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Does China pose a threat to Australia? What should our China policy be?

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Village Roadshow Theatrette

State Library Victoria

Entry 3, La Trobe Street

Melbourne, VIC 3000

Australia

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In 2019 La Trobe University’s Ideas and Society Program, convened by Professor Robert Manne, is holding a series of debates on some of the most significant and contentious questions contemporary Australia faces. We are holding this event in association with La Trobe Asia, directed by Dr Euan Graham.

Almost no question is of greater significance for Australia’s future than the emergence of China as an economic and military great power. Does the rise of China pose a threat to the security of Australia? If so, a threat of what kind?

Two of the most important voices in this debate are Hugh White and Clive Hamilton.

Hugh White is the author of the seminal, China Choice, which argued that the United States and its allies have a clear choice: either to accept that China will inevitably play a leading role in the Indo-Pacific region and to come to terms with a new regional balance of power, or try to resist the inevitable with all the danger that entails. More recently in his Quarterly Essay, “Without America”, White argued that as a partial withdrawal of American power from our region is now inevitable, Australia must accept a novel geo-political situation: a future in a region dominated not by one or another of our “great and powerful friends” but by China. This poses a daunting challenge. Can we learn at long last not to see the world through the eyes of London or Washington but to think and act for ourselves?

Clive Hamilton believes a policy for the accommodation of China advocated by White and others is misguided and foredoomed, no more likely to succeed than was the policy of the appeasement of Germany in the 1930s. In his best-selling and controversial Silent Invasion, Hamilton argues that China under the Communist Party is an expansionist power ultimately seeking global domination. He argues further that China is already throwing its weight around in Australia, using us as a testing ground for its more general expansionist ambitions. Like White, Hamilton believes we do have a clear China choice. But for him the choice is whether to resist Chinese expansion and aggression or succumb to it.

The debate will be introduced by La Trobe University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar and moderated by a La Trobe University international relations scholar, Dr Bec Strating.

For those with an interest in Australia’s future, the Hugh White-Clive Hamilton China debate is of highest interest and fundamental importance, not to be missed.


Speakers:

Hugh White is Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. He studies Australian strategic and defence policy, and the regional and global security issues affecting Australia. He has been an intelligence analyst, a journalist, a senior staffer to Defence Minister Kim Beazley and Prime Minister Bob Hawke, a senior official in the Defence Department, and the first Director of ASPI. He was the principal author of Australia’s 2000 Defence White Paper. His recent publications include Power Shift: Australia’s future between Washington and Beijing, [2010] and The China Choice: Why America should share power, [2012], and Without America: Australia’s future in the New Asia [2017].


Clive Hamilton is professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra. He was the founder and for 14 years executive director of The Australia Institute, a progressive think tank. He has held a number of visiting academic positions, including at the University of Heidelberg, Sciences Po, Yale University and the University of Oxford. His books include Growth Fetish, Requiem for a Species: Why we resist the truth about climate change and Defiant Earth: The fate of humans in the Anthropocene. His controversial 2018 book, Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia, was a best-seller and led to invitations to speak around the world, including testifying before a US Congressional Committee and the Australian Parliament. The book has been published in Chinese and Japanese translations.


Dr Bec Strating is the Director of the Bachelor of International Relations and a lecturer in Politics in the Department of Politics and Philosophy at La Trobe University. She primarily researches and teaches in the areas of Australian and Southeast Asian politics and foreign policy. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Boyer Prize by the Australian Institute of International Affairs for best article published in the Australian Journal of International Affairs in 2017. She has published extensively on politics and foreign policy, including in Australian Journal of International Relations, Asian Security, Journal of Current Southeast Asia, Journal of Pacific History and Contemporary Southeast Asia. Her most recent book, The Post-Colonial Security Dilemma: Timor-Leste and the International Community, will be published in 2018 with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.


Professor John Dewar is the Vice-Chancellor and President of La Trobe University, a position he has held since January 2012.

Professor Dewar is a graduate of the University of Oxford, where he was also a Fellow of Hertford College from 1990-1995. He taught at the Universities of Lancaster and Warwick in the UK, and worked for the London law firms Allen & Overy and Farrer & Co. He came to Australia in 1995, and held senior leadership positions at Griffith University and the University of Melbourne, where he was Provost, before taking up the position of Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe.

Professor Dewar is a Director of Universities Australia, UA Lead Vice-Chancellor on Health workforce issues and a member of the AHEIA Executive Committee. He holds a number of other Directorships, including Education Australia Pty Ltd, The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, AARNet, The Committee for Melbourne, and the Foundation for Australian Studies in China. He is also a member of the University of Lincoln’s 21st Century Lab Higher Education Reference Group.

He is an Adjunct Professor in the Melbourne Law School, an Honorary Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford and an Adjunct Professor in the La Trobe Law School.

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Date and Time

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Village Roadshow Theatrette

State Library Victoria

Entry 3, La Trobe Street

Melbourne, VIC 3000

Australia

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Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

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