This presentation will offer a view from China. It positions Australia at the nexus of a US-dominated maritime power hierarchy and economic networks dominated by China. The stakes are high – given the strategic interests and economic necessity involved. At the heart of China’s “New Era” foreign policy strategy is the continuing active promotion of international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and debate over whether it is evolving into an ‘alternative’ global trading system that supersedes an expiring ‘liberal’ world order.
Taiwan remains China’s number one security concern, however, critically important shipping and resource potential in the SCS, means China will continue its existing multi-lateral and bilateral diplomacy with both the members of ASEAN and the states and micro-states of the Pacific. The recent Australian focus on the Pacific Islands, which responds to concern over China’s growing influence via the BRI, communications connectivity and military capacity, is mirrored by China’s concern over similarly motivated attempts by the US, France, UK, Australia and New Zealand to mitigate Chinese ambitions in the region. For the Pacific peoples it presents the dilemma of choosing between China’s economic development model versus strategic alignment with the US and other former colonial powers and colonies.
About the speaker: Digby is a visiting scholar from Deakin University at Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, China. His background is in Media and Communication and his current research includes the Belt and Road Initiative, Geo-economics and Geo-politics.
R1 Theaterette Russell Offices, Canberra