THE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES OF CHINA’S NEW LEADERSHIP NEW DIRECTIONS FOR GLOBAL AND REGIONAL COOPERATION
Institute for Strategic Studies Oberoi Lecture
Trident Hotel, Mumbai
the International Institute for Strategic Studies for their invitation to
deliver the 2012 Oberoi Lecture here in India.
IISS has a long and distinguished history in bringing analytical and policy
focus to the greater strategic challenges of our time.
is appropriate that this lecture series be delivered in India, given this
country’s significant role in the evolution of the current global and regional
It was my
privilege to visit India as Prime Minister in 2009 again as Foreign Minister
Prime Minister Gillard of course concluded a successful visit here most
we agreed for the first time to frame this relationship as a strategic
partnership. This was not an idle term. It reflected the fact that we have so
many fundamental interests and values in common as we approach the foreign
policy complexities of the current century.
impediments in relation to the relationship have been dealt with.
negotiations are well underway. But if we are to make the most of this future
relationship we must both agree to unlock its economic potential.
is the 12th largest economy in the world, a member of the G20 with India
and the fourth largest economy in Asia after China, Japan and India.
is therefore much business to be done together as we transform this
relationship from the old and a little too distant relationship of the past
into a dynamic relationship for the future across all levels – strategic,
economic and political.
Australia see ourselves as a middle power with both regional and global
an active diplomacy, regionally and globally, and look forward to continuing to
work closely with our friends in New Delhi in all the major councils of the
that the specific space which the Oberoi Lecture seeks to occupy in our crowded
international agenda is to make sense, both in analysis and policy, of the
great geo-economic developments of the twenty-first century.
may argue that geo-economic analysis occupies an uncertain terrain between the
more defined certitudes of geo-politics on the one hand and geo-strategic
analysis on the other.
the academy, there are some parallels with the emergence over the last 30 years
of IPE (International Political Economy) as a recognised discipline occupying a
necessary, but nonetheless contested, conceptual space between the more
established disciplines of International Relations and Economics.
course, history teaches us that ‘no man’s land’ can be a very dangerous place
for one agree that to ignore the political and strategic impact of the core
driving forces of the global economy is a little like the sound of one hand
even in this great age of economic globalisation, geography still matters.
geography did not still matter, we would be hard pressed to explain, for
example, the intensity of intra-regional trade and investment patterns within
North America, greater Europe and, of course, our own hemisphere here in Asia.
task of foreign policy in the 21st century is to make analytical sense of
international economics, international security and international politics in
an age of globalisation where literally everything is connected to everything
based on integrated analysis, to make pro-active policy recommendations to our
respective governments on how to best maintain the stability of the post-war
international order while at the same time managing the individual policy
challenges of the day.
long been my view that analysis without policy (that is, without asking
ourselves, “And then what should we now do?”) is little better than a dead
same time, policy in the absence of a detached analysis of what is happening in
the world, and why, can be just plain dangerous.
long said that the beginning of wisdom in foreign policy is first, to
understand the interests, values and identity of others; second, to understand
with equal clarity the interests, values and a sense of identity that we have
about ourselves; and then, based on one and two above, maximise cooperation,
minimise conflict and manage the rest.
his Excellency Shyam Saran noted recently in his lecture China in the Twenty-First Century: What India Needs to KnowAboutChina's World View, “To see ourselves as others
see us, is a valuable gift without doubt.But in international relations what is rarer and far more useful is to
see others as they see themselves.”
his Excellency was quoting the historian, Jacques Barzun, in the former Foreign
Secretary’s own provocative analysis of the deep civilisational underpinnings
of the contemporary worldviews of both China and India, and the mindsets that
is on this core question of mindsets that I would like to focus my remarks
today, on one of the central questions of our age – namely, the rise of China
and the response of the US, the West and the rest, including the great
civilisation, nation and emerging economy that is India.
us all be clear: the rise of China is no ordinary event.It is, in fact, an extraordinary event.And one which has materialised before our
eyes over the last 20 or 30 years – almost a nanosecond within the vast context
and canvas of human history.
the course of the next decade, the Chinese economy surpasses that of the United
States in aggregate size, this will be the first time since George III that a
non-English speaking, non-Western, non-democratic state will be the largest
economy in the world.
already having a profound effect both on the objective reality and subjective
perceptions that characterise contemporary international relations.
only is the centre of geo-economic gravity shifting from North America and
Europe to Asia – or, from a maritime perspective, from the Atlantic to the
too, is the centre of geo-political and geo-strategic gravity shifting to this
Asian hemisphere as well.
axiom “where economic power goes, political and strategic power soon follow”
continues to exhibit its own intrinsic and rigorous logic.
not to dismiss the power of ideas, of values and of identity.For these, too, continue to shape the way in
which we think and act.
would be guilty of collective naïveté if we failed to recognise and respond to
the great shifts in international relations that are currently underway.
return, once again, to the normative theme that I have referred to above: the
business of diplomacy can either adopt a passive, analytical posture and
profile which simply describes the great events unfolding before us across the
global and regional order - by implication, almost concluding that there is
nothing that can profitably be done about it other than to be well-informed
bystanders or even brilliant raconteurs describing what is unfolding before
alternatively, our combined diplomacies can actively seek to shape the sort of
international order that we continue to need to underpin our responses to the
great policy challenges of our age.
one, have never believed that there is anything determinist about history.I believe that ideas matter.I believe that policy, including foreign
policy, matters.Just as I believe that
politics matters in providing the capacity to translate policy into reality.
therefore, when our friends in China, and our friends here in India, together
with those of us in Australia look at the great changes unfolding before us, I
believe our analysis should be clear and our foreign policy bold in seeking to
realise our common objectives of ensuring the continued peace, prosperity and
unfolding freedoms so fundamental to the future of this Asian hemisphere.
new Chinese leadership
do we apply these bold conceptual declarations to the immediate practical task
of understanding what China wants for its own future; what strategy is it
pursuing to realise that future; will it succeed or fail; and what should the
rest of us do about it.
brings us to the core question of China’s new political leadership and the
prospects for policy continuity and change.
been writing on China’s leadership transition over the last three months and
its implications for the Chinese economy, Chinese political reform, and the
future shape of Chinese foreign and security policy.
something particularly significant happened last weekend of which we should all
first travel outside Beijing since being elected General Secretary and Chairman
of the Central Military Commission at the 18th Party Congress last
month, Xi Jinping chose to travel to Shenzhen.
has a particular significance within the Chinese political and economic policy
here during the early 1980s that Deng Xiaoping unveiled the first of China’s
then four special economic zones which became the country’s national and
international symbols of Deng’s determination to internationalise the Chinese
economy and to implement a vast program of market-based economic reforms.
Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, himself a revolutionary hero within the
annals of the People’s Liberation Army, also took a leading role in promoting
the Shenzhen economic experiment 30 years ago.
Zhongxun’s political and military career had very much mirrored that of the ups
and downs of Deng Xiaoping’s career – including him being purged during the
Cultural Revolution and then returning with Deng to the Politburo in the late
1970s, following the purge of the Gang of Four.
Jinping is enormously proud of his father’s achievements and, of course, Xi
Jinping himself experienced the personal impact of his father’s fall from
political grace and subsequent rehabilitation.
the weekend Xi Jinping placed a wreath at a statute of Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen.
also reported to have stated, “The decision the party central leadership made
about opening and reform was correct.Hereafter, we will still go down this correct road… we must unswervingly
take the road of enriching the nation, enriching the people, but we must also
open it up even further.”
students of modern Chinese political history, Xi Jinping’s remarks and where he
chose to make them are of particular political significance in providing a
critical insight into the priorities of the new leadership.
only was Xi Jinping saying that both Deng Xiaoping and his father, Xi Zhongxun,
got it right, way back in the late 70s and early 80s.
Jinping was also deliberately commemorating Deng Xiaoping’s famous “southern
expedition”, when as an 88 year old, three years after the political implosions
in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the conservative political reaction that
followed, he made a public political point of returning to Shenzhen, the
symbolic cornerstone of his post-1978 economic reform program, to pronounce
both to China and the international community that the Chinese economic reform
program had to proceed “even faster” than before.
political terms, Deng Xiaoping was rescuing China’s economic reform project
from conservative forces within the Chinese leadership at the time who pointed
to Tiananmen as the reason why these reforms should stop.
Xiaoping’s Shenzhen declaration represented a defiant repudiation of the
conservatives and as a result he reset the political foundations for the
direction of the Chinese economy for the next 20 years.
will not be lost on anyone in Chinese politics that, 20 years later, Xi Jinping
on his first official visit within the country has elected not only to go to
Shenzhen but also to emulate Deng’s 1992 declaration by stating today that, not
only was Deng right, but that China must now open up even further.
contrast, 10 years ago, Xi Jinping’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, upon his election
as General Secretary, chose to visit Xibaipo (a pre-1949 revolutionary base of
both the Party and the PLA) where Hu instead made a speech urging the country
to recall the achievements of Chairman Mao Zedong.
Jinping’s decision to travel south is as clear an indication of anything we’ve
seen so far that Xi’s intention is to lead China through the next phase of its
economic reform program.
to the south is also sending a message about not just policy substance but also
visit apparently was not covered extensively by the central Chinese media.
his remarks were carried by Hong Kong based Phoenix Television, which has
massive reach across China’s elites but also a broader audience as well.
visit was also carried by China’s exploding social media with photographs and
comments widely circulated in the Chinese twittersphere and blogosphere.
chose not to travel in a limousine but instead by mini-bus.
most significantly, in the eyes of the long-suffering Chinese commuters, Xi
insisted that the traffic not be blocked while he travelled around Shenzhen, as
has almost always occurred in the past with provincial visits by central
clear that at a level of political style, that Xi Jinping is determined to cut
a different, less elitist, and even populist image with a Chinese people still
reeling from the revelations of the Bo Xilai scandal, as well as their general
revulsion at the world of privilege they believe is enjoyed by Party elites.
sort of man is Xi Jinping, and what sort of leader is he likely to be, and what
of the other newly elected members of the seven-member Standing Committee?
international audience (and here I draw extensively on remarks I have made
elsewhere), it is best to understand the Standing Committee as the equivalent
of an Executive Cabinet – with allocated broad portfolio responsibilities,
regular weekly meeting procedures and formal documentation associated with each
where ultimate power resides within the Chinese political system.
has been written about Xi Jinping. It has been my privilege to spend time with
Mr Xi and on different occasions with five of the other seven members of the
newly announced Standing Committee.
people ask me what the leaders are like as both politicians and human beings.
general response is that like the rest of us who have been associated with
national political leadership during our careers, these are normal human beings
confronted with the normal challenges of life, confronted with infinite
expectations of what they can deliver and at the same time confronted with
finite resources with which to meet those expectations.
their case, however, they additionally confront the extraordinary challenge of
negotiating the continued economic transformation of the most populous country
on earth and doing so within the rigidities of a political system still
dominated by a Leninist state.
balance, my judgement is that this new Chinese leadership team is both
sufficiently politically powerful and certainly technically competent to meet
the formidable tasks which lie before it.
leadership team is on balance reformist in terms of the future direction of
Chinese economic policy while remaining what I would describe as “small-c”
conservative on the possibilities of further political reform within the
foreign policy, the leadership team will continue to want to undergird the
economic transformation process in China by continuing regional and global
that means managing a continuing strategic accommodation with the United
States, most particularly in Asia.
core challenge for the period ahead for both Washington and Beijing will be how
precisely to do that.
Xi Jinping himself, I have said many times I believe Xi Jinping to be
experienced, confident and self-assured and, because of his family’s political
pedigree, comfortable with the mantle of political leadership.
believe Xi Jinping is confident of both his military and economic reformist
credentials based on his father’s achievements in both domains, as well as Xi
Jinping’s own period in the PLA and his position as private secretary to former
Defence Minister Geng Biao.
addition to this, Xi brings to the table vast experience of both municipal and
provincial level administration across both China’s richer and poorer regions.
Xi’s views of the world, in his domestic roles he has had extensive engagement
with foreign corporations given that his own administrative career has
coincided with a period of China’s most intense program of domestic economic
reform and global economic engagement.
the last five years since he was first elected to the Standing Committee, he
has travelled extensively around the world (including Australia) and has spent
extended periods of time in the United States as the guest of Vice-President
Biden, and earlier as Biden’s host during the latter’s extensive tour of China.
long said that I believe Xi Jinping is a Chinese leader that the Americans can
do business with – not just in shaping the long-term contours of Sino-US
relations in a new, constructive strategic direction, but also in shaping the
broad architecture of a new rules-based order for Asia.
top of this, it is significant that the Party Congress appointed Xi Jinping
immediately as Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
believe this to be an important indication of the strength of his political
standing given the continuing central role of the Chinese Military in Chinese
appointment now to take over the position represents a break in the convention
10 years ago when Hu Jintao had to wait another two years after his appointment
as Party General Secretary to be appointed as Chairman of the Central Military
meantime, the previous party Secretary Jiang Zemin continued in the position as
chair of the Central Military Commission.
expected that the precedent would be applied on this occasion – allowing for Hu
Jintao to gradually exit from the political scene over time. By contrast, Xi
Jinping’s power has been confirmed almost immediately.
overall terms Xi Jinping, while acknowledging and accepting the realities of
collective leadership decision making processes, has the capacity to become
more than a Primus inter Pares.
not believe it is within his temperament to simply be content with the policy
status quo.He has considerable
political capital to draw on. But the key question is what domestic and
international policy direction he will seek to take the country.
Premier will be Li Keqiang. It was my privilege to spent time with Li as senior
Vice-Premier when he visited Australia in recent years.
widely known as an economic reformer and as Premier he will chair the State
Council which will be responsible for the implementation of China’s continued
economic reform program.
the Standing Committee hierarchy is Zhang Dejiang. Zhang is regarded as a
highly reliable political manager having recently been entrusted with the
complex task of taking over the Chongqing Provincial Party Committee after the
purge of Bo Xilai following the multiple scandals concerning himself, his wife
and his family.
since 2008 has been one of China’s Vice-Premiers. Most critically between 2002
and 2007 was responsible for the administration of the Party committee in one
of China’s most wealthy provinces Guangdong.
four in the new hierarchy is Yu Zhengsheng. Yu since 2007 has been Party
Secretary in Shanghai, China’s traditional and continuing commercial capital.
reputation is that it lies at the forefront of further economic reform, more
expansive markets and a greater role for the private sector.
be joined by Liu Yunshan. Of the seven men on the Standing Committee, Liu is
regarded as a more conservative political leader given his responsibility of
heading the Propaganda Department.
capacity Liu will be responsible for the complex and politically sensitive task
of managing state control of China’s media at a time of China’s unfolding
social media revolution and an increasingly questioning official and
semi-official media as well.
the most critical additions to the standing committee will be Wang Qishan. Wang
Qishan has supported much of China’s work in the G20 as well as in the annual
U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
well known and generally well liked by the Americans.
a formidable public career including being Mayor of Beijing from 2004 onwards
and having been the successful Secretary of the Beijing organising committee
for the 2008 Olympics.
a no nonsense reformer. He is very much influenced by his mentor – former
Premier Zhu Rongji.
Zhu who pioneered Chinese accession to the WTO – a massively controversial
decision at the time.
the Standing Committee will include Zhang Gaoli. Zhang is also known as a
pro-market economic reformer.
currently Party Secretary of Tianjin which has seen total economic
transformation in recent years as one of China’s major centres of global
are no known obvious political tensions between this seven member team.
well for China’s ability to deliver strong leadership for the critical period
countries like Australia, we have had considerable exposure to most of these
leaders and I believe this also bodes well for the future of our bilateral
also leadership that Australia can genuinely do business with.
particularly applies to Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang – both of whom have
undertaken visits to our country over the last two years prior to their current
first priority of this new Chinese leadership is the further reform of the
economy in the context of a weakened global economy over the last five years
and facing limited prospects of rapid global economic recovery.
new Chinese leadership is sufficiently experienced to know what must now be
done with the Chinese economy in order to sustain high levels of economic
growth, continued increases in living standards, the lifting of the remaining
hundreds of millions of Chinese people still in poverty into a better life, and
providing sufficient jobs for the tens of millions of young, educated Chinese
bursting onto the labour market each year.
knows it must now change its economic growth model from one that has served it
well for the last 30 years to one which will sustain it over the next 30.
the twelfth Five Year Plan, the Chinese recognised that the old growth model
(based on low wages, labour intensive manufacturing for export made possible by
high levels of state investment underpinned in turn by high levels of domestic
savings) has already reached its use-by date in China’s coastal provinces and
is working its way westwards across China’s central provinces and to Sichuan in
leadership has concluded that the new growth model should be based instead on
higher levels of domestic consumption, lower savings, more generous government
safety nets, the rapid expansion of the services sector to meet China’s equally
rapid urbanisation process as well as greater opportunities for private
believe the new Chinese leadership may well embrace the following policy
are likely to see further market reforms of the Chinese economy.
believe we’ll see reforms to China’s state-owned enterprises and the possible
privatisation of some.
believe we’ll see reforms to the Chinese financial services industry and a
greater ability for Chinese private enterprises to have easier and more
competitive access to finance, sustain and expand their operations.
believe we’ll also see further reforms to Chinese currency markets which over
time is likely to make Chinese imports more competitive in their domestic
have asked the obvious question, what are the prospects for Chinese political
own belief is that if Xi Jinping’s leadership successfully prosecutes the
formidable economic transformation tasks described above during his first term,
then the leadership may embrace a form of “small p” political reform during his
second five year term between 2017 and 2022.
of us should forget that 2021 is an important year in Chinese political
history, as it will mark the centenary of the foundation of the Chinese
the lead up to 2021, the question will increasingly be asked within Chinese
intellectual debate and broader political discussion as to whether the
historical mission of this revolutionary party has been fulfilled – and whether
the time for gradual political transformation to a new political model has
matters in Chinese politics.
matter in Chinese politics.
historical analogy also matters.
year marked the 100th year anniversary of the Xinghai Revolution
which brought to a conclusion a Chinese imperial system that had survived for
more than 2000 years.
the Chinese Republic failed to discharge the Mandate of Heaven given to every
Chinese administration in history – namely to maintain the unity of the
motherland at home and to defend the motherland from aggression from abroad.
China’s national perspective, the Chinese Communist Party has successful
discharged both these missions.
Mao’s leadership the task was to unite the country.
Deng’s leadership it has been to economically transform the country in order to
return China to its historical position as a great power both within the region
and the world.
Xi Jinping’s leadership, will it be his mission to complete the economic
transformation process, raise China to middle-income status and entrench
China’s position within the world order – but beyond that, to transform Chinese
politics as well?
may have an important role to play in this regard.If Taiwan were to propose at some stage over
the next decade to execute a form of political confederation with the Mainland
(a sort of “one country three systems” approach) then the democratising forces
which could be further unleashed from Taiwan’s own successful democratic
experiment could become formidable across the Mainland.
have long feared that China’s long term strategy is simply to economically
consume Taiwan’s own sense of local political identity.
reverse could also apply, whereby Taiwan, which becomes increasingly integrated
into the mainstream economic life and political discourse with the Mainland,
itself becomes something of a democratic Trojan horse within Mainland politics.
reflections may seem fanciful to many but there are already quiet internal
discussions underway within both political establishments as to what the
political future may look like should both sides of the Taiwan Strait come
together in some form of political condominium.
leaves to one side the domestic drivers of political change within China
itself, including the rise of the private sector, the rise of Chinese NGOs and
the explosion in the Chinese social media world where, ultimately, no single
agency of the Chinese state is able to exercise comprehensive control.
challenge therefore for the Party is how to manage these processes of long term
political transformation – rather than contemplating a repeat of Tiananmen on a
greater scale or, for that matter, an Arab Spring or Colour Revolution that
one should underestimate the capacity of China’s formidable security forces to
maintain political control.
the China of 2021 is likely to be a vastly different China to the China of
raises the question of what type of political reform may be contemplated within
Chinese politics during Xi Jinping’s second term.
until now, the focus of political reform in China has been the “internal
democratisation” of the Chinese Communist Party and its 82 million members
itself – to regularise Party procedures, appointments and leadership
transitions.And it is important to
recognise that great progress has been achieved on this front when contrasted
with non-peaceful leadership transitions in the past.
beyond the Party, it is an open question as to what could or should be done.
is a general recognition that China’s earlier experiments with village-level
democratic elections has not been successful.
is doubtful therefore that higher level experiments at the municipal and
provincial levels can be contemplated in the absence of structural changes at
the political centre.
the role of the Party itself, much discussion has occurred in relation to
making the PLA answerable to the apparatus of the state rather than to the
is a debate fraught with political tension and controversy at this time.
there is the role of the National People’s Congress (China’s appointed
Parliament) and its greater role in the scrutiny of government decisions and
the regularisation and institutionalisation of the NPC’s policy committee
NPC is also slowly beginning to develop its own sense of institutional identity
which is useful for any fundamental political transformational process in the
I believe it’s possible that the first area we may see signs of political
change will be in relation to China’s so-called advisory Parliament – the
Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (the CPPCC).
CPPCC includes within its ranks members of China’s eight so-called democratic
parties from the pre-1949 period.
also played a core historical role in legitimising the coming to power of the
Chinese Communist Party in 1949 – almost as a type specifically convened
this day, the CPPCC also has a defined constitutional role in providing advice
to both the government and the Party on the administration of the Chinese
have no factual evidence on which to base this observation but I believe it’s
possible that one significant step in the Chinese political reform process
would be to begin to elect the CPPCC in whole or in part through a universal
would argue that this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back and it
would represent and unnecessary concession of political power by a
on the other hand would critique such a move as too little to make any real
may however be one possible way in which the Chinese leadership begin to
demonstrate to the Chinese people that a managed process of political
transformation to a more contestable democracy is underway.
once again, let none of us forget the particular anniversary significance of
2021 and whether it is seen by the Chinese leadership as an opportunity to
begin transforming the Party into a type of Parliamentary party over time; or
whether instead, it is seen as an opportunity for the Chinese leadership to
declare to their own people and to the world that China’s Leninist party and
the model of state capitalism as it has embraced so far will in fact be around
for another hundred years as well.
let us all remember that China’s domestic political destiny is ultimately a
matter for the Chinese people alone.
this point, it’s important to withdraw our gaze from the crystal ball and
return to domestic and foreign policy reality, always with Zhou Enlai’s
cautionary tale in our ears, that when once asked his views of the significance
of the French Revolution, his reported elegant response was that it was “simply
too early to tell”.
none of this protracted discussion of the possibilities of Chinese political
reform should distract us or cause us to underestimate the formidable domestic
policy challenges that the new Chinese leadership will confront as they seek to
implement this next phase of economic reform.
energy and resource security;
imposition of carbon controls to limit environmental and economic damage to
management decisions giving rise to massive local protest activity;
(between cities and the countryside and between coastal, inland and western
increasingly open social media debate; the assault of materialism on
traditional socialist values; and the rise of new religious forces and
alternative belief structures;
from Beijing’s perspective, an increasingly non-benign foreign policy
environment in relation to many of China’s neighbours.
challenge therefore for the new leadership will be to implement a further
large-scale transformation of the Chinese economy and to manage the range of
other policy and political pressures that will also dominate the domestic
landscape over the next five years.
continued or changed directions are we likely to see in Chinese foreign policy
under the new leadership?
important to be clear in our own minds what China believes to be its own
foreign policy priorities.
the unity of the motherland remains at the absolute core of China’s foreign
policy and security policy interests.
includes Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet as well as China’s disputed territorial and
maritime boundaries with various of its neighbours.
second core foreign policy priority is driven by the economic imperative of
ensuring the conclusion of the economic transformation task.
subset of this task is China’s national energy security policy and the critical
strategic importance of energy pipelines and sea-lines of communication.
and as a consequence of the second, China wishes to maintain a stable global
and regional strategic and political environment so that its economic mission
is not disrupted.
subset of that is to maintain a stable albeit competitive relationship with the
United States for the decade ahead.
consistent with its economic objective and its territorial integrity objective,
China also wishes to secure a benign foreign policy environment with its immediate
neighbours in particular, and with East Asia more broadly.
course this objective runs headlong into China’s first objective and therefore
underpins much of the tension we’ve seen in recent times in various border
disputes with Japan and South East Asia in particular.
with Vietnam, for example, are particularly fraught and should be monitored
closely by us all.
and somewhat more opaque than the first four, is China’s role in the global
order.And it is here where we see the
full range of China’s conflicting and competing interests and values, together
with those of the rest of the world, on full display.
attitude to the current global order is worthy of further reflection.
approach is at best ambiguous; it is neither a hard line opponent nor a wild
enthusiast of the current architecture but rather simply accepts it as the
reality which was dictated to the rest of the world by the Anglo-American
victors after the Second World War.
if you were to ask Chinese political leaders, or for that matter foreign policy
think-tanks, whether they have developed an alternative to the current
international order, the answer, by and large, is no.
China sees itself possessing enormous advantages as a result of its membership
of the P5.
also sees itself increasingly called upon to contribute to UN peacekeeping
operations as well as being an increasingly active participant in most UN
specialised agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions.
core question facing us all is how China sees itself, to borrow Bob Zoellick’s
famous phrase, as a responsible global stakeholder in sustaining and enhancing
the order into the future given the range of global pressures the order
turn leads to a wider discussion of what sort of global and regional great
power China wants to be.
know that after 100 years of foreign humiliation from the Opium Wars to the
Japanese occupation, Chinese reformers of all political hues dreamt of China’s
national “wealth and power”.
to these reformers, whose careers spanned the century from the 1890s to the
1990s, if China could maintain its national unity and make its economy
function, China would once again return to the glories of previous centuries in
the ages of the Ming, the Tang and the Han.
question the international community is now asking China is pretty basic: now
that you have national wealth and power, how will you choose to deploy it
around the region and around the world?
not a question about whether China is likely to invade another country or
not.China has very little history of
this and virtually none compared with the United States and the European
this is a straw-man argument.The real
question is how China would seek to exercise its foreign and security policy
influence across the wider region and the world more broadly.
view is that China has yet to develop an agreed internal script on this
question.Much analytical work is
underway within China itself on this subject.But it is still very much an open ended question.
therefore, for the rest of the region and the rest of the world, in the period
ahead, there remains a window of opportunity in which to engage our Chinese
friends on what sort of cooperative future we can imagine together with the
Chinese within the twenty-first century global and regional order.
a time for ideas, for policy creativity, and for fresh conceptual thinking –
albeit within the framework of the multilateral rules-based order that we have
shared together since the conflagration of the Second World War.
meantime, however, in the absence of definitive Chinese statements about their
view of their global role, once they emerge as the world’s largest economy
(most probably during Xi Jinping’s presidency) and given the significant
continuing expansion of China’s military, it is almost inevitable that the rest
of the region and the rest of the world will hedge their bets on what sort of
China we will all face in the future.
one, am an optimist about our ability to escape the determinist forces of
history and through innovative political leadership in relevant capitals begin
to craft a common cooperative future for us all.
means fully engaging the globalising China that we have seen emerge over the
last 30 years.
rest of the world is equally attentive to nationalist forces also alive in
Chinese politics (and for that matter in other regional politics) and will
therefore in their foreign and security policies hedge against the possibility
of more negative security outcomes.
therefore looms as an exciting, but equally potentially dangerous period ahead,
on how we deliberate on and then define what sort of regional and global order
we want for the future.
month, we saw President Obama’s re-election for the next four years and
President Xi’s appointment for the next five.
believe this presents a unique opportunity for the US and China to forge a new
strategic roadmap capable of guiding us through many of the shoals that lie
ahead for all of us.
Obama for his part will be well-positioned to extend a hand of new strategic
cooperation to China’s new political leadership.
as I have noted elsewhere, Congress is unlikely to grant him an easy ride in
terms of the passage of core elements of his domestic legislative reform
policy, therefore, presents itself as a likely domain for Presidential
leadership over a second term.
his hand will be emboldened by the fact that he will not face the prospects of
negotiating a further re-elect.
the Obama Administration has laid down some fundamental pillars in its future
engagement both with China in particular, and the Asian hemisphere in general.
military level the administration has executed its “rebalance” to Asia,
underlined in black and white, and in the numbers of nuts and bolts on US naval
vessels, for America’s long-term strategic engagement in Asia and the Pacific.
the administration under the leadership of US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton has been more active in the region than most of its predecessors; and
has further entrenched its regional engagement in Asia by becoming a full
member of the East Asia Summit.
the administration has backed the enhancement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
to include other major economies in the region (including Japan) as well as
prospectively leaving the door ajar for China as well.
the inevitable diplomatic frictions arising from each of these measures, the
overall strategic settings for US continued engagement in Asia have been put in
have also been responded to positively by most (albeit not all) countries in
question arises: what must be done next?
that President Obama and President Xi need to outline a five year US-China
absence of such a strategic roadmap, there is always a danger of strategic
it provides central organising principles within both administrations,
therefore forcing the various agencies within both administrations to agree to
and implement a central strategic policy – with agreed rules of diplomatic
Chinese often complain about US policy being inconsistent both within and
often complains that the Chinese government does not always speak or act with
the full engagement or compliance of the Chinese military.
US-China Strategic Roadmap would assist in removing some of these uncertainties
I would recommend five elements to such a roadmap for the future.
President Xi and President Obama need to meet regularly with all the key
members of their respective staff.
individuals need to become highly familiar with each other. At present they are
should involve four to five sets of substantial engagements scheduled regularly
throughout each calendar year.
the G20, APEC, the UN General Assembly (and possibly the EAS) provide
opportunities for regular engagement.
these need to be substantive half or full day engagements around a long-term
structured agenda – not just the protocol requirements of the day or, for that
matter, the issue management of the day.
these regular summits tend to occur in the second half of the year – there
should also be agreement for a regular bilateral summit in each other’s
capitals in the first half of the year.
international conferences could also be utilised, but a regular structure is
both President Xi and President Obama need to have an undisputed “point person”
to be the ultimate “go to” person on the relationship.
US end, this should mean the National Security Advisor or a senior official
within the NSC who can speak comfortably across the administration, and with
critical juncture of US-China relations, America needs the next Henry Kissinger
for all the back channelling that is necessary, both behind and between
official Presidential meetings.
China needs to appoint such a person as well.
Chinese system does not have a NSC. It needs one.
absence of an NSC, it needs a senior official who can speak across the
political, security and economic agenda with authority.
between these two individuals on the US and China sides is critical.
the US and China should embark on a realistic program to make the current global
rules-based order work.
all familiar with the impasse over Syria which is not likely to be resolved in
the near term.
other critical blockages in the UN System (e.g. the Doha Round and climate
change) both the US and China have an interest in demonstrating that the
rules–based order can work – and deliver real results.
a new period of Sino-US strategic cooperation will also make the G20 work more
effectively given the complex array of global financial and global
macroeconomic challenges that lie before us.
China becomes the world’s largest economy, a properly functioning G20 becomes
even more important.
deep regulatory problems in global financial markets have not yet been finally
have the deep structural economic imbalances identified in Pittsburgh in
September 2009 been dealt with.
strategic economic cooperation is critical to avoiding a report of 2008/2009
and to the strategic undergirding of global economic recovery.
a new US-China Strategic Roadmap should embrace the principles of how to build
a new rules-based security order for East Asia.
outlined the possible principles of such an order in recent address to the Asia
Society in New York and again in late September at the Singapore Global
latter in particular details a range of specific measures of how we can create
a new Pax Pacifica which is neither a new Pax Americana by another name; nor a
involves working and agreeing on the strategic and conceptual language of such
a regional rules-based order – that is comprehensible in both countries and the
rest of the region.
a new US-China Strategic Roadmap should seek to include both Japan and China in
a new Trans-Pacific Partnership.
genuine free trade area of Asia and the Pacific (as it would ideally become)
would help harness all the positive forces of economic globalisation that have
helped change much of the region for the better so far.
has made extraordinary progress over the last 25 years.
need to go to the next stage with regional economic integration.
cooperation in the Asian hemisphere
noted above, a core element of the new US Strategic Roadmap for the next five
years lies in developing a new regional security order for the Asian
Pax Pacifica would seek consciously to build the habits, customs and norms of
security and strategic cooperation from the ground up.
a concept does not ignore the underlying strategic realities of the region –
the rise of China, continuing military and diplomatic engagement of the United
States the region’s future.
it accepts these realities. But it also seeks to create new possibilities based
on these realities.
in the darkest days of the Cold War, the Americans, the Soviets and the
Europeans managed to conclude the Helsinki Accords.
developed a Conference on Security Cooperation in Europe, they began to build
basic confidence and security building measures to reduce the risk of
unintended or accidental conflict.
truth is, in Asia we have embraced very few confidence and security building measures
of any description.
is in part why our security policy environment is so brittle.
what might the principles of a new Pax Pacifica look like?
begin with, one area of concrete work that could be advanced is to be clear
about some basic principles.
that China’s peaceful rise should be accommodated by the United States and by
the rest of the region, and that China has legitimate national security
China equally needs to accept that continuing US strategic presence in the
region is normal and that US alliances are to be respected.
that China and the US need to accept that the other member states of the region
also have major equities in the region’s future, and hence an equitable voice
in the region’s management.
that all states should collectively develop, agree and accept the basic norms
of behaviour for our regional rules-based order.
this should include the non-use of force in dispute resolution.
region-wide dispute resolution mechanisms along the lines outlined in the TAC
and the ASEAN Code of Conduct.
the freezing of all existing interstate territorial claims, and the development
of protocols for joint development commissions for the common extraction of
resources from disputed territories.
the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (+8) should
enhance a program of practical action to create a set of confidence building
measures to enhance regional security cooperation:
hotlines between the relevant national security agencies within all member
states to deal with incident management
detailed protocols for managing incidents at sea;
regular high-level meetings between all the region’s militaries so that
networks and relationships are developed over time;
joint exercises in search and rescue and counter disaster, counter- terrorism
and counter-organised crime;
fifth, in time, transparency of military budgets and national military
basic reality is this, most of our armed forces are trained to fight and win
at the same time we have a number of them engaged in a complex network of
confidence and security building measures, including joint exercises and joint
operations in counter-disaster, it is remarkable what impact this could have on
our collective security policy mindset over time.
example, if you are to ask what the good people of Asia what their number one
physical security threat is today, they will most likely respond natural
not respond to their stated needs, consistent with the Australian and
Indonesian paper agreed to at the 2011 East Asia Summit – and turn this vision
into a reality.
fact the first such counter-disaster exercise involving all the region’s
militaries will soon be held in Brunei. This is a good first step.
further practical recommendation in developing a Pax Pacifica (or what perhaps
might one day be called the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Asia –
OSCA) is institutional.
the EAS and the ADMM +8, have an identical membership, the former with heads of
government and foreign ministers, the latter with defence ministers.
one level, an EAS at Summit level can help agree on the broad directions for
security policy cooperation.
a different, practical level, the ADMM +8 could be given specific
responsibility to develop the raft of Confidence and Security Building Measures
referred to above.
the EAS over time will need a dedicated secretariat.
various reasons, the analogy with Brussels does not quite work.
EAS is not an alliance. Nor is it an economic union.
the truth is that Brussels as an intuition (both NATO and the EU) has had a
remarkable and positive impact over the decades in taming the passions of rabid
nationalism in Europe.
time our good friends in ASEAN should give consideration to the hosting of an
expanded EAS secretariat function.
the truth is, none of the above will happen by magic. Or by permanently
will need to start to think together as a region – as we shape together the
this lecture I have deliberately chosen not to elaborate on the specific
implications of the rise of China for India, or what India should do in
a visiting Australian, that would be presumptuous.
also aware that these two high civilisations, India and China, have been
evolving their own modus vivendi for
the last two and a half thousand years – a little longer than the 225 years of
European settlement in Australia.
as Prime Minister Singh has so wisely observed, the China-India relationship is
complex – both cooperative and competitive.
also believe we need together to embrace the complexity of China’s rise,
recognising both these realities.
here the question of mindsets, I believe, is critical.If for example we believe that one form of
conflict that would arise in China is inevitable, then the likelihood of that
occurring increases accordingly.
however, we cultivate a mindset which is capable of imagining a different
future – where conflict is avoided, cooperation maximised and competition
managed, then I think we may be worthy of our children’s future.
the past we’ve often been locked into a binary mindset in dealing with the rise
of China.As I’ve written elsewhere, either
conflict or kowtow.
too, has also exhibited from time to time the continuation of this Cold War mindset
into a post-Cold War world, where foreigners are again subject to a binary
classification of either being pro-China or anti-China.
is in fact a third way of dealing with China, and that is what the region and
the world expect of us all today.
third way is best summarised by the Chinese term “zhengyou” which is perhaps
best translated as an enduring friendship based on candour – anchored in mutual
respect, animated by active friendship but one always prepared to speak one’s
mind when it really matters without running the risk of fundamentally
destroying the relationship.
I believe is a potentially helpful attribute for us all as we embrace the new
Chinese leadership in the decade ahead.
remain an optimist that we can succeed in this task.
we can succeed in building a genuinely peaceful, prosperous and open
twenty-first century for this, the Indo-Pacific region – based on open
economies, open societies and over time open politics.
in rising to this great civilisational challenge, we in Australia look forward
to working closely and partners both in India and in China and also how we
might turn this vision into a reality.