What Role Will Australia Play in U.S.-China Competition?

With the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom ramping up bilateral efforts through AUKUS–finalizing the timeline for the delivery of conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines, promising deepening ties via intelligence sharing, and aiding in capacity building for the maintenance of the submarines–Australia is solidifying its position as a key component of the United States’ Asia strategy. Canberra has just released its Defense Strategic Review, which recommends a significant ramp-up to meet the perceived Chinese threat. At the same time, China and Australia have begun engaging substantively again after a long gap, and bilateral economic tensions appear to be easing. One year after a new government led by Anthony Albanese took over in Canberra, where does the U.S.-Australia alliance stand? What is the significance of the emerging thaw between China and Australia? Could Australia play a moderating role in the increasingly fraught U.S.-China rivalry despite its defense buildup? To hear the answers to these questions and more, join us for an updated take from our three insightful panelists who we also featured last year: Bec Strating, Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations at La Trobe University; Hugh White, Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University; and Sam Roggeveen, Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute. Sarang Shidore, Director of Studies and Senior Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute, will moderate.


Bec Strating

Bec Strating is the Director of La Trobe Asia and an Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations in the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Her research focuses on maritime disputes in Asia and Australian foreign and defence policy. She has an extensive track record in writing research publications including three monographs, most recently "Defending the Maritime Rules-Based Order" (2020). In 2019, she was awarded an Asian Studies Visiting Fellowship to research at the East West Center in Washington DC for three months. She has also been a visiting affiliate fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, an affiliated researcher at Georgetown University, and non-resident fellow at the Perth US Asia Centre.

Hugh White

Professor Hugh White AO FASSA is Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. He spent much of his career in the Australian Government, including as International Relations Advisor to Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Deputy Secretary for Strategy in the Department of Defence. He was the founding Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and from 2004 to 2011 he was Head of ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. His major publications include Power Shift: Australia’s future between Washington and Beijing, [2010], The China Choice: Why America should share power, [2012], Without America: Australia’s future in the New Asia [2017], and How to defend Australia [2019]. In the 1970s he studied philosophy at the universities of Melbourne and Oxford.

Sam Roggeveen

Sam Roggeveen is Director of the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program. Before joining the Lowy Institute, he was a senior strategic analyst in Australia’s peak intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments, where his work dealt mainly with North Asian strategic affairs, including nuclear strategy and Asian military forces. Sam writes for newspapers and magazines in Australia and around the world on Australian foreign and defence policy, and strategic trends in Asia. He is a regular commentator on the Lowy Institute’s digital magazine, The Interpreter, of which he was the founding editor from 2007 to 2014. Sam has a long-standing interest in politics and political philosophy, and in 2019 he wrote Our Very Own Brexit: Australia's Hollow Politics and Where it Could Lead Us, about the hollowing out of Western democracy and its implications for Australia. Sam also serves as editor of the Lowy Institute’s flagship publication, the Lowy Institute Papers.

Sarang Shidore (Moderator)

Sarang Shidore is Director of Studies at the Quincy Institute. His areas of research and analysis are geopolitical risk, grand strategy, and energy/climate security, with a special emphasis on Asia. Sarang has collaborated and published with multiple organizations including the Asian Peace Program, Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Strategic Risks, Oxford Analytica, Paulson Institute, Stimson Center, UK Ministry of Defense, and Woodwell Climate Research Center. He has more than 80 publications to his credit in journals, edited volumes, and media outlets in his areas of expertise. Prior to his current role at the Quincy Institute, Sarang was a senior research scholar at the University of Texas at Austin and senior global analyst at the geopolitical risk firm Stratfor Inc. and earlier also spent a decade in product management in the technology industry.