China debate John Mearsheimer vs Hugh White




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good evening everyone it's great to see such an enormous crowd here tonight let me introduce myself my name is sue windibank I convene the China and free societies project at the Center for independent studies and it's my great pleasure to welcome you all here tonight to this event now for those of you that don't know about the Center for independent studies CIS is a public policy research organization we're based in Sydney and we're committed to promoting the liberal classical liberal principles so that includes free choice individual freedom open and I would also add civil exchange of ideas and there will be plenty of that tonight limited democratic government under the rule of law education opportunities and market-based reform we support evidence-based policies to help lift the standards of all Australians we're particularly focused on indigenous a disadvantage in remote communities now cios has also been a very strong supporter of free trade and the china trade relationship as well as the u.s. alliance which has been and continues to be the centerpiece of Australian foreign policy and on Sunday we had the pleasure of hosting the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the foreign minister Murray Spain at the New South Wales State Library that was a lively livened but tonight is gonna be even livelier now we all know that Australia is the middle power and that we benefit from the status quo in the region we want to keep enjoying the best of both worlds we want to have unconstrained trade with China and we want a shelter under the security umbrella of the United States now that situation has served this nation very well for nearly a quarter of a century so it stands to reason that anything that disturbs that regional equilibrium is self-evidently not in our national interest that's been and I think it remains the Canberra policy consensus but can China rise peacefully well both speakers this evening professor Hugh white from the Anu and professor John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago believe that as China's economic power grows we'll convert that into military strength and Beijing will seek a strategic sphere of influence on which its future prosperity and stability depends so therefore a more intense strategic and economic competition between Washington and Beijing is inevitable indeed if you think about this week's headlines currency and trade tensions Beijing's hardline approach to Hong Kong you might think of them as as just a harbinger of things to come so the question is what should Canberra do well now for the debate now in tonight's debate each speaker will have 15 minutes to make their case and let me introduce our first speaker Hugh white is a professor of strategic studies and he's probably known to many of you in this room at the ANU here in Canberra he's also the author of the quarterly essay without America Australia in the new Asia he's a former deputy defense secretary and his new book how to defend Australia which is published by black ink basically fleshes out the defense requirements for his without America thesis and you can buy that book in the lobby as I've seen many of you doing this evening so ladies and gentlemen without further ado please join me in welcoming professor Hugh white [Applause] well thank you very much sue for that introduction thanks Tom for CIS is organizing this thanks John it's a great pleasure to appear on this platform with John Mearsheimer amount whose work I've admired and learn a great deal from over many many years and thank you all for coming it's great to see so many out on a cold Canberra night so sue I think you set the scene for us very nicely that mantra that we've heard so much about over the last 10 years or so we don't have to choose between America and China always depended for its credibility on whether Washington and Beijing agreed and if what you do in Beijing decided or if either of them decided that we did have to choose then we had to choose and last weekend if we've been any doubt before last weekend removed any doubt at all that at least from Washington's point of view and I was Jose from Beijing z-- we do have to choose we do have to make some choices and the choices we're talking about are very big ones because the us-china rivalry that we're seeing today over which of them will be the primary power in the world's most dynamic region is a very big strategic challenge indeed it's the biggest challenge to Australia strategic assumptions I would argue since the late 1930s and that didn't end well now it is I believe an oversimplification to see the choices which that confronts us with in the terms in which for example and relentless grilling from Tom Switzer on Sunday afternoon the US Secretary of State characterized them as a choice between soya beans and security a choice between the United States is our great ally and China is our great customer it is true that there is a choice between prosperity and security and the way we manage this but tonight I want to leave prosperity to one side and I want to ask what is best for our security what choices do we face in terms of how best to manage our security over the years and decades to come in the light of this rivalry between the US and China is it best for us just to support the United States in what appears to be its current policy of trying to contain China's challenge and restore the old us-led order which has served Australia so well or is it better for us not to support them and to try some other approach I'll touch very briefly on what that other approach might be later now just to be clear this is not a conversation about what we'd like if you ask me at least what I'd like I'd like American primacy and Asia to last forever but I but what we need to have a conversation about is not what we'd like but what we should prudently expect and I don't think we can prudently expect that supporting the United States in the policy that it's currently appears to be pursuing is the best way for us to proceed and there is two reasons why I think that the first is that I don't believe the United States itself is committed to it and therefore it won't work the second is that even if the United States is committed to it it won't work and it will lead to a disaster let me analyze those two explain those to explore those two propositions in a little bit more detail why why do I say the United States is not really committed to the policy of containing China and restoring the us-led order well it's easy to assume it is partly because they say so that's what secretary Pompeo for example was saying over the weekend but I do tend as a point of methodology to discount what what countries and their leaders and their political representatives say and look more carefully at what they do so stronger reason as to why the United States should be committed to preserving its leadership in Asia is that it's always done so before that the United States for a long time a century you might say has has always been committed to preserve its position as the leading power in East Asia and more broadly to resisting challenges posed by peer competitors successively through the 20th century and that is true nineteen seventeen nineteen forty one the decades of the Cold War the United States has been pretty consistent but the fact that that's what the United States has done before is no guarantee that that's what it'll do in the future and it seems to me in particular that the in the case of the contest with China there are two key differences the first is that China is stronger than any of the peer competitors would be peer competitors that the United States has ever faced before it's stronger as an economic power in particular and I do take an old-fashioned view that economic weight is the foundation of national power that is not to say that China that America isn't strong too it's a very strong country but China is stronger relative to the United States than any country has ever been since the United States first poked its nose out of the Western Hemisphere at the end of the nineteenth century its economy is far far bigger probably already now twice as big as the Soviet Union's was relative to America's at the height of the Cold War and it's likely to grow much bigger still we would make a real mistake to keep on under estimating China's power for the next few years as we have done so consistently for the last 25 years we face this predicament today because we've underestimated China's power for so long and I might say we've overestimated the United States but long taken it for granted that the United States is by definition the world's strongest state by definition has a military power to do whatever it likes what we've discovered repeatedly but still don't seem to have learnt from is that the United States for all its strength and power and creativity and all the good things about it is not the power we thought it was and the power we hoped it would be and what that means is that the costs the United States or preserving its leadership in Asia in the face of China's power and ambition to overtake it is going to be very high it will become comparable to and perhaps higher than the costs of preserving its position via via the Soviet Union during the Cold War because China is stronger now the other side of the coin is that the imperatives to the United States are lower then then then they were in previous enterprises when it confronted peer competitors and that's because in the past when the United States has set out to defeat for example vilho mind Germany in 1917 or the Nazis and the Japanese in 1941 or the Soviets in 1948 and onwards they confronted in each of those episodes powers which had a real prospect of dominating the whole of the Eurasian landmass and any country that dominates the whole of the Eurasian landmass is easily going to be strong enough to threaten the United States at home in the Western Hemisphere that provided a very deep foundational reason why the why the United States should be prepared to be the burdens and pay the costs of confronting those very powerful states but I think it's hard to argue that China has a prospect of doing that because although I am pretty bullish about China I think the chances of China having a kind of preponderance that would allow to dominate the other countries in Eurasia are very low therefore the chance of of being able to dominate Eurasia and threaten the United States at home in the Western Hemisphere are very low and therefore the chance of the United States having the will the motive the purpose to pay those higher costs and risks in order to confront China in East Asia to prevent China becoming the primary power in East Asia is pretty low because I just don't see why the United States should commit itself to those costs and risks and moreover there's no real sign that they are there are people in Washington including the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense who talk of a new Cold War or language like it but I think they still underestimate China I don't hear from them a clear understanding of how big that will be a clear articulation of a strategy that would deliver America or a reasonable trust prospect of success in confronting China no clear recognitions of how much that will cost and no clear statement of why the United States has to commit itself to paying those car and I haven't even mentioned Donald Trump but Trump is an important part of this not because but not just because of his own policies but because of what his election tells us about the attitude not of the foreign policy elites in Washington DC but of American voters because in the end a national effort on the scale and cost and risk required to confront a country as powerful as China in its own hemisphere is not something that can be decided by a few people and think tanks up and down Massachusetts Avenue it needs to be decided by the American people as a whole and what you see from the election of Donald Trump what you see from the willingness of the Republican establishment to go along with him and what you see on the Democrat side of politics as the Democrats try to redefine themselves in a trump era is very little commitment if any to preserving the US leadership role upon which this whole model of American engagement in Asia depends in the light of all this Australians have to ask themselves how confident can we be that America today and in the decades to come will commit to the costs and risks of containing China and what if I'm wrong how sure can we be that they will succeed if they if I'm wrong and they do decide to commit because if I'm wrong if America really is committed then what we'll see is escalating strategic rivalry further steps up the trend a very sharply rising trend that we've seen in the last few months and years now everyone in Washington and everyone in Australia I guess will hope that that in the face of that China would simply back off but I think that underestimates China again the balance of resolve favors China for the simple geographical reason that the contest we're talking about is won in East Asia if the contest was in the Western Hemisphere I wouldn't give China a chance but in China's backyard where the balance of resolves is so strong strongly shaped by geography I think the chances of China backing off before America does are very low that means if America sticks to the to the commitment the chance of war goes up it's quite high in this scenario over an issue like Taiwan in a sense what it doesn't really matter what the issue that starts it is what's important is is that the US and China will find themselves fighting a conflict whose essential driver is the question as to which of them as a primary power in Asia a very old-fashioned conception of a hegemonic war if that happens America will not win easily in fact I think the chances our America will not win at all it won't lose in a sense the PLA is not going to march down the Constitution the Constitution Avenue in the United States but but it will not win and in and in failing to win and failing the resolve the old order in Asia will be destroyed anyway moreover the chance of that conflict escalating to a nuclear conflict is quite high and the chance of that becoming a full-scale nuclear exchange is quite high so if so if I'm wrong if America is committed that leads Asha and Australia directly to what looks to me like a very serious catastrophe in neither case whether America's committed or it isn't our Australia security interests served by supporting and encouraging current US policy so will we anyway I've just explained what we should do what will we do I don't know actually it's it's very easy for us to keep trying to slide along as we're doing at the moment without making a choice on this being actually systemically duplicitous telling the United States that we are supporting them and telling the Chinese that we're not that is Australia's policy today I think we'll we can resolve that whether we can come out and actually say no we're not going to go down this path United States just is that was talking about following it's going to be hard it's very easy to slide into supporting the United States through timidity and a lack of imagination it's easy to say we have no choice as people keep on saying that's simply wrong we do have a choice we do have a choice we haven't yet made that choice yet and but but but what is notable to me is that Australian government so far including the present government have not have have so far failed to endorse the American designation of China as a strategic rival they haven't done so yet not I think because of a kind of strategic argument I've just unfolded but for the simple reason going back to mr. Pompeo a fear of China's anger and what it would mean for our trade relationships but I think what that shows is they're still hoping to muddle through and I think this is true of both sides of politics and that does remind me of the 1930s because if you look at what Australia did as things darkened in the in the late 1930s Australia still Australian political leaders recognize that the singapore strategy of the continuing dependence on the United Kingdom to which we are so heavily committed was not working but we simply couldn't imagine doing anything else and so we slid into the fall of Singapore and the biggest catastrophe in our national history so what should we do well two possibilities one is that we should go back to the United States and say we don't think the policy you're working on at the moment is going to work but we can encourage them to develop one that will and it is possible to imagine a u.s. policy which recognized China's growing power which was sustainable at an effort at a level of effort the United States is prepared to commit it would be a very different u.s. role in Asia than one we've seen in the past but it would be much better for us than the United States withdrawing which seems to be the most likely alternative I think there was a time around about 2012 when Australia could have done that could have gone out there and argued for that different model and if you look at for example of what leash and lung was talking about his big speech in Singapore on the 1st of June this year that was the kind of thing he was talking about and we could we could do that and maybe we should but I'm here to tell you I think the time has passed I think the chances of that succeeding is now very low so what should we do instead prepare I hope this we can manage our security if that fails which means prepare to stand alone thank you very much thank you for those sobering scenarios you now to our second speaker John Mearsheimer is one of America's leading foreign policy thinkers he is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and he's the author of the book the tragedy of great power politics now at the end of the Cold War during the Cold War era there were three big ideas that dominated debate there was Francis Fukuyama's end of history there was the clash of civilizations by Samuel Huntington and then there was John Mearsheimer tragedy thesis he is also the author most recently of the great delusion liberal dreams and international realities which is all about the American policy of pursuing little liberal hegemony and its failure and that book is also available in the hotel lobby and I see that sales have also been pretty Swift on that book too so without further ado I'd like to invite Professor John Mearsheimer to come and address us [Applause] thank you very much for the kind introduction it's a great pleasure and an honor to be up here and it's a great pleasure to be debating you this evening the question that's on the table is what should the Australia's foreign policy be in light of the rise of China and what I'm going to tell you is what I think it should be and it's an honor Australian I'm being a bit presumptuous here but I'll tell you what I would suggest if I were in Australian and I'm also going to tell you what I think is going to happen right because I'm quite confident that what australe you should do it will do and the way I want to proceed is I want to first describe the us-china competition and then I want to turn to talking about how Australia fits into that bigger picture okay so let me start by talking about Chinese foreign policy and what's happening in China my basic assumption here is that China is going to continue to grow over time it's very important to understand that that's an assumption the China will continue to grow and my argument is that it will turn that economic power into military power and it will try to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere to put it in slightly different terms where China is going to want to do is be a regional hegemon like the United States is in the Western Hemisphere it's going to want to be much more powerful than all of its neighbors with China is going to want to do and it's a smart thing from China's perspective is maximize the power gap between it and Japan and India and Russia you want to be as we used to say when I was a little boy in New York City the biggest and baddest dude on the block you be really powerful that's the first goal the second goal for China's perspective is to push the Americans out of Asia you know we Americans have what's called the Monroe Doctrine we do not like the idea of other great powers from places like Asia or places like Europe coming into the Western Hemisphere we want to dominate the Western Hemisphere by ourselves my view is that China is going to want to dominate Asia especially East Asia and it's not gonna want the United States on its doorstep and I don't blame them at all I think from China's point of view this makes perfect sense the best way to survive in the international system is to be a regional hegemon so I think as China gets more and more powerful it's gonna push in that direction and the question you have to ask yourself is what is the United States going to do the United States is not gonna let that happen or at least it's going to try not to let that happen we're gonna get right up in China's face and we're gonna tell them you cannot be a regional hegemon we're going to pivot to Asia and we're going to do everything we can to prevent that from happening the historical record on this issue is quite clear you alluded to it in his comments the United States went to great lengths to contain and then put four different potential pier competitors on the scrap heap of history in the 20th century first Imperial Germany second Imperial Japan third Nazi Germany and for the Soviet Union we went out of our way we went to great lengths we paid a great price to make sure that none of those four countries nominated either Europe Asia or Eurasia we do not tolerate peer competitors so you can rest assured that China attempts to dominate Asia and mainly East Asia for starters we will go to great lengths to prevent that from happening and we will go to great lengths to organize a balancing coalition in this area of the world so that others are with us now some people believe and I think this is clear and use comments that the United States is not up for the task and there's sort of two arguments here one is public opinion in the United States we're tired of global leadership and we won't be here we're worn out and in the second argument is we just don't have the wherewithal to do it we're dealing with Godzilla and there's no way the United States the poor pitiful United States can deal with the power as great as China first with regard to public opinion there's no question the American public is worn-out tired of these what we call forever wars in places like the Middle East that's true for sure but the fact of the matter is even though the American public is worn out we continue to fight those wars and we still are operating all over the globe and our commitments have actually increased since President Trump took over and there's no evidence that we're leaving East Asia in fact if you look at our arms sales with Taiwan in our political relations with Taiwan these days we're increasing the bonds between the United States and Taiwan which is sure to infuriate the Chinese but we just don't care and if you look at the trade war this is all an indication that the United States is getting up in China's face we're not leaving the American people is not warrant or not worn out and furthermore the forever wars are different than dealing with a pure competitor and furthermore you want to understand that in the United States it's not just a military industrial complex the usual security experts who are interested in containing China it's also a huge chunk of the business community the high tech industry they're scared stiff for the Chinese so the high tech industry is marching arm and arm at the Pentagon so in terms of public opinion will be there now with regard to the question of whether or not we have the wherewithal to deal with China I disagree with you on this one the United States is the most powerful state on the planet at this point in time militarily the Chinese would be crazy to pick a fight with us we have the finest military out there and economically we have a dynamic economy and if you look at per capita GNP which i think is the principal indicator of economic power we far outdistanced the Chinese it may be the case in 20 or 30 years that they outdistance us but who knows who knows what's going to happen over the next 20 or 30 years economically who knows how much the Chinese economy is going to grow relative to the American economy but for the foreseeable future we definitely have the wherewithal to play in this game and furthermore you want to remember we're going to have allies and we're gonna have some rich allies and I believe one of them will be Australia but countries like Japan countries like India they'll be with us so it's not just the United States versus China it's the United States and some powerful allies versus China all right so I think that you know we're in the game but let's assume that you was basically correct and China becomes much more powerful or China is much more powerful than the United States you want to remember that during the Cold War when the Soviet Union was at its height of power it had only 30 percent of the wealth that the United States had 30 percent of the wealth and we still had an intense security competition from 1947 to 1989 so even if we have 50 percent even 30 percent of the wealth of China will be there we may ultimately lose but most of you will be dead by the time that happened and there's gonna be a lot of balance seen in the meantime so the idea right the idea that we're not going to be there you can forget that right so we're going to have an intense security competition that is very quickly a lot of people argue that there's a way out of this we can have some sort of condominium some sort of concert the United States and China can get together and they can divide up East Asia and live happily ever after this is not my understanding of Fallot international politics works international politics is a zero-sum game and the Chinese smartly I'm going to be clear here the Chinese smartly want to dominate Asia and they want the Americans out we want to maintain the status quo we do not want trying to get any more powerful that it is today so there's not going to be a condominium they're gonna push hard and we're gonna push hard and we're going to go to great lengths to undermine them it's not simply gonna be containment during the Cold War the United States was involved in not only containment but rollback we will be engaged in rollback and if you look at what President Trump is doing that's not just containment that's rollback he's trying to rollback Chinese power this is the way great powers behave this is the way the United States Babes you want to understand the United States as a ruthless great power it does not tolerate their competitors now the question is what does this all mean for Australia you're in a quandary for sure everybody knows everybody knows what the quandary is and by the way you're not the only country in East Asia that's in this quandary you trade a lot with China and that trade is very important for your prosperity no question about that and security-wise you really want to go with us it makes just a lot more sense right and you understand that security is more important than prosperity because if you don't survive you're not gonna prosper survivals of the utmost importance because you can't pursue any other goals if you don't survive right so Security's got to be number one so you'll sacrifice prosperity for security right that's what will happen that's why you'll be with us now some people say there's an alternative you can go with China right you have a choice here you can go with China rather the United States there's two things I'll say about that number one if you go with China you want to understand you are our enemy you are then deciding to become an enemy of the United States because we're again we're talking about an intense security competition you're either with us or against us and if you're trading extensively with China and you're friendly with China you're undermining the United States in this security competition you're feeding the beast from our perspective and that is not going to make us happy and when we are not happy you do not want to underestimate how nasty we can bei just ask Fidel Castro to take this a step further let's assume that you side with China let's assume that you is correct and that the Chinese when you help China win by siding with China you think you're gonna be happy in that world you don't think they're going to interfere with your sovereignty you want to come over to the Western Hemisphere go down to Central America but down to South America and ask those countries down there how they like living with the United States of America we have a rich history of doing horrible things in South and Central America okay I'm glad from an American perspective that we're a hegemon but I'll tell you from the perspective of our neighbors doesn't look like a happy story and I'll tell you something you already see evidence of this if China dominates this region they're gonna violate your sovereignty time after time and it's not gonna be a happy story you're gonna be with us and then finally there's this argument that you can sit on the sidelines all right you can just sort of sit on the sidelines whoa are you gonna trade but the Chinese well you sit on the sidelines you are not going to just sit there and be an isolated country fortress Australia you're going to be trading you're highly dependent on trade with China that's just another way of saying you're not going to be neutral you're going to be in bed with the Chinese and again that's not going to make the Americans happy and if it does work out in China wins you're gonna regret it till the day you die and you of course know that and that's why you'll side with the Americans and I'm not saying that's siding with the Americans is a day at the beach it's not but it's the least bad of two alternatives and this is what international politics is often about is you know it's picking among bad alternatives and siding with the Americans may be a bad alternative but it's a heck of a lot worse decide what the Chinese were operate under the illusion that you can be neutral not gonna happen not gonna happen right so what's my bottom line here my bottom line is that you should all hope that China does not continue to grow you should hope it does not continue to grow I should the Americans but if it does continue to grow you should and I believe you will side with uncle sugar thank you thank you Thank You professor John Mearsheimer and professor Hugh white what a debate now my name is Tom Switzer on from the Center for independent studies and thank you so much for being here this is our first event in Canberra and judging by the crowd I hope it's not our last so thank you so much for being here let's talk first about these schools of thought so you've got the the Hugh white argument which is saying that Americans are tired of the world they're suffering from foreign policy fatigue and that in this increasingly intense strategic and economic competition Australia should be prepared to stand alone the mesh armor school of thought of course is that the US will maintain serious economic and military presence in the region and Canberra must support Uncle Sam going forward so there's two schools of thought simply put let's first talk about the the big news of the day Andrew hasty the Liberal MP he wrote an op-ed today in The Sydney Morning Herald and the argument is that Australia is facing an unprecedented economic and national security test he likened the world approach to containing China to the quote catastrophic failure to prevent the rise of Nazi Germany Hugh white what do you make of Hasty's remarks well he's kind of bit late to the party and identifying the rise of China and the escalating strategic rivalry between the US and China is the biggest strategic challenge Australia faces as some have been talking about that for a decade I'd for more but welcome it's also good to see that he's noting that it's more important than the war on terror good I'm glad he's caught up with that argument I don't think the appeasement metaphor the Nazi Germany metaphor is very helpful historical metaphors can sometimes be valuable but they can also be a little bit distorting the Munich metaphor has been used in relation to almost every international strategic crisis since 1938 and often it's produced very dumb outcomes so I don't think that helps us very much I gotta say from my reading of the op-ed he didn't actually offer much in the way of devices to what we should be doing about it I don't think he actually in okay and we should stress so that we're catching up with the news of the day the Chinese government has come out through its embassy to strongly deplore hates these comments extreme overblown and unwelcome but John Mearsheimer isn't there quite a bit of truth leaving aside the Nancy analogy a lot of truth to what hasty saying and what you're saying yeah I just want to be clear to sort of build on what you said that I think comparing China to Nazi Germany was a foolish thing to do China is an authoritarian system and it has all sorts of aspects to its political system that somebody from a liberal democracy like me doesn't like at all but China is not Nazi Germany and I think it was not helpful at all as you said to make that analogy I think what's good about the essay is that he points out that the policy of engagement which the West pursued this includes Australians and especially Americans towards China over the course of the post Cold War period effectively helped create this monster the idea was that we were going to trade extensively with China make it rich embed it in international institutions and it was going to become in Robert zelich's words a responsible stakeholder well what we did was we helped accelerate the growth of China it didn't become a responsible stakeholder as people like me predicted and instead it's good to do when I said it was good to do which is try to dominate Asia so it was a remarkably foolish policy and we were as Secretary of State Pompeo said asleep at the switch because we were pursuing this foolish policy now the question is what do we do and as you said he's not too good on the solutions because as most people understand there are no really terrific solutions here as I said at the end of my okay but hasty Mearsheimer and white a broadly an agreement on the threat that China poses is increasingly assertive on the world stage especially in our own region however there is a lot of squat there are a lot of scholars who believe that there are some serious weaknesses and limitations in China I want to put two Hugh white the views of the distinguished American Scientologist professor David Shambo from George Washington University and he says when he talks about China's weaknesses an economy saddled with a large and growing debt burden endemic corruption environmental concerns you think about the air and the water pollution very extreme demographic challenges you know John Howard's fond of saying that China is likely to grow old before it grows rich a hue exaggerating China's capacities well it's just worth bearing I've got a lot of time for David Shambo old and dear friend very fine china scholar but it's just worth making the point that precisely that list of points that you read out have been said about china every single year since it started growing and as I said in my remarks earlier we have consistently underestimated China's capacity to work through its problems and to keep the economy growing and I think one of the reasons Jones if one of the reasons why people have underestimated China as a strategic challenger and one of the reasons why I've taken a different view for a long time is that they've tended to convince themselves that somehow China would solve our problem for us by screwing it up and they haven't so far well that's not to say they won't it's not to say they won't in future all sorts of things to go wrong in China but I will just make this observation the strategic weight the economic weight that gives China the capacity to pose this very significant challenge to American leadership in Asia is not something that's predicated on its future development it's already today far bigger relative to the United States than any country has ever been it's it's peepee its GDP measured in PPP terms is already bigger than America so even a shot of flat lines from here which is very unlikely to do it will still be in a position to pose a more serious challenge to knighted States than any of those previous peer competitors okay but it's not just David sambar there's a sense of history here Owen Harry's head of policy planning in the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Fraser era a big figure in Canberra four decades ago and former senior fellow here at CIS he points out than the past century China has experienced the collapse of a traditional regime warlordism civil war invasion a famine that killed millions in massive terror in the form of the Cultural Revolution and of course the dramatic socio-economic changes of the last four decades John Mearsheimer surely such a power is not wanting to be expansionist because it's got so many of these challenges at home and the history there how would you respond to our one Harry's the point is that China when it was weak and it was suffering in the various ways that Tom just described was victimized by other great powers the Chinese talk about the century of national humiliation China was a very weak country and when it was weak it was victimized by the United States the Japanese and the European great powers the lesson that the Chinese have taken from that which I believe is the correct lesson is that you want to be extremely powerful and you don't want any rival great powers in your region of the world and that's why I believe the Chinese as they now begin to grow economically are bent on establishing regional hegemony you know I'm an American the United States is the only regional hegemon in modern history how many Americans do you think go to bed at night worrying about being attacked by Canada or Mexico the answer is none we have the ideal geo strategic situation we have Canadians to the north Mexicans to the south fish to the east and fish to the west that's what you want right the last thing you want to do is live next to other gorillas because they may invade you and if those economic problems that you described do manifest themselves you can rest assured that your neighbors will take advantage of you so I think it makes perfect sense for the Chinese to try to dominate Asia but you want to remember it makes perfect sense for us for you to go to great lengths to not let that happen okay so just assume you both ride that China's rise will continue on about it and that's the consensus here I'm an agnostic on that I want to be clear if it yes right so but just assume you're right on this question that China's rise will continue unabated the consensus in Canberra both major parties for some time now believe that we can ride two horses simultaneously we can continue to have the security umbrella with the Americans and to trade and definitely my ask you because this wasn't spelled out in your talk you why can't we just continue to have the best of both worlds in this increasingly intense strategic competition between Beijing and Washington well because for exactly the reason that John explained they're not gonna let us hmm the proposition we don't have to choose between America and China expresses a hope not a reliable prediction whether or not we have to choose two pens on them if either of them says we have to choose then we have to choose and what we heard what what you heard from Pompeo over the weekend was the Americans saying you have to choose and what we heard from Beijing's reaction to what he'd had to say and for that matter Beijing's reactions Hasty's article today was also you have to choose so the fact is we are under increasing pressure to from both sides to in in America's case to support them as they push back against China in China side for us not to support the United States as they push back against China so I think it's a very it's going to be extremely developed impossible really for us to satisfy both at once and that that's the reason why they all sort of you know ride both horses model is not going to work yeah and on that night John a choice is inevitable that's an agreement here but you know as Hugh and he's not alone some of you in business circles in this country that China buys double what our next largest customer Japan buys from us the Chinese economy will grow much bigger than America's in coming years I think you points to federal treasury predictions that say that China's economy will be 80% bigger than America's in 12 years that's from the Commonwealth Treasury at China ties this is a wildly hell view saved us from the global financial crisis more than a decade to a lot of Australians the choice would seem clear but your point is that security Trump's try to explain well I mean when you're dealing with the business community especially which makes a lot of a lot of money dealing with the Chinese on the trade front of course they're going to want to maintain the status quo or maybe even lean towards China but the point that I tried to make before is that in virtually every case I know in international history when a state is forced to choose between prosperity and security it ups for security because survival has to be the highest goal this is in a way a tragic situation for Australia I fully understand that Australia wants to maintain the status quo to put it in slightly different terms that my mother would use Australia wants its cake and eat it too but the fact is that world is going away and as you said you're gonna be forced to make a choice the United States is gonna lean on you like you wouldn't believe and the Chinese are gonna lean on you like you wouldn't believe and it has nothing to do with you know the United States per se or China per se or Australia per se it's just the way international politics works and great powers push hard on minor powers or middle range powers and that's what's happening here and I believe that you're opted to side with the United States and if you don't as I said in my formal presentation you should understand you'll be an enemy of the United States and adding to John moon so his point to you wide I mean there's a lot of anxiety about China I mean there is a allegations been made about Beijing's interference in our politics fears that there have been pressures come from Beijing proxies undermining academic freedom we keep hearing about these Confucius Institutes and whatnot here's a poll from the Lowy Institute a year ago 3/4 of Australians say Canberra allows quote too much investment from China especially in real estate and agriculture so aren't those concerns absolutely legitimate and understandable oh well I don't put a lot of weight on people's anxiety about foreign investment because the go back through the really through they the records people have been concerned about Japanese foreign investment of Atman or American foreign investment at different stages in their history so I don't think that's the key but I do think there was a genuine anxiety that as China's power grows and it goes back to something that John said living in an Asia dominated by China is not going to be a picnic it's going to be very different and very scary and so I think those concerns are entirely legitimate the question is what do we do about it and I think the default position in a position of some of those who have been prominent in raising these concerns has been well that's just fine we rely on the United States to deal with China Flores then my whole argument is I don't think that's going to work I think we are going to end up most likely living in an Asia which is dominated East Asia which is dominated by China and therefore we have to make some tough decisions about how we protect our independence our sovereignty how we draw lines around how far that influence is going to go in a way that we can enforce by ourselves rather than having to rely on others and that's one of the reasons why I think we have to be much more energetic and I might say much more innovative about the way we position ourselves in a region diplomatically and also I think we have to be much more imaginative and much more energetic about the way we build the armed forces which will constitute for us the final arbiter of how hardly how hard we can be pushed around which is what my recent books about one final segment before we go to questions John you're obviously very confident about Americans staying power in the region that was self evident from your talk but you didn't mention soft power what about soft power what about American soft power trump era I'll make two points I think that since I've been studying American foreign policy American soft power has been one of our great virtues I think that the coming of Donald Trump and the Trump administration more generally has done quite a bit to damage our soft power and I think this is regrettable and I hope the situation changes my second point is I think the Chinese are not good at soft power at all and the one thing the Americans have going for them these days even though President Trump is kind of a blunder puss when it comes to soft power is the fact that the Chinese seem worse than him and I think moving forward from an American perspective it would help a lot if we had a president or an administration that paid serious attention to soft power as well as hard power yeah what about that point he what about the China soft power America not standing the controversies of the Trump administration China America has pretty a lot of soft power if you like and it's exporting it a lot over the world especially in the post-war era China's soft power yeah look I'm I just put me down as a skeptic about soft power generally it generally I mean I just I'm gonna forget the books but I've just never seen where it actually makes a difference to the way states behave when when the chips are down mmm sure I prefer American movies to Chinese movies and sure I prefer the American Constitution to the Chinese Constitution I mean that's it being a bit flippant I mean a America is a country that I admire enormous Lee in a million different ways there are things I admire about China too but fewer but I don't think in the end that is going to determine how countries are going to align in in the contest that we're seeing at the moment I'm much less confident than Johnny as I think that other countries in Asia Japan's the India's the Singapore's the South Korea's or the Australia's are going to align with the United States and when they decide to or not is not going to be influenced much by what normally called soft power okay I would just say come this is the first time I've ever been on a panel and my wife where I was defending soft I'm gonna check that and we should stress that today John me Sean the gavel Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which was well-received me was called mr. hard hour please don't let that get out secret is safe for that there now it's time for Q&A and our first question comes from Peter Varghese the former head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter thank you very much Tom and to John and Hugh thank you for a characteristically erudite and articulate and almost persuasive you describe being you right I just want to explore the space between balancing China and containing China there's a lot of color and movement in American policymaking at the moment but I'm not sure we know where the settling point actually will be and I'd be interested in your views on this so Australia has adopted a position of engage and balance and part of that is a judgment that we can't stop China's growth but we may be able to constrain its behavior through building up a balance of power United States Japan India Australia maybe one or two others which wouldn't mean that China didn't have carte blanche in its behavior the United States has strayed from engagement but in my view has yet to fully embrace containment although I think both you and John spoke of a containment policy if the United States goes all the way to full-blown containment by which I mean the decoupling of the US and the Chinese economy the bifurcating of global supply chains and the proposition that anything you do which strengthens the Chinese economy is contrary to core strategic interests is that the point at which Australia and our ally part ways because it in my view be quite an unacceptable policy framework for Australia to have it to follow well very good question of course I I'm not quite sure I buy your characterization of Australian policy because I think I think you characterized it as something in balance engage in balance I think Australia's policy has been engaged and pretend that is pretend that China is not really a serious retired strategic rival of the United States I don't believe you're spinning Australian government has ever articulated a clear policy in which we envisage a new order in Asia in which the US and China have a more equal and more balanced relationship and I say that because that's a position that I have been arguing for which I've never received any support for anyone in the Australian government more so I think the foundation of Australian policy has been that we would hope the United States would contain China and therefore allow us China would back off from its challenge and it allow us to continue to rely on China to cake makers rich in America to keep us safe the second point is I'm not sure I share your characterization of the u.s. policy I think I agree there's a lot of color and movement in United States policy at the moment on the one hand we see coming out of the foreign policy establishment a very clear suggestion I'm not going to use a stronger word than that because I don't think it's yet a policy really of which i think is containment and I mean it's not it's not a coincidence that the phrase the new Cold War has received such prominence in the way in which that's discussed and if you look at the language for example well used by Pompeo & Co in Sydney the big pent speech at the Hudson Institute in October last year this this is this looks to me like a containment policy and if that is what the United States pursues as I said I think it'll be extraordinarily hard for Australia to follow it I also think it will be disastrous because unlike John I don't think it's going to work and I think it is likely to lead to a a very divided Asia but be a high chance of a catastrophic catastrophic war so I think that there there is a place for Australia to to change its policy to argue to the United States that it should adopt a balanced model but I think that's not something we've done yet and I think it's going to prove to be extremely hard to sell that to the United States I've tell you from personal experience if you stand up in a in a seminar room in Washington DC and say that the United States needs to treat China as an equal you get look gasps of disbelief or throwing the shown the door this isn't it's just not just something and I think that's on that's on an American political spectrum and I think in a way you know John's feisty presentation of American strategic psychology demonstrated that and so I think it's much more likely the United States will either try and contain or withdraw and I think because I don't think it's serious about containment I think it is like that it would draw which is why I think we have to think how I can manage John Mearsheimer yeah I think that engagement in containment are two mutually incompatible strategies and what we who did up until 2017 was pursue engagement and not containment after Trump was elected and came into the White House and got his sea legs he abandoned engagement and he moved to containment and in fact as I said in my comments it's more than just containment it's actually role as well Australia on the other hand doesn't want to engage in containment you want your cake and eat it too and you want to continue to engage with China and your basic view is if you're unhappy with the United States because the United States is now addicted to containment well you'll part ways with the United States and you'll side with China against us and as I make clear before good luck okay next question and please identify yourself before you ask the question thanks so much my name is Jo farm I'm a PhD candidate at the Australian National University College of Law I three my questions from the Chinese perspective from the Chinese perspective is right now our prime minister Australian Prime Minister recently stated their term in a court the u.s. is our friend China our customer for Chinese such a statement is deeply offensive why because the considered customers dear friends too my question is do you think it is wise foster alia to take in a friendly position against China given that it is yearly GDP growth is equivalent to Australian economy in its entirety and its future significant influence in the world economy now we know Hugh Watts answer to that I think it's fair to say here we've got a guy for a few questions well I just don't think that it makes sense to even worry about language involving friends and customers right the question Australia has to ask itself is does it make sense to side with the United States and a containment policy you'll still continue to trade with China but the terms of those deals will change because the Chinese are going to be really angry with the Australians but this is really what it's all about you know in talking about customers and friends and so forth and so on doesn't mean much in my mind the Australians and the Americans in my opinion are going to come together not because they're friends not because they have the same values I mean that will matter a bit the reason that Australia is gonna side with the Americans is because it's in your interest and it's in our interest to have you on our side and it's not in your interest to be on the side of the Chinese against the Americans next question hello my name's Colin from the Australian public service for a long time the Australian government had asked a canina to dealing with both China for economic reasons and the US military reasons for how long can this continue and at what point is Australia going to having to make a decision and John you've answered this Hugh who will Australia choose Hugh why well it ended now I mean I would say it ended some time ago but unlike the proverbial cartoon character running off the cliff Australian Government's of both political persuasions have kept on saying we don't have to choose long after they started to make the choice and we hope you're making choices so far our choice has been to try and play both sides against the middle I don't know how they're going to resolve it down the track I you can if you ask people in Canberra they'll say that the aim is to continue to walk this narrow path avoiding the choice that they're really trying to avoid for so long but when for example the United States comes and gives the kind of very stark presentation that we saw last weekend it was language we've sent out of Beijing that makes it very difficult so the answer my answer to you is that depends on how hard we're pressed from both sides in the end we will make no more choices than our two primary partners impose on us and the and the tougher they more strongly they impose on us that the stack of choices will have to be I bet for what it's worth I I don't know how we're going to go but I think we're going to end up deciding for the reasons that I spelled out there that's siding with America and a containment policy against China is not just bad for us economically but it's bad strategically because it's not going to work so you'd think we're gonna that Australia is going to side with China no no is that all the difference in it's very important point a very all the difference in the world between siding with China and not siding with America now I know who are you gonna side will side with ourselves that's the point that's the whole point of the story but you said that the United States and China will both put tremendous pressure on you to pick so and you think you can avoid picking sides oh yes I think we can but but the other thing remember the core of my argument is I think the United States are going to bug out the big difference between this okay is that I think the United States is gonna withdraw and so it's not a question as to whether we choose to side with China it's the question as to whether we can depend on the United States to play a significant strategic role in Asia I don't think we can much more pessimistic about you right along next question okay my name is Chris Thompson I'm a student at the Australian Defense College my question is for professor mu Sharma wrote some 15 years ago and you touched on it again this evening that you're expecting at some stage some of China's neighbors to form a balancing coalition you know countries like South Korea Vietnam India Japan Russia that was 15 years ago and it hasn't happened yet what gives you such confidence that a balancing coalition might emerge in the future well this gets to one fundamental difference between me and you you thinks that China right now is an incredibly powerful country and I think it's nowhere near as powerful as he makes it out to be but might be over time the argument I would make is that we are early in the game there's all sorts of evidence of the balancing coalition beginning to form it's not like it's completely absent if you go home and you google India Japan relations you see that the Indian the Japanese have been doing all sorts of dealings with each other to deal with China so it's beginning to form and the Americans are out here Pompeyo was an Australia for exactly this reason but my view is it's early in the game and that's why you don't see a concrete balancing coalition in place yet but I do believe it will form half only one from Chris's question though Thailand which is one of the five u.s. treaty allies am i right in saying it's been boiling Chinese submarines so that kind of give you much confidence following on from Chris's question well there are a number of other examples that make one nervous if all you have to do is look at the Philippines and how the Philippines have been behaving towards Chinese towards the Chinese I mean you want to understand that it was much easier for us to put together a balancing coalition in Europe against the Soviet Union and even in Asia against the Soviet Union because of the geography in Europe the forces were really concentrated in the center of Europe because the central Front was what really mattered and it was quite easy for us to put together NATO and when we put together the alliance structure in Asia it was not in East Asia it was in Northeast Asia the two countries that mattered to us in the Cold War in Asia mainly were Japan and Korea South Korea Northeast Asia is what mattered the problem that we face moving forward in terms of putting together a balancing coalition in Asia is that you have countries like India and Japan and Australia and I believe ultimately Russia that are spread out over great distances and putting together that balancing coalition is going to require great skill but what do we have we have Donald Trump in power and if anything his dealings with allies you know leads to trouble not good outcomes so the United States is going to have to you know up its game lately put together a balancing coalition next question hi i'm julian are working the australian government so what can the australian government do to help deescalate tensions the current tensions between the United States and China now we've had a lot this week over the currency in the trade issue what can Canberra do to deescalate help the deescalate tensions between Beijing and Washington you want nothing don't laugh I mean this is the what drives Ramallah this is this way wait great you took the word word and out of my mouth I mean you know what drives escalating rivalry between the US and China are the two strongest countries in the world are competing over who's going to be the primary pair in the world's world's most important region this is as big as power politics gets and the idea there's somehow just a little bit of a you know I mean I'm not disrespecting you Chris it's perfectly good question but the idea that some sort of little diplomatic maneuver we can do which somehow you know it's all just a misunderstanding no no the point is it's not a misunderstanding I would exactly agree with John formulation of it each of them wants to be the primary regional power in East Asia and that's just mutually exclusive and so no we can't we can stop this happening we're going to have to learn to manage it and the debate is how best do we manage it it's question James Curran from the University of Sydney thanks Tom it's question more for John I guess I think we're agreed that the United States will not define itself ever as a normal nation American exceptionalism flows through so freely through the bloodstream there Hugh why hasn't heard anyone talk about China as an equal in Washington but if you think back to some of the challenges that the initiated or ignited great patriotic unity in the United States last century and this one Pearl Harbor Sputnik the Japanese challenge in the 1980s and then 9/11 wouldn't you say that the challenges that could bring about that kind of unity again a much more subtle and multifaceted in other words what I'm interested in is what is the foundation for your optimism that America will mobilize to contain China if they want to find themselves as a normal nation are we going to see more a process a gradual process of exceptional normalization in America and how are we seeing a certain hardening of the arteries in terms of American exceptionalism is power just to be very clear I don't believe America is an exceptional nation in any meaningful way other than the fact it is the only regional hegemon in the world I believe that virtually all powerful countries think they are exceptional my experience going to China and talking to Chinese elites is that they think that they are exceptional that they have a history that they have a culture that makes them special there's Chinese exceptionalism I don't believe in this sort of thing but nevertheless it is very important for elites to talk about exceptionalism for the purpose of mobilizing the masses to support foreign adventures and what is going to happen here this is embellishing on my earlier points about public opinion is that the elites in Washington and New York will go to enormous lengths to portray the Chinese as the greatest threat the world has ever seen and they will say that we are weak and we are vulnerable and we have to do X and we have to do Y and they will play the exceptionalism card like you wouldn't believe for purposes of mobilizing public opinion and this is one of the reasons I don't think there's any reason to worry about America's staying power from the perspective of the public it's easy to manipulate the public with all of these ideas like exceptionalism okay let me put to you John Robert Gates the former defense secretary in the Obama and the Bush administration he says quote I think the greatest national security threat to this country America at this point is the two square miles that encompasses the Capitol building and the White House now to the extent that those attitudes prevail to the extent of those attitudes prevail doesn't that undermine a regional confidence in American staying power but I think that you have to distinguish between foreign policy and domestic politics there's no question that there's a huge red blue divide that you've all heard about inside the United States but it applies mainly to domestic politics it doesn't apply to foreign policy it's not like the foreign policy of liberal hegemony that we pursued from 1990 up to 2017 was a Democratic Party policy or it was a Republican Party policy both administration's pursued the policy the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is tweedledee and tweedledum when it comes to American foreign policy and Donald Trump you want to remember he ran against that foreign policy in the Republican primaries where he swept the table and then he ran on that platform against Hillary Clinton where he defeated her he was arguing that the foreign policy that both the Republicans and the Democrats had supported liberal hegemony was bankrupt we had a consensus and we're going to have a consensus on China in large part because it's not just the military-industrial complex that wants to get in China's face it's also the high-tech industry you cannot underestimate the importance of that basic fact the Chinese a number of years ago came out with this blueprint called China 2025 and they said that when 2025 comes around we are going to dominate things like telecommunications artificial intelligence and so forth and so on this scared the living bejesus out of Silicon Valley the high tech people understood this would be disastrous for them furthermore this has huge national security consequences it's imperative that we the United States of America beyond the cutting edge not the Chinese of all the leading technologies in the world so we have this entire high tech industry working arm-in-arm with the Pentagon to deal with China it's an interesting observation because in Australia that business community is broadly you're not it but you're saying in the business community in America they divided over this question yeah well in in the United States the finance people want to do deals with the Chinese so the finance people are not heavily in favor of containment and here in Australia you have a huge finance community and not much of a high-tech community and not surprisingly those people in finance want to do deals I commit the Chinese next question my question is for John are you made a very clear where you stand on Australia and being neutral in this in this topic but in your words Australia would still be in bed with China but isn't that what we're sort of doing at the moment so what's to say that like the you that were already not one of the enemies of the US as you said and that we decide the snap of their fingers they won't turn on that we shouldn't at all entertain the idea of standing I'm not sure what the question is that you're saying that what is Australia's position today my question is more that like instead like as you said if we are to be neutral that we would still be in bed with China yes isn't that what we're sort of doing because we engage so much yeah yeah let me Fake anomic into dependency that we have now will more likely continue and to the extent that it does continue doesn't that mean that eventually will will cause it to the strategic orbit the United States is going to force you to the sides and the Chinese are gonna force you to choose sides you can't Maya this is my argument you can't remain neutral you you I fully understand that what Australia would like to do is maintain the status quo forever and the last thing that China I assume you that Australia wants to do is get caught in the middle of a security competition between two guerrillas it makes perfect sense but my point is you can't have your cake and eat it too you're gonna be forced to choose and I believe that Australia wisely from its point of view will side with the Americans and I want to be clear here this doesn't mean there's then going to be no more trade between Australia and China that's not going to happen there will be continued trade but it won't be under the same conditions and it won't you know involve the same volume that it has up to now in all likelihood I got time for one more question at least a Chris yulman from the nine newspapers thanks both of you for this evening I just want to question something which Tom raised raised briefly and that is there was a different front in this war and that's in front and we have salient document over a long period of time now foreign interference inside Australia's borders it goes across the academic institutions across the political institutions and it affects very largely the Chinese diaspora in Australia we have 1 million Australian Chinese citizens so when you're talking about this international special competition what does Australia do and the United States do on the home front you want well the first thing to recognize is that my opinion is to recognize that the 1 million Chinese of Australians of Chinese extraction are a massive asset to Australia in managing our trajectory in the Asian century and one of the things we can get wrong is to not recognize that the second point to recognize and here I think John I might agree is that sure China is going to throw its weight around it's throwing its weight around already that's what great powers do we don't want to be too amazed and surprised that a country of China's weight and ambition starts try to influence Australian politics of course it does the third thing is I think we need to be a bit realistic about the means that uses most of the intention and anxiety that's been expressed in Australia over the last couple of years has been about the idea of covert Chinese influence I'm not saying that doesn't happen but the idea that the best way the Chinese can find to influence Australian politics is to pay relative that the legal fees are relatively insignificant Australian parliamentarians rather than to ring up the Prime Minister's office it seems to me to be fanciful the real factor is China is gonna be incredibly influential over Australia because it's going to be the most powerful country in our region we're gonna have to learn how to manage that and that is a real challenge because for a long time we've had the luxury of thinking and knowing that the world around us the Asia around us has been framed and made safe and congenial for us by American power my argument is we're not going to enjoy that in future we're going to have to sound much more on our own and that means we're going to have to decide with what boundaries we wanted we want to draw around China's growing influence we are going to need to draw those boundaries I don't think we've done it very effectively so far but we need to be realistic about the fact that where we draw those boundaries is going to cost us and we have to decide what cost we're prepared to pay final thoughts join me Shana yeah I would just say generally speaking Great Powers make a habit of interfering in the domestic politics of middle range powers and minor powers and here you have a situation where China cares greatly about breaking up the balancing coalition that the United States is trying to put together the Chinese are not fools they understand what's happening here the Chinese have a deep-seated interest in making sure that Australia does not side with the United States and if anything sides with China and one set of tools that they're going to use to achieve that goal is to interfere in the politics the domestic politics of Australia so what is happening now is hardly surprising the problem with the Chinese is that they're heavy-handed they're not sophisticated at employing soft power the United States when it comes to dealing with most countries is more adept at manipulating those other countries domestic politics than China is so I think what you can expect is more interference over time and of course this will lead to more pushback from Australia and in the end I believe it will lead to significant amounts of alienation among the Australian people toward China John thank you and thank you Hugh now for the vote of thanks Anastasia Lin is a Canadian actress based in New York she's been a regular critic of the Chinese government and she writes regularly in many prestigious publications most notably The Wall Street Journal in 2015 she won the Miss Canada world title beauty pageant and she spoke in harsh terms about the Chinese government's human rights record in response Beijing denied her visa to compete in the world Miss world competitions in China of that year in 2015 within days she was a front-page story in The New York Times she received many favorable editorial treatment in The Washington Post and there are several feature articles in The Wall Street Journal Anastasia Lin is the CIS 2019 scholar in residence and I'd like you all to welcome her to give the vote of thanks thank you Tom as the great 19th century liberal John Stuart Mill's once said he who knows only his own position knows little of that tonight we have witnessed two intellectual heavyweights fascinating exchange on this question that is crucial to determining Australia's future we heard powerfully and coherently from Professor John Mearsheimer why Australia why it is in Australia survival interests to side with the United States and from Professor Hugh white why australia has a choice in the struggle between the two giants now who has lived under that authoritarian regime and whose family continue to suffer because I've exercised my right of freedom of speech as a Canadian citizen I would like to remind everyone that exchange we have seen tonight for Chinese people for people in that world it is a luxury and it is a freedom that is worthy of being distinct preserved on behalf of cis I like to thank both of you for coming here tonight to provide this fascinating exchange and here's a question for the audience would you like to see see is hosting more events like this in Canberra in the future yes in these increasingly polarizing time it is important for organizations like the see is to provide a safe space for the rigorous exchange of ideas thank you for being here ladies and gentlemen thank you Sam behalf of cis it's been a pleasure at being here in Canberra we will be back and if you'd like to be a member I think there are there are forms to fill out if you're interested and you can always see our videos online I'm Tom Switzer from the Center for independent studies again thank John Mearsheimer and he white and thanks to all of you [Applause] you