Will Beijing's Bullish Foreign Policy Upset Asia's Delicate Peace?


China’s ballooning defence budget and aggressive territorial claims are raising fears in capitals across Asia. Will Beijing remain faithful to its “peaceful rise” doctrine or will the Middle Kingdom seize control of vast tracts of disputed land and sea?

Meanwhile, Sino-US relations are strained by China’s acrimonious territorial disputes with US allies and partners, Washington’s ‘pivot’ to Asia, intellectual property theft, and other irritants. The world’s two most powerful nations increasingly see each other as strategic rivals and potential enemies rather than partners.

Will it be possible to simultaneously reassure Asia’s established powers and engineer China’s peaceful rise? Or will deteriorating regional relations jeopardise Asia’s age of peace and prosperity?

John Garnaut was Fairfax’s China correspondent from 2007 to 2013. He was awarded a Walkley Award in 2009 for breaking the story of the arrest of Stern Hu, a senior Rio Tinto iron ore executive. In 2012, John published The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo — a revelatory exposé of China’s most controversial “statesman,” Bo Xilai. John joined the Sydney Morning Herald as a cadet in 2002, and became Economics Correspondent in the Canberra press gallery before being posted to Beijing in 2007.

Graeme Meehan is Assistant Secretary of East Asia Branch at DFAT. Before taking up this position, he was was Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Beijing (2008-12). Graeme speaks fluent Chinese and has had a long professional association with China, including extensive work on China issues at DFAT in Canberra and three earlier postings to China and Taiwan — Beijing (1998-2001) and Taipei (1993-95 and 2002-04).

Tom Switzer is editor of The Spectator Australia and a research associate with the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. He was opinion page editor at The Australian (2001-08), an editorial writer at The Australian Financial Review (1998-2001), and assistant editor at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. (1995-98). Tom has written for leading Australian and international publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The American Interest, and most recently, The National Interest.

Benjamin Herscovitch  is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies. He is based in Beijing, where his work focuses on China-Australia relations, international development, and Asia literacy. Before joining CIS, Benjamin was a Desk Officer at DFAT, where he served on the Pakistan desk and worked on the department’s public diplomacy programs.

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