Welcome to the tech wars. Despite her release on bail, the arrest of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has ratcheted up simmering tensions between China and the US in a global contest for technological supremacy between the leaders of competing and increasingly incompatible systems of governance. This quest for information dominance is a driver of global cyber conflict, a shadowy undeclared war that is intensifying and becoming a serious security concern for Australia. Read more
The challenges for national security and foreign policy continue to mount. News about the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer for alleged infringements of US sanctions against Iran broke at the same time as espionage concerns were reignited by the Chinese technology company’s plan to build a pan-Pacific undersea internet cable from Chile to China via Sydney. This raises the possibility that Australian internet traffic could be intercepted covertly at the cable’s Sydney node. Read more
Relations with China look set to thaw after a lengthy diplomatic freeze brought about by the Coalition’s tough response to Chinese influence operations in Australia, cyber theft and a growing rivalry in the South Pacific.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s two-day visit to Beijing is being touted as an icebreaker. A follow-up visit by Scott Morrison is likely despite China’s displeasure over Canberra’s decision to block a Hong Kong company’s bid for gas pipeline company APA on national interest grounds. Business leaders are delighted Xi Jinping has signalled his apparent willingness to allow foreign companies better access to the Chinese market in a landmark speech to an international import expo in Shanghai this week. Read more
Warnings about a second Cold War between liberal democracies and revisionist autocracies have been dismissed by sceptics as nothing more than right-wing scaremongering. They argue that despite his posturing and false bravado,President Trump has repeatedly proclaimed his affection for his authoritarian Chinese and Russian counterparts. And the trade conflict between the US and China will soon be resolved because it is in neither country’s interests to see the conflict prolonged or worsen since it would be mutually damaging. Read more
Space, the final frontier — once the exclusive domain of Trekkies, science fiction writers and super powers. Now entrepreneurs are the new space leaders, going boldly where no entrepreneur has gone before, to borrow from William Shatner’s memorable declaration in the 1960s Star Trek series. Read more
The Syrian-Turkish border area in the early morning hours is calm and almost serene. Driving from the town of Kobane to the border crossing at Semalka one may get the impression that there is not much of a war remaining at all in the country.
Every few kilometres, to be sure, one runs into a checkpoint of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces or the Asayish security police. Read more
Alan DuPont, geopolitical security expert and Lowy Institute fellow, presented a keynote at our Vivid Ideas event exploring five root causes as to why democracy is being disrupted around the world. Read more
“That China might build a port with military capabilities on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island may be the Morrison government’s first serious foreign policy test and should be raised by Foreign Minister Marise Payne at this week’s Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.
Manus Island commands the northern approaches to Australia. It would be a high-value acquisition for the Chinese military, greatly extending its reach into the southwest Pacific Read more
Turkey Faces Few Good Options as Idlib offensive looms
Syrian regime and Russian forces are currently preparing for an offensive into Idlib Province in north west Syria. The attack on Idlib is set to mark the final major action in the war between the Assad regime and the insurgency against it.Moscow has moved 10 warships and two submarines into the waters off the western coast of Syria. This represents the largest concentration of Russian naval forces since the beginning of Moscow’s direct intervention into the civil war in Syria in September, 2015. Read more
Last week, Egypt’s parliament passed three new media laws allowing the presidentially appointed Supreme Council of Media to monitor and “supervise” users with more than 5000 followers on social media platforms.
The new laws were ostensibly passed in order to curb disinformation, or “fake news” to use the Trumpian parlance of the times, by blocking and referring individuals who spread false reports through their social media accounts for prosecution. The new laws also allow for people to be detained pending trial. Read more