Wednesday 03 Jun 2020 | 08:17 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Who really killed the Quad 1.0?

The tale has become accepted diplomatic folklore. In the telling, it was Australia, back in 2008 in the early days of the Rudd government, that decided to scuttle the then-nascent Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the four-way talks also involving Japan, the United States and India. To compound

The local cost of rising India-China tensions

India-China tensions have recently escalated at two Himalayan flashpoints: Ladakh and Sikkim. On 5 May, scuffles broke out between Chinese and Indian soldiers near Pangong Tso, a lake that straddles the border in Ladakh. At the same time, there were skirmishes near Nathu La, a mountain pass that

Seychelles: Truth, justice and Australia

Australia has not usually had a high profile in the Indian Ocean island states such as Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. This despite Australia’s huge Indian Ocean littoral, presence of three oceanic territories, mutual Commonwealth links and substantial investment. Inter-governmental visits

The Trump card in the Sino-Indian rivalry?

As worrying details about the month-long India-China border dispute continue to pour in, Donald Trump, in his signature style, has muddied waters in two significant ways. First, on Wednesday morning, he tweeted: “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and

Another pearl in China’s string?

The Cambodian island of Koh Rong, long a backpacker’s haven, lies just a quick boat ride from Sihanoukville, a city that has come to symbolise the governmental intimacy of Cambodia and China. Omnipresent Chinese-owned casinos, along with frequent reports of criminal behaviour, have turned

Rohingya in Malaysia, doubly trapped

For some people living in the Ampang district in eastern Kuala Lumpur, self-isolation is nothing new. The area is known for its concentration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, nestled in the grimy apartments and neighbourhoods of this former tin mining centre, and they haven't been going out for a

Hong Kong: System override

At first glance, the latest protests in Hong Kong may seem like a carbon copy of what happened in 2019. On 24 May, thousands of pro-democracy protesters crowded into one of the city’s busiest shopping districts, only to be met by riot police with tear gas and water cannons. Officers arrested at

How is an advanced Australia faring in the Asian century?

China’s barley tariffs have thrust the challenges of trade into the headlines with a prominence rarely seen in the popular Australian media. Although a crucial basis of national prosperity, the “trade” side of Australia’s international engagement has seemingly always had a lower profile than

In Afghanistan, one step forward, but peace still a far leap

Last week, Afghanistan’s top two politicians, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, signed a power-sharing agreement in Kabul, ending their eight-month standoff over September’s presidential elections. The deal allows Ghani to remain president, while giving Abdullah control of the top peacemaking

The battle for a Covid vaccine risks losing the “war”

Leaders of nations around the globe have resorted to the language of warfare to characterise their fight against Covid-19. From US President Donald Trump, who declared himself a “war president”, to China’s Xi Jinping committing to a “people’s war”, to Britain’s Prime Minister Boris

The tangled web of India-China relations

The present phase of India-China relations emerged from the desire and imperative to reset relations after the Doklam standoff in 2017 and the realisation that, despite the persistence of major differences between them, India and China have significant areas of cooperation both in the bilateral and

West Papua: Looking for an opening

When the world is grappling with the kind of calamity few of us have experienced before, it can be easy to forget other crises. Climate change springs to mind. So, too, does the record level of human displacement around the world, a problem largely driven by conflict. That brings us to the long-

India’s Covid-19 tracing app: Power in the right hands?

Governments around the world are working hard to convince their populations to download the various Covid-19 infection tracing apps. As well as potentially helping to stymie the spread of the virus, the app download numbers serve another purpose: they could be read to indicate how much trust there

Covid-19: The need to aid Asia to open up

Two things about the public health and economic impacts of Covid-19 are now clear. First, with just a few exceptions, most affected countries have suffered egregiously, and in many cases unnecessarily. This is a tragic situation. Second, the response has been mainly left to the national

Why Vietnam embraces multilateralism at this uncertain time

Today the mere mention of multilateralism leaves many jeering that the heyday of international cooperation has past. Isolationist politics appear preferred. Yet Vietnam’s recent activism in multilateral forums appears to demonstrate that Hanoi does not believe that cooperation is a faded luxury.

The Taliban’s empty promises of peace

In a Covid-19 world, there is perhaps little that can still shock and surprise. Still, this week’s brutal attack by Afghan insurgents on a clinic in a hospital in Kabul’s western suburb of Dasht-e-Barchi, during the holy month of Ramadan, made for particularly horrific news, given the targets

Where did Kim Jong-un go?

The three-week disappearance by North Korea’s chairman Kim Jong-un prompted plenty of questions. Could a succession crisis unfold? Might it go even further, with the risk that North Korea could collapse? Analysts have long argued that Kim’s health is a wild card when it comes to regime

Vietnam defies the odds on Covid-19

If you want to see real Olympic-level panic-buying, head to a Vietnamese supermarket a week before Tet, or Lunar New Year.   Yet when the coronavirus broke out in China, Vietnam, with which it shares a border, there was only an hour or two of panic-buying before things settled down to

Weight on the scales

A few months back – only in January, yet seemingly a very different time ­– Mike Mazarr and I offered some initial reflections on America’s and China’s contrasting “theories of influence”. The article prompted a series of contributions, including an initial rejoinder from Sam Roggeveen

With US Afghan exit, Russia eyes Central Asian security

Three months have passed since the United States and the Taliban signed an “Agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan”. For the Americans, it aims to put an end to the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which has lasted more than 18 years. The provisions of the agreement stipulate a

Beyond Covid, might China overreach?

A major disruption and the emergence of a global threat in the shape of a pandemic may have been expected to foster closer global cooperation. While this may momentarily be true, as countries cooperate to strengthen their healthcare infrastructure and in seeking effective cures and vaccines, there

Who would Beijing prefer wins in November?

The 2020 US presidential election may well go down in history as the “China election”. Indeed, if the past month has been any indication, the narratives around this race for the White House will heavily feature how each candidate plans to manage the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the

The prospects for China’s post–Covid-19 economy

While the Canberra political establishment has been sparring with China’s Foreign Ministry – and with Australian billionaires – much of the corporate elite has begun puzzling how to slipstream China’s post–Covid-19 economic recovery. Optimists hope that Beijing will summon a massive

Gwadar Port: New Dubai or pie in the sky?

The small port town of Gwadar, in the south-west of Pakistan, is the centre stage of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the Pakistan component of ther Belt and Road Initiative. Under CPEC, Gwadar is to be developed into a smart port city, and will be not only a major

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