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Lowy Institute

The Lowy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan international policy think tank located in Sydney, Australia. The Institute provides high-quality research and distinctive perspectives on foreign policy trends shaping Australia and the world. We host podcasts with high-level guest speakers as well as our own experts. Essential listening for anyone seeking to better understand foreign policy challenges!

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The future of war, with P. W. Singer

On August 26, Dr Michael Fulliove, the Executive Director of the Lowy Institute, conducted a conversation with leading US strategist (and now novelist) P.W. Singer on the future of war.You can find details on P.W. Singer's book 'Ghost Fleet' here: http://www.ghostfleetbook.com


26 Aug 2015

Rank #1

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Admiral Harry Harris on America's enduring interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific

Admiral Harris visits Australia at an important juncture in alliance relations and regional security, as a new administration prepares to take over the reins in Washington. This year has seen a number of key regional developments, from the Arbitral Tribunal case in the South China Sea, to presidential elections in the Philippines and the United States. There were also a number of other key developments in Australia’s defence, including a new White Paper, a decision on future submarines, and agreement on the terms for hosting rotational US Marine deployments in the Northern Territory. Admiral Harris will highlight key enduring security interests for the US in this fast-moving regional and alliance context.In his role as Commander US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris is responsible for military operations in an area which encompasses more than 100 million square miles—more than half the earth’s surface. Admiral Harris graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1978 and undertook graduate studies in East Asia security at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and Oxford University. He has served in every geographic combatant command region, and participated in a range of major operations, including Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Odyssey Dawn (Libya, 2011). Harris’ staff assignments include aide to commander, US Naval Forces Japan; chief speechwriter for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and three tours on the Navy Staff. Harris was promoted to Admiral and assumed command of the US Pacific Fleet in October 2013. In May 2015, he assumed command of the US Pacific Command.


14 Dec 2016

Rank #2

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In conversation: Bari Weiss of the New York Times

Lowy Institute’s Executive Director Michael Fullilove and The New York Times editor and columnist Bari Weiss had a conversation about journalism, American politics and society, and the role of the United States in the world under President Donald Trump. Bari Weiss is an op-ed staff editor and columnist for The New York Times on culture and politics. Ms Weiss was previously an op-ed and book review editor at The Wall Street Journal before joining The Times in 2017. She is currently working on a book, The New Seven Dirty Words, for Henry Holt and Company. She is a native of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Columbia University. Michael Fullilove is the Executive Director of the Lowy Institute. He writes widely on global issues for publications including The New York Times, Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs, as well as the Australian press. Dr Fullilove is the author of a number of books, including Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America into the War and into the World (Penguin).

1hr 3mins

21 Jan 2019

Rank #3

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Panel discussion: Prosperity and promise; Xi Jinping and modern China

“Prosperity” has been a significant theme in several of President Xi Jinping’s major speeches over the past year, both at home and abroad. But what does he mean by prosperity? And what challenges does this nebulous concept create? Domestically, Xi’s promise to transform China into a “moderately prosperous society” by 2020 has been well-received. But does it have global resonance?Australian National University’s Dr Jane Golley and Linda Jaivin discssed with Dr Merriden Varrall, Director of the Lowy Institute’s East Asia Program, about the myriad ways in which prosperity is evident in China today and what this means for the rest of the world.


17 Apr 2018

Rank #4

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Arancha González on women's economic empowerment

While the slowing global economy has pushed countries to explore a new cadre of sometimes unproven policies in the quest for growth, many have not yet fully committed to the full participation of women as economic actors.On 6 April, the Lowy Institute hosted an address from Arancha González, the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, who spoke on women’s empowerment, the power of women as economic actors and the importance of investment in women.


6 Apr 2016

Rank #5

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Tim Watts on democracy and the authoritarian challenge

Today, the liberal democratic model faces its biggest challenge in generations. Since the global financial crisis, democratic systems have faced a crisis of public confidence, and open economies have struggled to deliver the broad-based growth of the past. At the same time, in a number of nations around the world, an alternative model of ‘techno-authoritarianism’ has emerged in which mass surveillance and artificial intelligence are being used to build systems of social control.Tim Watts MP addressed the Lowy Institute in Canberra on 27 February 2020 and discussed the ways these competing models of organising society are challenging the health of our democratic institutions – political parties, parliaments, and the media.After the address, Mr Watts joined Lowy Institute Director for International Security, Sam Roggeveen, for a conversation and Q&A.


19 Mar 2020

Rank #6

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Yukio Okamoto on Japan’s evolving security role in the Indo-Pacific

Following a period spent in Japan developing its national security apparatus and international security cooperation with partners from Europe to the Indo-Pacific, Yukio Okamoto, Adjunct Professor at Ritsumeikan University and former Japanese diplomat, addressed Japan’s evolving security role in the Indo-Pacific, with a focus on Japan–China relations. This was followed by a discussion with the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program Director, Dr Euan Graham, about how Japan will adapt and respond to future regional security concerns. Yukio Okamoto was a career diplomat in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including postings in Paris at the OECD as well as in Cairo and Washington. Since retiring in 1991, Mr Okamoto has directed a political and economic consultancy, and served in a number of senior advisory positions. He has worked on multiple Japanese Government committees, including as a Special Advisor to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto (1996–98), Special Advisor to the Cabinet (2001–03) and Special Advisor on Iraq to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (2003–04). He was Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Foreign Relations, and until the end of 2008 was a member of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s Study Group on Diplomacy. He has written and published extensively on Japanese Foreign Policy, diplomacy, and government.


12 Mar 2018

Rank #7

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Bernard Haykel on the threat of returning ISIS fighters

Prof Bernard Haykel says the threat of returning fighters has been overstated. Most go to Syria and Iraq with no ambition of returning.


15 Mar 2015

Rank #8

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Bonnie Glaser on US-China rivalry: Global strategic consequences

Intensifying strategic competition between the US and China is having ramifications around the globe. The risk of military conflict is growing in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Global economic growth is slowing, and supply chains are shifting. China and Russia are forging closer ties in response to commonly perceived threats. Will US-China competition abate or increase? How can Australia best navigate these dangerous shoals?Lowy Institute Nonresident Fellow Bonnie Glaser gave a speech, followed by a Q&A with Michael Fullilove, the Institute’s Executive Director.Bonnie Glaser is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute and senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she directs the CSIS China Power Project. Ms Glaser is an expert on Chinese foreign and security policy, and has served as a consultant for several US government agencies including the Departments of Defense and State. Ms Glaser has published widely in academic journals such as Washington Quarterly and International Security as well as leading newspapers including the New York Times and International Herald Tribune.

1hr 4mins

12 Sep 2019

Rank #9

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In conversation: Kevin Rudd and Chris Johnson on China

The Lowy Institute was pleased to host the Hon Kevin Rudd for a discussion on Xi Jinping’s China and the new era of strategic competition with the United States across trade, technology, and geopolitics. Mr Rudd served as Australia’s prime minister and foreign minister, lived in China as a diplomat, has studied the country’s history, politics, and language over many years, and has dealt with the leaders of the ruling Communist Party at the most senior levels. Mr Rudd, who now leads the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York, had a conversation with Richard McGregor, Lowy Institute’s Senior Fellow for East Asia. They were also joined by Chris Johnson, senior adviser and Freeman Chair of China Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Mr Johnson previously served as a CIA analyst for China.This event was presented in partnership with the Asia Society.

1hr 1min

14 Jun 2019

Rank #10

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In Conversation: Bingqin Li on population challenges for the Chinese economy

China is a rapidly ageing country. According to the World Bank, the working-age population is predicted to fall by 10% by 2040. While the size of the workforce is falling, the pool of over 65s is rising, and is predicted to reach 350 million by the same year.What are the economic effects of a shrinking labour pool and rising number of aged dependents, and how will the two-child policy limit these effects? The Lowy Institute convened a panel to explore how population dynamics will shape China’s economy and what it means for our economic future at large.


21 Dec 2017

Rank #11

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The 2017 Lowy Lecture: UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

On 27 July the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, delivered the 2017 Lowy Lecture at Sydney Town Hall.

1hr 20mins

27 Jul 2017

Rank #12

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Major General Roger Noble on fighting Islamic State in Iraq

On 8 February Major General Roger Noble addressed the Lowy Institute and provided frontline insights into the war against Islamic State. In his role as Deputy Coalition Land Force Commander Iraq, he is effectively second-in-command in the international fight against IS in Iraq. Major General Noble gave a unique and contemporary overview of the state of the anti-Islamic State campaign, the performance of the Iraqi forces, and likely challenges for the post-conflict future of Iraq. Based on the experience of 2016, he discussed some observations of enduring relevance to the conduct of 21st-century military operations.Major General Roger Noble enlisted in the Army in 1984 and began military life as a staff cadet at the Royal Military College. From 1989 to 2004, he served in a variety of regimental appointments in cavalry, APC and tank units. In 2007, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and appointed Director of Studies at the Australian Command and Staff College. In 2010, he was promoted to Brigadier, and has completed appointments as Commander 3rd Brigade, Director Special Operations Capability in Special Operations Command, and Director General Land Development, Capability Development Group. He was promoted to Major General in November 2016 and deployed with the US 101st Airborne Division as Deputy Coalition Land Force Commander, Iraq. He will be posted as Deputy Commander US Army Pacific with effect 1 March 2017.


9 Feb 2017

Rank #13

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In conversation: Hugh White on how to defend Australia

The Lowy Institute hosted one of Australia’s most provocative public commentators, Professor Hugh White. Lowy Institute Senior Fellow Richard McGregor chaired a discussion on Professor White’s new book, How to Defend Australia. Over the past decade, Professor White has set the agenda of Australia’s China debate. This book will do the same for defence policy. Hugh White AO is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University and author of The China Choice and the Quarterly Essay 39, Power Shift. He has served as an intelligence analyst with the Office of National Assessments, as a senior adviser to Defence Minister Kim Beazley and to 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.Richard McGregor, Lowy Institute Senior Fellow, is a leading expert on China’s political system and Australia’s relations with Asia. He is the author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers and Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan and the Fate of US Power in the Pacific Century. His Lowy Institute Paper, Xi Jinping: The Backlash, will be published in late July.

1hr 4mins

16 Jul 2019

Rank #14

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Panel discussion: The disinformation age – can democracy survive social media?

Hyperpartisan and foreign-state sponsored disinformation targeted at voters through social media is undermining democracy and interfering with elections from the US to India, from Indonesia to Taiwan. Authoritarian adversaries, partisan domestic actors, and weak democratic governments are using the platforms and the extensive data they hold on individuals to manipulate voters and spread false narratives. The implications for the health of democracies everywhere are troubling. And with the US Presidential election looming in 2020, many argue that not enough is being done to halt the spread of deliberately false and misleading information. How can democracies fight back? Kelsey Munro, host of the Lowy Institute's Rules Based Audio podcast, together with Katherine Mansted from the ANU’s National Security College and Harvard’s Belfer Center, and Lowy Institute Southeast Asia Project Director Ben Bland, had a thought-provoking discussion on democracy in the disinformation age. Katherine Mansted is a Senior Adviser at the ANU National Security College and a Nonresident fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center. Her research and policy analysis focuses on emerging technologies, cybersecurity, and international relations. Her publications cover information warfare, cyber-enabled foreign interference, and internet privacy. Katherine previously practiced law and served as a ministerial adviser in the Australian government. Ben Bland is the director of the Southeast Asia project at the Lowy Institute. Ben’s personal research interests span politics, economics, and diplomacy across Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, as well as China’s growing role in the region. Ben is an award-winning former foreign correspondent for the Financial Times, with postings in Hanoi, Hong Kong, and Jakarta.


28 Nov 2019

Rank #15

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2019 Owen Harries Lecture: Nicholas Burns on the China challenge

How should the US and Australia plan for a future of both strategic competition and cooperation with China? How do we get the balance between them right? The distinguished American diplomat Nicholas Burns, the Lowy Institute’s 2019 Rothschild & Co Distinguished International Fellow, addressed these questions in the 2019 Owen Harries Lecture. The annual Owen Harries Lecture honours the enormous contribution Mr Harries, a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute, has made to the international policy debate in Australia.Nicholas Burns is a Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and served for 27 years in the US Foreign Service. Ambassador Burns was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, US Ambassador to NATO for President George W Bush and to Greece for President Bill Clinton, and State Department spokesman for Secretaries Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright.The Lowy Institute acknowledges the generous support of Rothschild & Co for the Fellowship.

1hr 4mins

8 Oct 2019

Rank #16

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Panel discussion: Hong Kong on the brink

Hong Kong is facing the deepest political crisis since it was handed back to China by the United Kingdom in 1997. The partially autonomous Chinese territory has been shaken by weeks of huge democracy protests, and violent clashes between activists, the police and supporters of the Chinese Government. The spark for the latest tensions was a now-suspended bill that would have allowed Hong Kongers to be extradited to mainland China. But the protests are being driven by opposition to Beijing’s intensifying pressure on the freedoms and autonomy that were promised to the city for 50 years from 1997. The Lowy Institute hosted a panel discussion about the causes of this crisis, the implications for this global financial centre, and the impact on China’s place in the world.Lai-Ha Chan is a Senior Lecturer in the Social and Political Sciences Program at the School of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney. She studies China’s international relations and its place in the global order. Before coming to Australia to conduct her PhD research, she worked for the Hong Kong Government.Jared Fu is a university student and democracy activist from Hong Kong who helped organise the recent protest in Sydney against the extradition bill. Ben Bland is the Director of the Southeast Asia Project at the Lowy Institute and a former correspondent for the Financial Times in Hong Kong. He is the author of Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow, which tells the stories of the young Hong Kongers on the frontlines of the city’s struggle for freedom.The discussion was chaired by Richard McGregor, Lowy Institute Senior Fellow and leading expert on China’s political system and Asian geopolitics. He is the award-winning author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers and Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan and the Fate of US Power in the Pacific Century.


15 Aug 2019

Rank #17

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Panel discussion: Postcolonial Hong Kong – 19 years after the British handover

Almost two decades have passed since the Hong Kong handover ceremony and much has changed for the now self-governing special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. On 17 October the Lowy Institute hosted a conversation with Anson Chan, former Chief Secretary of the Hong Kong government both before and after the handover, and Martin CM Lee (Lee Chu Ming), founding Chairman of the Hong Kong Democratic Party. Chan and Lee will discuss Hong Kong’s relationship with the mainland, the outcome and implications of the recently concluded elections for the Legislative Council, and why Hong Kong should matter to the rest of the world. Anson Chan retired as the Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government in 2001. As Chief Secretary, she headed the 190 000-strong civil service. She was the first woman and the first Chinese to hold the second-highest governmental position in Hong Kong. During her career in the public service she was responsible for development of Hong Kong’s economic infrastructure including the planning and construction of Hong Kong’s new international airport, port expansion, and deregulation of the telecommunications market. Martin CM Lee (Lee Chu Ming) is a Senior Counsel (formerly, Queen’s Counsel). He is the founding Chairman (1994–2002) of the Democratic Party, which is one of the largest and most popular political parties in Hong Kong, and was an elected member of the Legislative Council from 1985 to 2008. The European People’s Party and European Democrats in the European Parliament named Mr Lee the first non-European recipient of the Schuman Medal in January 2000. In 1997, the National Endowment for Democracy presented its Democracy Award to Mr Lee at a Capitol Hill ceremony in Washington DC.


17 Oct 2016

Rank #18

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Panel discussion: Taiwan’s 2020 Elections

The elections in Taiwan in January promise to be one of the region’s most consequential polls in recent decades. With Beijing increasingly vocal about using force to unify the island with China, voters face a choice between a president determined to resist Beijing and an opponent struggling to articulate an alternative. The polls on the self-governing island, which has a pivotal role in high-tech global value chains, are also taking place in the shadow of protests in Hong Kong and growing US–China tensions. In the lead-up, Beijing has been taking a leaf out of the Russian playbook by overtly and covertly influencing Taiwan’s local media and community groups. The Lowy Institute hosted a panel discussion about Taiwan’s upcoming elections, the implications for cross-straits relations and Taiwan’s future.Thomas J. Christensen is Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director of the China and the World Program at Columbia University and previously handled China and Taiwan in the US State Department.Natasha Kassam is a Research Fellow in the Diplomacy and Public Opinion Program at the Lowy Institute and a former Australian diplomat in Beijing. Dr Roger Lee Huang is a Lecturer at Macquarie University. His research includes the history of Taiwan–China relations and he has worked for Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party.The event was chaired by Richard McGregor, Lowy Institute Senior Fellow and award-winning author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers and the recent Lowy Institute Paper Xi Jinping: The Backlash.

1hr 7mins

10 Dec 2019

Rank #19

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Panel discussion: China's population challenges (AMP China Series)

China is a rapidly ageing country. According to the World Bank, the working age population is predicted to fall by 10% by 2040. While the size of the workforce is falling, the pool of over 65s are rising, predicted to reach 350 million by the same year.What are the economic effects of a shrinking labour pool and rising number of aged dependents, and how will the two-child policy limit these effects? On 22 May the Lowy Institute hosted a panel of Dr Merriden Varrall, Director of the East Asia Program at the Lowy Institute, Dr Jane Golley, Associate Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World at the Australian National University and Dr John Edwards, Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute, to explore how population dynamics will shape China’s economy and what it means for our economic future at large.The Lowy Institute acknowledges the support of AMP for this event.


22 May 2017

Rank #20