The “Asia Chessboard” features in-depth conversations with the most prominent strategic thinkers on Asia. Co-hosts Jude Blanchette, Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS, and Michael Green, Henry A. Kissinger Chair at CSIS and CEO of the United States Studies Centre, take the debate beyond the headlines of the day to explore the historical context and inside decision-making process on major geopolitical developments from the Himalayas to the South China Sea. Experience the hard calls and consequential debates that drive US policy towards this critical region of the world.
This week, Mike and Jude are joined by Erin Murphy, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow for the Economics Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she is currently transitioning to the Asia Program. Erin's career has so far spanned public and private sector roles, including as an analyst on Asian political and foreign policy issues at the Central Intelligence Agency, director for the Indo-Pacific at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, and founder and principal of a boutique advisory firm focused on Myanmar. She is also the author of Burmese Haze: US Policy and Myanmar's Opening-and Closing (Association for Asian Studies, 2022).
The conversation begins by examining the state of affairs in Myanmar, including the lead up and aftermath of the 2021 military coup. Next they explore Myanmar’s relationship with China and the degree of Beijing’s policy influence over the the current leadership. They observe Myanmar’s evolving relationships with India and Japan, before turning to consider the space available for China to make common cause with other countries in the region to address some of the problems unfolding in Myanmar. They conclude by discussing the impact of the ongoing crisis in Myanmar on ASEAN, and surveying Myanmar’s possible trajectories in the medium and long term.
India’s Strategic Evolution
This week, Mike and Jude are joined by C. Raja Mohan, Senior Fellow with the Asia Society Policy Institute in Delhi and Visiting Research Professor and former Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) at the National University of Singapore. Mohan was the founding director of Carnegie India in Delhi – the sixth international center of Carnegie Endowment for Peace, and has previously served on India’s National Security Advisory Board.
They begin by examining India’s strategic outlook since the end of the Cold War, considering India’s history, the evolution of its economic model, and shifts in the political perspectives and priorities of the Indian government. They then turn to India’s role in BRICS – examining the relationship of India and China within the organization, the reasoning behind India's participation in BRICS, and implications of the August 2023 BRICS summit. Next they discuss Delhi’s changing relationship with Taipei and expanding engagement with Japan and Australia. The conversation concludes with an assessment of what India wants for its strategic future, and how it would interact with the international world order.
Multipolarity in Southeast Asia
This week, Mike and Jude are joined by Thomas Parks, Country Representative for Thailand with The Asia Foundation and author of the recently published book Southeast Asia’s Multipolar Future: Averting a New Cold War.
They begin with an overview of Southeast Asia’s experience during and following the Cold War and discuss the region’s desire to avoid a re-division into blocs. They explore how regional states are seeking to preserve strategic ambiguity in their international relations and diversify their economic partnerships to avoid becoming highly dependent on any one great power.
They then consider the effects a conflict in Taiwan would have on regional states’ autonomy and probable reactions if conflict were to occur, as well as regional perspectives on the prospects for major U.S.-China decoupling and associated vulnerabilities.
The conservation concludes by exploring space for multipolar cooperation in the region among small and middle powers, how they have prioritized deep connections with each other, and how this in turn allows them to enter into robust security or economic relationships with major powers while also preserving the perception of autonomy in the eyes of their peers.
ASEAN's Future Under Great Power Rivalry
This week, Mike and Jude are joined by Mr. Choi Shing Kwok, Director & Chief Executive Officer of the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, and head of the ASEAN Studies Centre and Singapore APEC Study Centre, to discuss ASEAN perspectives on issues in the Indo-Pacific.
The conversation first examines ASEAN’s current structure, organizational challenges, and the diversity of its individual members. They then discuss ASEAN’s relationships and interaction with other regional players, including Japan and Australia. Next, they turn to the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute’s 2023 Survey Report on the State of Southeast Asia, reviewing how the region views U.S.-China tensions and the priorities of the ASEAN nations as they navigate rising U.S.-China competition. They analyze the reactions of ASEAN members to Secretary Blinken’s June trip to Beijing and discuss survey trends which suggest growing support for the United States and the Quad in Southeast Asia. They conclude by considering how U.S. policy could be best designed to improve levels of trust among ASEAN member publics.
Australia's Evolving Defense Strategy
This week, Mike and Jude are joined by Professor Peter Dean, Director of Foreign Policy and Defense at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, and the principal drafter of the Australian government’s recent Defence Strategic Review, to discuss developments in Australia’s defense planning.
The conversation begins with a discussion of the Defence Strategic Review and the significant shift in Australia's strategic outlook that it represents. Next, Mike, Jude and Peter discuss how the perceived sustainability of U.S. engagement in the region factors into Australian defense planning. They examine developments in Chinese military capabilities that Canberra is watching closely, and what responses might be demanded. They then consider the complications of executing a cultural transformation in Australia’s defense forces and building national resilience. After turning briefly to Australia’s relationship with Taiwan and potential reactions to a contingency in and around the Taiwan Strait, they conclude with a discussion of the evolving U.S.-Australia alliance and how its further development can underpin stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
This week, Mike and Jude are joined by Dr. Susan Shirk, Founding Chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego and the author of Overreach: How China Derailed its Peaceful Rise (Oxford University Press, 2022), which examines the evolution of China’s domestic and foreign policy over the last 15 years.
The conversation begins by examining steps taken toward political decentralization and economic liberalization under Hu Jintao—and the reversal of these trends under Xi Jinping. Next, they discuss Xi’s governance style and the shortcomings of loyalty-based political systems. The discussion then turns to the recent G7 summit in Hiroshima and China’s reaction to its outcomes. After assessing U.S. China policy during the Trump and Biden administrations, they then consider how Xi might respond to renewed diplomatic overtures. After a discussion of the risks of U.S. overreaction to Beijing’s policies, they conclude with reflections on what—if any—actions can be taken to stabilize the deteriorating U.S.-China relationship.
Unique and Valuable
My all-time favorite show. The quality of Dr. Green’s information, analysis, guests, and presentation are as impressive as they are enjoyable. I really get a lot out of this podcast and it was my gateway to other CSIS podcasts. Dr. Green is what makes this podcast work and he’s always a powerful contributor whenever he’s on other CSIS shows.
Fascinating-One of the top foreign policy podcasts.
Michael Green offers a great perspective, using his long memory to explain current situations and behavior patterns of certain nations.
What a phenomenal podcast
CSIS is crushing it. Trade guys, China power, so much great content. James Moriarty on the pod such a great episode, thanks for sharing with the world