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Sounds Strategic International Institute for Strategic Studies

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We are a world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict. We were founded in 1958, and have offices in London, Washington, Singapore and Bahrain.
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    China’s growing presence in the Gulf

    China’s growing presence in the Gulf

    China has been expanding its economic and diplomatic reach in the Gulf for little over a decade, but should growing Gulf–China relations concern the United States? In this week’s episode, Camille Lons speaks with Antônio and Meia on the dynamics of China’s growing presence in the Gulf, how it has evolved in recent years and its limitations. 

    At its core, China’s interest in the Gulf remains primarily economic rather than security driven. As a result, Gulf states will continue to look to the US as the region’s security guarantor. However, as Camille explains, the recent development of a Chinese base in Djibouti and increasing arms sales to the Gulf from China are significant additions in the Gulf–China relationship.

    Much will be determined by the post-COVID-19 recovery. Camille explains that the increasing diversity in China’s energy mix may in turn weaken revenues in the Gulf. It is not yet clear how Belt and Road Initiative projects in the region will be affected, but, with increasing collaboration on high-technology projects, China’s presence in the Gulf will likely continue to grow into the future.

    We hope you enjoy listening to the episode. Don’t forget to follow, rate and subscribe to Sounds Strategic on wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.
    Date of recording: 23 June 2020
    Sounds Strategic is recorded and produced at the IISS in London.
    Theme music: ‘Safety in Numbers’ by We Were Promised Jetpacks

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    • 31 min
    Japan’s delicate dance for influence in the Asia-Pacific

    Japan’s delicate dance for influence in the Asia-Pacific

    Japan was already heading towards economic difficulties before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world’s economy. How will Japan’s economy fare in the post-COVID period? And will it affect the country’s geostrategic and geo-economic ambitions? In this week’s episode, Meia discusses these questions with Robert Ward and Yuka Koshino.
    Robert explains that Japan will likely experience a severe economic shock in the post-COVID period. This will likely have negative implications for the re-election prospects of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but Robert asserts that Japan will seek to maintain its position as a counterbalance to China in the Asia-Pacific region.
    Yuka highlights the various defence concerns facing Japan, including an increasingly assertive China and a hostile regime in North Korea. She explains how Japan remains committed to the US alliance and engaged with regional and extra-regional partners.
    We hope you enjoy listening to the episode. Don’t forget to follow, rate and subscribe to Sounds Strategic on wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.
    Date of recording: 16 June 2020
    Sounds Strategic is recorded and produced at the IISS in London.
    Theme music: ‘Safety in Numbers’ by We Were Promised Jetpacks

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    • 32 min
    The future of European defence spending in a post-COVID world

    The future of European defence spending in a post-COVID world

    The profound economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led some to question the utility and necessity of traditional defence spending as a means of ensuring national security, especially in Europe. In this week’s episode of Sounds Strategic, Antônio speaks with Bastian Giegerich and Fenella McGerty on why defence spending remains important and the implications of the COVID-19 crisis for European defence projects, NATO and the future of the transatlantic relationship.

    Fenella explains how this current economic crisis is fundamentally different compared to the financial crisis in 2008–09 and why its impact on defence spending will be more complex as a result. Bastian argues that effective defence spending will be critical for Europe in the post-COVID period and highlights the challenges the EU and NATO will face if the US becomes a less reliable ally in the defence of Europe at a time of heightened global competition. 

    We hope you enjoy listening to the episode. Don’t forget to follow, rate and subscribe to Sounds Strategic on wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.
    Date of recording: 10 June 2020
    Sounds Strategic is recorded and produced at the IISS in London.
    Theme music: ‘Safety in Numbers’ by We Were Promised Jetpacks

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    • 31 min
    Caught in shifting tides: ASEAN, Australia and the geopolitics of the South China Sea

    Caught in shifting tides: ASEAN, Australia and the geopolitics of the South China Sea

    In this week’s episode, Meia is joined by Lynn Kuok and Euan Graham for an in-depth discussion on what China’s activity in the South China Sea means for ASEAN, Australia, the US and Europe, and whether such actions are indicative of shifting geopolitical power dynamics.

    Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, China has maintained a constant presence in the South China Sea, even encroaching on the Exclusive Economic Zones of several Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. Lynn explains the factors hindering ASEAN’s ability to curtail such Chinese activity and Euan assesses how Australia is adapting its foreign relations in response to China’s rising status within the international community.

    Meia, Lynn and Euan also consider the strategic implications of the new Chinese national security laws being imposed on Hong Kong and how they may impact China’s policy towards Taiwan and its foreign policy more broadly.

    We hope you enjoy listening to the episode. Don’t forget to follow, rate and subscribe to Sounds Strategic on wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.

    Date of recording: 4 June 2020
    Sounds Strategic is recorded and produced at the IISS in London.
    Theme music: ‘Safety in Numbers’ by We Were Promised Jetpacks

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    • 55 min
    The end of US supremacy at sea? China and Russia’s naval ambitions and how to counter them

    The end of US supremacy at sea? China and Russia’s naval ambitions and how to counter them

    This week, Meia and Antônio are joined by Nick Childs, Senior Fellow for Naval Forces and Maritime Security, for a conversation on the increasingly contested realm of maritime security, how Russia and China are developing their naval capabilities, and what technologies could revolutionise defence affairs at sea in the near future.

    During the episode, Nick explains why the traditional naval supremacy the US and its allies have enjoyed in recent decades is now eroding, as Russia and China develop their own maritime capabilities, and what impact this may have on both US power projection and global security at sea.

    They also discuss the specific capabilities Russia and China are adding to their respective navies and why uninhabited systems may be the new frontier for naval competition. 

    We hope you enjoy listening to the episode. Don’t forget to follow, rate and subscribe to Sounds Strategic on wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.

    Date of recording: 2 June 2020
    Sounds Strategic is recorded and produced at the IISS in London.
    Theme music: ‘Safety in Numbers’ by We Were Promised Jetpacks

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    • 31 min
    The World Bank’s strategy for fragility, conflict and violence

    The World Bank’s strategy for fragility, conflict and violence

    This week, Antonio and Meia are joined by Franck Bousquet, Senior Director of the World Bank's Fragility, Conflict and Violence Group, to discuss a new strategy that aims to enhance the organisation’s ability to support fragile states.
    By 2030 up to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile or conflict-afflicted states. The World Bank Group Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence marks an evolution in how the World Bank aims to address the root causes of state fragility and violence. Franck explains how this strategy empowers the World Bank to work across the ‘fragility spectrum’, including a renewed focus on conflict prevention.
    Meia, Antonio and Franck also discuss the important role public, private and civil-society partnerships play within World Bank projects, the benefits of technology in monitoring and capacity-building in fragile states, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s most vulnerable populations.
    Date of recording: Tuesday 29 April 2020
    Sounds Strategic is recorded and produced at the IISS in London.
    Theme music: ‘Safety in Numbers’ by We Were Promised Jetpacks

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    • 29 min

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