Saturday 19 Jan 2019 | 21:15 | SYDNEY
Saturday 19 Jan 2019 | 21:15 | SYDNEY

Reader ripostes: Climate action, China policy and Indo-Pacific



28 October 2013 08:29

Markus Pfister responds to Sam Roggeveen's piece on the carbon pricing vs 'direct action' debate:

Don’t spend five years trying to decide whether it would be better to join the gym that’s close to home or the one that is close to work. Just join a bloody gym ASAP – either one will do – you can change your mind which one IF you finally get around to making a decision about the best.

David Howell, a former Lowy Institute intern and currently the Brady-Johnson Predoctoral Fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University, writes:

I enjoyed Christopher Johnston's recent essay on China's Meiji Moment, and its ongoing search for a grand strategy.

I take issue with his claim that 'Xi Jinping's concept of a 'Chinese Dream' was arguably 'purloined from Thomas Friedman.' The concept of a Chinese Dream (Zh?ngguó Mèng or ???) harks back to a bestselling book in China published years before Friedman. The only thing Friedman should be credited for is publishing an article that was well received in China, which helped to increase the dialogue about the idea.

Johnston should be heartened to know that his views about China's grand strategy (or lack thereof) concur with those of Wang Jisi. Professor Wang is the Dean of the Department of International Studies at Peking University, where my wife is a doctoral candidate and a former mentee of his.

In his seminal paper, entitled China's Search for a Grand Strategy, published in Foreign Affairs in early 2010, Wang argues that before an identifiable grand strategy emerges, one essential reform is needed: the improvement of 'policy coordination among Chinese government agencies.' As he contends: 'Almost all institutions in the central leadership and local governments are involved in foreign relations to varying degrees, and it is virtually impossible for them to see China's national interest the same way or to speak with one voice.'

'These differences,' Wang emphasizes on p.79, 'confuse outsiders as well as the Chinese people.'

Based on my work under Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt with International Crisis Group in Beijing a couple years back, I agree with Professor Wang. Internal schisms and institutional divisions are prohibitors to a coherent grand strategy.

Of course, all of this depends on how one defines grand strategy. My brother Christopher R Howell is the expert on this. He studied under John Lewis Gaddis and wrote a senior thesis on this topic, which will be submitted for publication soon. In his pioneering thesis, Chris defined grand strategy, across both its definitions, under a broader history of the concept. Gaddis cites it as, perhaps, the foremost clarifying paper on the topic.

Last, Garry writes on the Indo-Pacific concept:

'Indo Pacific' gets us away from 'Asian values', with all the outdated baggage that carries.

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