Cyber impacts on the US/PRC military balance | WEBINAR

July 06 2023

Scholarly debate on the prospects for war and peace between the US and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) often refer to the visible military build-up. The Australian government has published the view, from its Defence Strategic Review, that ‘China's military build-up is now the largest and most ambitious of any country since the end of the Second World War’.

This view is most often supported in expert commentary by reference to the large increases by the PRC in the number of its surface warships, making its navy the world’s largest. At the same time, cyber military assets have also been expanding rapidly, with the US and its allies making very large investments, especially in offensive cyber capability. US military leaders are on record as saying that such capabilities can make kinetic forces considerably less effective.

What is the relative importance of traditional measures of military power, such as fleet size and kinetic weaponry, and new tools, such as cyber, electro-magnetic and space capabilities, when it comes to a net assessment of the Asia-Pacific military balance? How has the information age (especially national technological power) shaped the perceptions of national leaders as they ponder their choices between war and lower levels of coercive diplomacy?

The Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI) hosted a webinar discussing these questions and more, with presentations by Greg Austin, Adjunct Professor at UTS:ACRI and China cyber and strategic policy expert; and Ms Caitríona Heinl, Executive Director at the Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy, both of whom then participated in a panel discussion moderated by Dr Marina Yue Zhang, UTS:ACRI Associate Professor – Research. The discussion was followed by audience Q&A.

Time: 6.00pm – 7.00pm AEST


transcript of the event is available.


About the speakers

Greg Austin

Professor Greg Austin is an Adjunct Professor at the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney.

Professor Austin is recognised internationally as a leading researcher on China’s cyber policy, with two books and numerous articles on that subject since 2014, including work on Australia-China cyber relations. He has also published on China’s strategic policy more broadly beginning in 1997, most notably in Taiwan Strait security affairs, Japan-China relations, and China’s maritime frontier. He has held senior roles in academia, think tanks, and NGOs in Europe and Australia. He has held academic appointments at the Australian National University, King’s College London, and most recently at UNSW Canberra as a Professor from 2016-2021. He also served for three and a half years as Programme Head for Cyber Power and Future Conflict at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (2019-2023). He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research and has served as a member of the Cyber Security Advisory Council of the New South Wales government.

Caitríona Heinl

Caitríona Heinl is Executive Director at the Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy. She has over 10 years’ experience within applied policy research, strategic advisory and capacity building environments specialising in international security, with focus on conflict prevention strategies related to international cybersecurity policy, strategic technologies, regional security architectures and the Asia Pacific/Southeast Asia/EU. She recently served on the Irish government’s Commission on the Defence Forces, and continues her work as an expert within flagship EU cyber diplomacy and Indo-Pacific security cooperation initiatives. She was previously Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) Centre of Excellence for National Security in Singapore where, among other tasks, she provided policy analysis to the National Security Coordination Secretariat under the PM’s Office and other government agencies. Among other affiliations, she is Adjunct Research Fellow at the School of Politics and International Relations, UCD and Affiliate Practice Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security.


About the moderator

Marina Yue Zhang

Dr Marina Yue Zhang is Associate Professor – Research at the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI). Before this position, Dr Zhang worked for UNSW in Australia and Tsinghua University in China. She holds a bachelor's degree in biological science from Peking University, and an MBA and PhD from Australian National University. Her research interests cover China's innovation policy and practice, latecomers' catch-up, emerging and disruptive technologies, and digital transformation. She focuses on industries such as semiconductors, biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals, and clean energy transition. She is the author of three books, including Demystifying China's Innovation Machine: Chaotic Order (Oxford University Press, 2022), co-authored with Mark Dodgson and David Gann. Dr Zhang also writes analysis pieces on the intersection of technology and international relations in The National InterestThe Diplomat, The Conversation, The Interpreter by Lowy Institute, East Asia Forum, and comments on science and technology issues on various news outlets.


Event Information
July 06 2023
6:00 PM
Webinar (online-only)