Monday 23 Apr 2018 | 16:49 | SYDNEY
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Asia

The Beijing way of trade punishment

On 18 April, The Australian newspaper reported that Chinese students had “defied” warnings from their government about safety in Australia and enrolled in record numbers in the country’s universities for 2018. It was a nice image, of brave families and their children

Australian warships challenged in South China Sea

How should we react to news reports that China challenged Australian warships in the course of transiting the South China Sea, on their way from Subic Bay in the Philippines to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam? Without knowing where the challenge occurred (was it inside 12 nautical miles of a

Will China’s new aid agency be effective?

China has a new International Development Cooperation Agency (IDCA). The IDCA will respond directly to the State Council and integrate the aid functions of the Ministries of Commerce (MOFCOM) and Foreign Affairs. The reform aims to reduce bureaucratic frictions and make aid better serve China

The Rohingya question: determining who to hold to account

Ever since the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, ethnic minority groups, human rights advocates, and others have argued that Myanmar’s armed forces, or Tatmadaw, should be held legally accountable for a wide range of offences. Their concerns were dramatically highlighted in late 2016 and 2017,

Why definitions will be crucial for North-South talks 

In just over a week, President of South Korea Moon Jae-in will sit with his northern counterpart, Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un, at Panmunjom, the historic site of the 1953 armistice, for the third instalment of the inter-Korean summit (to be broadcast live). The summit will occur

Is Japan’s rare earth discovery fool’s gold?

Rare earth. The term sounds like something derived from the imagination of J. R. R. Tolkien, but these composites of seventeen rare minerals are a silent but central foundation of global industry. Rare earth metals are critical to the production of a massive array of industrial goods,

Caught in a pincer

China, China, China. All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully ignore the elephant in the room.  Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years has not been China, but Indonesia. Through

A new take on violence in Indonesian Papua 

Last year’s “hostage stand-off” in Indonesian Papua had hardly ended before more armed clashes began. Most violence in Papua is assumed to be an issue of indigenous people threatened by the state. But this assumption is anecdotal. Despite the wealth Indonesia earns through Papua’s

A new high: India–Japan defence links

An unexpected partnership was forged last week at India’s defence exhibition, DefExpo 2018, in Chennai. For some time, India has been in negotiations with Japan to purchase more than a dozen US-2 amphibious aircraft for the Indian Navy and Coast Guard. Considered the world’s best amphibious

Is Trump ready to bear the cost of a trade war?

Agree or disagree with his conclusions, we owe Hugh White thanks for forcing us to grapple with “the China challenge”. White’s writings have stripped away much of the easy, high-sounding rhetoric about dealing with Beijing and honed in on the central feature of US–China relations in the

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

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