ASPI suggests

The world

China has taken centre stage this week following the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party coming to power. See IISS for the new weapons systems that were on show at the anniversary parade in Beijing and for some of the challenges faced by President Xi Jinping as he continues to lead the modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army. RAND Corporation has some great analysis on how Xi’s elusive China Dream could see the country’s global clout continue to grow—but only if it can overcome some major hurdles. The consequences of China’s digital revolution and how its high-tech illiberalism will shape the rest of the century are discussed by the Center for a New American Security, and Forbes provides some insight into what China is actually up to in Africa.

Focusing more on the Chinese Communist Party’s grand militaristic celebration, analysts have once again drawn Cold War analogies—see this from the Washington Post. The Sydney Morning Herald featured a great explainer on the evolution of the PRC. And bringing it home, John Fitzgerald wrote an important Policy brief for ASPI which argues for the introduction of more nuance into Australia’s China debate, including distinguishing between China and the Chinese people on the one hand and the CCP on the other.

US President Donald Trump seems to love controversy so much, he hardly stays out of it. Read this aptly titled New York Times editorial for a quick dip into his latest shenanigans, which include soliciting help from China and Ukraine to dig up dirt on his potential Democratic rival in next year’s election, Joe Biden. Foreign Policy notes that Trump’s attempts to bully the White House whistleblower hurt US credibility and ‘truth-tellers’ in other countries. The Washington Post does a neat job of outlining the repercussions of the latest revelations for US allies, including Australia, and the respective domestic political constituencies. Mira Rapp-Hooper, writing in Foreign Affairs, presents a convincing argument to show how the latest Ukraine scandal undermines American power internationally.

It’s been 12 months since Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. See this article in The New Yorker for the story one year on, which discusses the fact that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman still denies any involvement in the killing and retains the full support of numerous world leaders. The Atlantic has analysed the murder in the context of the Saudi relationship with Iran and draws similarities between the rulers of each nation.

Speaking of Iran, Foreign Policy has outlined the relationship between it and Yemen’s Houthis, and how Iranian support for the rebel group has grown over the past five years. Meanwhile, The National Interest offers a few examples that raise the question, Is the Saudi Kingdom beginning to crumble?

Moving on to the Indian subcontinent, Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s breezy visit to Washington was perhaps the most important such visit by an Indian minister in a long time, as this Times of India article highlights. C. Raja Mohan’s opinion piece in the Indian Express, which points out the futility of India chasing parity with China, is a must-read. Check out this Texas National Security Review report for great contributions on the changed dynamics between India and Pakistan.

Finally, France is set to become the first European country to use facial recognition technology to provide citizens with an apparently secure digital profile. See Politico and Bloomberg for the process involved in this move, the risks and whether it could constitute a violation of citizens’ liberties. Forbes outlines the biggest concerns surrounding the use of facial recognition technology.

Tech geek

After the spectacle that was China’s parade in Beijing, the country’s military modernisation is in our sights this week. Some of China’s new military capabilities include hypersonic cruise missiles and unmanned aerial systems. Check out this piece from Joseph Trevithick, who explores four of China’s newest and most significant capabilities. In The Strategist, Malcolm Davis also delves into the importance of China’s military modernisation, describing the parade as ‘a wake-up call for Australia’.

Scientists based in Shanghai claim to have tested a new laser capable of tracking submarines. Lasers have also been the focus of a recent Congressional Research Service report.

German radar company Hensoldt says its ‘TwInvis’ passive radar system was able to track two normally stealthy F-35s when they departed the Berlin Air Show in 2018. Passive radar technology uses civilian communications signals like radio and television broadcasts to identify aircraft. To learn more about the potential implications of passive radar for stealth aircraft, check out this piece from Tyler Rogoway. For an explainer on passive radar technology, see David Cenciotti’s piece for The Aviationist.

Ankit Panda has an interesting Twitter thread in which he suggests that when North Korea launched its new Pukguksong-3 ballistic missile this week, it was done not from a submarine, but from an underwater launch platform.

Roger McDermott from the Jamestown Foundation explores Russia’s evolving electronic warfare capability. And New Scientist has an interesting piece on what a call to the International Space Station actually involves.

This week in history

This week in 1990, the German Democratic Republic, otherwise known as East Germany, ceased to exist and its five states joined the federal republic. See here for how The Guardian reported German reunification as it happened. Also this week in 1957, Sputnik 1 became the first artificial satellite in space after it was launched by the Soviet Union.


Al Jazeera has released a documentary focusing on the events leading up to and following Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. [48:19]

This photo series by Reuters depicts the deadly protests currently spreading across Iraq.


Check out the ABC’s The Party Room for a wrap of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s eventful trip to the US and a look at how the Trump impeachment inquiry could play out on Capitol Hill. [31:18]

The Modern War Institute offers a glimpse into what the US Army is doing in space and what the service’s contribution would look like during a future conflict there. [27:27]


Canberra, 8 October, 12.30–1.30 pm, Australian National University: ‘Women4twenty24: women’s political representation in India and Indonesia’. Register here.

Canberra, 9 October, 4–6.30 pm, ASPI: ‘Designing for resilient energy systems’. More information here.