POSTED on 31 August 2015 by Sophia Sun Zou

The Heavy Tread of Soft Power? China’s international peacekeeping efforts

Amid widespread media coverage of China’s strategy to increase its political influence both in the Asia Pacific region and globally, relatively little attention has been paid to China’s peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. In a report published in June, the Lowy Institute found 66 percent of Australians prescribe to the notion that Australia should “resist China’s military aggression in our region”. This is a broader reflection of the perceived threat of China’s rise, which has overshadowed its humanitarian work. As a result, there has been sparse discussion on China’s motivation for these philanthropic endeavours. Nevertheless, for those who do focus on its peacekeeping, some condemn China for acting merely in their own best interests, whilst others celebrate China’s demonstration of global responsibility. So, despite the ambiguity, is it possible to ascertain the cause of China’s involvement in peacekeeping? A 2014 US Annual Report to Congress regarding military and security developments in the PRC showed that China has deployed 1900 military observers over 10 different operations in 2013 alone. This is 17 times greater than the US contribution, and 20 times greater than China’s contribution in 2000—rendering the People’s Republic’s effort more substantial than any other permanent member of the UN Security […]

Amid widespread media coverage of China’s strategy to increase its political influence both in the Asia Pacific region and globally, relatively little attention has been paid to China’s peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. In a report published in June, the Lowy Institute found 66 percent of Australians prescribe to the notion that Australia should “resist China’s military aggression in our region”. This is a broader reflection of the perceived threat of China’s rise, which has overshadowed its humanitarian work. As a result, there has been sparse discussion on China’s motivation for these philanthropic endeavours. Nevertheless, for those who do focus on its peacekeeping, some condemn China for acting merely in their own best interests, whilst others celebrate China’s demonstration of global responsibility. So, despite the ambiguity, is it possible to ascertain the cause of China’s involvement in peacekeeping? A 2014 US Annual Report to Congress regarding military and security developments in the PRC showed that China has deployed 1900 military observers over 10 different operations in 2013 alone. This is 17 times greater than the US contribution, and 20 times greater than China’s contribution in 2000—rendering the People’s Republic’s effort more substantial than any other permanent member of the UN Security […]

POSTED on 26 August 2015 by Tim Sullivan

China and the Islamic State

For over a year now the leaders of Western countries have taken over their nations’ airwaves describing the imminent threat to national security posed by the Islamic State (IS). Tony Abbott famously describes the group as a “death cult” and affirmed the threat to the global order, claiming they are “coming after us”. Australia has followed the lead of the United States and its allies in a campaign of air strikes on IS targets in a bid to wind back the group’s advance. The UK, Germany, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have all similarly contributed to the military campaign. Interestingly, tough talk on IS has not just emanated from Western or Middle Eastern countries. After the execution of two Japanese hostages in Syria at the start of this year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the actions of the terrorist group and went so far as to call for the expansion of the powers of the Japanese Self-Defense Force to meet the threat. Despite global consensus on the illegitimacy of IS and the horrific nature its atrocities, China has been noticeably quiet. The Chinese government has not expressed any desire to join the coalition forces nor made any substantial […]

For over a year now the leaders of Western countries have taken over their nations’ airwaves describing the imminent threat to national security posed by the Islamic State (IS). Tony Abbott famously describes the group as a “death cult” and affirmed the threat to the global order, claiming they are “coming after us”. Australia has followed the lead of the United States and its allies in a campaign of air strikes on IS targets in a bid to wind back the group’s advance. The UK, Germany, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have all similarly contributed to the military campaign. Interestingly, tough talk on IS has not just emanated from Western or Middle Eastern countries. After the execution of two Japanese hostages in Syria at the start of this year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the actions of the terrorist group and went so far as to call for the expansion of the powers of the Japanese Self-Defense Force to meet the threat. Despite global consensus on the illegitimacy of IS and the horrific nature its atrocities, China has been noticeably quiet. The Chinese government has not expressed any desire to join the coalition forces nor made any substantial […]

POSTED on 21 August 2015 by Simon Norton

Does China have a grand strategy?

Much debate exists over whether China has a grand strategy. Grand strategy is defined as a coherent set of ideas about a state’s long-term objectives in the international system, and how it should go about achieving them. A grand strategy must determine a state’s ultimate goals and interests, the primary threats to those goals and interests, and the policies and initiatives through which a state pursues these interests. China’s political system follows a model in which a coherent statement of the highest political ends is articulated by top leaders, from which the state’s institutions can then base their own priorities and policies. China’s leadership has expressed clear ‘core interests’: stability of China’s political system and society; ensuring sustainable economic and social development, and state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity and national reunification. This means keeping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in power, and promoting rejuvenation of China through economic development, to achieve the ‘twin centenary goals’ of becoming a ‘moderately prosperous society’ by 2021 and achieving ‘modernisation’ by 2049, thus achieving Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese Dream’. Its security interests include upholding sovereignty and territorial integrity, defending against terrorism, separatism and extremism, and reunification with Taiwan. From China’s perspective, the greatest perceived […]

Much debate exists over whether China has a grand strategy. Grand strategy is defined as a coherent set of ideas about a state’s long-term objectives in the international system, and how it should go about achieving them. A grand strategy must determine a state’s ultimate goals and interests, the primary threats to those goals and interests, and the policies and initiatives through which a state pursues these interests. China’s political system follows a model in which a coherent statement of the highest political ends is articulated by top leaders, from which the state’s institutions can then base their own priorities and policies. China’s leadership has expressed clear ‘core interests’: stability of China’s political system and society; ensuring sustainable economic and social development, and state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity and national reunification. This means keeping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in power, and promoting rejuvenation of China through economic development, to achieve the ‘twin centenary goals’ of becoming a ‘moderately prosperous society’ by 2021 and achieving ‘modernisation’ by 2049, thus achieving Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese Dream’. Its security interests include upholding sovereignty and territorial integrity, defending against terrorism, separatism and extremism, and reunification with Taiwan. From China’s perspective, the greatest perceived […]

POSTED on 19 July 2015 by Andrew Asquith

Mining and Cultural Heritage at Mes Aynak: Shared interests between China and Afghanistan

Earlier this month, the documentary Saving Mes Aynak by filmmaker Brent Huffman was released online. Mes Aynak, located in Afghanistan between Kabul and the Pakistani border, contains the ruins of an ancient Buddhist settlement from the 3rd to 6th centuries CE. The site contains hundreds of statues, frescoes and buildings. However, the site sits atop a massive deposit of copper. Saving Mes Aynak tells the story of Afghan and French archaeologists trying to save Mes Aynak before work on the copper mine begins. Saving Mes Aynak raises some interesting issues about how China is perceived and how China conducts itself in trans-national disputes. There is a popular perception that China’s demand for natural resources necessarily leads to the destruction of natural and cultural heritage where mining takes place.[1] China requires vast amounts of natural resources to meet the needs of its domestic population and economic development. Transnational mining projects like Mes Aynak bring much needed revenue and jobs. However, mining has major implications for the natural and cultural heritage of the areas where it takes place. The Mes Aynak Copper Mine raises many of the well-known issues of China’s conduct in transnational affairs, such as concerns that the local people […]

Earlier this month, the documentary Saving Mes Aynak by filmmaker Brent Huffman was released online. Mes Aynak, located in Afghanistan between Kabul and the Pakistani border, contains the ruins of an ancient Buddhist settlement from the 3rd to 6th centuries CE. The site contains hundreds of statues, frescoes and buildings. However, the site sits atop a massive deposit of copper. Saving Mes Aynak tells the story of Afghan and French archaeologists trying to save Mes Aynak before work on the copper mine begins. Saving Mes Aynak raises some interesting issues about how China is perceived and how China conducts itself in trans-national disputes. There is a popular perception that China’s demand for natural resources necessarily leads to the destruction of natural and cultural heritage where mining takes place.[1] China requires vast amounts of natural resources to meet the needs of its domestic population and economic development. Transnational mining projects like Mes Aynak bring much needed revenue and jobs. However, mining has major implications for the natural and cultural heritage of the areas where it takes place. The Mes Aynak Copper Mine raises many of the well-known issues of China’s conduct in transnational affairs, such as concerns that the local people […]

POSTED on 10 June 2015 by Julia Luong Dinh

How far can we understand China in a new era?

The conversation between Professor Kerry Brown and the former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, organised by the Australia-China Relations Institute of UTS on 30 April 2015, was an insight into the minds of the Chinese leaders. It shed light on Chinese leaders’ incredible mission as chief strategists, if not the Great Helmsmen, of the China ship, as well as their issues with steering China in its stormy relationship with peripheral and neighboring countries in the Asia-Pacific. During the session, Professor Brown reiterated the importance of understanding the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as the key to understanding Beijing’s rules, both formal and informal, in running its political structure, signaling the West’s increasing awareness and acceptance of the differences between Western and Chinese political systems. High on the agenda of top leaders is the commitment to safeguard and maintain the inviolability of the CCP’s legitimacy in the new era. Professor Brown contends that ideology is really important in helping us make sense of Chinese politics. He notes that there are at least two key members officially in charge of ideological work, Liu Yunshan, the Head of the Party School, number five in the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) – nicknamed ‘Defender of the Faith’ […]

The conversation between Professor Kerry Brown and the former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, organised by the Australia-China Relations Institute of UTS on 30 April 2015, was an insight into the minds of the Chinese leaders. It shed light on Chinese leaders’ incredible mission as chief strategists, if not the Great Helmsmen, of the China ship, as well as their issues with steering China in its stormy relationship with peripheral and neighboring countries in the Asia-Pacific. During the session, Professor Brown reiterated the importance of understanding the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as the key to understanding Beijing’s rules, both formal and informal, in running its political structure, signaling the West’s increasing awareness and acceptance of the differences between Western and Chinese political systems. High on the agenda of top leaders is the commitment to safeguard and maintain the inviolability of the CCP’s legitimacy in the new era. Professor Brown contends that ideology is really important in helping us make sense of Chinese politics. He notes that there are at least two key members officially in charge of ideological work, Liu Yunshan, the Head of the Party School, number five in the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) – nicknamed ‘Defender of the Faith’ […]

Chinese Tea Set