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The East Asia Program

The East Asia Program conducts research on the politics and foreign policies of the countries of East Asia, with a focus on how domestic politics in these countries shape external behaviour. Researchers focus on China, Indonesia, and Myanmar, and commission work by other scholars on the broader region. The program also holds a robust series of dialogues and events on the politics of the region, independently and in partnership with other organisations.

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Don’t waste time trying to get Trump to Manila

Over the last two months, Australian and Southeast Asian officials have been urging their US counterparts to ensure President Donald Trump shows up at two major summits in Southeast Asia in November. They argue that Trump's presence at the APEC Forum in Danang and the East Asian Summit in Manila

Li’s Australia visit: ‘Nothing to be afraid of’

Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech at Davos in January presented China as the natural protector of the global order after the abdication of the US from the position. Premier Li Keqiang's four-day visit to Australia (which starts today) will demonstrate that China is still keen on presenting

De Lima’s arrest will test Duterte’s opposition

The arrest last Friday of Senator Leila de Lima as part of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs is the latest escalation in the decade-old battle of wills between Duterte and de Lima that long pre-dates their respective elections to national office in May 2016. The arrest, along

Duterte's wars (Part two)

For part one, which examined President Duterte's war on drugs, click here. In mid-December, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte argued that the militant left in the Philippines would defend him (a self-proclaimed child of the poor) and his administration to the death and kill those who

Why Chinese economic diplomacy is working in Southeast Asia

By Angela Han, an intern with the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. When President Rodrigo Duterte stood in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing this October and announced that 'Duterte of the Philippines is veering towards China', he received thunderous applause. After going on a tirade

What's next for Xi Jinping?

There has been considerable speculation about whether Chinese President (and newly annointed 'core' leader) Xi Jinping might be secretly planning to extend his time in power past the standard two five-year terms. In 2017 the Chinese Communist Party will hold its 19th Congress, where it

Mekong: New photos reveal true scale of dam

Xayaburi Dam under construction, July 2015. (Taken from this PP presentation by Pöyry, posted on a Laos government site.) In an Interpreter post on 14 December 2015 ('What's Happening on the Lower Reaches of the Mekong River?'), I referred to a YouTube video that gave a rare, relatively up-to-

Double trouble: China's bid to increase birth rate is no sure thing

By Marie-Alice McLean-Dreyfus, an intern with the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program China's historic policy change to allow all couples to have two children was presented as an economic imperative, but some believe individual choice, increasingly encouraged to drive consumption, will decide family

Obama should encourage Jokowi to lead in East Asia

Later today, Indonesian President Joko Widodo will become only the latest Asian leader to arrive at the White House for consultations with President Barack Obama. But Obama’s talks with Jokowi, as the president of the world's third largest democracy is known, will be quite different from his

The TPP is not a containment strategy

Is the TPP an effort to contain China? If you've been reading the papers or glancing at social media recently, you could be forgiven for thinking so. The New York Times didn't quite use the word containment, but argued that the agreement was a 'win for the United States in its contest with China

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

Japan's continuing confidence in the alliance

The views expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent those of National Institute for Defense Studies or the Japanese Ministry of Defense. I am inspired by the recent debate on The Interpreter about the trajectory of Japan's security strategy. Brad Glosserman's

Should the US retrench from South Korea? Part 2: No

A couple of days ago I laid out the arguments for a US withdrawal from South Korea. Today, I lay out the arguments for staying. This topic is rarely discussed. In the US, the foreign policy consensus for hegemony, forged between liberal internationalists on the left and interventionist

China-Japan competition: Hugh White responds

The four excellent responses to my post on China-Japan relations all present important points about Japan's situation and its options in the face of China's growing power. Just to recap, my piece questioned whether Chinese political and military pressure on Japan in the East China Sea is as

Should the US retrench from South Korea? Yes

Over at War on the Rocks, Christopher Lee (a former officer in the US Forces Korea [USFK]) and Tom Nichols (of the US Naval War College) have gotten into a useful debate on whether US forces should remain in Korea. This issue is not widely discussed, which is surprising given the end of the Cold

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