Event Recap | Asia Briefing LIVE 2018

Sydney 1 November 2018 

Last week we brought to life our newsletter, Briefing MONTHLY, with our first Asia Briefing LIVE - an executive non-partisan forum taking the pulse of Asia and Australia's engagement with the region. In partnership with Bloomberg, the event brought together 100 senior business, policy, and education leaders for a half-day deep dive into the geopolitical, economic, and business drivers shaping our shared region. It was addressed, among others, by Prime Minister Scott Morrison - who used the event to give his first major foreign policy address – Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen,  and international guest speakers US-based China expert, Professor Minxin Pei, and Indian Chairman of Business Standards Ltd, TN Ninan.

The conference was broken down into 4 major panels – Asia’s geopolitics, economics, business engagement, and Australia’s place in the region – with the rising threat of a US-China trade war at the centre of all discussion.

Stay tuned, join, follow us, subscribe to Briefing MONTHLY to keep informed, as Australia charts its course through difficult geostrategic and geoeconomic dynamics in Asia. 

A look into Asia's new geopolitics:

China Pushes the World. Animation: Rocco Fazzari. View it here.

China’s influence is rapidly growing in South East Asia and the South Pacific through aid, investment, and military power. 90% of guests at Asia Briefing LIVE voted that we should accept China's rising power and try to work with it. 

Minxin Pei


"You can’t expect to have a Cold War and a hot economy at the same time." Professor Minxin Pei, Tom and Margot Pritzker ’72 Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College


Jane Golley


"If we are going to point fingers at China, let’s look inward and get our own houses in order." Dr Jane Golley, Associate Professor and Acting Director, Australian Centre on China in the World, Australian National University


LEE Baeksoon


"People talk too much about the Quad. We need to talk about a regional cooperation concept." H.E. LEE Baeksoon, Ambassador, Republic of Korea


Kwok Fook Seng


"I don’t see conflict between the Asia Pacific and Indo Pacific. It doesn’t diminish our ability to cooperate." H.E. Kwok Fook Seng, High Commissioner, Republic of Singapore


Richard Maude


"America is our ally and that will remain. U.S. economic and security engagement in the region is in Australia's national interest." Richard Maude, Deputy Secretary, Indo-Pacific Group, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Haidi Stroud-Watts


MODERATOR Haidi Stroud-Watts, Sydney anchor, “Daybreak Australia”, Bloomberg



More insights and analysis on whether it's time for Australia to pick sides at Briefing MONTHLY #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition

Asia's economies and markets in the grip of a trade war:

A fiery relationship between the US and China. Animation: Rocco Fazzari. View it here.

The panel of economists argued that if Australia does not refresh and reboot existing institutions like the WTO it might end up in a world that has two trading blocks, two currencies, and two Internets. This overarching U.S.-China binary was reflected in the poll - no-one at Asia Briefing LIVE voted that Australia will come out unscathed if the U.S.-China trade war continues to escalate.

India high tech. Animation: Rocco Fazzari. View it here.

There was talk about Australia recasting its primary economic partner as India. International guest speaker TN Ninan explained that this would require Australia to move beyond a simplistic binary of import/export and recognise India as a competitor.

TN Ninan


"I don’t think that India is about to become a second China but it will be number two to China."  TN Ninan, Chairman, Business Standards Ltd


Chris Bowen


"It (US-China trade war) could be worse than we might hope." The Hon. Chris Bowen MP, Member for McMahon, Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Small Business


Heather Ridout


"These institutions (like WTO) need to be reformed and take account of new players like China and India." Heather Ridout AO, Chair, Australian Super


Sally Auld


"Global growth is dependent on the US, but rates are being tightened there." Sally Auld, Chief Economist and Head, AUS/NZ Fixed Income and FX Strategy, J.P. Morgan


Michael Heath


MODERATOR Michael Heath, Australia economics reporter, Bloomberg



More insights and analysis on the "two unorthodox personalities conducting a new Cold War" at Briefing MONTHLY #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition

Australia-Asia 360°:

China a Red Flag? Animation: Rocco Fazzari. View it here.

There was broad consensus that the Australian government has dragged China through its domestic policy with 75% of guests voting management to be clumsy and inconsistent.

The Huawei Blockade. Animation: Rocco Fazzari. View it here.

Australia's business engagement also came under scrutiny with concerns that it has shut its doors to Asia. Huawei was banned from rolling out 5G across Australia, and CKI Group's bid for gas pipeline operator APA faces possible rejection on national security grounds. 64% of Asia Briefing LIVE guests supported these lock-out laws, voting that Australia is right to protect its assets from potentially hostile foreign ownership.

Ed Johnson


"You're potentially looking at a balkanisation of the internet and the global trading order we've grown used to." Ed Johnson, Managing Editor, Australia and New Zealand, Bloomberg News


Greg Earl


"Ninan's idea that India is now exporting as much in value terms as Australia exports in agricultural produce is going to be quite a shocking idea to the Australian agricultural sector." Greg Earl, Editor, Briefing MONTHLY, Asia Society Australia


More insights and analysis from Greg Earl at Briefing MONTHLY #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition

Australia open for business:

Raising the Profile of Chinese Business. Animation: Rocco Fazzari. View it here.

Despite numerous concerns about rising Chinese debt, 55% of Asia Briefing LIVE guests see China as the biggest opportunity for Australian business. India came in second but with only 24% support.

Mark Whelan


"The Australian economy has had a great run, but complacency comes with that." Mark Whelan, Group Executive Institutional, ANZ


Swati Dave


What is the long-term view? That is something you don’t see boards talking about." Swati Dave, Chief Executive Officer, Export Finance and Insurance Corporation & Board Member, Asia Society Australia


Steve Holmes


"China is a great opportunity because it is a diversification (for investors) but it is still hard to access this." Steve Holmes, CFA Senior Portfolio Manager and Research Strategist, Queensland Investment Corporation


Martin Tricaud


"There’s no doubt that for Australian exporters, the future is in China." Martin Tricaud, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Australia


Ed Johnson


MODERATOR Ed Johnson, Managing Editor, Australia and New Zealand, Bloomberg News



More insights and analysis on Australia's slow uptake of Asia at Briefing MONTHLY #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition

A word from the PM:

Australia's Place on the World Stage. Animation: Rocco Fazarri. View it here.

Prime Minister The Hon. Scott Morrison MP delivered his first foreign policy address at Asia Briefing LIVE. The PM acknowledged the growing challenge in navigating relationships with both the US and China, but was confident that Australia could get on with "business as usual". 

Morrison outlined that Australia's foreign policy priority is not China, but the Pacific, because “this is where we live.” He opted for more infrastructure development like the Papua New Guinea/Solomon Islands internet cable taken over from Chinese construction and closer work with Pacific countries on climate change and disaster recovery. The PM detailed how Australia would work with China in the Pacific in an effort to avoid upsetting the improvement in bilateral relations which now seems underway. 


“We support the strongest possible US political, security, and economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific...but it is important that US-China relations do not become defined by confrontation.” The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia


More insights from the PM at Briefing MONTHLY #11 | Asia Briefing LIVE Special Edition

Read the full speech here.

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