Sunday 15 Dec 2019 | 00:06 | SYDNEY
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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.

PNG in the international spotlight

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in political science at the University of Goroka and a Lowy Institute intern. Papua New Guinea has found its way onto the international travel itineraries of a number of leaders and ministers over the last few weeks. Thailand's Prime Minister, British Foreign Office

Beijing in the age of film

A fascinating short documentary below about a Frenchman living in Beijing who has made it his mission to save discarded film negatives portraying everyday life in China in the period when film photography was commonplace, starting around 1985 until digital photography took over in 2005. As noted

PNG Pacific leadership: Is Fiji the start?

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Goroka and a Lowy Institute intern. Prime Minister Peter O'Neill (pictured) is acutely aware of the need to improve PNG's international reputation. Part of his plan to do this is to step up PNG's activities as a regional

The Rhodes Scholarships of China?

Professor Don Markwell is Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre and was formerly Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford, responsible for running the Rhodes Scholarships around the world. A flurry of well-orchestrated publicity yesterday heralded the exciting announcement in Beijing that

Reader riposte: China's naval strategy

Pete Speer writes: Sam Roggeveen's article shows a limited understanding both of submarine warfare and the strategic implications of a multi-platform sea control mission in what the PRC believes to be its inland sea. What it has done and will continue to do is ostensibly divide its forces,

Reader riposte: Race in the Malaysian election

Chris Williams writes: Liam Hanlon's article usefully highlights Malaysia's fiscal risks in the runup to its election. A common oversight, however, is to mention UMNO and BN almost in the same breath when referring to the affirmative action/racial preference of the main contending parties. As

Friday funny: Medical porpoises

I've noted before in this space my admiration for Shaun Micallef, so when he got his own Colbert-like vehicle on the ABC last year, I was excited. Series 1 of Mad As Hell turned out to be bit of a disappointment, but series 2 is so far strong. Here's Micallef's take on the Korea crisis. Look out

DPRK: Getting closer all the time...

Earlier this week Jeffrey Choi wrote on this blog that: North Korea's missile and nuclear technologies appear more advanced and sophisticated than previously thought and it is more common now to acknowledge North Korea as the world's ninth nuclear power. It seems Jeffery might be on to

How will China treat Iceland's gay first couple?

Joel Wing-Lun is a Research Associate in the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. As I noted on this blog last month, China's first lady Peng Liyuan caused an online sensation when, breaking with her invisible predecessors, she accompanied President Xi Jinping on official visits to Russia and

A shift in China's North Korea policy?

Jeffrey Choi is a PhD candidate at the School of Politics and International Relations at ANU and an Endeavour Award Scholar. He previously served as an officer in the South Korean Navy. North Korea's successful long-range rocket launch last December and its subsequent third nuclear test in

Further DPRK tests a show of weakness

If North Korea soon tests another missile or even, as some reports suggest, a fourth nuclear device, it will be a sign of regime weakness and clumsiness, not strength and cunning. Pyongyang may be able to stage the ultimate festivals of synchronised human movement, but under Kim Jong-un it is losing

DPRK: How effective are US missile defences?

Dr Stephan Fruehling is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Program, ANU. Once again, North Korea's missile program has led the US to make major investments into its missile defence capabilities: a Theatre High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD; pictured) battery will be deployed

Reader ripostes: What's wrong with New Zealand?

Below, a response from Duncan Graham to Stephen Grenville's column of last Wednesday. But first, Dr Rick Boven writes: The big issue is that NZ's principal 'exports', agriculture and tourism, have comparative but not competitive advantage. Reform is necessary if you have a regulatory deficit but

DPRK: China pressure is the key

Responding to Sam Roggeveen's post and the question he poses to me: I think the best way to increase the costs to North Korea of its present course of action (and not only over the last weeks but years) is for affected parties to put pressure on the PRC for its support of North Korea through

Korea: The perverse logic of crisis

Malcolm Cook is quite right to say that Pyongyang's belligerence should not be rewarded with calls for compromise, and he's also right that shows of solidarity among South Korea and its allies are materially and symbolically useful. But should the allies try to 'increase the cost' to Pyongyang of

Korean Peninsula: Holding firm

As  Rory Medcalf suggested in his contribution, the reactions of countries threatened by North Korea's latest nuclear-tipped bombast are playing out better than in previous episodes. This may be one of the reasons the twenty-something leader of North Korea is so quickly ratcheting up his threats

Korean War II? Maybe, but not likely

Are we headed for a new Korean War? Not just skirmishes, sabre-rattling or a torpedo in the night, but a full-blown armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula? You would be forgiven for thinking so if you've followed the drumbeat of headlines since the 13 February nuclear test or even last December

DPRK 'almost ready' to deploy ICBM?

Yesterday on Radio National, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the following about North Korea: In terms of military intelligence, it appears the country is almost ready to deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile with a capacity of reaching the United States. I contacted Jeffrey Lewis,

North Korea's permanent war footing

When your country is always on a war footing, how do you know you are on the brink of war? When your political leadership and government propaganda constantly remind that your enemies are plotting against you, how do you know that times are more tense than normal? It's a question I asked often

Burma's Muslims: A primer

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Given the spate of articles in the news media which connect the anti-Muslim riots in Burma last week with the sectarian violence in Rakhine (Arakan) State last year, it may be helpful to sketch out the multi-faceted nature of Burma'

For Australia Network, it's never safe

You've got to feel sorry for Australia's public international television service, Australia Network. Launched by the Keating Government in 1994 under the name Australia Television, its short life has been blighted with funding cuts, death threats, name changes and a failed out-sourcing effort

Whaling: Japan does conduct research

I thank Mr Watson for his response to my recent post. Unfortunately, space doesn't allow me to respond in kind to everything he has said, so in my final response I'll focus on the following: 1. I'll begin by affording Mr Watson the same qualifier he graciously afforded me. That is, he has a

Reader ripostes: TNI and Bob Carr

Below, a comment from Jorge Bechara on Rodger Shanahan's Bob Carr's Selective Indignation. But first, Andrew Johnson: I appreciate that Gary Hogan has expanded on his contribution and rightly points out that he is bringing his own experience into the understanding of Indonesia and its

Cambodia: Disputes, delays and death

Hard on the heels of fresh evidence of disputes about the judicial reach of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia), has come the news of the death of Ieng Sary (pictured), the former foreign minister of the Democratic Kampuchean regime, or Pol Pol's

Burma's fractious polity: The price of democracy?

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. The Rangoon street-scene photos below the fold are by the author. It has often been said that one of the greatest challenges faced by academics, journalists and others who write about international affairs is to describe complex

ASEAN's coming-of-age

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. One of my early experiences as a diplomat was in a solitary perch behind my country's flag at an ASEAN security meeting. All delegations made

Reader riposte: TNI's new generation

Edmund McWilliams, a retired US Foreign Service Officer, writes: Gary Hogan's March 6 article, A promising New Generation of TNI leaders, presents a weak case for its essential contention that new leaders of the Indonesian military (TNI) are 'more sophisticated, worldly and conscious of the

Asia: Big issues to be settled by the few

Sam is quite right to hear echoes of Hedley Bull in Peter Varghese's point about the role of rules and institutions in managing strategic relations. This does indeed make Varghese much more than a crude realist. But that does not mean Varghese is putting as much faith as Sam perhaps suggests in

A promising new generation of TNI leaders

Gary Hogan was the first foreigner to graduate from Indonesia's Institute of National Governance (Lemhannas) and was Australia's Defence Attaché to Indonesia from 2009 to 2012. The leaders now in the process of assuming command of Indonesia's defence forces (TNI) are a different kind of officer:

Joe Lieberman at the Lowy Institute

The Lowy Institute was honoured to host former US Senator and vice-presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman during his visit to Australia.  Following a boardroom lunch with political, business and media leaders, Senator Lieberman caught up with Michael Fullilove for a fascinating discussion on

Realism with a Hedley Bull twist

Prompted by Hugh White's latest Fairfax op-ed, I read DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese's recent AsiaLink speech today. There's a lot to think about in the speech, not least the fact that Varghese continues the recent trend among senior figures in Canberra to embrace the term 'Indo-Pacific' (take a

Reader riposte: Papua's rebels

George Darroch, who wrote his MPhil thesis on foreign support for the Free Papua Movement at the ANU, writes: Your reader, Andrew Johnson, makes no attempt to address the points made by Gary Hogan. Hogan, a military insider, makes an important statement. An increase in OPM violence pushes

Defence relations with Burma: Our future past

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of Australian Defence Contacts with Burma, 1945-1987. Photos by the author.John Blaxland's persuasive piece on the possible renewal of defence cooperation between Australia and Burma (Myanmar) prompts a look at past

China's investment in Australia

Dirk van der Kley is a Research Associate in the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. Last night, the inaugural Lowy Institute-Rio Tinto China Fellow, Professor Zha Daojiong of Peking University, gave a lively presentation on Chinese investment in Australia. Zha is one of China's leading

Trailer: Comrade Kim Goes Flying

On North Korea Economy Watch I see reference to a UK-Belgium-North Korea co-production called Comrade Kim Goes Flying, about a North Korean coal miner pursuing her dream of becoming a trapeze artist. I felt slightly uneasy watching the trailer, and seeing the British director unconvincingly

A fair indictment of Australia's Pacific policy?

Professor Wadan Narsey is an Adjunct Professor at The Cairns Institute. Jonathan Schultz's recently completed PhD thesis, Overseeing and Overlooking: Australian Engagement with the Pacific Islands 1988-2007, presents a somewhat scathing indictment of Australian foreign policy towards the Pacific,

Can Abenomics fix Japan's economy?

Just about everyone agrees that the Japanese economy has underperformed for over two decades. The astounding rise of China in the same period deepens the hurt. Prime Minister Abe has a three-pronged response: monetary expansion, fiscal stimulus and structural reform.  Financial markets showed their

Cyber espionage: China at the forefront

James Lewis is Director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at CSIS, Washington, DC. This is the fourth of a five-part series on Asia in the age of cyber threats. Part 1; part 2; part 3. China may be the leading practitioner (although by no means the only one) of economic espionage in

Netizens a new force in China politics

James Lewis is Director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at CSIS, Washington, DC. This is the third of a five-part series on Asia in the age of cyber threats. Part 1 here; part 2 here. While we should avoid overstating the internet's effect in places like Egypt or Tunisia, the internet

Indonesia's next president: A form guide

Gary Hogan was the first foreigner to graduate from Indonesia's Institute of National Governance (Lemhannas) and was Australia's Defence Attaché to Indonesia from 2009 to 2012. For over eight years, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has cut a large and impressive figure on the world

PNG plans military build-up, but why?

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in political science at the University of Goroka and an intern at the Lowy Institute. Papua New Guinea's Defence Minister Dr Fabian Pok has announced that PNG plans to build up its military capacity from around 2000 personnel to 10,000. While it is hardly unusual

North Korea's third N test: What does it mean?

John Carlson is a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute and the former Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office. From seismic analysis, it appears North Korea's latest nuclear test had a yield of 6 to 7 kilotons (thousand tons of TNT). This is larger than the

China-DPRK: Different this time?

The regime in Pyongyang has tested a third nuclear device and the depressing diplomatic ritual has begun again. The liturgy is familiar: the threat, the ineffective warnings, the big event, the brief uncertainty about what happened, the regime's confirmatory boast, the international outrage, the

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