James Fallows sums up the hysteria about China's rise in this mock quote: "I just rode the bullet train to Tianjin, and holy shit, we're doomed!"
China's high-speed rail network symbolises some of what is changing in China: it is world-class technology being rolled out at break-neck speed. But there's a dark side: safety and engineering standards may not be up to snuff, Chinese domestic firms have 'borrowed' liberally from European and Japanese train technology, and the economics of the whole scheme is under question.
Regular readers will recall we ran a three-partseries in March by University of Adelaide academic Roger Irvine on the explosive growth of China's high speed rail network. Check out part three in particular for some sober reminders of the risks China is taking with high-speed rail, and some hints that the program may not be as successful as its boosters believe.
The Indo-Pacific is a strategic system encompassing the Indian and Pacific oceans, reflecting the expanding interests and reach of China and India as well as the enduring role of the US. The Lowy Institute's International Security program presents a weekly selection of links illuminating the changing security picture in this increasingly connected super-region.
The Australian Government was right not to set up grand expectations for its 2013 Defence White Paper released today. This is a less ambitious and in some ways more sophisticated document than the 2009 plan released by Kevin Rudd. Here are a few initial impressions.