US and China wage cable war deep beneath the waves

July 27, 2023

~ Alan Dupont, The Australian

A few weeks after the explosions that ripped through the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea last September, a Russian spy ship was tracked and intercepted by the Dutch coastguard near a wind farm in The Netherlands’ territorial waters. Although the jury is still out on who was responsible for the explosions, Western intelligence is in no doubt that Russia has been systematically mapping Europe’s extensive subsea infrastructure.
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It’s time to raise the stakes in critical minerals contest

May 2, 2023

~ Alan Dupont

As the fossil fuel era fades, critical minerals are set to become the new oil. If not yet ubiquitous, they are the sinews of the emerging green and hi-tech economies.

They are also crucial for defence because they “power the weapons that determine geopolitical primacy”, says security analyst Liam Gibson. Defence needs rare earths for a vast array of applications, including smart bombs, radar, communication systems and advanced fighter aircraft.

This means that they are a strategic asset as well as an economic resource. Only a few minerals have played this role historically.

Silver needed for coinage in ancient times and oil, which still lubricates the wheels of transport and industry, are among them.

The problem for the world is that China has cornered the market in critical minerals, especially the 17 rare earths that are processed into high-value tech metals.
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Balance of power in Asia now shifting away from China

March 2, 2023

~ Alan Dupont

The galvanising impact of the war in Ukraine is not confined to Europe.

It is having an equally transformative effect on the security of our own region. “Ukraine today may be Asia tomorrow” is the new catchcry as countries reassess their vulnerabilities and the adequacy of their defence spending and security partnerships.

Overstretched and anxious to avoid being drawn into a Ukrainian quagmire, the Biden administration is keeping a watchful eye on its pacing challenger, mindful that China would like nothing more than to see the US bogged down in a protracted European conflict. Relentlessly focused on Asia, Beijing has been able to bide its time and build its forces while the US continues to be distracted by the polycrisis – multiple, interconnected global challenges that require its leadership and unique deterrent power.
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The chips are down for China

November 25, 2022

~ Alan Dupont, published in the Australian

Forget Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Covid or war in Taiwan. A package of US export restrictions is set to kneecap China.

As the year of living dangerously draws to a volatile close, historians will long debate its most consequential event. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the lingering effects of Covid and fears that China’s president Xi Jinping may unleash war on Taiwan are prime candidates. But a package of US export restrictions that aims to kneecap China’s burgeoning technology sector threatens to overshadow them all.
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Best way to avoid war is to arm Taiwan

September 8, 2022

Our Taiwan debate has been marred by two misperceptions and one fallacy.The first misperception is that war over Taiwan is improbable. This proposition is harder to sustain as Beijing continues to ratchet up pressure on Taipei.

Flying drones over small islands controlled by Taiwan is the latest in a long line of Chinese provocations and another step on the ladder of escalation that significantlyincreases the risk of military conflict.

Taipei has been remarkably restrained until now. But the administration of Tsai Ing-wen couldn’t allow the drones to fly uncontested over its territory without challenge. Its four-step response protocols have been measured: fire warning flares,report the incursion, expel the drone and shoot it down only as a last resort.
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China can already control most of our region

July 1, 2022

NATO’s game-changing commitment to boost high-readiness ­forces will transform the European balance of power. The opposite is occurring here.

NATO’s new strategic roadmap is a game changer. Once a strategic partner, Russia is now considered the main threat to the expanding alliance. Equally important is the belated recognition of China as a strategic challenge to the alliance’s “interests, security and values”. The commitment to boost military spending and bolster its high-readiness forces from 40,000 to “well over 300,000” will tilt the European balance of power in favour of democracies. But the opposite is occurring in our strategic neighbourhood, where maritime power will be decisive.
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China’s Pacific roadshow our biggest test since Japan in WWII

June 2, 2022

Despite the rejection of his ambitious trade and security deal by Pacific Islands leaders, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s diplomatic road show underlines the strategic nature of Beijing’s unprecedented investment in the South Pacific and the extent of the challenge to our economic and security interests.
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Why Xi may well regret Beijing’s alliance with Putin

March 25, 2022

If an ‘unthinkable’ war can occur in Europe driven by one man’s delusions of grandeur, what is the likelihood of another’s igniting an even more destructive conflict in Asia?

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a seismic geopolitical event. It’s shaping to be more destabilising and consequential than anything the world has seen this century, overshadowing Covid, the global financial crisis and the rise of al-Qa’ida. It has shattered Europe’s long peace; raised the spectre of a nuclear confrontation between NATO and Russia; widened the divide between the West and Eurasia’s autocratic states; and almost certainly ended Russia’s quest to be a Eurasian great power.
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