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Artificial Intelligence for the Indo-Pacific: A Blueprint for 2030

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As even the most inattentive observer of contemporary international politics will attest, technological competition – mostly, but not always, between the U.S. and its allies on one hand, and China and Russia on the other – has once again risen to the fore. Analysts, so far, have approached this issue from various angles: what it means in terms of military balances, the possibility of international cooperation, what a technological edge implies for domestic policies, and so on. The outgoing Trump administration has made technological contestation with China a cornerstone of its strategic policy, emphasizing the need for the United States to maintain its edge when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information science, and aerospace and other critical technologies, among others. Other Indo-Pacific powers, such as Australia, India, and Japan, have also joined the fray in pushing both new and emerging tech at home as well as promoting collaboration around it between "like-minded countries." In June this year, a Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence of 14 states along with the European Union was launched, to facilitate collective AI research as well as implementation.


The great power game in the Pacific: What Japan can do

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – The Pacific island states have never been at the center of geopolitical discussion. The names of the fourteen Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) -- nations such as Fiji, Kiribati, Palau and Samoa -- may evoke a romanticized image of a remote paradise in the Pacific, but certainly not as a point of strategic importance. Pacific island countries have become front and center in the geopolitical arena among the major democracies in the Asia-Pacific -- the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan -- as China steps up its geopolitical chess game in its quest for regional primacy. The U.S., which had long taken the region for granted as the backyard of Hawaii, has begun to take the Pacific island states more seriously, at least outwardly. This May, then-acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan expressed the country's gratitude to the Pacific island nations in his remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, crediting the island states' help in "upholding a free and open Indo-Pacific, and enabling U.S. regional presence."


Don't pursue strike capability or NATO-like Asia, scholars tell Suga

The Japan Times

Some academics in Southeast Asia and the Pacific are hoping that Japan's new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, will play a leadership role in Indo-Pacific affairs -- just as his predecessor Shinzo Abe did -- especially at a time when the United States and China are engaged in a "new cold war." They suggest that Suga's government maintain the economic and maritime cooperation central to regional affairs, rather than primarily focusing on security, so as not to exacerbate U.S.-China tensions heightened over situations in the South China Sea, Hong Kong and most recently in Taiwan. "The region has benefited from a Japan under Mr. Abe that was more proactive and consistent and a trusted partner. Mr. Suga represents continuity and this is reassuring," said Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. Tay was referring to Suga's affirmation during his first phone talks Sunday with U.S. President Donald Trump to advance the two countries' shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific in partnership with Australia, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other countries in the region.


'Quad' meeting in Tokyo prizes symbolism over substance

The Japan Times

For all of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's fiery rhetoric targeting China during Tuesday's meeting in Tokyo of four of the most powerful democratic countries in the Indo-Pacific region, few concrete takeaways emerged from the talks. But the symbolism of just showing up may have been part, if not the main point, of the dialogue. At the second-ever ministerial talks involving officials from the "Quad" countries -- Japan, India, Australia and the United States -- all four agreed to hold another round of talks in the future. There was even some talk of regularizing the forum. Still, China remained the elephant in the room.


Australian defense chief says Beijing has raised 'anxiety' in disputed South China Sea

The Japan Times

SINGAPORE - Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne urged China on Tuesday to resolve tensions in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, in a swipe after Beijing's sudden detention of a writer who holds dual citizenship. Pyne said the artificial islands Beijing has been building in the disputed waters has "increased anxiety" and "not increased regional confidence in China's strategic intentions." "On the other hand, resolving disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law would build confidence in China's willingness to support and champion a strategic culture that respects the rights of all states," he added. Pyne was speaking at a forum in Singapore attended by defense representatives from 24 countries. He said Australia was open to taking part in multilateral activities in the "international waters," which are crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.