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Plenary session 1: Are we too close to Uncle Sam?
How can Australia finesse the dilemma of the increasingly intense security and economic competition between our largest trade partner and most important security ally? Can we effectively sit on the sidelines and enjoy the best of both worlds: unconstrained trade with China under the US security umbrella? Or does today’s China, notwithstanding its own limitations and internal weaknesses, show every sign of wanting to overthrow the US-led security system in the region? Given the frighteningly polarising nature of American politics and its grand security strategy of global pre-eminence, is American staying power in Asia for real? Will a US-led coalition, including Australia, pursue a strategy of containment, as John Mearsheimer suggests, or one of “engaging and constraining” China, as Peter Varghese suggests. How has Canberra handled China’s political freeze and trade bans in recent years? Have our political leaders and policymakers struck the right balance and stared down Beijing’s intimidation campaign, as Peter Hartcher suggests? Or does Australia risk sliding into war alongside the US over Taiwan with no proper debate?