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US and China relations: Assessing the risk of military conflict in Asia

Event Details

08 September 2020 | 9:30 am SGT (07 Sept, 9:30 pm EST)

The US-China trade, technology and geopolitical conflicts have precipitated a new Cold War, but does this mean that a hot war is inevitable? How serious is the risk and what are the most likely triggers? Four experts will discuss the implications for Asia of the ongoing deterioration in US and China relations.

“The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’ Trap”, wrote Graham Allison in 2015. Since US and China relations have deteriorated. The US-China trade, technology and geopolitical conflicts have precipitated a new Cold War, but does this mean that a hot war is inevitable? How serious is the risk and what are the most likely triggers? More importantly, what can be done to de-risk a potential conflict and avoid a ruinous outcome?

Four experts, including Hinrich Foundation Senior Research Fellow Dr Alan Dupont, author of the New Cold War: De-risking US-China conflict, will map the contours of this new Cold War, identify key issues to be addressed and assess likely outcomes.

This session will be moderated by Dr Andrew Staples, Director of Research and Outreach of the Hinrich Foundation.


Four experts will discuss the impact of deteriorating US-China relations for APAC nations.

Alan Dupont Portrait

Alan Dupont

Senior Research Fellow, Hinrich Foundation and CEO, Cognoscenti Group

Dr. Alan Dupont is one of Australia's best-known strategists, Asianists and thought leaders on geopolitical risk, foreign policy, defense and national security.

Dr. Dupont AO is CEO of the geopolitical risk consultancy the Cognoscenti Group. His work on geopolitical risk, foreign policy, defense and national security has earned him an international reputation as an Asia specialist.

He has been an advisor to a number of Australian ministers of defense and foreign affairs. In 2013/14, Alan established and led the Abbott Government’s Defense White Paper team. He has received commendations for his work from the governments of Japan and East Timor and was named by the Australian Financial Review as one of Australia’s top strategists. He was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia for “distinguished service to the international community through security analysis and strategic policy development.”

Following 25 years of service in government as an army officer, defense intelligence analyst and diplomat, Alan took his talents to academia. Some of his appointments include: Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy; Councillor with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; the inaugural holder of the Michael Hintze Chair in International Security at the University of Sydney and Director of the Centre for International Security Studies; CEO of the US Studies Centre and, most recently, Professor of International Security at the University of NSW. He has also written for the Atlantic Council.

In the private sector, his clients have included British Aerospace, British Telecom, Boeing Australia, KPMG, Northrop Grumman, and Shell.

Alan is also a much sought-after commentator. He is Contributing National Security Editor for The Australian newspaper and frequently comments on defense and security issues for the media including the ABC, SBS, Sky, CNN, CNBC Asia, the BBC, Voice of America and Reuters. The author of nearly 100 books, monographs and articles on defense and international security, his book East Asia Imperiled, published by Cambridge University Press, is considered an authoritative work on the non-military, transnational challenges to East Asian Security.

Alan holds a PhD in international relations from the Australian National University and is a graduate of the Royal Military College Duntroon and the US Foreign Service Institute.


Joseph Liow

Research Adviser, RSIS; Tan Kah Kee Chair in Comparative and International Politics

Joseph Chinyong Liow is Tan Kah Kee Chair in Comparative and International Politics at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is Professor and former Dean at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and currently Dean of College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at NTU Singapore.

He held the inaugural Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asia Studies at the Brookings Institution, Washington DC, where he was also a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Program. Joseph’s research interests encompass Muslim politics and social movements in Southeast Asia and the geopolitics and geoeconomics of the Asia Pacific region.

Joseph is the author, co-author, or editor of 14 books. His most recent single-authored books are Ambivalent Engagement: The United States and Regional Security in Southeast Asia after the Cold War (Brookings 2017), Religion and Nationalism in Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and Dictionary of the Modern Politics of Southeast Asia, fourth edition (Routledge, 2014). A regular columnist for The Straits Times, his commentaries on international affairs have also appeared in New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, National Interest, Nikkei Asian Review, and the Wall Street Journal.

Joseph Liow holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a MSc in Strategic Studies from the Nanyang Technological University, and a BA (Hons) in Political Science from the University of Madison-Wisconsin.

Amy Searight CSIS

Amy Searight

Senior Associate (Non-resident) for Asia, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Dr. Amy Searight is senior associate for Asia, she previously served as senior adviser and director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Dr Searight has a wealth of experience on Asia policy — spanning defense, diplomacy, development, and economics — in both government and academia.

Most recently, she served in the Department of Defense (DOD) as deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, from 2014 to 2016. Prior to that appointment, she served as principal director for East Asian security at DOD and as senior adviser for Asia in the US Agency for International Development (USAID). She has also served on the policy planning staff and as special adviser for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the State Department as a Council on Foreign Relations international affairs fellow.

Before entering government, Dr Searight was an assistant professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, where she taught international relations of Asia and directed the mid-career master’s program in international policy and practice. She was also an assistant professor at Northwestern University and a postdoctoral fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. She holds a PhD in political science and an MA in East Asian studies from Stanford University, and she graduated magna cum laude from Williams College with a BA in political economy.

Zhu Feng Nanjing University

Zhu Feng

Executive Director, China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea, Nanjing University

Zhu Feng is Executive Director of the China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea and a Professor of International Relations at Nanjing University.

He was formerly Deputy President of the Institute of Strategic & International Studies and a Professor in the School of International Studies at Peking University. Zhu started his current position in August 2014. He specializes in East Asian regional security, power relations and maritime security in the Asia-Pacific, and North Korea’s nuclear proliferation issue.

As a leading Chinese security expert, Professor Zhu’s book includes International Relations Theory and East Asian Security (2007), China’s Ascent: Power, Security, and Future of International politics (co-edited with Professor Robert S. Ross, 2008), China-Japan Security Cooperation and Defense Communication: the Past, Present, and Future (Tokyo: Aiji Press, 2011), China-US Relations and the World Order (co-edited with Prof. G. John Ikenbery and Prof. Wang jisi, MacMillan, 2014).

He sits on a couple of editorial boards of scholarly journals, consults independently for the Chinese government and the private sector, and comments frequently on television and radio and in the print media on Chinese foreign affairs and security policy. Professor Zhu sits on the Advisory Board of the Institute for China-America Studies, and was a former visiting fellow with the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Professor Zhu began his undergraduate studies at the Department of International Politics at Peking University in 1981 and received his Ph.D. from Peking University in 1991.