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Tomorrow's Strategic Engagement with Asia

26 May 2020
By Nicholas Farrelly
Plaque commemorating the Australia Indonesia Partnership. Source: Josh Estey

Every generation of Australian thinkers and policy-makers grapples with the conceptual and practical aspects of engaging Asia. From 2020, a volatile and uncertain strategic environment – profoundly and rapidly re-shaped by the global pandemic – will present new and difficult questions for us all.

Over the past decade, we have seen the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, the 2016 Defence White Paper, and the 2012 Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, among various other policy and intelligence reviews. These analyses all pointed, with the best available judgement, to the opportunities and risks of Australia’s entanglements with increasingly assertive and economically successful Asian powers. Many recent books and articles have also sought to interpret the changes, big and small, in Australia-Asia relations.

We want to know: How will priorities change across Asia, especially at a moment of such abrupt economic crisis? What does any new strategic balance require of Australia? Which economic and political changes are most worrying? What might Australia do to positively influence the direction of change? With the last question in mind, this presentation will offer an initial assessment of how Australian engagement with Asia may develop beyond the pandemic, focusing on three important countries: Indonesia, Thailand, and China. It will also explore some possible implications for Tasmania.

This is a recording of an online event co-sponsored by the University of Tasmania and the AIIA that took place on Tuesday, 26 May 2020. To sign up for further events, click here.

Professor Nicholas Farrelly commenced as Head of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania in January 2020. After graduating from the Australian National University with First Class Honours and the University Medal in Asian Studies, he completed his M.Phil and D.Phil at Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 2006, Nicholas founded New Mandala, a website which has gone on to become the preeminent public forum in Southeast Asian Studies. From 2011, he held a number of key academic positions in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, including as Deputy Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs and as Director of the ANU Myanmar Research Centre, an institution he helped establish in 2015. From 2017-2019 Nicholas was an Associate Dean in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.