Sunday 17 Nov 2019 | 23:11 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 15 Nov 2019 12:30

    Ayodhya verdict and unruly consequences

    India’s Supreme Court has delivered a ruling that will embolden the Hindu right and challenge the country’s secularism.

  • 15 Nov 2019 10:00

    Autocrats Anonymous

    A White House confessional reveals Donald Trump incapable of change – a kind of Marvel superhero, but less interesting.

  • 15 Nov 2019 06:00

    Book Review: The original corporate raiders

    Historian William Dalrymple looks at how a small trading company in London became a mighty army and conquered India.

Asia

Can Taiwan’s President fend off a populist wave?

Last week, as Taiwan’s presidential race gradually gathers pace before a ballot next year, opposition Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu climbed a banyan tree. It was Han’s classically eccentric approach to countering an outbreak of dengue fever in the southern Taiwanese city Kaohsiung where he

The importance of trust in preserving Antarctica’s future

For international governance of the near-pristine expanse of the Antarctic, consensus decision making is powerful indeed. This model, is the modus operandi of Antarctic law, and has formed the basis for the successful operation of the Antarctic Treaty System. It can be corrosive to such a

The limits to French grandeur in the Indo-Pacific

For the first time since the Geneva Agreements of 1954, France has turned its eyes towards what is now termed the Indo-Pacific. The renewal of Paris’s interest in the region not only reflects a desire to tap on the wealth of rising Asia, but also Emmanuel Macron’s desire to restore France’s

China’s head-spinning defence white paper

Readers of the white paper China’s National Defence in the New Era can be forgiven for their headaches as they move from one conflicting statement to another in Beijing’s latest effort to help “the international community better understand China’s national defence”. This best of times/

Hong Kong’s political trouble is Singapore’s gain

China’s promise to treat Hong Kong as “one country, two systems” has been in the spotlight ever since the controversial extradition bill proposed by the Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam in June resulted in massive protests, not only against the bill but also over Beijing’s meddling in

Trump and Xi need a trade deal and they need it soon

With resumed contact between US trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer and China’s negotiator Vice Premier Liu He, the 12th round of trade talks between the US and China may take place in Beijing before the end of July. But the clock is now ticking very loudly. Contrary to the messaging from Beijing

Mahathir holds all the cards, again

The latest news coming out of Kuala Lumpur may alter the trajectory of Malaysian politics. On Wednesday night, 23 members of the Parti Keadilan Rakyet (PKR) central committee (half the members of this party leadership group) signed a statement rebuking party president Anwar

After the voting, personality beats policy in Southeast Asia

It has been an unusually intense time for elections across Southeast Asia in the past year with both a stunning upset and more predictable returns of incumbents. But the striking thing from a quick tour of some of the main battlefields is how the general absence of clear policy reform debate in

The guessing game for Singapore’s elections

With a vote due to be called before 2021, the guessing game for when Singapore’s next general election will take place has begun. Everyone is squinting at the tea leaves, and many things can be taken as a sign. Is a recent tax rebate exercise a “red packet” designed to sweeten the ground?

Xi Jinping: much more than just one man

Book Review: Xi Jinping: The Backlash by Richard McGregor (Penguin, Lowy Institute, 2019) Richard McGregor has written a dazzling account of the first six years of the Xi Jinping era and what he sees as the “backlash” to Xi’s increasing authoritarianism domestically and assertive foreign and

Pakistan on the brink of civil dictatorship

As Imran Khan’s government in Pakistan approaches the end of its first year, the country is rapidly drifting towards civil dictatorship. The arrest of opposition politicians, a crackdown on the media, and the imposition of a draconian economic policy has been the hallmark of the Pakistan

The heights of China’s ambition in Antarctica

China has become more and more active in Antarctica in recent years – both in research and in the international framework of agreements known as the Antarctic Treaty System that has successfully seen the frozen continent devoted to peace and science for decades. China is

The pitfalls of North Korea’s summitry spectacle

The third meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea Chairman Kim Jong-un has come and gone, again without much substantial progress, but its symbolism has continued to dominate Korea watchers’ assessments of the event. Trump last month became the first sitting US president to set

China’s Belt and Road Initiative: status report

China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) continues to attract much comment. To some, it is a threat – proof that China’s aim is to extend Chinese global influence. To others, it is a useful contribution to global capital flows. Where does the balance lie between these two views? Just

Japan is again hunting whales. What can be done?

This week Japan has formally recommenced commercial whaling for the first time in over 30 years. A small Japanese whaling fleet left port on 1 July after the Japanese government announced that it had set a quota of 227 whales for the remainder of 2019. The quota is made up of 150 Bryde’s whales

Unpacking the Asia Power Index – Podcast out today

This week on the Rules Based Audio podcast: power in Asia. Who’s got it, who’s losing it, and who’s using what they’ve got in the smartest way? The world’s geopolitical centre of gravity is shifting to Asia; and tensions between the region's great powers threaten to shape this

The Indo-Pacific is the New Asia

It’s official. We live in the Indo-Pacific. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations released a joint statement this week in Bangkok during its annual summit called the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific”. It defines the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions as a single interconnected region

Why Mahathir is unlikely to make Anwar his successor

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s latest promise that he “will not go more than three years” in the premiership is the latest in an ongoing saga of leadership succession within the Pakatan Harapan coalition government. While the coalition has insisted that there exists a “signed

Australian attitudes to China shift: 2019 Lowy Poll

Among many interesting findings in this year’s Lowy Institute Poll, one new question produced a particularly striking result given Australia’s debate over how to navigate the looming tech cold war between the US and China. 44% said “protecting Australians from foreign state intrusion”

Australian PM talks US China tensions ahead of the G20

Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison delivered his first major foreign policy speech since his surprise win in the May election, to an invited audience in Sydney on Wednesday. Two days ahead of his attendance with other world leaders at the G20 in Osaka Japan, in a historical moment defined by

Seychelles: life after the boss

Seychelles’ long-time authoritarian ruler France-Albert René died in February. His authority derived from his coup in 1977 that overthrew the country’s first president James Mancham a year after independence and ushered in a one-party state. Although Seychelles began a transition under pressure

Jokowi and Modi’s budding bromance

The re-election of India’s Narendra Modi and Indonesia’s Joko “Jokowi” Widodo saw India-Indonesia relations take another step forward after both leaders congratulated each other on social media. The results put both leaders in a strong position to advance a comprehensive strategic

Book review: The Great Successor

Book Review: The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong-un, Sun of the 21st Century, by Anna Fifield (Hachette, 2019) Anna Fifield’s The Great Successor is a wonderful narrative, weaving together Kim Jong-un’s childhood (and adulthood) basketball

Are we ready for a rare earths trade war?

Rare earth minerals have emerged as the latest front in the escalating US-China trade war. Nearly a decade after the Chinese government controversially suspended rare earth exports to Japan during the 2010 Senkaku dispute, similar threats are now being made if the bilateral trade dispute with the US

The bad news for press freedom in India

Press freedom is under the scanner in Australia, as it is around the world. For the first time in decades, Australian journalists have found themselves the subject of police raids over reporting on national security issues, with the prospect they could be jailed over the stories that date back more

The deeper malaise in Hong Kong’s civil service

On Saturday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that she would suspend consideration of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill (“the Bill”). The Bill would have, among other things, allowed mainland Chinese authorities

Hong Kong climbdown eases external pressures on China

Claims by Chinese and Hong Kong officials that the huge protests of the last week were instigated by “foreign forces”, rather than Hong Kongers fighting for their rights, are laughable. However, the Hong Kong government’s decision on Saturday to suspend the hated extradition bill will ease

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