If Asia’s key flashpoint erupts, what will Australia do? The decision could reshape our future in Asia.

“If America goes to war with China over Taiwan, Washington will expect Australia to fully commit to the fight. This would pose one of the hardest strategic choices any Australian government has ever faced.”

– Emeritus Professor Hugh White AO

The latest issue of Australian Foreign Affairs, The Taiwan Choice, examines the rising tensions over the future of Taiwan as China’s pursuit of ‘unification’ pits it against the United States and US allies such as Australia.

Hugh White, Linda Jakobson, Brendan Taylor, Jade Guan, and I-Chung LAI discuss Xi Jinping’s intentions, what a conflict might look like, and what Canberra can do to both soothe tensions and prepare for a confrontation.

The Taiwan Choice looks at the growing risk of a catastrophic war and the outlook for Australia as it faces strategic choices that could reshape its future in Asia.


Stephen Dziedzic is the ABC’s Foreign Affairs (Asia Pacific) reporter, based in the national broadcaster’s Parliament House bureau in Canberra. He covers Australian foreign policy and Australia’s relationships with countries across the region. Stephen joined the ABC in 2007 and spent more than five years covering federal politics. His work has also appeared in the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s The Strategist and Australian Foreign Affairs.


Linda Jakobson is the founding Director and Deputy Chair of China Matters. She has been a student of Chinese politics and the foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for the past three decades. She is internationally known for her publications about the PRC’s foreign policy as well as the unresolved political future of Taiwan. Her China-related career includes teaching and research posts in the PRC, where she lived for 22 years, and Finland, Sweden and Australia. Before joining the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney in 2011, Ms Jakobson – a Finnish national and fluent in Mandarin – was Director of China and Global Security Programme at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, based in Beijing. Prior to this, she was Senior Researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs based in Hong Kong, then Beijing.

Hugh White AO is Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at The Australian National University. His work focuses primarily on Australian strategic and defence policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, and global strategic affairs especially as they influence Australia and the Asia-Pacific. He has served as an intelligence analyst with the Office of National Assessments, as a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald, as a senior adviser on the staffs of Defence Minister Kim Beazley and Prime Minister Bob Hawke, and as a senior official in the Department of Defence, where from 1995 to 2000 he was Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence, and as the first Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). He was the principal author of Australia’s 2000 Defence White Paper.

Brendan Taylor is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He was Head of the centre from 2011 to 2016. He is a specialist on great power strategic relations in the Asia-Pacific, East Asian ‘flashpoints’, and Asian security architecture. His writings on these subjects have appeared in such leading journals as Survival, The Washington Quarterly, Australian Foreign Affairs, The Pacific Review, International Affairs and Review of International Studies. He is the author or editor of 12 books, including The Four Flashpoints: How Asia Goes to War (Black Inc, 2018) and Dangerous Decade: Taiwan’s Security and Crisis Management (IISS, 2019). He is a regular op-ed contributor to such publications as The Australian, Nikkei Asian Review, The Australian Financial Review, The Interpreter, East Asia Forum and The Strategist.

Jade Guan is a Lecturer in Strategic Studies at Deakin University with research interests in soft power, Chinese foreign policy and history, and international politics of East Asia. She obtained her PhD in International Relations from ANU. Jade has developed writings on Chinese soft power and contemporary Chinese foreign policy and regional security issues and co-published with Chinese, Taiwanese, and Australian strategic-issue leading analysts. Jade is a 2021 Strategic Policy Grants Program recipient with a research project aiming to examine prospects of high-intensity military conflict over the Taiwan Strait in the 2020s from the perspectives of regional stakeholders. Over the past 4 years, Jade has acted as a Module Convener and Academic Adviser for the Defence and Strategic Studies Course at the Australian War College in Canberra.

I-Chung LAI is the President of the Prospect Foundation. Dr. Lai served as Director-General for the Department of International Affairs (2007-2008) and Director General for the Department of China Affairs (2006-2008) in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Prior to that, he was Special Assistant for Policy to Taiwan Representative to Japan (2000-2003), Executive Director for DPP Mission in the United States (1999-2000), and Vice President of the Taiwan Thinktank (2013-2016). He received his PhD degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and was Visiting Researcher at Cornell University.

Watch the launch event here.

Event details

Event date

Thu, 17 Mar 2022, 5:30 - 6:30pm

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