Two international relations scholars from the Australian National University (ANU) shared their views on the geopolitical situation in the Asia-Pacific region at the lecture hosted by the Strategic Studies Program (SSP) of the University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS) and the UP Office of International Linkages (UP OIL) in the Audiovisual Room of the UP Marine Science Institute in UP Diliman, Quezon City on October 23, 2018.
Brendan K. Taylor, PhD, Associate Professor of Strategic Studies at the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, talked on four flashpoints or geographic areas where violent conflict may erupt and then offered possible scenarios to prevent war. Taylor is a specialist on great power strategic relations in the Asia-Pacific, East Asian flashpoints, and Asian security architecture. His presentation, “Stopping Asia’s ‘Crisis Slide’: An Australian Perspective on Asia’s Flashpoint”, featured analyses contained in his latest book, The Four Flashpoints: How Asia Goes to War (2018).
William T. Tow, PhD, Professor in the International Relations Department at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs, discussed several developments in the region’s geopolitics in his presentation, “Structural Change and Power Balancing in the Indo-Pacific: An Australian View of the Region’s Alliance Politics”. He has been a visiting research fellow at Stanford University’s Asia-Pacific Research Center, the Yusof Ishak Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
Taylor outlined several historical and structural causes of conflict, shifts in balance of military power, and methods to prevent a catastrophic clash among key players in the region, among others. He said the flashpoints were: Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea. He also explained that it was important for scholars and world leaders to understand the connections and possible resolutions in order to prevent a “crisis slide” or a series of international problems that could lead to war.
Tow discussed how scholars of international relations and strategic studies are looking at the rise of China in relation to the perceived erosion of Western power, nations’ alliances and connections with the US, prospects for a post-Cold War bipolar world order, and new opportunities for global connectivity. He warned that corruption, nationalism or populism, and overheated economies complicate miscalculation, making the situation volatile or less predictable. He recommended that connectivity, free trade, and a rules-based order based on sovereignty and respect are vital for nations to avoid blocks or conflicts. He also said the world must not return to the age of great power rivalry. (Fred Dabu, UP MPRO)