Monday 18 Feb 2019 | 11:15 | SYDNEY
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Asia Pacific Security

INS Arihant revealed

As we begin the second round of our debate on sea-based nuclear weapons in the Indo-Pacific, here is the first clear image of the INS Arihant, India's first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, to be armed with either a dozen 750km-range nuclear tipped ballistic missiles or four larger missiles

What sort of power does Japan want to be?

Hugh White graciously flags my assessment of Japan as he tries to make sense of Chinese policy toward Tokyo. He is right: my 'analysis does lend support to the idea that Japan would accept a subordinate status in a Chinese-led Asia.' I wouldn't reach that conclusion, however. Nor for that matter

China's strategy to sow distrust of Japan

Promoting mutual distrust in the Asia Pacific now appears central to Chinese strategy. As Hugh White has argued persuasively, China seeks greater influence in Asia through weakening the faith of America's regional allies and partners in US resolve to remain engaged in the region. This will be

US courts Vietnam with military chief's visit

'The place for you right now is Vietnam.' So President Obama and Defense Secretary Hagel reportedly told the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and so originated the first visit by a top US military chief to Vietnam since 1971. That historical event began yesterday

AUSMIN 2014: What are we getting ourselves into?

Here's The Australian's Greg Sheridan on this week's AUSMIN talks: ...the two governments committed to establish a working group on integrating their efforts on ballistic missile defence...In time, the US ideal is to be able to track and follow any hostile missile with seamless allied co-

At AUSMIN 2014, let's talk about naval force posture

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrives in Sydney, 11 August 2014. (Department of Defence.) US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel touched down in Sydney today for the annual AUSMIN meetings between Australian and US foreign policy and defence leaders, which start tomorrow. There will be no

SSBNs are unnecessary and destabilising

A Chinese Type 094 (Jin-class) SSBN. (Wikipedia.) Regarding the Chinese and Indian ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) programs and their impact on international security, my arguments are: (1) they are not necessary; (2) noisy SSBNs are destabilising and should not be deployed; and (3) China's

Sea-based nuclear weapons in Asia: Stabiliser or menace?

On this day in 1945, the first nuclear weapon was used in conflict, with devastating consequences for the people of Hiroshima. In Asia today, nuclear weapons remain part of the strategic reality, for better or worse. But calculations about nuclear armaments in the region may be changing, notably

Relax, Japan is not remilitarising

In my previous post I argued that the last few months have seen a spike in punditry claiming that Northeast Asia's status quo is about to change, and that conflict is more likely. Japan's constitutional revisions have provoked exaggerated responses from South Korea and China, while Chinese President

Relax, Korea is not drifting toward China

Perhaps inspired by the centenary of World War I, this year has provoked a lot of clamouring about shifting security in Northeast Asia. The general vibe is that Japan's Article 9 're-interpretation' reflects a looming Sino-Japanese conflict, and that Xi Jinping's trip to South Korea is pulling Seoul

China's determination to be a great power

John Garnaut, writing for Fairfax yesterday, says I'm wrong to argue that Prime Minister Abbott and Foreign Minister Bishop do not understand the nature of China's challenge to the Asian regional order. He says Bishop's remarks, in the fine interview John did with her last week*, show that she

Alliances in Asia: South Korea unlikely to be lost

'Washington, you're on your own' is the gist of a recent piece by Stephen Walt, who assesses that Europe would have no dog in an Asian fight and will therefore distance itself from the American's long list of troubles involving China. This was underscored by Angela Merkel's recent visit to China,

Does Abbott understand the China challenge?

Sam Roggeveen says that Mr Abe's visit last week, and Julie Bishop's interview with John Garnaut, show that the Abbott Government now accepts there is a serious strategic competition underway in Asia as China challenges US primacy. If so, I think this would be an important shift. The simplest

Malcolm Fraser talks 'Dangerous Allies'

Earlier this week the Lowy Institute hosted former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to discuss his new book Dangerous Allies. Below is the full video of the event. Yesterday evening Mr Fraser tweeted the video, adding that he was 'debating the established political class!', which brought

Abe's Canberra speech: Dispelling doubts

Prime Minister Abe's carefully crafted speech to the Australian parliament gave credence to Prime Minister Abbott's much tut-tutted claim that Japan is Australia's best friend in Asia. The historic speech also clearly helped dispel one doubt about Prime Minister Abe: that he was unwilling to

Middle powers in Asia: The limits of realism

In the world of international relations theory, the realist paradigm reigns supreme. In large part, this is because it has core features that exert strong appeal beyond the academy: explanatory parsimony and the use of historical analogy. Realists place great emphasis on Europe's experience of

India's nuclear doctrine: The fog lifts

Lieutenant-General BS Nagal was an important man in India's nuclear weapons program. From 2008 to 2010 he served as India's Strategic Forces Commander, an office established just over a decade ago to lead the process of managing and using nuclear weapons. After his retirement from the military,

Japanese collective self-defence: Abe's changes won't help

Clearly Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has deep personal and political motives for wanting to change Japan's strategic posture, 'escape from the postwar regime' and make Japan a normal country. But he has only been able to push this week's changes through because many Japanese who reject Abe's

Bishop invokes World War I

As Julian Snelder wrote yesterday, World War I analogies are all the rage among Asian security scholars this year (we posted a two-part examination of the similarities and differences by Robert Kelly in March). Now Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has joined the fray, with what Fairfax's

China and the World War I analogy: How does this end?

Painting depicting the signing of the armistice in 1918. (Wikipedia.) One hundred years ago last weekend, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire was assassinated in Sarajevo, triggering World War I. The origins of the Great War have, for good reason, been intensely scrutinized. They are a

Mapping the world's EEZs

What does a political map of the world look like if you include those sometimes contentious 200nm Exclusive Economic Zones? Here's a handy tool from Open Democracy, who stress 'this map is not to be taken as the endorsement of one claim over another.' Below, I have pasted a detail incorporating the

Would Americans give their lives for Asia? No

Picture it: it's 1 March 2015. Tokyo and Beijing are headed towards what was once the unthinkable. Over the last several months China has instituted daily non-naval maritime patrols around the hotly disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Beijing is even sending fully-fledged naval assets within the

What Shinzo Abe actually said in Singapore

The Chinese rhetorical fireworks over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last weekend have been so widely reported that we are at risk of losing a sense of what Mr Abe actually said. As Interpreter readers will recall, the speech was denounced by

Are resource constraints driving China's Asia policy?

By Geoff Miller, Australian Ambassador to Japan (1986-89) and Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (1989-95). Recent reports from the Shangri-La Dialogue defence meeting in Singapore have put even more focus on the South China Sea and China's decision to put its new large

The diplomacy of hard and soft power at Shangri-La

The Shangri-La Dialogue styles itself as the premier forum for defence diplomacy in Asia. Given the scale of the event, the number of countries represented and the media coverage, the description is probably warranted. Defence diplomacy is a curious beast. Institutions and individuals whose

Scene set for torrid Shangri La Dialogue

Tonight Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers the keynote address to the annual Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore. It's ostensibly a think-tank conference organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, but is also something of an unofficial summit gathering for the region's

West Point speech neglects East Asian security

Amid tensions in the South China Sea and new alarm about a China-Russia alignment, President Obama's speech at West Point sends some confusing signals to the countries of Indo-Pacific Asia.   To be fair, the speech was not meant to be principally about Asia. It was intended to draw a final line

Obama at West Point: The limits of American power

Barack Obama has declared a new foreign policy doctrine: the limits of American power. The US, he argues, 'must always lead on the world stage,' but 'US military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.'   Addressing future US Army

How competitive is China's civil aviation industry?

Reports have surfaced that the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) C919 airliner program is struggling, with first deliveries pushed back to 2018, two years later than scheduled. Local newspapers have run positive stories about progress, but the tone is defensive. Aviation Week has

Asia Pacific security: Is the F-35B relevant?

With Prime Minister Tony Abbott implying recently that Australia could buy the F-35B 'jump jet' version of the Joint Strike Fighter (a suggestion reinforced this week by Defence Minister David Johnston), this is a good time to ask: what relevance could the F-35B have for the Asia Pacific? Designed

South China Sea: ASEAN Summit falls short again

History neither repeated nor reversed itself at the ASEAN Summit last weekend when it came to the South China Sea disputes. Three preliminary judgments can be made with an eye for ASEAN's future centrality in relation to this issue. 1. ASEAN and its host state clearly learned from its historic 2012

From the comments section: Chinese actions in the South China Sea

Featuring the best comments by Interpreter readers, as selected by the editors. A couple of excellent reader responses to Sam Roggeveen's post on Chinese actions in the South China Sea. First, Mishmael disagrees with Sam's proposal that China could pursue a less risky (and cheaper) 'rise' by

The China-Vietnam standoff: Three key factors

So, another maritime incident between China and one of its neighbours. There are reports from officials in Hanoi that Chinese and Vietnamese vessels collided on at least two separate occasions in the South China Sea on Sunday, in waters 120nm off the Vietnamese coast. The dispute began last

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