Monday, May 21, 2018

An Indo-Pacific Strategy for Australia

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Director of the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, Professor Rory Medcalf, is speaking on "Mapping our future: towards an Indo-Pacific strategy for Australia". He emphasized China's dependence on oil transported by ship through the Indian Ocean. However, China has embarked on the largest implementation of renewable energy, electrified railways and electric vehicles the world has seen. China does need oil from the middle east, for the present. But this may less important to China in the long term than it does in Australia and the USA.

Professor Medcalf suggested there is an unspoken consensus between the Australian government and opposition that Australia should participate in China's Belt and Road projects, on a case by case basis. He argues that China find the term "indo-pacific" politically loaded against it. Professor Medcalf also pointed out that France had called for an "Indo-Pacific Axis". That might be an even more unfortunate term, given the extent to which China suffered from the Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis in WWII.

Professor Medcalf mentioned soft power, including. The ANU now offeres courses in both defensive and offensive cyber-operations and teach a little on the ethics of cyber-warfare over the South-China Sea. He also mentioned aid and development. I was one of a team at ANU which prepared a proposal to provide high quality, accessible education across the Indo-Pacific: "Peace Through Superior Education".

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