Kal Raustiala 0:06
Good morning, everyone. I'm Kal Raustiala, welcome to our event today on the AUKUS Pact. I am really pleased to have a terrific lineup of speakers who will open up the conversation, then the four of us will have a brief conversation as we typically do in these events, and then we'll open it up to questions from all of you. So I'm going to briefly introduce our speakers. We will also put their full bios in the in the chat or q&a feature, some way will convey them to you. So if you want to know more about them. Also, please use the q&a feature for your questions. So you can submit them really starting at any point, I believe. But as we continue on in the conversation, you go ahead and start sending questions and at some point, we will turn to to the audience questions. So let me briefly introduce our speakers in the order in which they will, they will speak. So, first Ankit Panda is the Stanton Senior Fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, probably also known to many of us as a longtime journalist at The Diplomat. Following Ankit, Patricia Kim is the David Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution. She also has a joint appointment at the Thornton China Center, and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies. And then following Patricia will be Geoff Garrett. Geoff is currently the dean of the USC Marshall School of Business. Previously dean of the Wharton School, previously, my colleague here at UCLA. So we're happy to have Geoff back. So I'm going to get off camera, turn things over to Ankit to begin our discussion.
Ankit Panda 1:43
All right. Well, thank you so much Kal for that introduction. And thanks to UCLA and the Burkle Center for inviting me to speak today. I'll begin my remarks by briefly just explaining what exactly AUKUS, the new partnership between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom is and what it covers. And then I'll briefly reflect a little bit on the debate that's at least happening here in the United States on the meaning of this agreement. I actually appreciate that we're having this event in late October since it's given us around six weeks or so to reflect on the announcement, what's happened since and some of the diplomatic fallout, which I'll get into. So briefly speaking, AUKUS is a new partnership between these three countries. Importantly, it's not a new alliance as it's been described in some places. The United States has had previous alliances, of course with the United Kingdom, and Australia bilaterally. But the new trilateral partnership at its core is about sharing defense industrial technology, bringing Australia's autonomous military capabilities onto a new level and really indicating the United States and the United Kingdom's longer term commitment to shoring up Australia's capability as an actor in the Indo Pacific region. So some of the technologies that AUKUS will cover of course, most prominently, of course, the submarines which have been really the focus of a lot of the coverage. Australia will acquire nuclear propulsion submarines. And to get there, Australia unfortunately, had to cancel an agreement with France, which is concluded in 2016, to acquire conventional submarines, and that's led to a little bit of a diplomatic fallout with Paris. But apart from the submarines, AUKUS is quite wide ranging. They're focused on defense related science, industrial basis, artificial intelligence, cyber capabilities, conventional long-range precision strike missiles. Many of these things Australia was already thinking about doing previously. The Australian 2016 Defense White Paper and 2020 Defense Strategic Update, underscored Canberras intentions to become a more capable player in many of these areas, and AUKUS is really going to accelerate that. And finally, I'll just point out that AUKUS was really at its core an Australian idea. This is apparently something that the Morrison government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison approached the United Kingdom and the United States about putting together after the introduction to the administration. Zooming out a little bit, let me just reflect on the three sort of poles that I see in the debate around AUKUS. And I hope that this helps set the tone for today's conversation. We can maybe dig into some of this in the q&a in more detail. The three poles I really see that have really affected how American analysts at least are thinking about this agreement are as follows. On the one hand, there is the perspective of looking at AUKUS through the broader lens of geopolitics in the Indo Pacific, where this is seen as an attempt by the United States In the United Kingdom to shore up an important partner in the region, an attempt by Canberra to ensure that it's more capable in its ability to resist, for instance, coercion by China in the future, an attempt by the Royal Australian Navy to ensure that it's able to operate in key sea lands and communications in the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea, the Western Pacific with the acquisition of nuclear submarines, for instance. The second perspective, I think, is the defense industrial politics perspective. And this one's a little bit more complex. But this essentially focuses on what it actually means for Australia to now have scrapped a submarine tender that was well underway with France. This was of course not the happiest of stories. After concluding the agreement, there were cost overruns, delays. And the Australians were really just not happy with the kinds of results that they were getting from the French naval group, which was the lead contractor on the conventional submarines, which are meant to replace Australia's conventional Collins-class submarines. But now with the nuclear propulsion submarine question, we're really in a point where in traditional defense industrial deals, we would call this a memorandum of understanding. And what that effectively means is that we don't really have a lot of details about what kind of submarine the Australians will end up operating, how this will be built, whether the submarine will be built primarily in Australia, where for a reason to domestic politics, there is a focus on making sure that the shipbuilding industry in Adelaide for instance, is well taken care of. So some of those questions are still being ironed out. And then the other angle, which I talked about earlier, is what this means for France's defence industrial cooperation not only with Australia, but the United States and the United Kingdom and the French relationship more broadly with these three countries. And the final perspective, which I think is probably the most technical of these three is the debate around what AUKUS means for the Non Proliferation regime. Now, I want to be very clear here that the concern is not that Australia by acquiring nuclear submarines is somehow going to look to sneak out as a nuclear weapon state. Australia's Non Proliferation record is quite strong. And those analysts that have raised concerns about the Non Proliferation consequences of disagreement are really focusing on the precedent. The United States has not shared nuclear propulsion technology with any other country apart from the United Kingdom. US and UK naval propulsion reactors make use of highly enriched uranium that is uranium enriched up to 93.5%. In the isotope uranium 235, which is exactly what is used for nuclear weapons. The US Navy's Naval Reactors, for instance, per year use around 100 nuclear weapons worth of nuclear material. So the question here is what AUKUS will tell other countries for instance, Iran, Brazil, which also has a nuclear propulsion submarine program, albeit using low enriched uranium, India, South Korea, Japan, other countries that have expressed interest in Naval Reactor technology, about acquiring these technologies. And one of the concerns that I think is particularly important to point out here is that the International Atomic Energy Agency, which verifies safeguards agreements with member states to the Non Proliferation Treaty, the way in which each state's comprehensive safeguards agreement is written, there is an important loophole, which excludes non prescribed military activity. So for instance, submarine or naval propulsion fuel is actually excluded from traditional safeguards. So AUKUS here, I don't think needs to be a terrible precedent. But this is something that the three countries I think need to address head on, because this is the core of the Chinese critique, for instance of the agreement. And frankly speaking, this will be something that I think the three countries who claim to be supporting the rules-based order need to deal with, because ultimately, the Non Proliferation regime is an important part of that order. So in my remarks there, I'm looking forward to the discussion with my co panelists. Thanks.
Patricia Kim 8:00
Good morning, everyone. I'd like to thank Kal, the Burkle Center, for inviting me to this panel today. As a native Californian, I wish I was with you there in Los Angeles rather than dialing in from DC. But it's a pleasure to be here virtually. So I'm going to focus my opening remarks on the initial reactions of East Asian states to the announcement of AUKUS and China's reaction in particular and discuss the implications for US-China relations and regional dynamics going forward. So first, there's been a mix of responses to AUKUS by East Asian states, number of states like Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines have welcomed the new trilateral security partnership. While some including US allies, like South Korea have stayed relatively silent and while others like Malaysia and Indonesia have expressed reservations about the trilateral pact, potentially triggering a regional arms race and pushing China to act even more aggressively in the region. China expectedly has had the strongest reaction to AUKUS with its official spokesperson denouncing the pact as a group aimed at containing China that reflects outdated Cold War thinking and threatens peace in the Indo Pacific region. Beijing has accused the United States of holding double standards by sharing nuclear technology with a non nuclear state and selectively setting aside proliferation concerns when it suits its interest. In the early days after AUKUS was announced the Global Times, which is a Chinese language tabloid that is infamous for its strident national tone, went a step further to warn Australia that it would be the first target of Chinese missile strikes if Australia were to participate in some sort of US led conflict in the South China Sea or Taiwan. So what can we expect next from Beijing? I think beyond its angry response, you know, what, what more is there that China can do and what does this mean for US- China relations and dynamics in the region? In terms of additional economic pressure, I think many analysts have made the point that there really isn't much more Beijing can do to squeeze when it comes to trade with Australia. Over the last few years, Beijing has already sanctioned Australian coal, lime, lobster, barley, and so on to protest its policies that it seems hostile towards China, including Canberras call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the COVID 19 pandemic or for banning Huawei from building its 5g networks or probing Chinese influence campaigns inside Australia and calling out China on human rights issues. And its its behavior in the South China Sea and so on. Some additional areas where China might look to squeeze Australia are in the tourism and its international education industry. But the number of Chinese tourists and students are already very low in Australia due to the pandemic. So I think any punitive measures in such categories would take some time to have an impact. One other place where China could penalize Australia's is by stopping stop buying by stopping buying iron ore, which is one of China's biggest imports. But it's also a critical commodity for China with few alternative suppliers. So it isn't likely to sanction iron ore without inflicting serious damage to itself, although there has been a natural slowdown on China's demands because of the economic slowdown in China. So I think a clear takeaway from how this saga has played out is that Beijing's heavy handedness has been completely counterproductive. And it's failed to shape Australia's policies in the way that it intended. In fact, even just until a few years ago, Australia sought to position itself as a middle power that maintains a good relationship with both the United States and China. But after being pushed so far into the corner by China, I think rather than capitulating to Chinese demands, Australia did exactly the opposite by choosing to align more closely with the United States. So I think this is a case in point that when it comes to issues of national security, core values, national pride, countries have a very high tolerance for economic and diplomatic pressure, and that blatant coercion often has counterproductive effects. Now, an interesting question is whether there's any sort of reassessment or realization going on in Beijing that its behavior towards Australia has been counterproductive. And,
Patricia Kim 12:24
you know, I'm sure there are sober diplomats who realize that China's wolf warrior diplomacy has backfired in many cases. But I don't think there's a major course correction coming on, because many of China's objections to Australian policies were driven by the conviction that they threaten China's core interests, that they attacked the CCP is legitimacy by questioning its handling of the COVID 19 pandemic, by highlighting its human rights abuses and undermining its territorial sovereignty, and so on. And so I don't really see China backing away from its current position. In fact, I think the dominant view in Beijing is that the formation of AUKUS is is really just another US led design to counter China. And there isn't much consideration for the major role that China's assertive behavior has played in this development. So what does this mean for US-China relations going forward? First of all, I don't think US China relations is moving in a constructive direction at this point, although there is some hope that the upcoming Biden Xi virtual summit which has been agreed to, in principle, to take place sometime before the end of the year, could help thaw the relationship. But having said that, I think the relationship has been has hasn't really been going anywhere over the last few months. And the Biden administration, when it first came in, it laid out a framework for US China relations, which was premised on the notion that the United States and China or that the United States should seek to simultaneously compete with China, confront it when necessary, and cooperate with it in areas of common interest. And I think, personally, this is a very realistic and reasonable proposition. The problem is that Beijing has rejected this framework, and it's made clear that Washington can't expect China to cooperate even on areas of common interest if the United States is challenging its policies elsewhere. And I think, you know, many Chinese leaders and many of the Chinese public genuinely believe that the current dismal state of affairs between the two countries is really because of Washington's excesses and that the onus should be on the United States to do a full reset before China is willing to engage. And I think this kind of reset is off the table for the United States, given heightened threat perceptions of China among US policymakers and the general public here, and deep concerns about China's behavior at home and abroad over the last few years. So I fear that we'll continue to see a drift towards an increasingly fraught and zero sum bilateral relationship which is troubling, because when both parties start to see less and less value in preserving the relationship, there's very little room for diplomacy to manage the relationship, let alone the many global challenges we face, where US China coordination could really make a better or stronger impact than just individual efforts. And finally, I'll conclude, you know, by asking, Are we likely to see an increasingly divided into Pacific region? And my short answer is, I think we'll continue to see variation across the region, with some states taking clear steps to align militarily with the United States or with China, and others seeking to maintain balance relations with both sides. But I think the space for those who wish to remain in the middle may be shrinking. So I will leave my remarks there and look forward to the discussion.
Geoff Garrett 15:45
So I think I'm I'm supposed to follow up now. And I by my accent, I hope people can appreciate that my only comparative advantage today is that I'm ethnically Australian. And I happened to found a center on the US in Sydney in 2008. And I was in Australia from 2008 to 2014. The informal title of my remarks would be what a difference a decade makes. When I when I was in Australia, I had the opportunity, I had the great good fortune to interview Australian Prime Ministers, both from the left and the right in Australia. And there was really no difference between the Labour Party and the Liberal Party as the right wing party in Australia is concerned over their geopolitical vision, let's say circa 2010. And that vision was that there was there was no trade off between getting, maintaining an incredibly tight security and economic relationship with the United States, and getting ever closer economically to China. And no trade off. If you asked an Australian politician this question, they would immediately stop you in your tracks and say, there is no trade off. There is no incompatibilities here, between these two relationships. If you jump to the submarines, that Australia's got a small fleet of conventional subs, the Collins-class subs, that probably aren't fit for purpose. So the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean are really big and having 12 old subs to protect an island continent not going to work very well. But when the discussion happened in Australia about what to do to upgrade the submarine fleet a decade ago, the decision was to stay conventional, just because of all the issues of having nuclear subs. All the issues that would come up, the Australian government just decided that wasn't a risk worth taking. So let's just stay with conventional subs, stay with conventional subs. And then the third thing I'd say for about a decade ago, you know, we haven't talked very much about the UK element here. But obviously, the big difference is that UK was focused on Europe in 2000, and not on Asia. So fast forward to today, what do we what do we see today as the background conditions behind this new security pact Security Plus pact? The first one is, you know, and I wouldn't want to use this term in in any way other than just evocative. Australia, Australia is in a position as sort of as a lead player in the proxy war between the US and China, the proxy, pre Cold War, whatever it is, instead of this no trade off in the relationship between the two countries, I think Australia and Australians feel acutely the trade off between relationships with the US and China today. Now, of course, that's true of many countries in Asia. But I think it's probably nowhere more true than in Australia, potentially, because of the historical strength of the Alliance, the ANZUS alliance between Australia and the US. Second thing, obviously now is that despite the strength of the anti nuclear movement, the Non Proliferation movement in Australia,
Geoff Garrett 19:31
a recent example of which was the unwillingness of the Australian Government to export uranium to India, despite the fact that the US signed a civilian nuclear deal with India, that the sort of anti nukes sentiment in Australia has now been dominated by these geopolitical tension. So Australia is on board with nuclear submarines which are no doubt going to be more fit for purpose, but there it will raise issues as has already been articulated, that Australia just didn't want to confront in the past. And then the last element again back to the UK, the obvious thing that's happened here is that the UK has left the EU post Brexit and Boris Johnson in particular is trying to have a big global footprint for the UK, he promised the British people that this would be better for the UK than being hamstrung and part of Europe and this is a very visible example of that. So that's the then and the now. What happened in the middle? I, again, this is very big picture. I'll be very brief. You know, I think the beginning of the change actually goes back to the Obama administration, and the so called pivot to Asia that many people think Kurt Campbell authored for the Obama administration. I was in Canberra when Barack Obama made a pretty important speech, I think, that I remember as the rules of the road speech, in which he said: The US wants to write the rules of the road for Asia for the 21st century. If China wants to is willing to drive on the road under our rules, that's great, but that's the way we're going to do it. What happened after that, obviously, in Australia, concerns about Chinese influence in the country, long predating the Morison government's criticism, or you received as a criticism but this questioning of the origins of Coronavirus, Australian politics have changed a lot. A lot more concern about Confucius Institutes about donations into Australian higher education, relationships between Chinese citizens and Australian politicians. That was a big change. Obviously, then, in the US, we had the sort of jaw-juttingness of the Trump administration's anti China policy, and are you with us or against us to other countries around the world. You know, the Biden administration, I think, has basically continued the Trump policy but said, we're going to be as tough on China as President Trump was we're just going to work with our allies to do it. And this, this agreement is a clear example of that. And then of course, there's the growing sense in the United States, obviously, born out of the realities of what we expected from Xi Jinping, once he became the leader of China, there was still a lot of optimism, that in the early days of the Xi administration, that he was consolidating power that he was taking on corruption, but that we could work with this guy, he understands the US. And he understands the importance of having good relations between the two countries. Over time, all of that confidence has gone away to the point now where engagement with China is a dirty word in American foreign policy, and boy, that's a change from from the last 40 years. So this, the details of this agreement, I think are certainly very important. But to my mind, it's an exclamation point on a much bigger set of geopolitical changes that are obviously affecting the whole region and certainly affecting Australia. So Kal, I'm gonna end there. It's great to see you.
Kal Raustiala 23:30
Great, thank you, Geoff. Thank you, Patricia and Ankit too. Those are really excellent opening remarks. And there's so many dimensions we kind of went from, there's some very narrow and technical questions. And there's some really broad issues. I want to ask one thing, which I don't think matters that much. But Patricia, you mentioned very briefly, the pandemic. And so I'm just curious whether any of you think the fact that this occurred during or at maybe hopefully the tail end of this long pandemic had any kind of causal or timing related role. In other words, is there any way in which the pandemic matters to the story? My instinct is no, but I'm just curious.
Geoff Garrett 24:15
Well I'm not in Australia, but I tried to read the Australian press. You know, I think the the Morrison government has been criticized pretty extensively for its handling of, of the pandemic, you know, that there's been a rising up of Australian states asserting their independence and having their own COVID policies. It looks like that has not worked well for the national government. So you you know I could imagine that, you know, Morrison Australian elections happen all too frequently. Prime Ministers tend to lose their jobs in Australia at elections or before elections. I wouldn't be surprised if the if the domestic political environment made it certainly created incentives for Scott Morrison to try to do something big and flashy. And of course, it is consistent with with the other moves he's made with respect to China. You know, I don't think anyone's mentioned it yet. But in response to the Morrison government's request for an inquiry into the origins of the Coronavirus, Chinese government came back with 14 things they think Australia has done really badly. And they'd have to be have to be reversed for the relationship to get back onto a sounder footing. So that that might there might there might be a bit of a domestic political incentive here for the for the Morrison government to try to do something big and bold on the international stage, because I don't think that domestic domestic handling of the pandemic has been viewed by the Australian people very positively.
Kal Raustiala 25:53
Yeah, that's interesting. I mean, the timing issue, I'm going to get off timing in a second. But, you know, it just struck me, I don't think any of you mentioned Afghanistan. But that's also been something people have pointed to, for the American side, that one of the reasons that's happened now happened maybe quickly, I mean, there's a bit of a debate about why this occurred the way it did vis a vis France. To what degree was France expecting or should have known or, or anticipated this in some way? But it certainly shoved some of the Afghanistan news off the front pages in a way. But that's just timing. Part of the reason I'm interested in timing is that I think all three of you alluded to, you know, there's there's a connection here to long standing alliances, and the idea of really going back almost a century of sort of Anglosphere cooperation. I'm at the moment steeped in a book project, looking at the early 20th century in the 20th century, and the amount of discussion between the US the UK and the dominions and so forth over cooperation in what was seen as a friendly group of like minded, white English speaking countries made a lot of sense. And it's interesting now and 2021, to be back in that situation, it's never really gone away. But it's it's sort of reemerged so. So I just find those those issues interesting. So let me ask a bit about the implications for, for something else that's been in the news a bit, which is Taiwan. Patricia, you mentioned Taiwan, briefly, a lot of discussion lately about unrelated talk is perhaps about, you know, should we expect the PRC to move on Taiwan? And what would happen? So I'd love to hear from any of you. What are the implications of AUKUS for that? Do you think that that's a likely outcome in the near term, let's say five years? And what does office mean for that? If so?
Patricia Kim 27:47
I'm happy to get us started on that, and it's a very big question with lots of dimensions that I think we could, you know, parse for, for more than the hour that we have. But in terms of Taiwan, and, and this sort of increased urgency and the attention that's been in the media. I mean, I think it's based on the recognition that the military balance in the Taiwan Strait has shifted dramatically in China's favor in recent years, under Xi Jingping. You know, Beijing has relied increasingly on coercive measures, vis a vis Taiwan, as opposed to trying to ruin it. And because its military capabilities, its economic strength and diplomatic clout has increased so much relative to Taiwan and others in the region, I think China is able to put a lot more pressure on Taiwan than ever before. And so this is why you're seeing all these conversations right now. In terms of, you know, is there I think you kind of were asking, is there a D-day? Or do we expect Xi Jinping to move militarily on Taiwan? I mean, I think China has been very careful to preserve its own strategic ambiguity. So we talk about US Strategic ambiguity, but China has its own I mean, it says, One day, we want to reunify with Taiwan, but it hasn't put a concrete timeline on the table. And I think, for a variety of reasons. And, you know, if you think about what has deterred China up till now, I think it's a fear of US intervention and entanglement in a larger war, frankly, a preference for a peaceful negotiated solution, which would be easier for all parties involved, rather than having to fight a war. And, and of course, Beijing has a lot of other priorities at home, like economic growth and so on. And so, you know, I think what the Biden administration has been doing is at least on the first lever, where US deterrence has played a big role in preventing China from taking Taiwan militarily. They're trying to beef this aspect up because of the changing military aspect. Of course, AUKUS, and all the other alliance building efforts are part of this. And so, you know, I don't know how much AUKUS will have have an effect immediately on the balance in the Taiwan Strait, but it's part of this larger picture of rallying US allies and partners to be able to defend, you know, a free and open order in the Indo Pacific region to make sure that state, places like Taiwan are not coerced into some sort of settlement with China. I think it's part of that picture.
Ankit Panda 30:19
I can just follow up on that. You know, one of the things I think that's worth emphasizing, first of all, is, you know, in in this sort of dire scenario, where we're looking at a full scale conflict for the future of Asia, that begins in the Taiwan Strait, the 12, nuclear propulsion Australian submarines are probably not going to tip the scale either way, although they're going to have an important effect. But, you know, one of the things I think that's also been missing from the geographic debate around AUKUS is, you know, at least from my interpretation, this is much more significant for Australia's presence in the Indian Ocean region in the South China Sea, much more than the Western Pacific, East China Sea, or the Taiwan Strait, just for reasons of simple geography. I mean, the submarines, if and when they come to fruition, are likely to be based in Perth. And for those of you less familiar with Australian geography that is definitely a doorway to the Indian Ocean, more than the Pacific for Australia. But, you know, we also need to think about AUKUS in the context of other multilateral groupings of the region, including the Quad, you know Kal you brought up timing earlier. I also found it interesting that the AUKUS partnership was announced before the in person Quad leaders summit later that month. So it certainly I think avoided overshadowing the agenda there on the Quad, I think has been very careful to avoid pitching itself has anything close to a military alliance or military partnership under the Biden administration. But these factors, I think, you know, are worth appreciating. And then finally, you know, just echo what Patti had to say about the timing on the Taiwan issue with the debate in Washington, is worryingly, taking it as a given China is very likely to attack Taiwan in the coming years that this is a short term concern. And so I see a little bit of contradiction there between that very short term concern about a conflict, and then many of these AUKUS programs being very long to sort of actually yield results, You know, it's going to be the early 2040s before an Australia Nuclear Propulsion submarine is in the water of the, in the waters of the Indo Pacific, some of the other capabilities, including cruise missiles, long range strike capabilities may come earlier, but AUKUS is fundamentally a much more longer term partnership focused really on shaping the dynamics and Australia's ability to contribute to Indo Pacific security on a much longer time horizon.
Kal Raustiala 32:32
Yeah, that's a really important point. Ankit, you're a bit of a Quad expert. And so maybe just for the for the audience, the Quad refers to the US, India, Japan, and Australia. This kind of quadrilateral, security dialogue that's been going on for some time. And, you know, some, some would say, consumes more, more attention than is maybe justified. But it's an interesting example. And I'm just curious if you want to expand on what's the significance for the Quad of this pact, and even more specifically for India. So India, in the Indian Ocean has come up a couple of times in our discussion today. You know, India's obviously another big player in the region. Another democracy. So what does that mean?
Ankit Panda 33:15
So, you know, it's, it's interesting, because I've been kind of going back and forth on what AUKUS means for the Quad and vice versa. And I've sort of come to the conclusion that, you know, it's best to think of AUKUD as a quite separate arrangement. And I think, you know, some of the reasons that you laid out earlier, I think, were quite important, right, the perception of AUKUS as this historic trilateral partnership between English speaking countries. And you know, that's probably more related to the perception among other allies in the region, right. I think American Asian allies have always been realistic about the fact that the United States implicitly even if it doesn't say so quite explicitly has a sort of a pecking order when it comes to its allies. And, you know, the the joint statement, if you read what the three leaders had to say about giving Australian nuclear propulsion technology, for instance, they're very careful to outline but this was a one time exception for an important ally with Australia's Non Proliferation record. And that's led to a little bit of you know, I think, I wouldn't say you know, jealousy but a little bit of bad blood in places like, you know, South Korea, potentially India, Japan, where, you know, there was a recognition that the US might be unwilling to ever get to a point where it's willing to share that kind of technology with those countries for variety of reasons. But the India aspect, I think here is quite important too, right, India and Australia. You know, we heard from Jeffrey about the shifting dynamics and Australian strategic thought in the union in the Indo Pacific region over the last decade, India's increasingly a much more important partner for Australia. Yes, no, leaving aside the the non proliferation concerns around selling uranium and so forth. The Australian Navy and the Indian Navy continue to exercise together. Even if the Quad doesn't formally undertake Quad military exercises, the Mall of our series is very close to now being officially quadrilateralized in my opinion, the Australian Navy has participated again. And so the the four navies are coordinating a lot more closely. So overall, I'd say that, you know, I think it's useful instrumentally to think of these groupings as fundamentally separate. I mean, especially under Biden, there's, I think, been a special attention on making sure that the quad is not being perceived in the region as a military alliance or anything close to an Asian NATO. So AUKUS is very much I think, a defense technology partnership. Quad is a consultative arrangement on regional issues, including a regional security architecture that focuses on non traditional issues, including climate infrastructure, space security, as well as summit and so forth. And then, of course, we have other arrangements that sometimes come up in these discussions, for instance, Five Eyes, which is an intelligence sharing partnership. So you're starting to get this very kind of messy patchwork in the Indo Pacific of various many lateral arrangements, US bilateral alliances in Northeast Asia. But ultimately, the networking that's happening here is, I think, an attempt by the US to fundamentally multilateralize and help many of these countries take more of a stake in the future of the Indo Pacific. So you know, we're not stuck back in that Obama administration perspective of the US really having to lead the entire show in the region. It's about building those networks and, and creating stakes for all these countries.
Geoff Garrett 36:13
Can I just jump in for a second. Now, again, with what's changed the big picture. You know, I think what's changed in India is a changed Indian perception of their relationship with China and the opportunities and challenges of China. So for a long time, I think India was viewing China's rise as a real, real economic opportunity for them with lots of possibilities for outsourcing stuff to India as manufacturing costs got too high in China. But then the fact that so much Belt and Road investment was in Pakistan, still existential threat to India, and then the border incursions in Tibet. You know, the the Indian government, which obviously has not wanted to be part of Western alliances for very long period of time, going back to the country's founding, is just now more willing to be part of these conversations than ever before.
Kal Raustiala 37:14
I think it's time for us to jump into questions from the audience. So what I'm going to do is there's so many I'm going to summarize a couple just to start. Several people asked about New Zealand, and so Geoff you may be particularly well situated to discuss this, but Five Eyes came up a moment ago. Five Eyes is an intelligent sharing arrangement, which I believe New Zealand is part of, and, you know, New Zealand has often been allied as well in other security arrangements. So what does this mean for New Zealand? Several people ask that in various permutations, does it have a future in it? Will it be part of it has it it's been reported to be asking to be a part of it. What should we expect?
Geoff Garrett 37:55
I'm, I'm not a New Zealand expert. I have I do have a colleague across the across the office from me who's a proud Aucklander. But again, all I could do here is to give the big history and the big history is that even though the I mentioned the term ANZUS, the end Zed in ANZUS, is New Zealand. But the but this alliance has been viewed as an Australia us alliance in the past several decades. Because New Zealand opted out of even allowing American nuclear powered vehicles to dock in New Zealand, I think this was in the mid 1980s. And then New Zealand, of course, developed a very successful trading relationship with China, while being relatively independent in foreign policy, selling both lots of dairy products and lots of international students, New Zealand was an enormous beneficiary of an outflow of Chinese students. But my sense is from a New Zealand standpoint, at least economically, they've had some bigger challenges with China in the past several years. And obviously, you know, we know that that well, we do know that there have been big changes in New Zealand domestic politics, and obviously, the current prime minister is very powerful domestically can play a bigger role internationally, maybe than some of her predecessors. So I would imagine New Zealand is just like other countries, it's a new day for them and getting back to a Western alliance structure there, obviously it was in at the beginning, is bound to be more attractive. But you know, I wouldn't, I wouldn't expect it. As I said, I'm not an expert. I wouldn't expect it could happen as quickly. Or with the strength and gusto that is the case for Australia but, but the geo economic environment for New Zealand is now different, and they and they have to think about their interests differently.
Kal Raustiala 38:06
Would that just add to the concern on the part of American Asian allies that there's something that there's a racial dimension to AUKUS or, you know, just a kind of cultural dimension, that they're always going to be, as Ankit said, at the bottom of the pecking order.
Ankit Panda 40:14
Well, I mean, let me build on that, right. I did. I didn't draw that out a little bit more. I mean, I think I think, you know, there's those perceptions bite exists. But of course, you know, when we talk about these perceptions, we're talking about slices of the domestic political debate in these countries, right. Countries don't have monolithic views about this issue. And here, I'm primarily talking about American allies. And look, I mean, there are good reasons for the United States not to engage in the kind of defense industrial cooperation with some of its other allies that, you know, they might do with Australia. There's, I think, a certain level of trust, you know, when it comes to alliances, and technology sharing, in particular, technology sharing is one of the ways in which a country can really demonstrate that it's in for the long haul. And with Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States has been able to do this, you know, we share and co-develop missile defense technologies with Japan, we have actually a very sophisticated relationship there that exceeds what the United States does with the United Kingdom and Australia. On some level, there's a similar relationship with Canada for for missile defense and early warning. And so the US has a patchwork of different relationships here. With India, you know, you brought up the civil nuclear cooperation agreement, I think, for New Delhi that was very much seen as a vote of confidence by the United States. And even though that deal has neither resulted in the sort of worst case scenario consequences that his detractors sort of were presenting at the time for Non Proliferation reasons, or sort of the best case scenario projections. There are no US nuclear reactors being built in India at this time, you know, more than 15 years after the deal was announced. That deal has had the effect of bringing India closer to the United States. And, you know, there's been other factors there, including the fact that China has really been up ending the status quo with India at the disputed border, that's, that's helped things along there. I think it will be incumbent on the AUKUS countries to really demonstrate that this is not an attempt by the Anglosphere, so to speak to block out everyone else. You know, I am quite sensitive to be the negative consequences here, of boxing France out. I mean, the French are a resident Indo Pacific power. You know, they love to point out that they have the most exclusive economic zone of any non regional country in the area, given their possessions in the Southern Pacific, and so forth. And so there'll be some repairing of the relationship to do there. There has already been significant efforts by the Biden administration, to make sure that the US France relationship remains on on solid ground in the Indo Pacific going forward. But I do think these, these issues will need to be handled separately. If I could just actually use this as a moment, it also just, you know, bring up another issue that I think it's relevant with AUKUS and gets to some of what Patti was talking about with the reactions that Asian countries have had. You know, one of the criticisms of American engagement with the Indo Pacific, really, since the late Obama administration has been the overly securitized approach in the way in which the United States arranges its regional priorities. There's really a lack of engagement with a geo economic factor of statecraft of this region, which is primarily the demand signal that you get from places like, you know, Singapore, Southeast Asian countries, Japan, where, you know, they would very much welcome the United States taking an interest, for instance, CPTPP, returning to that agreement, recognizing that the Indo Pacific is simply not, you know, a theater primed for for military agreements that AUKUS represents. So I think, you know, that will, again, be something that I think the Biden administration will need to focus on to to undo some of the regional concerns around this agreement.
Geoff Garrett 43:32
Can I jumped in on that one, just on the last point, again, the history of TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership. So you know, even though even though the ideas originated with small countries, Obama embraced TPP as his own, and certainly lots of people in Australia and Japan and other countries felt a little of strong arming to get into TPP, even though there were provisions that they really weren't very comfortable with. And then to have the US walk away from TPP. You know, and obviously, Trump did that close to day one, but I remember the Hillary Clinton walked away from it in the in the debates in the run up to the election. You know, that I don't think that was received very well in the region. And obviously, at the same time, we've got Chinese regionalism growing with RCEP. Regional something economic partnership, comprehensive partnership. Yeah. You know, the Fed. I think Ankit's exactly right that there was this criticism that the US is playing an old style geopolitical game, when much of the action in Asia Pacific was geo economic and extended reach of China. So I'm sure he's right, that there is, you know, in addition to playing favorites. There's this concern that the US is playing an antiquated game in a region that's dominated by geo economics these days.
Kal Raustiala 45:00
Great points. Another question which relates directly to China and the sort of growing aggressiveness of China concerns the South South China Sea. So the question is, is the AUKUS pack related to American concerns about China's claims over the South China Sea in any way? So, for example, is this an effort to conscript Australia to help maintain freedom of the seas or otherwise, continue to push back on Chinese claims? Patricia, do you want to weigh in on that?
Patricia Kim 45:32
Sure. I mean, you know, I think we we've covered this a bit that AUKUS, you know, beyond just the nuclear powered submarines portion is much more about bringing Australia into providing greater security and having responsibility in the Indo Pacific region. Obviously, concerns about the South China Sea and China's aggressive behavior, there is very much a part of that. And you know, I think, Brownie to put one footnote actually, on the previous remarks about New Zealand and AUKUS and whether it's exclusive or not, I mean, I would like to point out that there was an interesting talk at CNAS last week with the UK Chief of the Defence Staff, who was asked, you know, is AUKUS this exclusive thing? Or can other countries get in on it? You know, can Japan get in on it? And? And his answer was that, you know, it's not, and that countries that do want to take part in industrial development together, you know, between like minded partners are very welcome. And the same applies for Five Eyes. And so I would just wanted to put that as a footnote. But yes, you know, I think very much the concerns are about the South China Sea, Taiwan Straits, the broader balance in the Indian Ocean and so on. I think we've covered that in the conversation.
Kal Raustiala 46:51
Great. So there's at least two interesting questions related to France. So one is given the way that France was was snubbed, does this pact give an impetus to France or maybe the EU more broadly, to pursue strategic autonomy? In a more vigorous way? Does it give the impression that the US is pivoting to Asia, we've been talking about a pivot for quite a long time. And then the related question is given that France apparently was not informed about AUKUS, and this caused a bit of a rift, what were the reactions of America's Asian allies to that, in other words, are people in, let's say, South Korea, Japan, elsewhere concern that the US is a bit of a rogue actor who could turn its back at any moment or suddenly surprise them with something? So those are both France related questions, but they go off in different directions. So whoever wants to jump in.
Ankit Panda 47:45
Sure. I can take a stab at that. I mean, yeah, to be fair, I think after, after the last four years of American policy in the region, I think it'd be pretty unfair for our allies to think that AUKUS represents a more rogue US than what we saw previously. But yeah, I mean, I mean, that said, I think, you know, the way in which was handled diplomatically. You know, I suspect, we don't know the full story yet about why the rollout happened the way that it did. I think what's been publicly reported, is that the French got a call the morning of the public announcement, and were told to expect something that they would probably be pretty unhappy about. You know, I think the Australia, France angle here is quite interesting, too, because they had a two plus two meeting of their defense and foreign ministers, at the end of August, I believe was August 28, where in the joint statement that was released, the two sides agreed that the Collins-class replacement project continued to be a very important aspect of their defense cooperation. And then September 13, AUKUS is announced. I think the French really felt, you know, stabbed in the back a little bit because they had been discussing these issues with the Australians directly. The debate on strategic autonomy in France, I think, is going to get more heated. France, of course, has had a strong Gaullist streak going back to the immediate post, Second World War days, where, you know, really the view has been that France needs to be out for itself. This led to, you know, Charles de Gaulle pulling out of NATO's integrated military command during the early Cold War. And while France has very much more aligned itself, with NATO, with the United States, in its global statecraft more generally, I think after AUKUS, you know, some of the more Gaullist French thinkers are going to get a little bit of a fillip for their views. So I think, you know, these debates are underway in France. I, however, would think that just for reasons of French national interest, France simply can't afford to go it alone in the Indo Pacific. A lot of the deployments, for instance, by the French Navy that have been undertaken in recent years have been incredibly collaborative with the US Navy, with other regional partners. So I think, you know, while AUKUS will be a very significant road bump and the efforts to repair that relationship are underway, I still do think that ultimately, you know, France will hew much more closely to the United States overall. Even while it reflects more on what sorts of strategic autonomy it might bring to the table in the Indo Pacific. so I'll leave it there. And then, if otherwise,
Geoff Garrett 47:53
Could I jump in on this one? A little bit. I mean, back to Geo economics versus geopolitics, I think it has been that Europe's approach to China has been way more geo economic than geopolitical for a long time. And with Germany in the lead, you know, with China emerging as Germany's largest export market, and really, you know, a major driver of the economy. So fast forward that to today, you know, Angela Merkel is no longer chancellor of Germany, we don't know what the new German government is going to look like. I would imagine that if you were in the Elysee Palace in France, you might think that this is an opportunity, not only for a sort of Gaullist France to return, but for France to play a much larger role in EU foreign policy of the direction of the EU. But I, you know, I would, despite what Ankit said, I think appropriately about, you know, French history and the fact that we have some beautiful islands in the Pacific that are still part of France. The EU has been concerned about its economic relationship with China, sometimes doing things, you know, with respect to Huawei, for example, that the US didn't like, but it feels to me that in the past year, Europe has been Europe writ large, has been cooling on the on the China economic relationship a little bit and is and feels to me a little bit more willing to, to to embrace some of the US perspectives there.
Kal Raustiala 51:44
Why is that? What explains that cooling?
Geoff Garrett 51:47
Well, I mean, again, I maybe I don't want to generalize too much from Huawei. But it does seem that if Huawei is a referendum on whether on whether you whether you know, geo economics creates geopolitical national security risks for you, more European countries are more skeptical of Huawei today than they were a couple of years ago. And think about Belt and Road road. I mean, Belt and Road, Chinese investment in the eastern part of the EU, and obviously in Central Asia is large, so the sort of eastern part of the block is maybe still more in that geo economic mindset than the Western than all Europe is. But I do think, you know, if you think about the direction of Europe, now it's going to hinge crucially on the attitudes of the new German government. And I think, not only do we not know what the new German government is, but we certainly don't know how they're going to balance these concerns going forward, maybe an opportunity for Mr. Macron the way he thinks about things.
Patricia Kim 52:51
Kal if I could just get one segment of the question. So um, you know, I think there was a lot of hand wringing over the last few months about whether the fact that many allies were not informed in advance of this trilateral pact, and also, that allies weren't properly informed or consulted with as the US withdrew from Afghanistan. There was a lot of concern, is this going to hurt credibility? US credibility in the region? What does this mean? And I was kind of scanning Asian media for sort of op eds, and kind of get the sense of how people are thinking out there. And I think, you know, there were some concerns. And I think there's some concerns in general, about sort of America first approach to foreign policy that continues to linger in the domestic political scene here. But my sense is that Asian allies and partners understand that many of these moves, whether it's the withdrawal from Afghanistan, or this new AUKUS pact, or elevating the Quad, or so on, this is all about them. And this is all about shifting American attention and resources from other places to the strategic competition that's going on in the Indo Pacific. And I think that message is very clear. So there wasn't as much sort of damage to the American credibility and commitment that I think some observers worried about in the media.
Ankit Panda 54:09
I mean, I would strongly agree with that. Right? If the notion of credibility, in its simplest form is simply doing what you say you will do, Biden said he would withdraw from Afghanistan and point to Asia. We withdrew from Afghanistan and AUKUS was announced immediately afterwards. And so from the credibility perspective, I think, you know, that's been the read in the region that, you know, it's finally evidence of the US delivering on these long running promises, of course, I setting aside the way in which the withdrawal and the way in which AUKUS were announced. But broadly speaking, I strongly agree with that.
Kal Raustiala 54:38
Yeah, that's interesting. So the thrust of the policies are both welcomed and appropriate, but maybe the handling could have used a little work. And is the sense just to riff on what you were saying Patricia. Is the Biden administration generally doing enough? So you know, this is obviously a big deal for Australia. It's maybe also somewhat of a big deal for the UK. For the US, which is truly a Global Power, it's a smaller piece of a much larger puzzle. Do you see the US doing what it needs to do vis a vis China in the region? More broadly, is this is this a big step, a small step? How do you characterize it?
Patricia Kim 55:13
Sure. I mean, just briefly, I think the Biden administration's Asia policy, the two sort of key pillars are shoring up the US alliance network that really suffered under the previous administration, there were a lot of ups and downs in the US, Japan and US are okay alliances, for instance, over cost sharing, and sort of implications that these were these were sort of that these are not true alliances, but they're really about cost benefit. And, and so there was some damage done there. I think the Biden administration has done very well to try to restore some stability. Obviously, he's put in a lot of attention to building up these new mechanisms like AUKUS or strengthening ones that were started in the previous administration, like the Quad. And so there's been a lot of work there. The second pillar, which hasn't seen as much success is sort of the US China relationship and getting a framework for the two big powers. And I don't think, again, that's a fault of the Biden administration. I think Beijing has been reluctant to embrace a realistic framework for the relationship. But that's where we've seen less success. And so hopefully, as we perhaps move towards a virtual summit, before the end of the year, we might see some improvement. But you know, we really need some guardrails for this relationship, I think, because the United States and China just have so many opposing interests that are not going to go anywhere, anytime soon. If we have some sort of accidental clash in the South China Sea, do we have working hotlines, working, you know, mechanisms to de escalate? Not, not really right now. And so there's so much work to be done there. There's so much work to be done to work on the Korean Peninsula, where North Korea continues to grow its nuclear and missile arsenal. So there's a lot that's not being done because of the lack of a working relationship between the US and China. And that's where we really could do some improvement.
Kal Raustiala 57:03
Great, thank you. I want to give each of you a chance. Are there any last comments, things you really wanted to say throughout this discussion that you didn't get to? No? All right, well, this has been a fantastic discussion. I really appreciate the three of you coming on. I appreciate our audience for tuning in. This will be on YouTube as usual. And I imagine we will revisit some of these issues again, and I hope we can bring you back on. So thank you all very much.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai