Peering into the gloom of East Asia’s future

An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter flies toward Ie Shima Training Facility before executing forward air controller airborne training, 16 January 2014. (Photo: US Marine Corps/ Lance Cpl. Stephen D. Himes).

Author: Ron Huisken, ANU

The first pivot to Asia in recent times was an intellectual one in the years immediately following the end of the Cold War. When the academic and policy world pondered an international landscape devoid of the superpower standoff, two points of strong consensus emerged fairly quickly. First, the end of the Cold War made the world much safer. Second, within this generally positive assessment, East Asia loomed as the region likely to experience both the strongest economic growth and the greatest relative turbulence on the security front. Read more…

China should lead restart of Six-Party Talks

Envoys from Russia, US, North Korea, Japan, China and South Korea meet at the beginning of a round of six-party talks in Beijing on 8 December 2008. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ron Huisken, ANU

As North Korea’s closest ally, China should convince Pyongyang to share responsibility for the Six-Party Talks with Seoul.

North Korea’s fierce campaign of belligerent posturing since late 2012 — which included a third nuclear test and another missile test — for the first time in a very long time yielded absolutely nothing in return: no economic gifts, no calming exchange of diplomatic envoys. The United States and South Korea responded with some pointed reminders of their countervailing power but, on the whole, Pyongyang was confronted with the fact that one of its favourite tactics no longer yielded the economic and political returns it had come to expect.  Read more…

North Korea’s nuclear test

North Koreans bow in front of the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il at Mansu Hill, Pyongyang (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ron Huisken, ANU

Pyongyang’s third nuclear test, conducted on 13 February 2013, sparked a flurry of commentary on what to do next.

All the familiar and varied themes of response have been refreshed — toughen the sanctions and accelerate countermeasures (especially against ballistic missiles), engage North Korea unreservedly, Read more…

Six-Party Talks, anyone?

An armed Chinese policeman guards the North Korean Embassy in Beijing where North Korea and the United States held nuclear talks on the morning of 23 February 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ron Huisken, ANU

The DPRK presents itself as a security tangle that needs to be made a top priority, particularly by the states of the Asia Pacific.

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Territorial disputes and the East Asian regional order

In this photo taken 19 October 2012, Chinese navy vessels take part in a drill in Zhoushan in Zhejiang province. The squabbling powers should resolve to address these maritime territorial disputes as a matter of priority. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ron Huisken, ANU

From the standpoint of stability and order, East Asia has turned in a rather poor performance over the past 2-3 years. The region has resembled a class of primary students whose teacher has been called out of the room.

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Pacific pivot: America’s strategic ballet

A Philippine soldier secures the beach as US and Philippine marines arrive on a rubber boat during a beach raid simulation as part of their joint military exercise at Palawan island, south of Manila on 23 April 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ron Huisken, ANU

‘Pacific pivot’ has become the signature phrase to describe America’s new defence strategy.

This characterisation emerged around the time of US President Obama’s address to the Australian Parliament in November 2011 and the Pentagon’s release of a policy document, Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, a few months later. Read more…

The Pentagon’s perspective on China

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, left, and Chinese Gen. Chen Bingde during bilateral talks at the Pentagon. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ron Huisken, ANU

In 1996, President Clinton told a joint sitting of the Australian Parliament that ‘the way [China] defines its greatness for the future will help decide whether the next century is one of conflict or cooperation’.

Fifteen years on, China’s trajectory has unmistakably lived up to Clinton’s expectations of ‘greatness’. Read more…