Tuesday 19 Nov 2019 | 23:46 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Asia

A reborn quadrilateral to deter China

Recent news that Australia’s Foreign Minister has indicated interest in taking part in a resurrected US-Australia-Japan-India quadrilateral dialogue on the sidelines of the upcoming ASEAN Summit is to be welcomed. It is an indication how much the strategic situation in the Asia Pacific has shifted

Asia trip reveals the Trump dichotomy

Speaking in Tokyo on Monday night, President Donald Trump was serious and gracious. 'Japan is a very special place. The Japanese people are thriving, your cities are vibrant, and you've built one of the world’s most powerful economies.' Then he looked up from his prepared remarks, and with an

Why South Korea and Japan should not go nuclear

By David Vallance, an intern in the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, and Euan Graham, Director of the International Security Program. The road to nuclear Armageddon is not straight. The North Korea crisis has led commentators to reassess the conventional wisdom that, when it

The long reach of China’s United Front Work

China’s official state mouthpiece, the Xinhua news agency, last month declared 'Enlightened Chinese Democracy Puts the West In the Shade.' While Xinhua maintains the fiction that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its 89 million members represent the majority of the people, it also '

Trump’s Asia trip kicks off with Abe meeting

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe managed a canny mixture of deference and guile when he rushed to New York last November with a gold-embossed golf club to be the first foreign leader to meet the newly-elected Donald Trump. The question now is whether Trump can return the favour as he

The first global supply chain

The city of Ternate in eastern Indonesia seems forgotten by time. Its quiet bustle is confined to the coastal fringes of Mount Gamalama, with its imperious presence. The most prominent building in the low-slung city is a monumental new mosque, minus two of its four minarets that fell down in a

Censorship is superfluous in Xi’s ‘New Era’

Tiny children sit in a row on miniature wooden chairs, their attention focused on a television screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping in full oration mode, in incongruous juxtaposition beside the candyfloss-pink play castle of their kindergarten. In hospitals, patients have Xi beamed to the

India needs a more robust naval presence in Asia

At a biannual naval commanders’ conference in New Delhi last week, the Indian Navy’s top leadership cleared a new maritime deployment plan. In a bid to counter emerging challenges in the Indian Ocean littorals - in particular, the growing presence of Chinese warships and submarines in India’s

Duterte’s mutually beneficial Japan trip

President Duterte returned last night from a three-day working visit to Japan, his second bilateral trip to Tokyo since taking office in June 2016. This visit took place only two weeks before Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will rub shoulders at the APEC meeting in Danang and Duterte

Donald Trump’s message for Asia

What will Donald Trump's message to Asia be when he travels from Hawaii to Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines from 3 to 14 November? It is safe to say that even his closest advisors don't know the answer to that question, which has host governments from Tokyo to Manila a bit anxious

North Korea’s space program aims higher

Earlier this week, North Korea reaffirmed that its space program is ongoing and getting more ambitious. There have been six North Korean satellite launch attempts since 1998. Only two have placed satellites in orbit, and both satellites failed to transmit. Clearly, there is room for improvement, so

North Korea: How to start a nuclear war without even trying

If effective strategy requires realistic aims, then America is in trouble. US officials have shown themselves to be pathologically overconfident in their ability to achieve political outcomes with military signals, and the outcome they’re trying to achieve is utterly unrealistic.   Imagine

Myanmar: The limits of sanctions

Imposing sanctions always creates challenges. Sanctions provide targeted states with an excuse to shift blame onto outside forces. They tend to concentrate wealth into the hands of the most politically connected. They are rarely powerful enough to shift behaviour, especially when the behaviour being

Xi, Orwell and the language of Chinese politics

The 19th Party Congress closed earlier this week with the announcement that 'Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era' would be enshrined in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) charter. This eponymous ideological contribution is the first since 'Deng Xiaoping Theory'

Mattis front and centre at ASEAN defence talks

Defence ministers from across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as counterparts from the US, Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand descended on Manila for the 11th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) earlier this week. The meetings typically

Marawi battle has implications for Australians

Recent terrorism-related developments in the Philippines could lead to an increased security threat to Australians in parts of Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. Earlier this year, ISIS had portrayed the Philippines as something of a success story to distract from its reverses

Reading between the lines of North Korea’s letter

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly has been busy sending open letters to various foreign parliaments. Our letter seems specifically tailored, as the DPRK web-based news includes parts of the other letters that aren't included in the one sent to Australia. It seems we

Timor-Leste: A return to belligerent democracy?

In 2015, not long after the formation of the unprecedented national unity government between Timor-Leste's two largest parties, CNRT and Fretilin, senior CNRT Minister Agio Pereira commented on the country's remarkable transition from 'belligerent democracy' to a new era of consensus democracy. In

War on the Korean Peninsula: Targeting a better peace

The rhetoric emanating from Washington and Pyongyang may soon reach the point at which a peaceful resolution is no longer be possible. A year ago the chance of war on the Korean Peninsula would have been considered remote. Now, the call for a US pre-emptive strike is gaining support while North

The 19th Party Congress: Xi's mid-term appraisal

As Interpreter readers will no doubt be aware, this is an exciting week for China-watchers as it marks the mid-term point for President Xi Jinping's time in office – that is, presuming he leaves his post after ten years, as is the custom. This week the 19th Party Congress, Xi's mid-term

After Hapilon’s death and the ‘liberation’ of Marawi

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the 'liberation of Marawi', and the Philippines military says Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf militant seen as Islamic State group's leader in southeast Asia, and Omar Maute, another senior militant, are dead. But ISIS has not been wiped out in

Tillerson doubles down on US-India partnership

Yesterday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered his most substantial remarks on India to date, ahead of his first official trip to South Asia. While Tillerson’s influence in the Trump Administration is in considerable doubt, his speech pointed to yet more convergence between Washington and

Pacific island links: PNG politics, Ambae, Tsai’s visit and more

By Euan Moyle, an intern in the Lowy Institute's Pacific Islands Program. Sam Basil, leader of the Pangu Pati, has been appointed a Minister for Communications, Information Technology and Energy in the PNG Government, several weeks after he defected from opposition. PNG opposition MP Bryan

Myanmar’s evolving maritime security landscape

Myanmar links South and Southeast Asia and lies on maritime shipping routes from the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A key pillar of its national development agenda is establishing an efficient and integrated transport system to become Asia's newest maritime hub. Recent political and economic reforms

Putting Duterte’s popularity in perspective

There is little doubt that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is a populist. As I write in The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt Against Elite Democracy, the Filipino leader has often presented himself as the voice of the people, the guardian of the nation, the shield against criminal

Belt and Road: The case for ‘wait and see’

Nick Bisley is right to call for a clearer – and I would add more confident – Australian strategy towards China. But should this involve signing up to President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)? I am not convinced. BRI is long on rhetoric and unclear in design. According to Xi,

What drives Russia’s Korea policy?

To discuss what's driving Russia's Korea policy, we need a framework within which we can begin to understand Moscow’s motives regarding North Korea’s nuclearisation and the ensuing international crisis.   First, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and more broadly in

The limits of India-Japan defence cooperation

The visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India this September was much talked about in the context of the evolving Asian balance of power. Big ticket ventures including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Railway were the highlight of the summit. But the larger issue of defence cooperation,

Australia’s oddly absent Belt and Road Strategy

In a recent speech at the University of Adelaide's Confucius Institute, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Frances Adamson tackled the controversial issue of Chinese students in Australia. Her comments were both shrewd and part of a larger pattern of Australian government policy

Australia’s One-China Policy and why it matters

Australia is in the midst of a vociferous debate over China. Reporting and commentary on Chinese Party-state sway over Australia's public and political institutions has been met by a strong pushback by those who emphasise the opportunities presented by China's influence. The

A modest proposal for Australian engagement in North Korea

I have a modest proposal to make for Australia to directly engage with North Korea. Australia maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea, but has no representation in Pyongyang. Instead, Australia's embassy in Seoul is cross-accredited, a common arrangement among countries that lack an

No, China is not being demonised

It’s difficult to see any future for Australia that does not involve China in a big way, whether it is in trade, services, investment, regional security, cultural exchange, and migration. It follows that ensuring a secure and prosperous future for Australia means getting the relationship with

On North Korea, China’s interests are unchanged

China's recent move to close North Korean businesses operating in China is undoubtedly welcome news to Australian and US policymakers. However, this is should not be seen as a shift in China's approach to North Korea. Rather, it is a tactical manoeuvre – China's goals and interests regarding

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