What about Whataboutism?

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

The great American political scientist Seymour Lipset once said, "they that know only one country, know no countries".

This panel addresses the issue of comparisons in our political discourse, and in particular "whataboutism" - the response China critics often make when it is pointed out that other countries have committed egregious actions similar in kind, if not scale, to China. By this, they mean that the comparison raised is a distraction from dealing with China's actions. But this approach arguably sits uneasily with our desires to avoid double standards. This panel of experts will discuss the ethical and political aspects of "whataboutism", with a focus on China.


Ian Hall is a Professor in International Relations and the acting Director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University. He is also an Academic Fellow of the Australia India Institute and a co-editor (with Sara Davies) of the Australian Journal of International Affairs.

Van Jackson is a political scientist and former Pentagon strategist specialising in Asia-Pacific security, the politics of US foreign policy, and the theory and practice of grand strategy. He is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington, a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and a Senior Associate Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Wellington, New Zealand.

Yun Jiang is the inaugural AIIA China Matters Fellow. Prior to this, she was the co-founder and editor of China Neican, and a managing editor of the China Story blog at the Australian Centre on China in the World.


Gregory Raymond is a lecturer in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs researching Southeast Asian politics and foreign relations. He is the author of Thai Military Power: A Culture of Strategic Accommodation (NIAS Press 2018) and the lead author of The United States-Thai Alliance: History, Memory and Current Developments (Routledge, 2021).

This is an online event. The zoom link will be sent in the confirmation email upon registration.