Dealing with a China that’s not like us: benign or malign competition?

The Biden administration’s approach to China is shaping up as a continuation of the Trump administration’s “strategic competition”. But will strategic competition with China under Biden mean a shift from the malign competition – where each country seeks to undermine rather than outperform the other – that was typical under Trump towards a more benign competition?

Read more

Biden’s top foreign policy challenge: avoiding a cold war with China

The Biden administration faces a host of difficult problems, but in foreign policy its thorniest will be its relations with the People’s Republic of China. How the new administration handles issues of trade, security, and human rights will either allow both countries to hammer out a working relationship or pull the U.S. into an expensive — and unwinnable — cold war. But there are a number of moves both countries could make to avoid this.

Read more

Pentagon’s China task force to review strategy toward China

In remarks to Defense personnel on Wednesday, 10 February 2021, US President Biden said that a Pentagon ‘China task force’ will, within the next few months, review the US’s “[defense] strategy and operational concepts, technology, and force posture, and so much more”. Recommendations on key priorities and decision points are expected to enable the US to “chart a strong path forward on China-related matters”.

Read more

Taiwan: a ‘wicked’ strategic problem for Australia

For Australia, the question of Taiwan remains a ‘wicked’ strategic problem. The Taiwanese have over time established strong claims for their autonomy. The US has a huge investment in Taiwan’s security, while not denying it is part of China. And defence of Taiwan could see the island devastated, the ANZUS alliance become irrelevant, and Australia’s security lost. Why would Australia go to war over Taiwan?

Read more

Early public release of US’s Indo-Pacific ‘Strategic Framework’

On 12 January 2021, the outgoing Trump administration released a declassified document titled em>United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. The document was declassified some thirty years ahead of schedule to enable its early public release. This unusual step by an outgoing US administration has seen the emergence of a range of views on the merits of the document, and the intention behind its early release.

Read more