Friday 22 Nov 2019 | 02:57 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Entrepreneurial traffic in the Jakarta jam

Given the number of green helmets and jackets marking out ride-hailing app drivers amid Jakarta’s notorious traffic, it’s easy to think the digital start-ups have conquered the market once and for all. But behind the cacophony of cheap motorcycle travel, the familiar chugging of Bajaj three

The Boao confidence

President Xi Jinping’s speech to the Boao Forum for Asia, held on the tropical island of Hainan on 10 April, displayed a new skill China has been given free rein to refine before global audiences in the Donald Trump era. With Mr Trump tweeting all manner of ribald attacks on

Australia vs China, Europe vs Russia

The “bitter split among Australia academics” (reported in the Financial Times) with regard to attitudes towards China, and the Skripal poisoning incident that prompted an unprecedented number of European countries to take highly symbolic measures against Russia, have a common denominator

The many questions about China’s Vanuatu ambition

What to make of the extraordinary story in Australia’s Fairfax newspapers on Tuesday about reported discussions between China and Vanuatu that could allow the People’s Liberation Army to establish a presence in the South Pacific nation? If true, there would be significant cause for

Xi’s big bureaucratic shake-up

Beijing is shaking up its bureaucracy. Two blueprints, released on 17 and 21 March, launched a major reform which will make crucial changes to the balance between the Communist Party and the state, and between central and local governments. Underpinning these reforms is a critical effort to make

Borneo oil spill costs Indonesia’s poor

“We believe this is the worst oil spill to catch fire since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster,” said Fathur Roziqin Fen, Director of WALHI East Kalimantan. WALHI is Indonesia’s largest environmental organisation and is closely monitoring the consequences of last week’s large oil spill

The peril of North Korea’s charm offensive

Since the first days of 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has undertaken a series of diplomatic activities whose scope and significance are rivalled only by his missile and nuclear tests. The fact that Kim made his first overseas trip to China, attended a K-pop performance in Pyongyang,

Bangladesh: breaking with dynasty

Bangladesh tends to languish near the bottom of corruption-watchdog Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. So it is perhaps unsurprising that former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and her son and heir apparent, Tarique Rahman, are facing legal action over a long-

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan: a welcome but fragile thaw

A rare summit held at the strategic crossroads of Russia and China last month signalled a welcome thaw between two regional rivals in Central Asia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, who has been in power since 1992, will likely use this reconciliation with his Uzbek

Watching on: Australia and the Korean Peninsula talks

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are scheduled to meet for the first time on 27 April at Panmunjom, the “truce” village on the border of the two countries. The rapidly changing security environment on the Korean Peninsula has reached a critical juncture.

An agenda for the Moon–Kim summit

Later this month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. This is the third inter-Korean summit since the days of the Sunshine Policy – an approach of open dialogue with North Korea from 1998 to 2008. That effort earned a Nobel Peace Prize, but previous

Indonesia’s fishy furore

“Indonesia’s fishing industry was broken for many years,” says Amhar, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name. “Then Susi came along and she fought for us.” Amhar is a fisherman with a small boat he runs out of Panah Hijau, a fishing community in Medan, North Sumatra

Leslie – 15 years on

I first heard Leslie Cheung’s voice when I was five years old, sitting in the passenger seat of my parent’s car. A Cantonese song came on the radio: “Let me hide from the bustle of life / What is the mood like in heaven? / What new scenery will I get to enjoy?” I asked my dad who was singing

Indonesia: millennials’ party

The young in Indonesia are finding a voice. The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), formed to win over a generation of millennial voters, is a response to what is seen as an oligarchy – political parties led by “old” people, particularly figures related to the New Order regime of

Timor Trough: the rumpled carpet on the sea floor

John Carlson says Australia approached maritime boundary negotiations with Indonesia in 1972 by arguing the Timor Trough was the meeting point of two geologically distinct continental shelves at a subduction zone. But the trough does not constitute two separate shelves any more than a rumpled carpet

Trump, Kim, and the deal of the century

We still don’t know exactly when or where President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are going to meet, but Kim’s furtive visit to Beijing this week has heightened expectations that the summit will happen sometime in May. By the time the summit occurs, attention on this historic event

Hot take: what does Kim Jong-un’s trip to China mean?

So it’s now confirmed that Kim Jong-un went to China in the past few days to meet Xi Jinping. And apparently Xi will now go to Pyongyang. Breaking: Photos of secret talks between Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping emerge in the Chinese media https://t.co/kdnPKQixGq pic.twitter.com/G7tQh0Amd8 — Javier

US–North Korea summit: can Trump deliver?

An armoured train carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pulled into Beijing on Monday, with a summit with China’s Xi Jinping confirmed Wednesday morning by Xinhua. Perhaps Kim came to reassure China that he won’t upend regional geopolitics by making a dramatic deal with

Mekong: more dams, more damage

The great biodiversity and precious resources of the Mekong are increasingly endangered by the rush to dam one of the world’s great rivers. A total of 11 mainstream dams and 120 dams on tributaries are planned, which scientists warn will imperil the already fragile river system. Recent studies

Indonesia: countering a message of hate

After the Bali bombings of 2002, security forces within the Government of Indonesia, like their Western counterparts, worked towards incorporating “ideological” or “soft” approaches into counterterrorism portfolios. This approach later became commonly known as Countering Violent

South China Sea: the Philippine fissure

A new normal is evident in the South China Sea disputes. Last week, Philippine Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana revealed that China continues to exchange radio challenges and responses with Philippine aircraft patrols and resupply missions in the West Philippine Sea. With Manila keen to

Why are some Indian movies made tax-free?

Back in 2005, a crime-comedy movie about two nice thieves titled Banty Aur Babli was made tax-free by the state government of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India. Although the film ends with the heroes returning everything they’ve stolen, it is still a bad-guys-are-good

Myanmar: no country for young men

After two years in the job, Myanmar’s President U Htin Kyaw resigned last Wednesday. The 71-year-old has been in poor health for some time. A close confidante of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Htin Kyaw was a steady and stable hand. His resignation highlights the growing problem of ageing leadership

Happiness and the “China Dream”

In his report delivered at the 19th Party Congress, Xi Jinping declared that it was the Chinese Communist Party’s aspiration and mission to seek happiness for the Chinese people. Hu Angang, one of China’s leading economists, predicts that by 2030 China will be one of the happiest countries

Q&A: China’s mounting great wall of debt

In his new book, China’s Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle, Dinny McMahon, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, takes the reader on a grass-roots tour of the underworld of Chinese finance. Perhaps much more than the

What next for the anti-whale hunters?

Japan’s whale hunters are expected home any day, carrying up to 300 minke whales killed in the Southern Ocean. A harpoon ship, Yushin Maru No. 2, quietly slipped into Shiogama Port on Saturday, while the giant abattoir ship Nisshin Maru is still at sea (with its marine tracking monitor turned off

The urgent need for leadership on the Rohingya crisis

Jubaida is one of a million refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. When she thinks back six months, her memories of playing marbles with friends rest oddly alongside episodes of torture, death, and images of the burning home her family fled. She is 11. Jubaida, her parents, sister, and three

Silent Invasion: the question of race

Clive Hamilton’s new book Silent Invasion: Chinese Influence in Australia is coming in for considerable criticism. Some of it is warranted, including elements of this thoughtful review; some of it is not. I will discuss both kinds when I join Hamilton in conversation in Canberra next month

Najib makes electoral hay from ASEAN-Australia Summit

“Cak!” says the Malaysian meme circulating on Twitter since Monday. The Malay expression is often used with children, and means something like “Surprise!”, or, better, “Peekaboo!” In the background is a press photo from the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit which took place

Intellectual property: the big risk in US–China ties

It may be chaotic and confused, but the Trump administration is not entirely nuts. Expected to slam China with heavy penalties for appropriating the intellectual property of US businesses, the administration instead appears to be stopping short of a fundamental injury to the world’s biggest

China’s new aid agency

Last week, the Chinese Government announced its decision to establish China’s international development cooperation agency. As described by Beijing, the main purpose of the new agency is to give full attention to foreign aid, as a key means of major-country diplomacy. The goal is to

Sexual violence back to the fore in India

The brutalisation of women in India has increased alarmingly in recent times. Rape, molestation, and abuse have spiralled out of control, with the incidents  of violence becoming uglier and more frightening. Violence against women happens everywhere. While its causes vary in different

What DFAT really thinks of Australia joining ASEAN

Ahead of Malcolm Turnbull’s weekend confab for South East Asian leaders, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo reportedly thought it would be a “good idea” if Australia joined ASEAN. Lowy’s Aaron Connelly is dubious. Reality check: Australia has not been invited to join ASEAN, and will not

Australia, Asia, and the “Wealth of Nations”

How does Australia’s economy align with those of our Asian neighbours? What are the development challenges facing nearby South East Asian countries? And just how large is China’s economy? These questions are of particular interest this week as the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit is held in Sydney

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