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.

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China-Australia decoupling? ASPI float a hydrogen balloon

It will become increasingly the case that if Australia doesn’t address the demands of the next economy, its prosperity, and therefore its security, will decline. In this context the development of an Australian clean steel industry using green hydrogen, proposed by ASPI’s Michael Shoebridge, looks enticing. But is it feasible of itself, let alone as part of decoupling from China’s economy? Or is it a distraction from the real economic and security issues facing Australia?

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The Indo-Pacific is a distraction: economics not geography is the strategic arena

Australia’s fixation on the South China Sea, and policy-makers’ indulgence of the fatuous Indo-Pacific concept, is obscuring the major developments in the strategic environment and misdirecting the public debate. While military power will continue to play a role in international relations, the fierce competition over the technologies and materials crucial to the next economy should be preoccupying strategic policy-makers.

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China-Australia relations: it’s not as simple as ABC

There are many commentators with strong and legitimate concerns about China. The relationship between Australia and China is a very important one and it warrants being debated openly and vigorously. But when those with privileged access to the public square confuse name calling and assertion with rational argument, it is important to point this out. The recent ABC article As Australia’s relationship with China deteriorates beyond repair, we need to find new trade partners is a case in point.

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US-led global arms sales grew 8.5% in 2019, Australia top host of foreign arms companies (SIPRI)

New data from SIPRI’s Arms Industry Database shows that arms sales by the world’s 25 largest arms companies totalled US$361 billion in 2019, an 8.5 per cent increase over 2018. The top five arms companies were all based in the United States: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. Outside of North America and Western Europe, the largest number of foreign arms company entities are hosted by Australia (38).

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Strategic capitalism, strategic autonomy and Australia

The Biden administration will be unable to avoid continuing America’s fierce competition with China. It also will find that, like-minded and democratic or not, most states will have distinct national interests and will seek to act autonomously, dancing between the feet of the battling giants, trying to extract or leverage the best price for their allegiance and alignment in the Chinese-US competition. With a deep past investment in the US hegemony, Australia is awkwardly placed as this new age of strategic capitalism unfolds.

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Japan and China hold high-level dialogue on East China Sea tensions, trade and Covid-19

The first high-level dialogue between China and Japan since Yoshihide Suga succeeded Shinzo Abe as Japan’s Prime Minister in September have taken place in Tpkyo, with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi discussing maritime tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea, trade and the Covid-19 pandemic response.

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Biden says US should align with other democracies to set global trade rules to counter China’s influence

On Monday [16 November 2020], US President-elect Joe Biden said that the United States needed to negotiate with allies to set global trading rules to counter China’s growing influence – but declined to say whether the US would join the 15-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, the new trade pact that includes China, which was signed in Hanoi on Sunday [15 November 2020].

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Australia hopes Asia-Pacific trade deal will improve ties with China

Australia hopes the trade deal about to be signed by 15 Asia-Pacific economies will help improve Australia’s strained relations with China. Australia’s Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said that the trade pact offers a platform that can lead to a positive change in relations. “The ball is very much in China’s court to come to the table for that dialogue,” he is reported to have said.

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