Monday 09 Dec 2019 | 21:54 | 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.

What is New Zealand's mission in Iraq?

On Tuesday New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced in parliament that New Zealand would deploy a non-combat military mission to Iraq as part of the US-led coalition against ISIS. The 'Building Partner Capacity' mission to help train the Iraqi Security Forces will be part of a joint (albeit

Is Beijing supporting rebel groups in Myanmar?

China faces a recurring problem along along its border with Myanmar. Beijing has repeatedly emphasised that it wants to play a constructive role in Myanmar's national reconciliation and economic development. But no matter what Beijing does to signal good intentions, on a local level the capacities,

Obama's India visit reveals weakness of US position in Asia

Shashank Joshi makes a good case for the importance of Obama's visit to India last month, and against my view that there is much less to the US-India alignment than meets the eye. My argument is that their underlying strategic objectives remain too different for real strategic alignment. Shashank

Timor-Leste: New prime minister, new approach

It has finally happened. After months of 'will he, won't he' melodrama, Xanana Gusmão, Timor-Leste's resistance leader and long-serving prime minister, has stepped down. His successor, Dr Rui Maria de Araújo, will be sworn in as prime minister in a ceremony in Dili later today. The new PM will

The US-India convergence

One of the most important aspects of the recent dramatic shift in US-India relations has been the convergence in the two states' narratives about Asia. It's easy to forget that this change is palpable not just over a four-decade period, but even in the past six years alone. In 2009, early in his

North Korea's emerging cyber capabilities

The cyber attack on Sony Pictures by North Korea in response to the film The Interview (which opens in Australian cinemas today; see my review) came after a series of North Korean hacks of institutions in South Korea. It appears North Korea is improving its cyber capabilities and widening its target

India nuclear deal needs serious parliamentary scrutiny

The Australian parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will soon review the proposed treaty between Australia and India on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, signed by Prime Ministers Abbott and Modi in New Delhi on 5 September 2014. A 1984 cartoon on Australia's

A dangerous history of multipolarity

The Sino-American relationship may be in decent shape. It's other countries we should be worried about. Last year, the centenary of World War I's outbreak, was a bonanza for history fans. The prior benchmark The Guns of August, published 50 years ago, was comfortably eclipsed by several authors

Treat terrorism like crime, not war

Earlier this week Anthony Bubalo suggested that a debate is needed about how to properly counter terrorism in liberal democracies, and more specifically how to achieve the proper balance between security and civil liberties when confronting violent extremism. This is part 1 of my response. The

Why invading North Korea is a terrible idea

Earlier this month, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry argued for a US invasion of North Korea. Thankfully, the general response has been quite negative (here, here and here). Invading North Korea is a terrible idea, and it is worth laying out why in some detail. I do not intend this as a particular shot

Police massacre threatens Philippines peace deal

The best chance for peace in Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines has just noticeably faded. The deadly clash in the early morning of Sunday 25 January between the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police and the local command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the

Is China slowing down? Not much

The Wall Street Journal: China's economic growth slowed to 7.4% in 2014, downshifting to a level not seen in a quarter century and firmly marking the end of a high-growth heyday that buoyed global demand for everything from iron ore to designer handbags. The slipping momentum in China, which

Freedom of the press in Fiji under pressure

Fiji held its highly anticipated election in September 2014, but does that make it a democracy? There's much more to a functioning democratic system than people putting a mark on a piece of paper and dropping it in a box. Even the international election observers didn't go so far as to say the

A Chinese canal in Nicaragua?

There is pride in Hong Kong that a local private company is pushing ahead with perhaps the world's largest-ever civil works project, the 280km long, 500m wide Nicaragua Canal. Construction began in December 2014. The South China Morning Post dismisses outside suspicions while modestly describing

Book review: The China-Pakistan Axis

In 1965, a Pakistani military delegation traipsed to Beijing in hope of replacing equipment they'd lost in the previous year's war with India. Premier Zhou Enlai, meeting the delegation, was bewildered by their request for only 14 days' ammunition. 'How can a war be fought in that short time?' Zhou

Is China fragile?

The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is a parable for unanticipated risk: the possibility of 'unknown unknown' events that no-one sees coming. In a new essay, The Calm Before the Storm, Taleb further posits that perceptions of risk are distorted by 'fragile stability.' Some countries (eg.

South China Sea: Jakobson and Glaser are both right

There has recently been a touch of disagreement on this site between Linda Jakobson of the Lowy Institute and Bonnie Glaser of CSIS about the motivations for China's actions in the South China Sea. In short, Jakobson argues that China's decision-making can be explained by bureaucratic competition

What I got wrong in 2014, and what I got right

January should be called pundit accountability month. On websites such as this, we make all sorts of predictions and forecasts, or we identify structural trends or leadership changes as critical, and so on. The temptation to choose our ideologically-preferred independent variables, or to otherwise

Korea: The 5 most important foreign policy events of 2014

The end of the year is a nice time to reflect on big events and try to prioritise them. This is often seen as a fool's errand. There are so many events, and weighing their causal significance, in real time particularly, seems impossible. Still, assigning causal weight is what we are supposed to do

India's new Asia-Pacific strategy: 'Act East'

It has been a busy year for India in the Asia Pacific. From multilateral summits to bilateral diplomacy, the Modi Government has deliberately moved to step up engagement with its East and Southeast Asian partners. At this year's India-ASEAN Summit, Prime Minister Modi announced his intention to

The history of the new Chinese empire

An ambitious Chinese initiative to build a series of strategic maritime distribution centres, west to Africa and beyond, has been revealed. This is an extension of the Maritime Silk Road, which in turn complements a plan to revive the terrestrial Silk Road through central Asia. China's strategic

Abe's mandate: The strategic dimension

As discussed in part 1 of this post, Prime Minister Abe is likely to make the economy his first post-election priority. He wants to pull the economy out of recession and set the basis for long-term growth. But he cannot ignore national security. Abe's own deep interest, allied with that of a

Abe's mandate: The economic imperative

As predicted, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-Komeito coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored an easy victory in Japan's Lower House election on Sunday. For Abe it was a vital win on a shrewd, strategic gamble. The LDP under Abe's leadership was judged the only viable option by an

The propaganda war over maritime rights

'China will work with other countries to further promote a harmonious maritime order.' Even after years of studying the maritime tensions on China's periphery, I had to check that I had not misread the 9 December Xinhua dispatch quoting Liu Jieyi, China's Ambassador to the UN. These reassuring

Jerry Singirok on PNG violence

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Melanesia Program, and Mark Tamsitt, Research Associate at the Lowy Institute. Last weekend's clash between the PNDGF and police, which led to four soldiers being shot and sparked days of rioting and looting in Port Moresby, is a serious incident that needs

Stiglitz on the Chinese century: False reassurance

Given what is happening at the venerable The New Republic, events which so richly symbolise the tumult in serious journalism in the US (if you've missed this story, try Andrew Sullivan's coverage for a passionate and not-at-all balanced take), maybe it's passé to attach special significance to a

Stiglitz on the Chinese century: False reassurance

Given the recent turmoil at The New Republic, which so richly symbolises the tumult in serious journalism (if you've missed this story, try Andrew Sullivan's coverage for a passionate and not-at-all balanced take), maybe it's passé to attach special significance to a new essay by a senior figure in

Stiglitz on the Chinese century: False reassurance

Given the recent turmoil at The New Republic, which so richly symbolises the tumult in serious journalism (if you've missed this story, try Andrew Sullivan's coverage for a passionate and not-at-all balanced take), maybe it's passé to attach special significance to a new essay by a senior figure in

Peace on the horizon for Bangsamoro?

As part of the 'Sectarianism and Religiously Motivated Violence' Masters course which I run at ANU's National Security College, students were asked to write a post on a contemporary sectarian conflict. This piece by Sophie Wolfer was judged the best of those submitted. The end of a 40-year

Regional tensions on display at Fifth Xiangshan Forum

Last week's Fifth Xiangshan Forum in Beijing demonstrated just how difficult it will be to resolve disputes in the South China Sea as long as key parties believe history must arbitrate the veracity of claims to sovereignty over contested islands. Scholars, officials and military officers from all

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