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ASPI suggests

Posted By , and on November 9, 2018 @ 15:12

The world

Kicking off in the US with the 2018 midterm elections, the ‘blue wave’ seemed more like a strong ripple as the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives but the Republicans retained the Senate. Dive into this National Interest [1] piece to see why the Democrats didn’t get the results they were so dearly hoping for. The BBC [2] has all the maps and charts you need, and for some (incredibly accurate) political hindsight, see this piece from before the midterms in The New Yorker [3] and its accompanying video. The Atlantic Council [4] asked its experts to discuss how the election results will affect a variety of US President Donald Trump’s policies.

The midterms did, however, bring some amazing results in other areas. Vox has all the details [5] on how more women will be serving in Congress than ever before, including many from minority groups. International reaction to the elections is outlined in this CBC article [6], and Politico [7] focuses on what the new Democratic house means for Europe. Finally, see Foreign Policy [8] on why it’s so hard for many Americans to vote and what might be done to fix the problem.

We can’t get away from the US this week—Washington’s new sanctions on Iran, and on countries that trade with it, came into effect [9] on Monday. India’s Economic Times [10] looks at some of the nations that have managed to secure waivers from the US, while the Wall Street Journal [11] reports that Turkey (much like France) aims to defy the new measures. On another level, Al Jazeera [12] investigates how Iranian women are among the hardest hit by US sanctions. And see this Carnegie Endowment [13] article for why this round of sanctions could provide more risk than reward for the US.

Coming back to our region, Foreign Minister Marise Payne met yesterday [14] with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Beijing in a visit that’s been hailed as a sign of a thaw [15] in China–Australia relations. There are still some major points of difference between Canberra and Beijing, however. As expected, Payne broached the topic [16] of the internment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. ASPI research [17] detailed the scale of the camps and our analysts have highlighted the importance of standing up for human rights [18] from both humanitarian and security [19] perspectives.

Preparations are in full swing in Papua New Guinea for the APEC meeting later this month. A large part of the security operation [20] is being handled by the Australian Defence Force, with about 1,500 troops [21] to be stationed there during the summit. ABC Radio [22] investigates the impact of Trump’s absence from the meeting, in what will be only the third time a US president has missed the summit.

It looks like an increased Australian presence in PNG and the South Pacific more broadly may be more than just an APEC-related flash in the pan. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced [23] a $3 billion plan [24] to step up [25] Australia’s efforts in our region, including infrastructure funding, new diplomatic posts and an increased military commitment. This comes at a time of growing Chinese investment and influence in the region. The Financial Review [26] investigates whether the two countries can be, as Wang said in Beijing, ‘not rivals but partners [27]’.

Trump’s pick for the next US ambassador to Australia, Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr, is relatively unknown outside of Washington. See this New York Times article [28] for background on the Republican lawyer who—pending congressional confirmation—will be headed for Canberra. ASPI’s Michael Shoebridge [29] has a good feeling …

Tech geek

Some interesting developments have come out of China this week. First, there was a mock-up of China’s CH-7 [30] unmanned combat aerial vehicle on display at the Zhuhai military expo. It looks like an almost exact copy of the cancelled US X-47B [31] built by Northrop Grumman.

China also revealed a new short-range anti-ship ballistic missile, the CM-401 [32], which could be based on land, or on its Type 055 Renhai [33]-class destroyers. With a potential maximum range of 1,000 kilometres, a CM-401 battery deployed on Fiery Cross Reef would cover most of the South China Sea, and much of Vietnam’s territory.

At the Euronaval exhibition in Paris, France’s Naval Group [34] unveiled its concept [35] for a radically different  future submarine, the SMX-31 Electric. Artist’s impressions can be seen here [36]. CSIS hosted two US Navy admirals, who talked about the future of submarine warfare.

There’s an interesting discussion with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments’ Toshi Yoshihara on the military balance in the western Pacific at CIMSEC [37]. A key point is the rapid expansion of naval surface ships over the last 10 years that is shifting the balance of power in the region and could presage a global conflict. Yoshihara also warns against dismissing China’s naval advances, which could leave the West unprepared for a much more capable PLA Navy.

Finally, here’s footage of a Russian Su-27 fighter making an unsafe intercept [38] of a US Navy EP-3 Aries aircraft over the Black Sea last week.

This week in history

Named ‘x’ for unknown, this week in 1895 German physicist Wilhelm Roetgen accidentally discovered the x-ray [39]. Just six months later, they were being used on wounded soldiers by battlefield surgeons.


For a confronting view of child soldiers in South Sudan, see this Al Jazeera photo series [40].

The ABC’s 7:30 [41] brings you an interview with Lucy Hawking, Stephen Hawking’s daughter, talking about her father’s life, politics and the future. [5:54]

Reuters has published another piece in its compelling ‘Ocean shock [42]’ series. See the latest instalment [43] on the effect of the global fish pellet industry on African communities already being hit hard by climate change.


Historian Dan Snow sits down with author Calder Walton to discuss Russia’s history of electoral interference all over the world in this episode of History Hit [44]. [30:48]

After Jeff Sessions quit as US attorney-general, Russia, if You’re Listening [45] investigates the impacts of his resignation and what comes next. [25:57]

Episode 7 of ASPI’s Policy, Guns and Money [46] brings you the latest on the (potential) next US ambassador to Australia, the connection between human rights and global security, and China’s ‘re-education’ camps. [36:37]


Canberra, 11 November, 10.30 am – 12 pm, Australian War Memorial: ‘Remembrance Day national ceremony’. Information here [47].

Melbourne, 14 November, 1–2 pm, University of Melbourne: ‘The prospects for a rules-based trade and investment order’. Register here [48].

Canberra, 15 November, 6–7.30 pm, Australian National University: ‘No meaning or control: democracy’s future in the face of domestic and foreign influences’. Register here [49].

Article printed from The Strategist: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au

URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/aspi-suggests-110/

URLs in this post:

[1] National Interest: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/what-happened-blue-wave-35442

[2] BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46076389

[3] The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/the-dark-certainty-of-the-2018-midterms-donald-trump?mbid=social_twitter

[4] Atlantic Council: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/the-midterms-what-happens-next

[5] has all the details: https://www.vox.com/2018/11/7/18072658/midterm-election-results-historic-wins-muslim-native-american-women

[6] CBC article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/midterms-world-reaction-1.4895105

[7] Politico: https://www.politico.eu/article/what-a-democratic-house-means-for-europe-midterm-elections-in-united-states-foreign-diplomacy-trump-republicans/

[8] Foreign Policy: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/05/why-is-it-so-hard-to-vote-in-america/

[9] came into effect: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46092435

[10] Economic Times: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/oil-gas/iran-oil-waivers-how-buyers-are-lining-up-after-us-exemptions/articleshow/66537809.cms

[11] Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/turkeys-erdogan-says-hell-defy-u-s-sanctions-on-iran-1541538429

[12] Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/iranian-women-vulnerable-sanctions-181106231744573.html

[13] Carnegie Endowment: https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/11/05/unanswered-questions-about-u.s.-policy-toward-iran-pub-77644

[14] met yesterday: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/foreign-minister-marise-payne-to-diffuse-lingering-suspicion-over-chinaaustralia-relations/news-story/6ae521f22587191a28c14d001ea8dc4f

[15] thaw: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/ministers-meeting-signals-thaw-china-australia-ties-59046028

[16] broached the topic: https://www.france24.com/en/20181108-australian-fm-raises-xinjiang-interment-camps-china-visit

[17] ASPI research: https://www.aspi.org.au/report/mapping-xinjiangs-re-education-camps

[18] human rights: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/human-rights-with-chinese-characteristics-arent-human-rights-at-all/

[19] security: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/state-sanctioned-murder-and-mass-radicalisation-why-upholding-our-values-matters/

[20] security operation: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/our-jets-and-ships-to-guard-apec-conference-in-png/news-story/94bd25271cb4b1f303c2c936b61ebd7a

[21] 1,500 troops: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/370248/australian-army-arrives-in-png-for-apec-operation

[22] ABC Radio: https://www.abc.net.au/radio-australia/programs/pacificbeat/apec-no-trump/10198352

[23] has announced: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/address-australia-and-pacific-new-chapter

[24] plan: https://theconversation.com/morrison-to-unveil-broad-suite-of-measures-to-boost-australias-influence-in-the-pacific-106557

[25] step up: https://twitter.com/9NewsAUS/status/1060430895646003200

[26] Financial Review: https://www.afr.com/news/policy/foreign-affairs/australia-urged-to-engage-with-china-in-the-indopacific-20181102-h17fax

[27] not rivals but partners: https://twitter.com/stephendziedzic/status/1060411365293096960

[28] article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/world/australia/arthur-culvahouse-australia-ambassador.html

[29] Michael Shoebridge: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/trumps-pick-a-good-fit-for-us-australia-alliance/

[30] CH-7: https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2018/11/chinas-beating-us-market-combat-drones-copying-us-technology/152625/

[31] X-47B: https://www.naval-technology.com/projects/x-47b-unmanned-combat-air-system-carrier-ucas/

[32] CM-401: http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/24699/china-reveals-short-range-anti-ship-ballistic-missile-designed-to-dodge-enemy-defenses?xid=twittershare

[33] Renhai: https://thediplomat.com/2018/08/chinas-new-type-055-guided-missile-destroyer-begins-sea-trials/

[34] Naval Group: https://www.naval-group.com/en/news/concept-ship-smx-31-electric/

[35] concept: https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a24523409/new-submarine-concept-vehicle-smx-31/?fbclid=IwAR1p91zabvijZ4ESKNOWn6c96UeL8Yr5-MUOEa9Rw_QwMlRZ_ylGAGOV7MQ

[36] here: http://www.hisutton.com/SMX-31.html

[37] CIMSEC: http://cimsec.org/assessing-the-military-balance-in-the-western-pacific-with-dr-toshi-yoshihara/38707?fbclid=IwAR3BplBBXH6T3G1h8tMjReT_PGsjkJSfUuhqAnTfFgwSUyTa386cnSzeMr4

[38] intercept: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t42uYTM0E6M

[39] discovered the x-ray: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/thecure/2014/06/medical-pioneer-wilhelm-roentgen-201462913265649299.html

[40] photo series: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/child-soldiers-south-sudan-181024095844282.html

[41] 7:30: https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/stephen-hawkings-daughter-talks-about-her-fathers/10475322

[42] Ocean shock: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/section/ocean-shock/

[43] latest instalment: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/ocean-shock-sardinella/#article-plundering-africa

[44] History Hit: https://www.acast.com/dansnowshistoryhit/russianinterferenceinelectionswithcalderwalton

[45] Russia, if You’re Listening: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/russia-if-youre-listening/sessions-fired-is-mueller-next/10476486

[46] Policy, Guns and Money: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/policy-guns-and-money-episode-7/

[47] here: https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/remembrance-day

[48] here: https://events.unimelb.edu.au/events/11621-the-prospects-for-a-rules-based-trade-and-investment-order

[49] here: http://www.anu.edu.au/events/no-meaning-or-control-democracy%E2%80%99s-future-in-the-face-of-domestic-and-foreign-influences

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