/how-china-is-remaking-the-world-in-its-vision-155377

Kai Kupferschmidt, “ ‘Politics was always in the room.’ WHO mission chief reflects on China trip seeking COVID-19’s origin” Science, 14 February 2021: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/02/politics-was-always-room-who-mission-chief-reflects-china-trip-seeking-covid-19-s

Mara Hvistendahl, “How Oracle sells repression in China”, The Intercept, 18 February 2021: https://theintercept.com/2021/02/18/oracle-china-police-surveillance/

Marise Payne, “Australia and the world in the time of Covid-19” Speech at the National Security College, ANU, 16 June 2020: https://www.foreignminister.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/speech/australia-and-world-time-covid-19

António Guterres, “Secretary-General Guterres calls for a global reset, ‘to recover better, guided by human rights’”, Speech to the Human Rights Council, 22 February 2021: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26769

Jon Emont, “How China Persuaded One Muslim Nation to Keep Silent on Xinjiang Camps”, Wall Street Journal, 11 December 2019: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-china-persuaded-one-muslim-nation-to-keep-silent-on-xinjiang-camps-11576090976

Joe Biden, “Remarks on America’s place in the world” US State Department HQ, 4 February 2021: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/02/04/remarks-by-president-biden-on-americas-place-in-the-world/

This week's episode begins with the advice New Zealand’s Trade Minister Damien O’Connor attempted to offer Australia on how to manage bilateral relations with China. Was it helpful, and regardless does Australia have something to learn from the way New Zealand conducts its diplomacy and foreign policy? And what explains the starkly different trajectories of the bilateral relationships Canberra and Wellington have with Beijing?

The military has taken power in Myanmar—again—and Allan offers a sorrowful perspective on the state of the country to which he was first posted as a young diplomat. Meanwhile, Darren wonders what the Biden administration will do, and wonders whether there is merit in the US looking to support some key Southeast Asian governments in their response, rather than necessarily attempting to lead at a time when their own democratic credentials are diminished. Is "ASEAN solidarity" still in the interests of all of its member states? 

Regular podcast listeners will know how much stock Allan and Darren place on speeches, and this week they focus on the speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the World Economic Forum. How is reading and analysing a speech from a Chinese leader different to that of an Australian PM or US president? What were the notable takeaways from this speech, and who was its primary audience?

Finally, Australia has a brand new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Malaysia. Perhaps an example of “fresh thinking” in Australian foreign policy?

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Weizhen Tan, “Nationalism ‘is not the way forward’: New Zealand minister calls for more trade relationships” CNBC, 27 January 2021: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/27/new-zealand-trade-minister-on-trade-deal-with-china-china-australia-tensions.html

“New Zealand’s Foreign Minister speaks on how New Zealand tackled the pandemic”, ABC 7:30 report, 28 January 2021: https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/pause-in-travel-bubble-with-new-zealand-extended/13100700

Marise Payne, “Statement on Myanmar”, 1 February 2021: https://www.foreignminister.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/media-release/statement-myanmar

Economist Intelligence Unit, “Democracy Index 2020: In sickness and in health?”: https://www.eiu.com/n/campaigns/democracy-index-2020/

Xi Jinping, “Let the Torch of Multilateralism Light up Humanity's Way Forward”, Speech to the World Economic Forum, 26 January 2021: https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-01-25/Full-text-Xi-Jinping-s-speech-at-the-virtual-Davos-Agenda-event-Xln4hwjO2Q/index.html

Cobus van Staden, “What did Xi Jinping Really Say at Davos?”, China Africa Project, 26 January 2021: https://mailchi.mp/0f0b40daa599/what-did-xi-jinping-really-say-at-davos?e=832ad9dc70

“Joint Statement on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Australia and Malaysia”, 27 January 2021: https://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/malaysia/joint-statement-comprehensive-strategic-partnership-between-australia-and-malaysia

John Blaxland, “Behind the Australia-Thailand strategic partnership”, East Asia Forum, 27 January 2021: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2021/01/27/behind-the-australia-thailand-strategic-partnership/

Sinica podcast, “A new U.S. strategy in East Asia, from the Quincy Institute”, 21 January 2021: https://supchina.com/podcast/a-new-u-s-strategy-in-east-asia-from-the-quincy-institute/

Robert Atkinson and Michael Lind, “National Developmentalism: From Forgotten Tradition to New Consensus”, American Affairs Volume III, Number 2 (Summer 2019): https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2019/05/national-developmentalism-from-forgotten-tradition-to-new-consensus/

Recorded the day after Joe Biden’s inauguration as President, Allan and Darren begin the episode by returning to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on 6 January, reflecting on whether their initial assessments need to be updated based on what we now know about the day, and the events since.

Next, they discuss a 2018 document outlining the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy that was declassified (more than 20 years ahead of schedule) by the White House as it was leaving office.

Third, Allan returns to his fascination with Australia’s cooperation with its Five Eyes partners, this time in the wake of a curious Department of Home Affairs media release discussing a “Five Country” grouping.

Finally, Darren admits to being triggered by a recent piece in the Australian Financial Review calling for “fresh thinking” in Australian foreign policy—is the situation that dire and is this the answer? And can a “wise old owl” like Allan provide it? The result is an interesting discussion about the barriers to entry into contributing to Australian foreign policy.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Scott Morrison, Interview with Jim Wilson 2GB, 18 January 2021: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/interview-jim-wilson-2gb-180121

Luke Mogelson, “Among the insurrectionists”, The New Yorker, 15 January 2021:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/01/25/among-the-insurrectionists

Gillian Tett, “America’s political crisis runs deeper than ideology”, Financial Times, 13 January 2021: https://www.ft.com/content/d8c59645-0f30-4647-a577-8ef3cc37ceee

Derek Thompson, “Biden should go big, fast and simple”, The Atlantic, 20 January 2021: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/biden-go-big/617737/

Amanda Gorman reads “The hill we climb”, 20 January 2021: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz4YuEvJ3y4

“US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific”, Document declassified on 5 January 2021, available at: https://news.usni.org/2021/01/15/u-s-strategic-framework-for-the-indo-pacific

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and Zach Dorfman, “Newly declassified report lays out U.S. strategy in Asia”, Axios, 12 January 2021: https://www.axios.com/indo-pacific-strategy-trump-administration-china-377b965c-6cf8-4299-a230-c0e869bb4d73.html

Peter Dutton, “Five Country Statement to EU to prevent child abuse online”, Media release, 15 January 2021: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/peterdutton/Pages/five-country-statement-EU-prevent-child-abuse-online.aspx

UK Home Office, “Five Country Ministerial starts in London” Press release, 5 February 2015: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/five-country-ministerial-starts-in-london

Andrew Clark, “Time for new foreign policy thinking in the Canberra citadel”, Australian Financial Review, 15 January 2021: https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/time-for-new-foreign-policy-thinking-in-the-canberra-citadel-20210115-p56ucu

Vitalik Buterin, “Endnotes on 2020: Crypto and beyond”, 28 December 2021: https://vitalik.ca/general/2020/12/28/endnotes.html

Malcolm Turnbull, A bigger picture, Hardie Grant: https://www.hardiegrant.com/au/publishing/bookfinder/book/a-bigger-picture-by-malcolm-turnbull/9781743795637

Christopher Pyne, The insider: the scoops, the scandals and the serious business within the Canberra bubble, Hachette Australia, https://www.hachette.com.au/christopher-pyne/the-insider-the-scoops-the-scandals-and-the-serious-business-within-the-canberra-bubble

Arnold Schwarznegger, Message following this week’s attack on the Capitol, 10 January 2021: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_P-0I6sAck

Following the shocking events on Wednesday 6 January when a mob of Trump supporters (incited by the president) stormed the U.S. Capitol Building, Allan and Darren offer their reactions in this episode recorded in the afternoon of Friday 8th. Above all, does this drama change how they see the short- and medium-term trajectory of the United States? For Allan the events reinforce rather than change views he’s formed over the past four years, while Darren tries, perhaps foolishly, to offer an optimistic assessment.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Bruno Maçães, History has begun: The birth of a new America (Hurst Publishers): https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/history-has-begun/

All in: The fight for Democracy (Amazon Prime): https://www.amazon.com/All-Fight-Democracy-Stacey-Abrams/dp/B08FRQQKD5

Matthew Continetti, “Trump must pay”, National Review, 6 January 2021: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/trump-must-pay/

Yuval Levin, “Trump’s rebellion against reality”, The Dispatch, 7 January 2021” https://thedispatch.com/p/trumps-rebellion-against-reality

Bruno Maçães, “The roleplaying coup”, City Journal, 7 January 2021: https://www.city-journal.org/the-role-playing-coup

Allan and Darren begin their final episode of 2020 with the recent cabinet reshuffle, specifically Dan Tehan becoming Minister for Trade and Andrew Hastie becoming Assistant Minister for Defence. Tehan replaces Simon Birmingham, the new Finance Minister, and Allan explains what he most admires about ‘Birmo’, giving Tehan—himself a former diplomat—big shoes to fill. On the Defence side, we now have a Defence Minister, and an Assistant Defence Minister, who have both served in the Australian Defence Force—something unusual and notable.

The discussion moves to the appointment of Will Hodgman, a former Premier of Tasmania, to be Australia’s next High Commissioner to Singapore. Allan wonders what specialised skills (if any) the government believes head of mission posts require, while Darren offers a very personal reflection on the wide range of abilities required to be an Ambassador, especially in a crisis situation.

Next the conversation turns to the Richardson Review, chaired by friend of the podcast Dennis Richardson and which, at over 1300 pages in length, is a deep and comprehensive inquiry into the legislation governing Australia’s intelligence community. Allan explains why the report is so significant and lists some highlights. Liberal democracies across the world are grappling with the perennial question of “freedom versus security”, and the powers (and oversight) of intelligence agencies are central to these debates. Getting the balance right is important not just in and of itself, but for demonstrating that the liberal democratic model can manage uniquely 21st century challenges.

Finally, Allan and Darren preview their “summer homework”. What is each looking to learn more about over the summer, and why? For Allan, the answer revolves around the degree of agency Australia has in the emerging international order, and for Darren the answer is—as always it seems—to understand more about China itself, and Beijing’s intentions.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Scott Morrison, Media Statement [Cabinet reshuffle], 18 December 2020: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/ministry-0  

Marise Payne, Media release “High Commissioner to Singapore”, 29 November 2020: https://www.foreignminister.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/media-release/high-commissioner-singapore

Daniel Flitton, “More pollies in more posts”, Lowy Interpreter, 3 December 2020: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/more-pollies-more-posts

Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Legal Framework of the National Intelligence Community, 4 December 2020: https://www.ag.gov.au/national-security/publications/report-comprehensive-review-legal-framework-national-intelligence-community

Sun Yun, “‘Politics come first’ as ban on Australian coal worsens China’s power cuts”, Financial Times, 21 December 2020: https://www.ft.com/content/e83fffeb-3ef2-4b67-8989-6d17f153d8d4

Pekingology podcast: https://www.csis.org/podcasts/pekingology

The Aubrey-Martin series (Wikipedia entry): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aubrey%E2%80%93Maturin_series

The Mandalorian, Disney Plus: https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/the-mandalorian

Brune Macaes, “Dune and the infinite game”, 17 December 2020: https://brunomacaes.substack.com/p/dune-and-the-infinite-game

The Realignment podcast: https://the-realignment.simplecast.com/

Allan and Darren welcome Professor Howard Bamsey to the podcast, who offers unmatched experience regarding Australia’s international engagement with the issue of climate change.

Beginning his professional life in DFAT, Howard has worked in almost all the parts of the Australian government dealing with climate change, including the Departments of the Environment and Climate Change. He has been CEO of the Australian Greenhouse Office, Australia’s special envoy on climate change, the Ambassador for the Environment, Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and Special Adviser on Green Growth to AusAid. He was director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute, is currently chair of the Global Water Partnership and Honorary Professor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the ANU, and is a member of the boards of the Climate Policy Initiative and Climate Works Australia.

For those listeners who do not follow it closely, the conversation begins with an introduction to the issue of climate change. What is the scale and urgency of the climate challenge the planet confronts right now? What are the institutions and processes through which the international community is trying to address these challenges? In answering these questions, Howard describes Australia’s contribution to the international architecture that now exists.

Yet the current Australian government’s position remains an outlier, especially regarding a commitment to carbon neutrality, why? How “pragmatic” are Australians in international negotiations? How does the issue of climate change affect our relationship with our neighbours in the South Pacific – what are we doing, and what can we do better?

The conversation turns to domestic politics – is climate change a “culture war” issue? And what strategy should the international community adopt to shift Australian policy?

Looking ahead to the next COP meeting in Glasgow, Allan asks Howard what a Biden presidency will mean for Australia, while Darren asks what role the UN and international cooperation can play into the future in facilitating investment. Finally, what does Howard say to young people about the trajectory of climate change action?

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: australia.world.pod@gmail.com We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Horward Bamsey, short biography: https://climate.anu.edu.au/about/people/academics/prof-howard-bamsey

Gideon Rachman, “The perilous politics of climate change”, Financial Times, 1 July 2019: https://www.ft.com/content/70f290de-9bd8-11e9-9c06-a4640c9feebb

In this emergency episode, Allan and Darren react to a tumultuous few weeks in Australia’s bilateral relationship with China. Events discussed include: the “14 points” document provided by the Chinese embassy to Australian journalists, new anti-dumping duties on Australian wine, PM Morrison’s speech to a UK think tank, and the hugely controversial image depicting an Australian soldier tweeted out by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, and the PM’s call for an apology in response. 

Relevant links

Scott Morrison, “UK Policy Exchange Virtual Address”, 23 November 2020: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/uk-policy-exchange-virtual-address 

Darren Lim and Victor Ferguson, “A collective approach to countering Chinese economic bullying may be Australia’s best option”, The Guardian, 28 November 2020: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/28/a-collective-approach-to-countering-chinese-economic-bullying-may-be-australias-best-option

Bill Bishop, Sinocism newsletter: https://sinocism.com/ 

Feeling particularly reflective as the US electoral process inches toward a conclusion, Allan and Darren chat about what they see as the short- and long-term challenges facing Australian foreign policy. In the short term, the bilateral relationship with China looms largest. Allan makes that case that the Prime Minister (or Foreign Minister) should make a speech clearly outlining Australia’s position, while Darren wonders whether the PM has already said what he wants to say. And what specific diplomatic moves available to the government? Darren offers some thoughts on whether the ongoing trade disruptions are simply coercion, or whether other geoeconomic or industry policy motives may be a factor. The two also debate the distinction between “the Chinese government” and “the CCP”, and compare it to distinguishing the Trump administration from the United States as a whole.

The other major short-term issue discussed is cooperation with Australia’s regional partners, Southeast Asia in particular. The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) may offer an opportunity for Australia to develop deeper ties, though Darren raises whether shared security interests are a necessary condition for really substantive cooperation. He also speculates on whether Australia’s experience with economic coercion and protecting against foreign interference could be a useful source of advice, while Allan counters that Asian nations have been grappling with these questions for decades, even centuries! Allan also previews PM Morrison’s trip to Japan this week.

Looking to the longer term, Allan and Darren describe a range of possible futures, the kinds of investment strategies Australia could pursue now to prepare for future challenges, and potential risks to a long-term strategy.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

PM Lee Hsien Loong gave the keynote address at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue Opening Dinner on 31 May 2019 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore: https://www.pmo.gov.sg/Newsroom/PM-Lee-Hsien-Loong-at-the-IISS-Shangri-La-Dialogue-2019

Lee Hsien Loong, “The Endangered Asian Century: America, China, and the Perils of Confrontation”, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2020: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/asia/2020-06-04/lee-hsien-loong-endangered-asian-century

Stephen Dziedzic, “Scott Morrison unveils Government plans to reassert Australia's influence in South-East Asia”, ABC News, 14 November 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-14/australia-canberra-new-aid-south-east-asia-scott-morrison/12883088

Joe Biden, “Why American must lead again: Rescuing U.S. Foreign Policy After Trump”, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2020: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-01-23/why-america-must-lead-again

Government of Victoria, “Victorian Pledge For Institute Of Infectious Disease”, 13 November 2020: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/victorian-pledge-institute-infectious-disease

Tim Alberta, “Elissa Slotkin Braces for a Democratic Civil War”, 13 November 2020: https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/11/13/elissa-slotkin-braces-for-a-democratic-civil-war-436301

David French, Divided we fall: America’s secession threat and how to restore our nation”, Pan Macmillan Australia: https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781250201973/ 

Ezra Klein podcast interview with Evan Osnos, “Joe Biden, explained”, 7 November 2020: https://www.vox.com/ezra-klein-show-podcast/2020/11/7/21554198/joe-biden-evan-osnos-president-2020-election-white-house-donald-trump

Little Red Podcast, “Xi Dada and Daddy: Power, the Party and the President”, 2 November 2020: https://omny.fm/shows/the-little-red-podcast/xi-dada-and-daddy-power-the-party-and-the-presiden?in_playlist=the-little-red-podcast!podcast

“P.E. with Joe”, Monday 23 March 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz0go1pTda8

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