UTS:ACRI WEBINAR: The Hugh White thesis - Ten years on

August 25 2021

A decade ago, former senior Australian government advisor on national strategic and defence policy Professor Hugh White, foreshadowed Australia’s future as a middle power in the Asia Pacific divided between the People Republic of China's (PRC) growing economic strength and the American leadership that has long kept Asia peaceful and Australia secure. In his thesis ‘Power Shift: Australia’s future between Washington and Beijing’, published in the Quarterly Essay, he argued that Australian foreign and strategic policy should aim to promote a new order in Asia whereby the US is persuaded to relinquish primacy in the region, in favour of working with the PRC and others in a shared regional leadership.

In 2021, there appears growing evidence that contrary to White’s advice, Canberra is throwing its support behind Washington in a competition between great powers. And Washington and Beijing are struggling to find a way to work together peacefully as relative power shifts from one to the other. Has the ‘bleak’ future foreshadowed in White’s analysis been confirmed? Is it too late for Australia to change tack? Or have weaknesses in White’s thesis been revealed, and does an alternative, potentially more positive future for Australia await even as relations between its security guarantor and most important economic partner deteriorate?

Professor White joined Professor James Laurenceson, Director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI), in conversation in an online webinar to discuss these questions and more. This discussion was followed by audience Q&A.

Time: 12.30pm - 1.30pm AEST


A transcript of the discussion is available.


About the speaker

Hugh White

Professor Hugh White AO FASSA is Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. He studies Australian foreign, strategic and defence policy, and regional and global strategic issues as they affect Australia. He spent much of his career in government, including as International Relations Advisor to Prime Minster Bob Hawke and Deputy Secretary for Strategy in the Department of Defence. He was the first Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), and from 2004 to 2011 he was Head of the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. His recent major publications include Power Shift: Australia’s future between Washington and Beijing (2010), The China Choice: Why America should share power (2012), Without America: Australia’s future in the New Asia (2017) and How to defend Australia (2019).


Event Information
August 25 2021
12:30 PM
Webinar (online-only)