Ever since the end of US hegemony, the redefinition of the international order remains ambiguous and uncertain as countries attempt to present a unified front against threats to international security. In the West, Putin’s Russia continues to face the ramifications of a series of strategic miscalculations, draining the country’s economic resources and adding fuel to strong political dissent. In Asia, Xi’s strongly-worded speech at the 20th National Congress have cemented concerns about the inevitability of the assertion of Chinese sovereignty in Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as continued maritime aggression in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, two key areas of international commerce.
At the Defence & Diplomacy Policy Centre, we seek to investigate the inherent complexity of these issues, guided by our themes for each term: (1) Great Power Politics in the Asia-Pacific, and (2) Global Repercussions of Russia’s War in Ukraine.
China’s continued assertion of its perceived rightful sphere of influence in the Asia-Pacific has challenged existing hedging strategies of states in the region. Hence, in the first term, we study the potential implications of China’s maritime manoeuvres through the lens of another key player in the Asia-Pacific: Japan. As a system-influencing state with constitutional challenges to the development of its military capabilities, it is an interesting perspective from which to conduct an assessment of strategic priorities. To this end, we organised a crisis simulation on Japan’s preservation of its strategic interests in the Taiwan Strait, where participants enjoyed the opportunity to collaboratively produce unique policy options. We will explore this theme further at the King’s Think Tank conference in February 2023, albeit from a different perspective. The topic for the conference will be “Western Response to Navigating Uncertainty in East Asia: Taiwan, HK and Macau”, which will be a wonderful opportunity to engage in dialogue with renowned academics and practitioners about Western strategic imperatives for the region, and to gauge the level of importance attached to a counter-balancing of the Chinese sphere of influence.
In the second term, we shift our focus towards what is probably the most closely followed defence-related story of 2022: Russia’s war in Ukraine. Rather than prioritising analyses of an on-the-ground account of the invasion, while undoubtedly essential, we will instead focus on the wider, long-term implications of the war. This includes research into strategic priorities for Central Asia and the South Caucasus, where the economic benefit from rising energy commodity prices is at odds with Russian migration en masse which carries the risk of domestic price pressures due to purchasing power disparity. In addition, the increased risk to energy and telecommunications networks and its consequent securitisation also warrants further study, especially regarding how globalised interconnectedness can be balanced with the need for proactively implemented safeguards in peacetime.
At our Policy Centre, we appreciate contributions within the scope of our themes. If you wish to be involved through participation in policy papers, blog posts or events, we warmly welcome you to contact us at the earliest. We eagerly await your ideas!
Director, Defence & Diplomacy Policy Centre
Our Policy Centre:
I’m in my final year of the undergraduate degree in Political Economy, where I take modules in development economics and macroeconomics. As someone who is also interested in East Asian geopolitics and Chinese development in the African region, I find it thoroughly fulfilling to lead research that incorporates economic and strategic analyses. I am also an avid squash player and occasionally go on nature hikes for a mental reset.
Alessia Mazuelos Cáceres
Alessia Mazuelos is the Editor of the Defense and Diplomacy Centre of King’s Think Tank. She is completing her final year of her BA (Hons) History and International Relations at King’s College London with a semester abroad at University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests are international security, diplomacy, conflict management and defense strategy. Throughout her academic career, Alessia has connected with renowned academics from interviewing prominent linguist Noam Chomsky to International Relations Scholar, John J. Mearsheimer. Professionally, she has worked alongside eminent politicians such as former Greek Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis and former Peruvian Vice-President Mercedes Aráoz.
Our Working Group:
Mariola Garcia-Cañada Candela
I am Mariola, a third-year International Relations student. My interests are international security, diplomacy and geopolitics. When I am not in London, you will definitely find me sailing in the Mediterranean, as I am a sea lover.
I am currently studying for a Masters in Intelligence and International Security in the War Studies Department. I take classes in diplomacy, Russian foreign policy, cyber diplomacy, intelligence and open-source investigation. In my final year of my BA in History and French I specialised in recent African history and security. I hope to unite these interests with research papers on contemporary Russian foreign policy and their impact on the security environment in Africa. In my free time I love travelling – this is me horse-riding in the Caucasus!
Caitlin Hayley Susanto
I’m Caitlin, a first-year International Relations student. I’m deeply interested in multilateral diplomacy and climate security issues, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. It’s always a joy to engage with others on these matters and learn from the different perspectives shared! When not at school, my ideal day off would be spent watching musicals, exploring bookstores and, oddly enough, designing PowerPoint slides.
Hi! I am a year 1 undergrad taking Politics, Philosophy, and Law. Frequently bouncing between the otiose and the tangible, I’m interested to bridge the gap between academics and practitioners in the fields of national strategy and international relations. I’ll always be up to chat about the ethical value of international law and the epistemic origins of the national interest. Outside of university, I love delving deep into coffee brewing and escaping the city through cycling.