Wednesday 29 Jun 2022 | 09:36 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Maritime Security

Not all maritime disputes are built the same

Maritime disputes in Southeast Asia should be viewed less as a single big basket of problems, and more as smaller individual problems with their own corresponding solutions. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. And three inter-related policy contexts can help explain why some troubles persist

Taming troubled waters

While regional countries respond to Covid-19 and the many social and economic consequences, ensuring peace and stability in the South China Sea has become even more important due to its role in connecting continents, fostering international trade and ensuring supply chains are not broken. This will

Law of the sea: A contested watershed ruling

When in 2016 the Arbitral Tribunal issued its watershed ruling in the case between the Philippines and China, responses from the international community were lacklustre. The Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative’s “arbitration support tracker” suggests that eight governments have publicly

China’s nine-dash line proves stranger than fiction

Vietnam recently banned the film Uncharted from domestic distribution due to a scene depicting an “illegal image” of China’s infamous “nine-dash line”. This is not the first time popular culture has become embroiled in the politics of the South China Sea. In 2021, the Philippines’

Of maritime security and a rules-based order

Maritime scholars and practitioners often wrestle with the question of what a “desirable” architecture for maritime security should be, and how must it be properly implemented? The issue is complex, because although security is best delivered in collective and cooperative settings, there is

Order at sea: Southeast Asia’s maritime security

However you define good order at sea, it’s hard not to feel rather pessimistic about its future. A host of accounts and reports from popular writers including Ian Urbina or environmental organisations such as Greenpeace and UNESCO suggest plenty of reasons to support the notion that the seas are

The Indo-Pacific Operating System: How can America shore up the regional order?

Five essays from experts from, or based in, Southeast Asia provide a sense of the region’s complexity and the nuance with which any effort to shore up – or rebuild – regional order must grapple

AUKUS and the CPTPP: It’s all about China

China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) just hours after announcement of the new tripartite AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and United States) security partnership may – or may not – have been coincidental.

Australia’s seaborne trade: Essential but undefendable

Thomas Shugart’s excellent Lowy analysis Australia and the growing reach of China’s military is by far the best thing I’ve read on the specific defence implications for Australia of China’s swift emergence as a maritime power. It not only explains how China’s maritime forces have developed

Russia and China team up on the Indian Ocean

Two recent naval exercises demonstrate the potential for Russia-China cooperation in the Indian Ocean, and how the two present a much greater threat to a continued US role and influence in the region than either would individually. Last year, South Africa hosted a maritime exercise with

Diego Garcia: An American perspective

Diego Garcia is the United States’ major geostrategic and logistics support base in the Indian Ocean. Sovereignty over the island is increasingly being challenged by Mauritius, but it seems unlikely that Washington would be interested in a deal that would facilitate its transfer. The base has

It’s time for a “Quad” of coast guards

The so-called Quad group of Indo-Pacific maritime democracies – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – is a valuable grouping, although it is still underutilised in many ways. One of the most effective ways that these countries could work together to enhance maritime security in the

Australia struggles for clarity on the South China Sea

The Lowy Institute’s Richard McGregor has noted the absence of China discussion in Australia’s current election campaign, a state of affairs which prompted his colleague Sam Roggeveen to observe that “Bipartisanship on China is becoming a form of collusion”. Given that the

Quad redux: A new agenda for Asia's maritime democracies

With President Donald Trump part-way into his protracted tour of Asia, much of the focus has been on the North Korea threat, his personal relations with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and President Moon of South Korea, and his interaction with President Xi Jinping, China’s political strongman who

Nuclear-armed submarines in Indo-Pacific Asia: Stabiliser or menace?

In this Report, Lowy Institute Research Associate Brendan Thomas-Noone and Nonresident Fellow Professor Rory Medcalf examine the implications of sea-based nuclear weapons for strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific. This paper is part of a wider research and outreach project on nuclear

Despite protests, collective self-defence and Abe remain

There were huge protests over the weekend in Japan against legislation, approved in principle by the Abe cabinet in July, which will reinterpret the Japanese Constitution to permit the very limited exercise of collective self-defence. This fierce public opposition to the normalisation of Japan's

Hegemon: Wargaming the South China Sea

Hegemon is a wickedly interactive multi-player/multi-round geostrategic game devised by the Potomac Foundation. Each player represents a country, fielding certain economic and military resources and possessing (secret) objectives. Ranged across a gods-eye planetary gameboard, Hegemon is the '

The growing militarisation of the South China Sea

It's increasingly clear that China intends to use its artificial islands in the South China Sea for military purposes. Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, delivered this assessment on a panel that I was privileged to be part of at the Aspen Security Forum last week. Harris

Japanese defence normalisation: Progress on three fronts

Over the last two months, there has been noticeable progress on three separate fronts in Japan's 30-year process of 'renormalising' its' approach to external defence: Last week, the Abe cabinet approved the 2015 Japanese Defence White Paper after revisions were made to make it focus more

The perception gap: reading China's maritime objectives in Indo-Pacific Asia

In this Lowy Institute Report Nonresident Fellows Linda Jakobson and Rory Medcalf identify both the real differences in interests between China and other powers in the Indo-Pacific, but also the sharp divergences in perceptions regarding China’s maritime strategic objectives

New Defence Guidelines re-brand US-Japan alliance

The US-Japan Defence Cooperation Guidelines are best thought of as an occasional re-branding exercise for the US-Japan alliance in response to changing strategic conditions. Following a review, a revised version of the Guidelines was announced on 27 April. The 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation

Ashton Carter's Northeast Asia visit looks south

Ashton Carter's inaugural trip to Asia as US Secretary of Defense went about as smoothly as he could have hoped. The logic of visiting Tokyo and Seoul ahead of other capitals in the region is straightforward. Between them, Japan and South Korea host over 80,000 US military personnel and the bulk

Full spectrum defence: Re-thinking the fundamentals of Australian defence strategy

In this Analysis, Alan Dupont argues that successive Australian governments have failed to define an effective national defence strategy. Australia needs a defence strategy that counters threats across multiple domains, is based on more diverse regional defence relationships, and is underpinned by

The US-India convergence

One of the most important aspects of the recent dramatic shift in US-India relations has been the convergence in the two states' narratives about Asia. It's easy to forget that this change is palpable not just over a four-decade period, but even in the past six years alone. In 2009, early in his

Pages