The means by which the People’s Republic of China is seeking to become a global power capable of competing with the United States have been various throughout the years and mainly based on economic actions that can tie China with other countries and allow it to exert influence in the area.
The global military expenditure rose by 3.7 per cent in real terms in 2022 to a record high of $2.24 trillion (Tian et al., 2023). The United States, China and the European Union (as the aggregated national expenditures of its member countries) make up the three largest (see first chart). Given the rising demand, governments and the defence industry are increasing their investments. Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each market will be essential in determining the necessary steps forward.
Since his last public appearance during a diplomatic meeting alongside Sri Lankan and Vietnamese foreign ministers in Beijing on 25 June, Qin Gang, the then Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, has vanished from the public eye (Le Monde, 2023). This unexpected turn of events has triggered a surge of inquiries within the global political landscape. Curiously, his disappearance has been followed by a sequence of intriguing developments, including his abrupt removal from the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs and the subsequent appointment of Wang Yi, his predecessor, as his replacement (Ng, 2023). China’s response to the unfolding situation has been characterised by attempts to downplay the affair’s significance. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning addressed the matter during a routine press briefing in Beijing, dismissing the speculations surrounding Qin Gang’s absence as ‘malicious conjecture’ and asserting that pertinent information would be revealed in due course (France 24, 2023). Nevertheless, key details about Qin Gang’s current status and the rationale behind his dismissal from office remain ambiguous. Notably, a conspicuous omission of more than 20 queries concerning Qin Gang from the official press conference records has raised legitimate questions (Davidson, 2023).
This Info Flash focuses on the creation of the AUKUS partnership, with the main aim being that of assisting the Australian Navy in the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs). The agreement raised concerns regarding the possibility of escalating tensions between China and Taiwan (Sabbagh et al. 2021). Nevertheless, despite vocal dissent from China and France, the agreement has gone ahead. The beginning of the Australian SSNs' military journey inevitably marks an important moment for the delineation of Indo-Pacific security lines. While American President Joe Biden insists that the arrival of submarines to the Australian coasts should not be understood as an act of aggression towards China (Holland & Brunnstrom, 2023), tensions remain in the region. This work assesses how the acquisition of SSNs has impacted Australian military capability and how the developments introduced in March 2023 have the potential to reshape contemporary nuclear warfare and the equilibrium of the Indo-Pacific region.
The Chinese president Xi Jinping arrived on the 20th March 2023 in Russia to talk to President Putin about the Chinese-Russian relations and the war in Ukraine. President Xi stayed for two days and had several official talks. The visit came the day after an arrest warrant was issued for Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (UN News, 2023). This being the case, although neither Russia nor China are members of the Court, this seemed to put Putin under a lot of pressure, in terms of meeting the positive expectations for the outcome of the meetings.