Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 22:58 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 22:58 | SYDNEY

ASPI Conference, day 2


Sam Roggeveen


3 July 2008 19:12

A few highlights from an excellent set of speakers:

  • Barry Desker, Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said Rudd's Asia Pacific Community idea was 'dead in the water' because the Government had done too little regional consultation before launching the proposal.
  • ABC foreign affairs correspondent Graeme Dobell discussed the rising influence of Asia (not just China) in the Pacific. He said Pacific students were these days just as likely to go to university in China or Taiwan as in Australia or New Zealand.
  • The controversy over whaling had, according to Dobell, overshadowed the real scandal of Japanese fishing in the Pacific. Japan has radically understated its annual catch, making it impossible to implement effective fisheries management.
  • Andrew Davies from ASPI said there was no evidence of an Asian arms race. In terms of GDP spent on defence, there has been no real regional reaction to growing Chinese spending. In fact, ASEAN defence spending as a percentage of GDP has barely moved since the late 70s.
  • Davies also said that for prestige reasons, regional states do want to match their neighbours with equivalent capabilities. But that's not the same as an arms race — once equilibrium is established, the competition stops.
  • Another telling point from Davies: we are close to a crossing point as to who would prevail (China or US) in a confrontation in the Taiwan Strait.
  • Former Defence Secretary Ric Smith gave a brilliant speech about the 'rediscovery of foreign policy'. There has been a trend toward the 'securitisation' of foreign policy after 9/11, but there are signs of a movement back to a broader focus.