In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Aaron Friedberg joins us to discuss the current state and shortcomings of U.S. engagement with China. Dr. Friedberg argues that U.S. engagement with China has failed in several respects, highlighting China’s shift toward more repressive policies under Xi Jinping and its increasingly contentious relationship with the United States in the Asia-Pacific. He believes that, rather than becoming a “responsible stakeholder,” China has instead evolved into a “revisionist power” that is seeking to surpass American influence in Asia and challenge the global status quo. He offers that if the United States did not embrace the approach of engaging with China, it is possible that China would be more aggressive now, but China would also be a weaker power. Lastly, Dr. Friedberg lays out his view of how the United States can best strategize on China going forward, including offering his evaluation of the Biden Administration’s current policy toward China.
Dr. Aaron Friedberg is a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University. From 2003 to 2005 Dr. Friedberg served as a Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs in the Office of the Vice President. In 2006 he was named to the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion. Dr. Friedberg’s most recent book Getting China Wrong explores the origins of engagement and presents new approaches for Western policy towards China.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Scott Kennedy joins us to discuss the state of China’s economy and its current challenges. Dr. Kennedy says that Chinese domestic economic policy, including crackdowns in the technology and education sectors, are dampening prospects for China’s long-term growth. He also explains that China’s Zero-Covid policy and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have adversely shaped business sentiment in China. Lastly, Dr. Kennedy argues that China’s current economic difficulties could make it a more unpredictable and volatile actor on the world’s stage.
Scott Kennedy is Senior Adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics at CSIS. Dr. Kennedy is a leading authority on Chinese economic policy and has been traveling to China for over 30 years. His specific areas of expertise include industrial policy, technology innovation, business lobbying, U.S.-China commercial relations, and global governance. His articles have appeared in a wide array of policy, popular, and academic venues, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and China Quarterly.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Professor Rory Medcalf joins us to discuss China’s strategy in the Solomon Islands and the Southwest Pacific. Professor Medcalf explains that the Southwest Pacific, for much of its history, has not been a zone of major power competition and is important because it stands geographically between Australia and the rest of the Indo-Pacific and the US. The Solomon Islands is one of multiple locations in the region that China has expressed military interest in. He also argues that China’s objectives in the region could distort the interests and priorities of governments and societies and could change the region’s balance of power. Lastly, Professor Medcalf recommends that the Australian government and its partners build and maintain a new level of engagement (through both governance and civil society) in the region in order to provide alternatives to China’s influence.
Professor Rory Medcalf has been Head of the National Security College (NSC) at the Australian National University since January 2015. His professional background involves three decades of experience across diplomacy, intelligence analysis, think tanks, academia, and journalism, including as founding Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute from 2007 to 2015.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by Dr. Jon B. Alterman to unpack the relationship between China and the Middle East. Dr. Alterman begins with an overview of China’s role in the region, detailing China’s varied individual relationships with different countries. He states that China’s growing presence in the region is mostly motivated by Chinese self-interest and China is not willing to commit large sacrifices to deepen its relations with the region or with particular countries like Iran. Dr. Alterman concludes that the future of China-Middle East relations is unpredictable, and the United States should not overestimate China’s power in the region.
Dr. Jon B. Alterman is a senior vice president, holds the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and is director of the Middle East Program at CSIS. Prior to joining CSIS in 2002, he served as a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State and as a special assistant to the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, and from 2009-2019 he served as a member of the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Shen Ming-Shih joins us to discuss Taiwan’s views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the potential lessons Taiwan may learn. Dr. Shen begins by exploring what Taiwan’s defense community has learned and the inspiration Taiwan’s people have drawn from Ukraine. He says that unity among Taiwan’s people and political parties will be a critical factor in a conflict scenario, especially given sharp disagreements over cross-Strait relations. He then discusses the ongoing debates in Taiwan over how to reform the island’s defense and build on its relationship with the U.S. Finally, Dr. Shen argues that the most important factor in a potential Taiwan conflict will be the actions of the U.S. and international community, and that the U.S. should embrace “strategic-level clarity” with tactical ambiguity to deter China from aggression.
Dr. Shen Ming-Shih is the Director of the Division of National Security Research and Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) in Taiwan. Previously, Dr. Shen was an assistant associate in the Department of Strategic Studies in the War College at the National Defense University in Taiwan. He was also an adjunct associate professor in the International Affairs and Strategic Studies Graduate School at Tamkang University. Dr. Shen served in the Republic of China Army where he retired at the rank of colonel.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Tong Zhao joins us to discuss China’s views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the potential lessons China may learn. Dr. Zhao begins by describing the evolution of Chinese reactions to the invasion, from optimism of its impacts on China to uncertainty. He says that, in China, there is a common perception that Russia and Ukraine are comparable to China and Taiwan—particularly the belief that Ukraine and Taiwan allow themselves to be used by the West to undermine Russian and Chinese interests. Dr. Zhao then explains that the West’s comprehensive sanctions against Russia and military support for Ukraine reinforce China’s fear that the West seeks to strangle countries with different political systems. Despite this fear, he says, the survival of Russia’s economy and the ambivalence of non-Western countries are demonstrating to China that Western sanctions can be weathered. Finally, Dr. Zhao discusses how the invasion of Ukraine might change the global geopolitical landscape, and that he thinks the invasion will significantly impact China’s foreign policy going forward.
Dr. Zhao is a senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, based in Beijing. His research focuses on strategic security issues, such as nuclear weapons policy, deterrence, arms control, nonproliferation, missile defense, hypersonic weapons, and China’s security and foreign policy. He serves on the board of directors of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and on the advisory board of the Missile Dialogue Initiative. Dr. Zhao is also an associate editor of Science & Global Security and is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by Mr. Kenneth W. Allen, Mr. Gerald C. Brown, and Mr. Thomas J. Shattuck to discuss China’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) flight incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). They first define the PLA’s incursions as a tactic for China to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty and explain how such actions impact China and Taiwan’s policy goals. They reveal that the PLA launches these incursions to serve as punishment and intimidation when it is dissatisfied with Taiwan’s policies or engagement with the international community. Additionally, they note that these sorties are far from replicating the amount of air power or coordination that China would need to launch an invasion of Taiwan. They assert that while these incursions reveal the PLA’s growing air capabilities, there is still a long way to go, and China has yet to train the way it intends to fight. However, they also point out that it is likely future PLA incursions will grow in sophistication as China sees the importance of air superiority in the Ukraine conflict. Lastly, they assess that there is no evidence so far that China is taking advantage of current US and European attention on the Ukraine crisis to significantly increase military pressure on Taiwan.
Kenneth W. Allen served 21 years in the United States Air Force as a Chinese and Russian linguist and intelligence officer, and as the assistant air attaché in Beijing from 1987 to 1989. From 2017 to 2019, he served as a research director for the US Air Force’s China Aerospace Studies Institute. Gerald C. Brown is a defense analyst, researching nuclear deterrence, the People’s Liberation Army, and Indo-Pacific security. Previously, he spent six years in the US Air Force working in nuclear security operations. Thomas J. Shattuck is the Future of the Global Order: Power, Technology, and Governance Program Manager at Perry World House. He is the former Deputy Director of the Asia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), where he was also a Research Fellow.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Charles Edel joins us to unpack the relationship between Australia and China. Dr. Edel begins by navigating key moments of closeness and tension in the China-Australia relationship. In terms of policies towards China, he highlights the moderate approach of the Australian business community versus the more forward-leaning approach from the Australian government and the public. He notes that when faced with great economic pressure, “Australian businesses were able to diversify and find other markets quickly”. Dr. Edel also examines Australia’s participation in AUKUS and the Quad. He explains that Australia believes it needs to build up power projection capabilities, especially as China increases its presence in the Indo-Pacific. He adds that Australia’s response to Chinese coercion demonstrates to China that not all countries will fold to its pressure. Additionally, he explains that China’s closeness to Russia amid the invasion of Ukraine propels an overarching negative sentiment towards China and prompts the Australian government to consider potential responses if China attacks Taiwan. Lastly, Dr. Edel asserts that despite the current downward trend in China-Australia relations, the relationship will eventually stabilize.
Charles Edel is the inaugural Australia Chair and a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He previously taught at the University of Sydney, where he was also a senior fellow at the United States Studies Centre. Prior to that, Dr. Edel was a professor of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College and served on the U.S. secretary of state’s Policy Planning Staff from 2015 to 2017. In that role, he advised the secretary of state on political and security issues in the Indo-Pacific region.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Rana Siu Inboden joins us to discuss China’s role and influence in the international human rights regime. Dr. Inboden begins by explaining how China’s views on human rights have evolved starting with Mao, through the Tiananmen Square massacre, and now under Xi Jinping. She argues that, while the West emphasizes civil and political rights, China focuses on and favors economic rights, especially the right to development. In addition, she adds that China believes human rights should be contingent based on a country’s national conditions. Dr. Inboden also describes how, in the 1990s, China joined other countries to form the Like-Minded Group, a group of authoritarian countries that believe human rights are particular to each country and has traditionally acted together to weaken the international human rights regime. Lastly, she breaks down how China has succeeded in diminishing the work of the UN Human Rights Council and suppressing its own activists from participating in the international human rights regime.
Dr. Rana Siu Inboden is a Senior Fellow with the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas-Austin. She serves as a consultant on human rights, democracy, and rule of law projects in Asia for a number of non-governmental organizations and conducts research related to international human rights, Chinese foreign policy, the effectiveness of international human rights and democracy projects and authoritarian collaboration in the United Nations. Her first book, China and the International Human Rights Regime (Cambridge, 2021) examines China’s role in the international human rights regime between 1982 and 2017.
In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Rajeswari (Raji) Pillai Rajagopalan joins us to unpack the changing relationship between India and China. Dr. Rajagopalan begins by describing India’s view of China, emphasizing India’s continued wish for a stable and normalized relationship with China, despite conflicts that arise. She explains that China’s growing economic power and influence in India’s neighboring countries have heightened India’s insecurity and tension between the two countries. Furthermore, Dr. Rajagopalan discusses the fundamental differences in Chinese and Indian strategic objectives, specifically their goals for power dynamics in Asia. Additionally, she identifies the 2020 Galwan Valley skirmish as a turning point in the India-China relationship, arguing that China’s actions have shown that India can no longer afford to carry out ambivalence in its foreign policy. Lastly, Dr. Rajagopalan cautions India from relying too heavily on Russia for defense capabilities and urges the country to diversify its military capabilities.
Dr. Rajeswari (Raji) Rajagopalan is the Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology (CSST) at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. Dr. Rajagopalan was the Technical Advisor to the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) (July 2018-July 2019). She was also a Non-Resident Indo-Pacific Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre from April-December 2020. As a senior Asia defence writer for The Diplomat, she writes a weekly column on Asian strategic issues.