China’s Rise and the Indo-Pacific
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China’s Rise and the Indo-Pacific
3 July @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The Asia-Pacific has become the Indo-Pacific region as the US, Japan, Australia and India have decided to join forces and scale-up their political, economic and security cooperation. The message coming from Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and Delhi is clear: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is no longer the only game in town and Beijing’s policymakers better get ready for fierce competition. At this event, Matthew Sussex – Academic Director of National Security College in Australian National University will offer Australian perspective on the regional order in the Indo-Pacific.
By kind invitation of Phil Wilson MP, the Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to a discussion with Academic Director at National Security College in Australia – Matthew Sussex, about China’s rise and the future of regional order in the Indo-Pacific.
Matthew Sussex is Academic Director at the National Security College, ANU. His research specialisations revolve around security studies, cyber security and information warfare – with a particular focus on Russia, Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific. His publications include BRI and the Future of Regional Order (Lexington, 2019); Power, Politics and Confrontation in Eurasia (Palgrave, 2015); Russia, Eurasia and the New Geopolitics of Energy (Palgrave, 2015); and Conflict in the Former USSR (Cambridge University Press, 2012). He has been awarded grants from the Australian Research Council, the Fulbright Commission, various Australian government agencies, and others. He also provides regular analyses for local, national and international media and think-tanks, including the Lowy Institute, the ABC, BBC, CNN, Bloomberg and others.
Dr. John Hemmings is the Director of the Asia Studies Centre and Deputy Research Director at the Henry Jackson Society. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. His research focuses on China, Japan, the Korea’s and security and foreign affairs in the Indo-Pacific. Prior to HJS, he worked in the Asia Programme at the Royal United Services Institute. He has a doctorate in international relations from the London School of Economics and writes for the Telegraph, the Interpreter, the National Interest, among others.
Philip Wilson MP is a Labour Party MP in the United Kingdom. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Sedgefield on 19 July 2007 in a by-election that followed the resignation of Tony Blair, former Prime Minister and MP for Sedgefield.
On Wednesday, July 3, 2019, the Henry Jackson Society welcomed the Academic Director at National Security College in Australia, Dr. Matthew Sussex, to discuss his perspective on the global and regional implications and realities of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The event was chaired by Philip Wilson MP. Also contributing to the discussion was HJS’s own Dr. John Hemmings.
Dr. Sussex began the dialog by asking the question: “What is the Belt and Road Initiative?” He first made the point that there is no easy answer to this question. Some view the initiative in economic terms, China’s path towards global investment and economic dominance. Some view the BRI with a focus on values, China acting as an authoritarian nation with a neo-feudalist agenda. Dr. Sussex claimed that to understand the BRI either if these two ways is naïve and fails to fully understand China’s intentions. The speaker voiced his perspective, saying that the BRI is a combination of both China’s geo-economics and geo-strategy. Viewing the initiative in this light allows one to better understand the actual implications it possesses.
Next, Dr. Sussex discussed three different scenarios that may arise from the BRI: “the good, the bad, and the ugly” (from China’s point of view). The good scenario, for China, is that the BRI succeeds and the United States is displaced as the security hegemon in the region. The bad scenario is that the BRI completely fails, there are no massive successes and China turns inward. Dr. Sussex claimed how both scenarios are unlikely. The former scenario is unlikely because China has not reported any great successes thus far. The latter scenario is unlikely because so many nations are interested in taking part, China has already invested so much, and there is no clear alternative of Indo-Pacific region strategy. Dr. Sussex then suggested that the most likely scenario is “the ugly”—one where there are several clashing rules-based orders between.
Dr. Sussex then asked another question: “What is to be done?” One action he proposed was that “liberal nations need clearer understandings of when and where to uphold their principles.” Dr. Sussex added that liberal nations must make clear cases that they have interests involved, not solely values. He concluded answering this question with the remark, “we must engage positively with Beijing.” The speaker then made the recommendation that western countries and allies need to “be prepared to face challenged together.”
Dr. Hemmings gave his comments before the floor was open to questions. He emphasized the importance of understanding China’s strategic intentions. For example, he mentioned how Beijing is entering into bilateral loans on ports with host countries as oppose to multilateral loans. Dr. Hemmings also described how the BRI did not just appear out of nowhere, instead, Beijing saw a gap in Indo-Pacific infrastructure that could be filled. Dr. Hemmings then concluded by highlighting how there are viable non-kinetic responses to check Beijing, which may be more productive than resorting directly to kinetic responses. These include: utilizing the power of Western higher education in which Chinese parents desire to enroll their children in or putting more pressure on Chinese firms in terms of listings.
After Dr. Hemming’s remarks the conversation was opened to the public. A variety of intriguing questions and topics were discussed. A particular topic of interest was on Huawei and the implications of allowing the Chinese telecom company into the UK’s 5G network. After the question period the speakers gave some final remarks to conclude the event. The Henry Jackson Society was delighted to have hosted this event in Parliament and to shine light the insights provided by both Dr. Sussex and Dr. Hemmings. Thank you to all who were in attendance.
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