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Australia in the World: Episode 55

31 Aug 2020
By Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA and Dr Darren Lim
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Canberra, Australia
Source: Nick D,

Richard Maude returns (Part 2): China, models of cooperation, & what Australian foreign policy can do.

In part two of Richard Maude’s return to the podcast, the conversation begins with China. Was Richard “surprised” by Beijing’s promulgation of the Hong Kong National Security Law? Should the Australian government be updating its priors regarding the level of risk China is willing to take, and would such an updating have any policy consequences? What then about Taiwan? A serious Taiwan contingency would not be a surprise—does it pose the greatest challenge for the new strategic objectives outlined by Prime Minister Morrison in his speech launching Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update? And on the topic of technological decoupling, Darren tries to separate the technical dimensions of the policy challenge from the politics. To what extent are Western concerns simply a matter of a lack of trust, given the tight relationship between Chinese companies and the state? Can anything be done to alleviate these concerns, or is the larger structural force of major power rivalry depriving individual governments of any agency to arrest this trend?

The structural forces potentially driving the decoupling phenomenon link up with the next major theme—the future of international cooperation. The term “Five Eyes” has been appearing in the media a lot lately in multiple different contexts—what should we make of this trend? Does the future of international cooperation lie through the filter of trusted security partnerships, and isn’t that a problem for truly global problems like climate change?

Finally, the conversation concludes with a focus on Australian foreign policy. How well suited are the traditional instruments of Australia’s power and influence to the present moment? Does our path forward involve simply being the best version of ourselves, or is genuinely creative thinking needed to reform Australian diplomacy? And would there be merit in having a foreign affairs version of the recent Defence Strategic Update?

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for research and audio editing, XC Chong for research support and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Richard Maude’s biography via the Asia Society Policy Institute:

Scott Morrison, “Address: Launch of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update”, 1 July 2020:

Little Red Podcast, “Trump’s F*** China moment: An attitude, not a strategy”, 1 August 2020:

Sinica podcast, “Adam Tooze on the geopolitics of the pandemic”, 6 August 2020:

Marise Payne, “Australia and the world in the time of COVID-19”, Speech at the National Security College, ANU, 16 June: