Sunday 05 Jul 2020 | 14:25 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Hong Kong: The finishing blow

The 30th of June is always a challenging day in Hong Kong, as it marks the eve of the anniversary of its 1997 accession by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This year, it proved especially trying for Hong Kong’s beleaguered chief executive, Carrie Lam, whose approval rating has swung over

Economic diplomacy: Diversification dilemmas

Costing the D word Diversification might be the word of the moment in the lexicon of Australian trade debate, even though few advocates make much attempt to explain how it will actually work. But now we have two interesting efforts to quantify just how selected reductions in trade with China in

Canada won’t fall for China’s hostage diplomacy

It has been more than a year and a half since the Chinese government arbitrarily apprehended two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Their arrests have been widely interpreted as retaliation for Canada detaining Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive and the daughter of the company’s

After ASEAN summit, little change on the South China Sea

On 26 June, the leaders of the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their 36th annual summit by video conference, after the in-person summit scheduled for April was postponed because of Covid-19. The pandemic was the main topic of discussions.  Also high on the

International law takes a step towards Asia

As the historical development of international law has been dominated by European principles and doctrine, there is an argument that public international law has always been associated with a Western-centric view of the world. Moreover, major public international law judicial organs such

China’s pipeline dream in Pakistan

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the flagship projects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It initially attracted US$46 billion in investment, which was later increased to $62 billion by April 2017, to support large-scale “infrastructure construction” and industrial

Solomon Islands gets a lesson in Chinese diplomacy

China’s efforts to marginalise Taiwan and promote its “One China” policy has been a challenge for many countries. Some have diplomatic relations with Beijing while continuing to pursue trade and cultural links with Taiwan. The US can do this because it is a global power. This was clearly

China’s charmless offensive

Nearly a century ago, Dale Carnegie achieved world renown for his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I’m not sure if it was ever translated into Mandarin, but I’m guessing that Chinese President Xi Jinping has never read it, either way. Perhaps he should. Under Xi’s leadership,

Hun Manet: A Cambodian dynasty?

This week, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen confirmed what has long been suspected, that he is grooming his eldest son, Hun Manet, for leadership of the country. “As his father,” Hun Sen declared, “I have to support my son and train him so that he is capable”. Not that Cambodia is

Book Review: What’s holding China’s economy back?

Book Review: Dexter Roberts The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, the Factory, and the Future of the World (St Martin’s Press, 2020) With the US, Brazil and many European countries struggling to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, China seems to be emerging as an even greater economic and

Can inter-Korean peace be salvaged from the latest wreckage?

North Korea’s demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong last week is a huge setback to Pyongyang’s relations with Seoul. Unfortunately the situation can get even worse. One day after the building was brought crashing down – a dramatic reminder to the rest of the world about

Australia should support India in the Himalayas

The conflict between India and China on their disputed Himalayan border may be an important turning point in their relationship. Australia should take the opportunity to show firm support for India over the issue. Last week’s fighting between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh was the bloodiest

Canberra vs Beijing: A response to Sam Roggeveen

Sam Roggeveen is absolutely right. Australia’s China debate has been dramatically transformed over the past few years. Like him, I welcome a robust discussion about our relationship with Asia’s emerging power and our major trading partner. It’s a pity China’s citizens can’t have one about

Lessons from the India-China border clashes

The India-China border clash on the night of 15 June, the worst in over half a century, is nothing less than a chapter break in the relationship between the two countries. A dynamic that was, at the best of times, fraught with mutual suspicion is now on the cusp of becoming downright adversarial.

India-China: Pressure at altitude

Even before the shocking events of 15 June, in which at least 20 Indian soldiers died along with an unknown number of their Chinese counterparts, it was clear to some that this year’s shadow boxing on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was different. In late May, the respected Indian defence

Closing the book on Asia

This is not a propitious time to proclaim to the world that Australians are not interested in India, Japan, Korea and all the nations of mainland Southeast Asia. That, however, is what the National Library of Australia has done by announcing it will stop its systematic collecting of materials about

Canberra vs Beijing: A reply to Alan Dupont

Australia’s national debate about China has been dramatically transformed over the last few years. China’s rise is arguably the most important thing to happen to Australia’s place in the world since federation, so the fact that we are debating its implications so openly and

Cambodia: Caught in the middle

Even as it grapples with the economic fallout of Covid-19, Cambodia has a China problem. The perception of Prime Minister Hun Sen as a stooge for Beijing became entrenched long before the coronavirus outbreak – but it was left unexplained. However, as the virus is gradually brought under control,

Diego Garcia: India’s conundrum

The tug-of-war between the United Kingdom and Mauritius over Chagos archipelago – and the US military base on Diego Garcia – is hotting up. In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution which endorsed a non binding decision from the International Court of Justice that

The geopolitical consequences of a pandemic

The global system is in a state of flux. China’s renewed territorial assertions and growing military power continue to pose challenges to regional peace and stability. US-Russia relations have plummeted into a downward spiral. We have passed through a crisis on the Korean Peninsula that has had a

Kashmir Covid response sparks fear and suspicion

India’s high-handedness in Kashmir amid a global pandemic has further exacerbated a tense situation in the restive valley. The latest causality of harsh policies has been people, mostly students, locked up in quarantine centres across Kashmir. In March, when Kashmiri students studying outside

Seizing the chance to chart “The India Way”

A Chinese proverb holds that “the beginning of wisdom is calling things by the right name”. For those of us in New Delhi, it is refreshing to see India actively pitch its Covid-19 diplomacy to articulate “The India Way” in global conversations. What this means in practical terms is a

COVIDcast: Xi Jinping and Covid-19

In this episode of COVIDcast, Richard McGregor, Lowy Institute Senior Fellow, sat down with Chris Buckley of the New York Times to discuss Xi Jinping’s China. Buckley is widely acknowledged as one the world’s leading authorities on Chinese politics. He was back in his hometown of Sydney after

Thailand: Another dissenter disappears

On 4 June, Wanchalearm Satsaksit – a self-exiled Thai political activist living in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh – vanished. He was almost certainly abducted. CCTV footage shows him taken away in a black car. His sister, who was on the phone with him when he was seized, told BBC Thai that he

North Korea may have benefited from the pandemic after all

Recent news reports about North Korea reopening its schools and easing its restrictions on border trade with China after more than four months of coronavirus-related closure indicate that normalcy is returning to the Hermit Kingdom. While it would be far-fetched to fairly evaluate Pyongyang’s

COVIDcast: Xi Jinping and COVID-19

COVIDcast is a Lowy Institute pop-up podcast for anyone interested in understanding the effect of coronavirus on global politics. Each week for the next few weeks, Lowy Institute experts will sit down to discuss the implications of coronavirus for the world. In this episode of COVIDcast, Richard

Hong Kong: What China stands to lose

China’s recent national security legislation and ensuing crackdowns in Hong Kong are a certain sign of the Chinese Communist Party’s fragility as it deals with its economic woes amid Covid-19. Xi Jinping’s latest move to suppress political dissent is a blatant, but failed, attempt to convey

China toys with a new propaganda technique: Irony

As the world struggles with the Covid-19 crisis, the US and China have been locked in a heated propaganda warfare over the handling of the virus. Hitting back at President Donald Trump’s claim that “China let it spread”, Chinese official media angrily accused the US of “groundless accusation

The case for Australian strategic ambiguity

It is June 2021. An American destroyer sailing near a reef held by Beijing in the South China Sea has had a collision with a Chinese frigate that was attempting to drive it off. Both vessels have suffered multiple fatalities and, damaged, are at anchor near the reef. While who was at fault is

The gravity of China’s space base in Argentina

For most people, the first things that likely come to mind when imagining Patagonia in South America are mountains, glaciers, lakes and fjords. But there is also a lesser-known tourist destination: the visitors centre of a Chinese-owned space station in remote north-west Patagonia, Argentina. In

New Zealand and China: Contending with words and actions

New Zealand was one of the more than 130 countries which, at the recent World Health Assembly, sponsored a resolution setting up an independent inquiry into Covid-19 – a proposal initially rejected by China. New Zealand also backed Taiwan gaining observer status at the World Health Organisation,

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