Wednesday 20 Nov 2019 | 04:45 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Asia and Pacific

Decades of impressive economic growth and stability, combined with the emergence of China and India as major powers, have significantly transformed patterns of competition and cooperation within the Asia-Pacific region. The economic and strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region, especially in this 'Asian Century', is increasing rapidly in the international arena. The Lowy Institute's diverse team of experts charts the political, strategic and economic dynamics defining the region, its importance to Australia, and its place on the global stage.

West reaches out to Burma's security sector

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. One of the most striking aspects of Burma's re-emergence as an international actor has been the readiness of Western democracies to renew or strengthen ties with the country's armed forces and police. Before the advent of President

Who says China lacks innovation?

OK, so China has yet to produce a Steve Jobs, but if there's hope for China moving up the manufacturing value chain, it might lie in its Pizza Hut outlets. My colleague Dirk alerts me to the Chinese phenomenon of strategically loading the bowl to make the fullest possible use of Pizza Hut's

A more expensive Chinese lunch for Australia?

Last week, the IMF made its contribution to the ongoing debate over Chinese economic performance. The growth forecasts included in the Fund's latest Article IV Staff Report on China – which see growth this year at around 7.75% and at 7.7% in 2014 – are right up at the optimistic end of current

Indonesia's development formula

I share Sam Roggeveen's enthusiasm for the iconoclastic approach of Joe Studwell's How Asia Works (his previous book on Asian Godfathers was a great read too). I also share Studwell's scepticism about the 'magic of the market', his views on the IMF, and his admiration for the achievements of the

PNG reacts strongly to asylum seeker deal

Martyn Namorong is a multi-award winning writer, blogger and television presenter. His initial reaction to the PNG-Australia asylum seeker agreement appeared on The Interpreter yesterday. From online postings to offline activism, a new generation of protest-hardened Papua New Guineans is making

Asylum deal a nightmare for PNG and Australia

Deni ToKunai is a political commentator who writes PNG's leading political blog, The Garamut. In the public commotion and media frenzy of Kevin Rudd's announcement that a new arrangement will see Australian asylum seekers resettled in PNG, one key point has gone largely unnoticed: it was his

The Anglosphere: A view from Europe

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. I was amused and intrigued by the recent ruminations on Tony Abbott's stated views on what the 'Anglosphere' means (apparently something anti-Asian, in Hugh White's interpretation

Japan's turn to nationalism? Not quite

Rikki Kersten is a Professor of Modern Japanese Political History at the ANU. Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party may have scored a thumping win in Japan's half-upper house election on Sunday, but this will not translate into carte blanche for Abe's agenda. Pundits have been quick to assume

Kevin Rudd, you're not a good friend of PNG

Martyn Namorong is a multi-award winning writer, blogger and television presenter. In March 2008, Kevin Rudd made his first official visit to Papua New Guinea to build ties, the first such visit by an Australian prime minister in 11 years. Out of that visit was forged a special affinity and

Rudd's PNG solution will work, but it isn't right

Dr Khalid Koser is a Lowy Institute Non-Resident Fellow and Deputy Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. Prime Minister Rudd's new asylum policy is likely to work. First, he has filled a dangerous political void. Even Mr Abbott appears grudgingly to condone the policy. The Labor

Japan: Back to the future

The exit polls from yesterday's Upper House elections confirm that Japan has returned to one-party democratic rule. The all-powerful Liberal Democratic Party again faces a rabble of small opposition parties, none with a serious chance of taking power for the foreseeable future. The Liberal

Boats, aid and the art of the possible

Retired Brigadier Gary Hogan has been Australia’s Defence Attaché in both Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Indonesia. In March 1964, the 'Year of Living Dangerously', Indonesian President Sukarno, speaking at a public rally, told the US ambassador in attendance to 'go to hell with your aid

Reader riposte: US 'all in' for the rebalance?

Iain Henry responds to Sam Roggeveen's post: Biden may be insisting that the entire Obama Administration is 'all in' with the rebalance to Asia, but something is revealed by the very fact that senior US figures are offering such reassurances. If America's partners in Asia already believed that

Whaling debate redux

With Japan having just made its closing argument in the International Court of Justice case launched by Australia, some highlights from a debate we hosted back in March between Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson and Griffith University's Michael Heazle. First, Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd is in

Interview: 'How Asia Works' part III

Below is the third part of my exchange with Joe Studwell, author of How Asia Works. Here's part 1 and part 2. SR: In your previous answer you took a swipe at the IMF for its behaviour towards Indonesia during the currency crisis, so I wonder if you could say some more about the role of

Why does China still receive foreign aid?

Dr Philippa Brant is a Lowy Institute Research Associate. Over the weekend ForeignPolicy.com published an article by Isaac Stone Fish pondering why the US and Japan still provide aid to China, their potential geopolitical rival. It is legitimate to ask why aid is still being provided to a

China: What about the workers?

While the worrywart commentators are focused on the slowing of China's growth (even though most forecasts still start with a '7', which doubles income in a single decade), they reinforce the drama by implying that China has run out of policy options to maintain growth. Sure, China may not be

The 'win-win' New Zealand-Taiwan FTA

On the measure of FTAs signed, New Zealand's 'Asian Century' project is doing better than that of its larger, louder neighbour. Last week, New Zealand became the first OECD member to sign an FTA with Taiwan. In 2008 New Zealand was the first OECD member to sign an FTA with Taiwan's larger, louder

Background for Rudd's PNG visit

With Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Papua New Guinea this Sunday and Monday to meet with his counterpart Peter O'Neill, it's useful to recall that the PNG PM gave an address to the Lowy Institute on 29 November last year. Post event, in an interview with the Lowy Institute's Jenny Hayward

Interview: 'How Asia Works' part II

Below is the second part of my exchange with Joe Studwell, whose book, as I said in the intro to part 1, has tested some assumptions about economic development I've been carrying around with me for a long time. SR: Asia is home to some of the great cautionary tales of industry policy: Malaysia’s

Asylum seekers and Konfrontasi

The Piping Shrike is an anonymous Australian blog with some of the sharpest (if not always most readable) political analysis you will see. This post from 1 July is the first analysis I've read that finds a plausible reason behind Kevin Rudd's extraordinary claim, in his first media conference

Burma and North Korea: Again? Still?

Andrew Selth is a research fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. The US Treasury's 'designation' of Lieutenant General Thein Htay, Chief of Burma's Directorate of Defence Industries (DDI), for purchasing military goods from North Korea, surprised many. After Barack Obama's visit to Burma in

China's incomplete financial evolution

The spike in China's short-term interest rates over the past month sent a shiver through world financial markets, in the same way that Fed Chairman Bernanke's statements on quantitative easing startled financial markets a month earlier. In both cases the market over-reacted, reflecting a

Cambodia: After Hun Sen wins election

When Cambodians go to the polls on 28 July it's odds-on that Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) will be returned to office. This result will continue the CPP's political dominance, maintained since 1997, and will extend Hun Sen's position as the world's longest-serving prime minister. He took

Protecting Australian businesspeople abroad

Nick Alexander, a former UN and Lowy Institute intern, is a University of Sydney Juris Doctor candidate. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made it an essential theme of his trip to Indonesia to refocus the Australian people on tapping into Indonesia’s extraordinary business potential rather than

Reader riposte: Rudd, SBY and those boats

Christopher Lethbridge writes: The joint communiqué from Friday's discussions between Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd marks a new maturity in both the Australian-Indonesian relationship and the asylum seeker debate. Epitomised by the

John Garnaut on being a foreign correspondent

Three days after John Garnaut, Fairfax Media's award winning China correspondent, left Beijing, I was fortunate enough to catch up with him before he gave a keynote address to the Lowy Institute's New Voices conference. John describes the momentous changes he witnessed on both a professional

Australia's South China Sea chance

All those countries (including Australia) that so solemnly call for a 'rules-based order' in Indo-Pacific Asia have a chance today to show they mean it. At a major gathering in Brunei, the annual ASEAN Regional Forum, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and his counterparts have an opportunity to

What to do about climate migration

Professor Jane McAdam is a member of the Consultative Committee of the Nansen Initiative and the author of Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law.  Last month, the Norwegian Refugee Council released a report revealing that 32.4 million people were forced to flee their homes in

Has Gen Y really gone off democracy?

In Kevin Rudd's victory speech last night, he went out of his way to address young Australians: Mr Rudd said many young people had not liked or respected much of what they had seen. "As I rock around the place talking to kids, they see it as huge national turn-off," he said. "I understand

Warming up to Indonesia

Most of us Indonesia groupies have long been nonplussed at how Australians are so luke-warm (and so ill-informed) about Indonesia, as confirmed by the latest Lowy poll. I agree with Dave McRae that we need more person-to-person links. But there are already quite a few. What about all those

Why don't Australians trust Indonesia?

This year's Lowy Institute poll reveals Australians' lack knowledge of Indonesia and a pronounced mistrust of our northern neighbour. Only 33% of Australians agree that Indonesia is a democracy, fifteen years and three rounds of democratic elections after the fall of Suharto's authoritarian regime.

NZ-China: Is integration becoming dependence?

Katherine Ellena is a Research Associate with the US Naval Postgraduate School and a former New Zealand diplomat. The views expressed here are hers alone. Two milestones occurred in New Zealand in the last two months with little fanfare, but with interesting implications. Firstly, in April, China

Indonesia's police: The problem of deadly force

Jim Della-Giacoma is the Asia Program Director for International Crisis Group. My four year-old daughter recently came home from her Jakarta kindergarten with a story about a visit to the school from the head of our local police station. 'If there is a robber and he's running away, the policeman

Reader riposte: Why tax Aussies abroad?

Paul Harper from Phnom Penh writes: Further to Janet Magnin's comments and Nick Alexander's article Taxing Australians Abroad, it is unclear to me what services I am receiving from the Australian Government. I pay for my own medical and evacuation services. The only consular service I have used

Nauruan democracy works in a Nauruan way

Cait Storr is a lawyer, writer and academic at University of Melbourne researching Nauru and other Pacific small island states. On Saturday 8 June, Nauru held a peaceful, indeed almost cheerful, election. Votes were cast and counted and 19 members elected to form the 21st parliament of the

China's agenda in Switzerland (and Europe)

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. For his first trip abroad as Chinese premier last month, Li Keqiang went to India and Pakistan and then continued to Switzerland and Germany before heading back home. Germany

Is China already a responsible economic stakeholder?

The meeting between Presidents Obama and Xi in Palm Springs over the weekend presented another opportunity to berate China for its international economic imbalances, but the two presidents sensibly found more fruitful things to talk about. It's getting harder to find fault in China's interaction

Reader riposte: China-US surprises

Cecelia O'Brien responds to last Friday's Defence in Depth video: When I was a young grad student I had a professor who told us that if we had ten data sets and nine of those sets all had the same result, we should then devote our utmost attention to the one data set that did not get the same

Obama-Xi: Good tone, but challenges ahead

Michael Green served on the US National Security Council staff from 2001-2005 and is now Senior Vice President for Asia at CSIS and a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. The pundits gave a variety of bad advice to President Obama going into the Sunnylands Summit with Xi Jinping. One

Obama-Xi: Not too hot, not too cold

Many readers know the lines from the 19th century fable about Goldilocks and the three bears: 'not too hot, not too cold, just right.' Those lines come to mind when reading the mostly positive initial reports of the informal summit between presidents Obama and Xi. These two leaders needed to get

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