The New Domino Theory: Does China really want to attack Australia?


The latest issue of Australian Foreign Affairs examines China’s ultimate goals as an emerging superpower, including the extent of its territorial ambitions.

The New Domino Theory looks at Australia’s place in China’s long-term plans and at the threat – if any – that Beijing poses to Australian security, politics and society.

Join Yun Jiang, the inaugural Australian Institute of International Affairs China Matters Fellow, Dr. Merriden Varrall, Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute, and Dr. Emma Shortis, Senior Researcher at the Australia Institute International & Security Affairs Program, for an in-depth discussion with Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of the Australia Institute.


Yun Jiang is the inaugural AIIA China Matters Fellow. She was previously the co-founder and editor of China Neican, a managing editor of the China Story blog at the Australian Centre on China in the World, and a researcher in geoeconomics at the Australian National University. Prior to that, she was a policy adviser in the Australian Government, having worked in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury and the Department of Defence.

Dr Merriden Varrall is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. From 2014- 2018, Merriden was the Director of the Lowy Institute’s East Asia Program. Before joining the Institute, Merriden was the Assistant Country Director and Senior Policy Advisor at United Nations Development Programme, China, where she worked on China’s role in the world, focusing on its international development cooperation policy. Prior to that she worked for the Australian Government Treasury and the Department of Family and Community Services. Merriden spent almost eight years living and working in China, including lecturing in foreign policy at the China Foreign Affairs University and conducting fieldwork for her doctoral research. Merriden has a PhD examining Chinese foreign policy from Macquarie University, Sydney, and the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. She has a Masters Degree in International Affairs from the Australian National University, and completed her undergraduate studies in international studies at the University of Technology Sydney.

Dr Emma Shortiss is an historian and writer, focused on the history and politics of the United States and its role in the world. She uses her expertise in history to interpret and explain what is happening in the world today, and what it means for Australia, in a compassionate and accessible way. In a conversation often dominated by the same voices, Emma offers a fresh perspective on international relations grounded in moral questions about how we might imagine a post-American future. Emma’s first book, Our Exceptional Friend: Australia’s Fatal Alliance with the United States, was published by Hardie Grant in 2021. She writes regularly for Australian and international outlets, and appears regularly on Australian radio and television. Before joining The Australia Institute, Emma was a Lecturer at RMIT University, where her academic work focused on international relations and climate transition. Before that, she spent a year in the United States as Fox-Zucker International Fellow at Yale University, where she finished her PhD in History.


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