Shopping cart

Show cart
   

Next Voices: China Dependence winners

Meet the Next Voices: China Dependence winners – Hugh Aliprandi and Thom Dixon


Hugh Aliprandi

Tell us a bit about your piece.
As a Chinese teacher from a non-Chinese background, who only began to study Chinese at university, I felt I could offer a perspective into the world of Chinese teaching at the intersection of international influences, as a complete outsider. My piece looks at the contradictions and unseen pressures in this field.

What is the most significant foreign policy challenge confronting Australia?
Climate change – we are unaware of the cascading, unpredictable effects on our neighbours and ourselves. Where I work, in the suburbs of Melbourne, this conversation is not being had and adaptation plans are not being made. There is a lack of awareness about where our prosperity comes from and how fragile it is. 

How can Australia better foster relations with its Asia-Pacific neighbours?
Simply learning about the cultures, languages and histories of our neighbours will help our relations. Australians need to feel some affection for the Pacific before we can claim to have a central role in its future. Our long-term wealth and peace has made us complacent, and I worry about how our society will deal with a drop in wealth, or with neighbours who adopt a more aggressive military stance. 

Who are Australia’s best foreign policy thinkers?
Richard McGregor’s book The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers meticulously shone a light onto the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party. I have been reading Peter Hartcher’s exposé in the new Quarterly Essay, Red Flag: Waking Up to China’s Challenge, which is shocking in the scope of its revelations. 

What are you working on now?
Last year’s Indonesian issue of Australian Foreign Affairs (AFA3: Australia and Indonesia) inspired me to learn about Indonesia and study the language. I visited Eastern Indonesia early this year and was amazed by this place that I knew nothing about. So I am continuing to study Indonesian, and plan to go back this year.

Where can we read more of your work?
This is the first time I have published a China-related piece, so hopefully more in Australian Foreign Affairs in the future.
 
You can read Hugh Aliprandi’s “Minding the Gaps” here.


Thom Dixon

Tell us a bit about your piece.
Developments in artificial intelligence and the engineering of biology fascinate me. These capabilities impact on Australia’s foreign policy in novel ways, and I wrote the piece to show how China fits into this story. I believe that scientists and policy practitioners need to be sharing more information domestically and also across borders.

How can Australia better foster relations with its Asia-Pacific neighbours?
Link Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) funding proportionally to the funding of defence. Australia also needs to engage more through programs that are close to value-neutral: education, science diplomacy, health security and cybersecurity. The New Colombo Plan and the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security are great examples of things we should be doing more.

What is the most significant foreign policy challenge confronting Australia?
Structurally reinforcing our democracy so that it is resilient to external influence while balancing the competing needs of privacy and security in the bio-digital age. 

Who are Australia’s best foreign policy thinkers?
I loved Graeme Dobell’s description of Allan Gyngell as the wise owl of Australian foreign policy – I couldn’t agree more. David Kilcullen’s work, which brings concepts from evolutionary biology into thinking about great power dynamics, is fantastic. I enjoy Alison Broinowski’s contrarian questioning of the more counterproductive instances of Australian foreign policy behaviour. I also find Elsa Kania’s writing with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute very provocative.

What are you working on now?
I have just started a PhD on the impact of engineering biology on international relations. I am interested in whether biology is becoming its own strategic domain, similar to space or cyber. I’m particularly focused on bio-informational issues that arise from the convergence of artificial intelligence and the engineering of biology.

Where can we read more of your work?
I write regularly for Australian Outlook, the website for the Australian Institute of International Affairs, and occasionally for PacNet Commentary, a weekly online publication through the Pacific Forum. In 2017 I was a writer for EUROFusion, headquartered in Germany – let’s just say proliferation issues in nuclear fusion power plants are a long way off.
 
You can read Thom Dixon’s “Digital Dominance” here.


View all of the finalists for Next Voices here.