Monday 26 Jul 2021 | 22:07 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Another proxy war in Afghanistan?

With the US in the process of withdrawing the last of its troops from Afghanistan, it has taken little time for fierce fighting to flare up in several parts of the country, as the Taliban seeks to wrest control from the elected government. Already, it has overrun large swathes of territory and is

China’s numbers game harms us all

Speaking before a crowd at Tiananmen Square that gathered in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi Jinping triumphantly declared that the goal of building China into a “moderately prosperous” society had been completed. Though without a clear measurable

US-China rivalries: What matters for ASEAN

An interesting discussion about how Australia should respond to US President Joe Biden’s call for closer alignment and cooperation among democratic states has featured in a recent series of articles on The Interpreter. Between them, Susannah Patton and Ashley Townshend,  Michael Green, Ben

Bringing the grey zone into focus

Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update was, by the standards of such publications, a hard-hitting document. It had a particularly strong focus on grey zone activities, seen as increasingly troubling the Indo-Pacific and involving “military and non-military forms of assertiveness and coercion

The politics of PacMan

Boxer and Philippine senator Manny Pacquiao knows how to pick his fights. For weeks, the champ has engaged President Rodrigo Duterte in a word war. First, Pacquiao jabbed Duterte’s leniency on the incursion of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea ­– a major thorn in the President’s side

Postcard from Tokyo 2020+1

My university campus sits amid several Olympic venues and the international media centre, down by the ports on Tokyo Bay. From my tenth floor office, I can observe the construction of the second Olympic flame plinth and across the port, the island where canoeing events will be held. On the other

Olympic glory: Tokyo’s success is a win for Beijing

As the excitement of Euro 2020 fades into the football world’s collective memory, another international sporting event rapidly approaches. The Tokyo Olympics, after being in doubt for over 12 months, are now less than two weeks away. It won’t just be Japan wanting things to run smoothly when the

Sun, surf and a sandbox escape from a pandemic

Before the pandemic, Thai island Phuket offered visitors the perfect blend of sun, beach and seedy-but-fun nightlife as one of the region’s best-known tourist destinations. Now, it offers visitors something much more novel: a quarantine free holiday. As of the start of July, fully vaccinated

China’s law on conscription under revision

Last December the Chinese government released its updated National Defence Law in order to rectify the law with changes in the organisation, structure and missions of the Chinese armed forces undertaken over the past two decades, especially those resulting from force-wide reforms initiated on 31

Afghanistan, Australia and the visa conundrum

With the advance of the Taliban in parts of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of coalition forces, the question of how to help Afghans who worked intimately with Australian forces has become a significant media and political issue. Former Prime Minister John Howard, who dispatched Australian troops to

Taipei’s growing legion of friends

“If a major problem occurred in Taiwan, it would not be going too far to say it could be an existential threat [for Japan].” These are the words of Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso during a speech in Tokyo last week. In a significant shift in Japan’s foreign policy, he stated, “If

Xi and beyond

After more than four decades of reform and opening up, the centenary celebrations of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were an opportunity for the Party-state to proclaim the success of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. President Xi Jinping’s speech on 1 July made no bones about China

Whatever happened to the South China Sea ruling?

Five years ago on this day, an international tribunal in a landmark ruling dismissed Beijing’s claim to much of the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague said on 12 July 2016 that there was no evidence that China had exercised exclusive control historically over the key

Covid crisis deepens in junta-ruled Myanmar

A worsening third wave of Covid-19 is a cruel new blow in Myanmar, still reeling from the human costs of the coup on 1 February, and with a military junta more focused on combatting dissent than combatting the virus. Thousands of new cases have arisen since late May, and the Delta, Alpha and Kappa

Abandoning Afghanistan won’t bring peace

Bagram airbase, the nerve centre of US and allied forces operations in Afghanistan, turned into a ghost town over the American Independence Day 4 July weekend. Reports indicate that US forces left in the dead of night on 2 July without informing their Afghan counterparts. Afghans are stunned that

Ukraine: Balancing China and the rest

Ukraine is attempting to improve its relations with China after the nation’s authorities, allegedly pressured by the United States, decided to halt the takeover of a local aircraft engine manufacturer by a Chinese company. Ukraine is typically seen as country inside a Western sphere of

Staying ahead in global tech leadership

On the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping reiterated the longstanding Chinese goal of strengthening science and technology to help achieve national rejuvenation. China’s advances in areas such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and facial recognition have already

Central Vista Project: Raining on Modi’s parade

The face of New Delhi’s political heart, Lutyens Delhi (named after the British architect Edwin Lutyens who designed it) is a place of broad boulevards, imposing red sandstone buildings, flowing fountains and wide swathes of green space. Built between 1911 and 1931, the area was intended to be the

K-drama takes a dark turn

In recent months, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has raged against the cultural influence of South Korea, calling K-pop a “vicious cancer” permeating North Korean society. This push against South Korean popular culture is nothing new for the regime. In fact, K-dramas and K-pop have long been

Hobbling Indonesia’s anti-corruption body

Ask any Indonesian about their country’s most pressing problem and more likely than not the answers you’ll get are “the economy” and “corruption”. This is with good reason. Indonesia ranks 102 of 179 on Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index, falling over four

Building stronger Australia-Indonesia ties

When then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressed the Australian parliament in 2010, he argued that the bilateral relationship faced four major challenges: improving mutual public understanding, managing diplomatic differences, boosting economic ties and adapting to emerging regional

North Korea: The long-awaited fallout of summit diplomacy

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un delivered an important speech last week during a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea – the first substantive response from Pyongyang on the prospects for United States-North Korea relations since the Biden administration completed its North Korea policy

The dangers in Australia’s blissful ignorance about India

A major headline from the 2021 Lowy Institute Poll is the dramatic decline in the Australian public’s assessment of China, continuing the trend already observed in previous years. While 52% of respondents said they trusted China to “act responsibly in the world” either “a great deal” or

India’s hidden Covid crisis

India’s second wave of Covid-19 has been brutal on its people. During the first wave, images emerged of a mass exodus from the major cities with countless people walking – sometimes more than 700 kilometres – back to their villages, many not surviving the journey. Now it is happening again.

The battle for Africa

In his first overseas trip as US President, Joe Biden has flagged he intends to rally European allies in a critical “battle between democracies and autocracies”, and “make it clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight”. Biden is not the only one in

Economic diplomacy: Trade deals for a fast-growing family

Worker vs worker vs student Almost five million Kiwis have always been at least cousins. And Scott Morrison’s distinctive contribution to regional security has been his embrace of about 10 million other islanders as “our Pacific family”. But in a week of rhetoric about international

Australia’s China politics heats up

After a long period of uber-bipartisanship in the handling of China relations, Labor has opened a clear line of attack on the Morrison government.   Last month, at the Canberra launch of Nine columnist Peter Hartcher’s new book, The Red Zone, shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong said

A rising Bangladesh starts to exert its regional power

The recent announcement that Bangladesh would provide US$200 million in aid to Sri Lanka is an important turning point as that country moves from being an impoverished supplicant towards an increasingly influential regional state. It is an outcome of years of high economic growth and points to Dhaka

Myanmar pushes ASEAN to the brink

There is an anxious wait for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to effectively intervene in Myanmar’s political crisis caused by the February 1 military coup. The Myanmar state is functionally failing. The country is spiralling into chaos with rising urban armed violence, civil war, a

China overtakes America in presidential diplomacy

Joe Biden is about to fly to the United Kingdom on his first foreign visit as US President. Biden will attend the G7 summit in Cornwall from 11–13 June, head to Belgium for summits with NATO and the European Union on 14–15 June, then meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland the

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