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Crisis Simulation: Navigating Sino-Australian Rivalry in the South China Sea

A collection of policy briefs by the Defence and Diplomacy Policy Centre

The following report compiles the work delivered by a group of seven undergraduate and postgraduate students from King’s College London (KCL) during a crisis simulation event curated by the King’s Think Tank’s (KTT) Defence & Diplomacy Policy Centre, in collaboration with the KCL Geopolitical Risk Society on 9th March 2022.

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Lithuania-Taiwan and the EU’s hesitation in supporting its Member States

Marius Buga

On July 20th, 2021, the Representative of the Taipei Mission in Latvia, Eric Huang, together with Lithuanian MP and Chairman of the Lithuanian Parliamentary Group for Relations with Taiwan, Matas Maldeikis, announced that a new representative office will open in Lithuania. Crucially, the office in Vilnius would be named ‘Taiwanese Representative Office’, a sharp departure from the traditionally used ‘Taipei Mission’. This deepening of ties between Lithuania and Taiwan was met with widespread support in Washington, but Brussels’ reaction has been more timid. Foreign analysts were reasonably concerned that the People’s Republic of China would retaliate, yet Lithuanian officials were cautiously optimistic. According to an analysis by the Bank of Lithuania, as Lithuania has not developed significant economic ties with China, cutting off trade with China would not be particularly harmful and only reduce GDP by 0.3% over three years. Hence, the government of Lithuania has continued to deepen its ties with Taiwan, despite warnings from Beijing.

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Tackling Digital Inequality in the United Kingdom

Ishita Uppadhayay

The national lockdowns and associated mobility restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a substantial shift in the digital sphere. Consumers and businesses going digital, online education, and telemedicine have seen an unprecedented growth globally. Prior to this U-turn, digitalisation has already transformed society by powering rapid changes in economic activities and employment opportunities as digital access has become essential to using public services or participating as an active agent in the economy.

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Sino-US Financial Decoupling: a series of bad decisions?

Shresth Goel

Over the last decade, the involvement of Chinese enterprises in American primary markets has aggregated to a combined market capitalisation of $2.1tn. In light of this, the ongoing financial decoupling measures being taken by both countries calls into question the fate of capital movement across the two biggest economies in the world. 

These concerns have become more pressing following the decision of the Chinese group Didi Chuxing (second-biggest IPO – $4.4bn – by a Chinese company in New York since Alibaba in 2014) to delist from the New York Stock Exchange and go public in Hong Kong. Although the decision may seem coerced due to intense pressure from Chinese cyber security watchdogs, it opens up the possibility of more companies following suit to avoid legal troubles with the Chinese government. On the other hand, Chinese state-run telecom groups (namely China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicorn) were booted from the New York Stock Exchange in early 2021 due to an executive order from the Trump administration that prohibited American investments in businesses with alleged ties to the Chinese military. 

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Are we living in a world of de-globalisation? 

Alainah Amer 

Recent trends are expecting the global economy to move away from interdependence between nations to weaker interconnectivity, localised policies, and enhanced border controls, a phenomenon also referred to as ‘de-globalisation’. With the catastrophic impact of the global financial crisis, the rise of protectionism, exemplified by the US and China engaging in a trade war, and the implementation of Brexit, there are widespread concerns amongst economists that de-globalisation is a force that is here to stay. COVID-19 has further exacerbated these concerns. The ongoing pandemic has uncovered the vulnerable roots of globalisation illustrated by a sharp fall in global GDP, plunging levels in international trade, the decline of foreign direct investment, the vast disruptions of global value chains and lastly, higher unemployment rates. These trajectories seem to prove that globalisation comes with severe risks – which have the tendency to spread like wildfire. This begs the question of whether globalisation might actually be a ‘bad’ thing.

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The Cyber Dimension in the Russia-Ukraine War

Maria Makurat

The crisis between Ukraine and Russia has been showing us actively how a hybrid war is taking place in Europe. Since Thursday, the 24th of February 2022, we have been hearing daily reports of the invasion as well as an increased activity in the cyber domain. Government officials as well as private actors are increasingly engaging in cyberspace. Anonymous, the international hacker group, has launched multiple cyberattacks on the Kremlin’s official websites and state media in an effort to disrupt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and raise awareness of its implications among the Russian public.

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Weaponising History: Putin’s Strategy for Domestic and Foreign Policy Success

Ariel Koh

On 28 December 2021, Memorial International, Russia’s oldest human rights group, whose aim was to preserve memories of Soviet-era totalitarianism to educate the populace, promote democracy and ‘restor[e] historical truth’, was ordered shut by the Russian Supreme Court. In a year that witnessed the arrest of Putin’s most prominent opponent, Alexei Navalny  – who was also tried for the defamation of a war veteran – crackdowns on a specific historical narrative that complements Putin’s domestic and foreign objectives point towards his increased ambition to restore Russia’s former greatness.

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The EU should take away the knife from Russia: salami tactics and Nord Stream 2

Claudia Iris Comandini

Imagine February 2023 Ukraine is surrounded by four battalions of troops. Gusts of wind are blowing so fiercely that even the heavy tactical gears worn by Russian soldiers seem like rice paper umbrellas. One could count 175.000 heads deployed on ground and sea, if there was any other than a civilian out there to actually give testimony. The war had been announced and more than ever Ukraine was on the verge of witnessing how the European Union had not kept its promises of being a beacon of democracy. 

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Alexander Lukashenko: A Threat to EU Security.

Pasha Wilson

Since August 2020, the EU has imposed sanctions on Belarus in response to the ‘neither free, nor fair’ presidential election of Alexander Lukashenko, as well as his military’s violent suppression of peaceful protestors and journalists opposing the party in power. In retaliation, Lukashenko’s regime has aimed to destabilise the EU through fuelling illegal movement of migrants into the EU. Lukashenko is exploiting the desperation of migrants travelling from war-torn countries in the Middle East and using them as pawns in his political warfare with the EU. Belarusian soldiers are actively encouraging migrants to travel freely through Belarus, with the false promise of open borders into the EU bloc via Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania. Free travel is advertised through the ‘tourist’ packages being sold to migrants, which reportedly cost between $3,000 and $4,000 and include a Belarusian visa and flight tickets to Minsk.

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China in Africa: A Force for Good?

Joshua Mathew

Introduction

The rather low-profile Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, concluded recently, saw a reaffirmation of China’s commitment to the region. Africa provides a smorgasbord of economic benefits to China: it is a source of raw materials and agricultural produce, and is an external market for Chinese construction firms. With the demographics of Africa consisting of mostly young consumers, there are lucrative opportunities for Chinese private capital to conduct business in the region. In addition, in terms of political value, Africa is a key partner – as a crucial voting bloc in the United Nations, there is a strategic dimension to the relationship.

One aspect that deserves further attention is the development of telecommunications platforms in Africa. The main focus will be on the Chinese involvement in this area as well as its potential security implications. Some mitigating strategies to deal with the risks will also be provided. 

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