Plenary session one: 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?

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Director and Founder of the Centre for Independent Studies

Professor of Public Policy and Director, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis in the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University


Sociologist, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney.
Author of The New Authoritarianism

Director, Free Market Foundation, (Hungary)

Health Director, Health and BioSecurity, CSIRO

Director and Founder, Academy of Ideas, London, (UK)

Founder and CEO, Cognoscenti Group

Executive Director, The New Zealand Initiative (NZ)

Australian writer and columnist for the News Limited Press

Research Director, CIS

Programme Co-ordinator of the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning, The University of Western Australia

Chinese Canadian human rights advocate

Senior Research Fellow, Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society Program, CIS

CEO and Founding Director, China Matters

Former Liberal member of the Australian House of Representatives and Cabinet Minister

Pro Vice-Chancellor Arts and Academic Culture, and Professor of History, Australian Catholic University

Cancer researcher and clinical oncologist, with Genesis Care Newcastle

Founder and President, Middle East Forum, publisher Middle East Quarterly Journal, (US)

Professor of Economics, University of Melbourne

Senior Research Fellow and Director, Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society Program, CIS

Internationally acclaimed novelist and journalist, (US)

Head of Economic Research, Reserve Bank of Australia

Executive Director, CIS

Professor of Economics at Stanford University; Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution and Chair of the Working Group on Economic Policy, (US)

UQ-CSIRO Chair in Personalised Nanodiagnostics, Professorial Research Fellow, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland

Diplomat, American Board of Pathology

Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure

Liberal Party Member for Berowra

Australia’s Ambassador to China from 2007 to 2011, Chairman & CEO of Geoff Raby and Associates Ltd based in Beijing

Director of China and Free Societies program, CIS

Senior Research Scholar, Marron Institute of Urban Management, New York University, (US)