Friday 23 Oct 2020 | 14:51 | SYDNEY
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Asia and Pacific

Decades of impressive economic growth and stability, combined with the emergence of China and India as major powers, have significantly transformed patterns of competition and cooperation within the Asia-Pacific region. The economic and strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region, especially in this 'Asian Century', is increasing rapidly in the international arena. The Lowy Institute's diverse team of experts charts the political, strategic and economic dynamics defining the region, its importance to Australia, and its place on the global stage.

Nauruan democracy works in a Nauruan way

Cait Storr is a lawyer, writer and academic at University of Melbourne researching Nauru and other Pacific small island states. On Saturday 8 June, Nauru held a peaceful, indeed almost cheerful, election. Votes were cast and counted and 19 members elected to form the 21st parliament of the

China's agenda in Switzerland (and Europe)

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. For his first trip abroad as Chinese premier last month, Li Keqiang went to India and Pakistan and then continued to Switzerland and Germany before heading back home. Germany

Is China already a responsible economic stakeholder?

The meeting between Presidents Obama and Xi in Palm Springs over the weekend presented another opportunity to berate China for its international economic imbalances, but the two presidents sensibly found more fruitful things to talk about. It's getting harder to find fault in China's interaction

Reader riposte: China-US surprises

Cecelia O'Brien responds to last Friday's Defence in Depth video: When I was a young grad student I had a professor who told us that if we had ten data sets and nine of those sets all had the same result, we should then devote our utmost attention to the one data set that did not get the same

Obama-Xi: Good tone, but challenges ahead

Michael Green served on the US National Security Council staff from 2001-2005 and is now Senior Vice President for Asia at CSIS and a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. The pundits gave a variety of bad advice to President Obama going into the Sunnylands Summit with Xi Jinping. One

Obama-Xi: Not too hot, not too cold

Many readers know the lines from the 19th century fable about Goldilocks and the three bears: 'not too hot, not too cold, just right.' Those lines come to mind when reading the mostly positive initial reports of the informal summit between presidents Obama and Xi. These two leaders needed to get

Why has China's president forsaken protocol?

Much has been made of the fact that the Chinese and American presidents are meeting in informal surroundings on Friday at the Sunnylands retreat, the former estate of Walter Annenberg in Rancho Mirage, California. Protocol will be kept to a minimum and the presidents will meet in short-sleeved

Self-reliance: Mere lip service to a bygone notion?

Jack Georgieff is the 2013 Thawley Research Scholar in International Security at the Lowy Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC. The notion of 'self-reliance' that lies at the heart of Australian defence strategy is woefully under-analysed in our national

Reader riposte: US surveillance in China's EEZ

Mark Valencia responds to Is China 'Reciprocating' US Maritime Surveillance?: I usually enjoy Rory Medcalf’s iconoclastic analyses. But this one – unless it is tongue in cheek — is quite misleading and full of wishful thinking. Of course China resents US 'surveillance' in its EEZ because

Burma: Conspiracies and other theories

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. There is something about Burma which seems to encourage conspiracy theories. Not only does it create them in abundance, but they tend to be picked up by the international news media and given wide circulation. This in turn gives

The rebalance and the sequester

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was in full reassurance mode at the Shangri-La Dialogue over the weekend. Not so US congressman Randy Forbes in an interview on the rebalance to the Asia Pacific yesterday. Forbes is the vocal Seapower and Projection Forces Chair of the House Armed Services

A few poorly organized men

This is the full pre-print text of 'A few poorly organized men: interreligious violence in Poso, Indonesia' by Dave McRae, published by Brill in May 2013. The hardcopy of the book is available via A brief description of the book appears below

Self-determination on Pacific agenda

Nic Maclellan is co-author of La France dans le Pacifique and After Moruroa: France in the South Pacific. Denise Fisher's post on the re-inscription of French Polynesia on the UN list of non-self-governing territories underplays efforts by French diplomats to scuttle the resolution at the UN

The China presence at Shangri-La

The Shangri-La Dialogue wrapped up yesterday with an underwhelming speech from PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo. Or at least, so I thought. Yoichi Kato, national security correspondent for one of Japan's biggest daily newspapers, Asahi Shimbun, heard something else,

Shangri-La missile defence

As Rory Medcalf said yesterday, often the most memorable things to come out of big events like the Shangri-La Dialogue are from the working groups rather than the big set-piece speeches. That was true not only of Rory's session on incidents at sea, but the one I attended yesterday on ballistic

Is China 'reciprocating' US maritime surveillance?

The best stories from the Shangri-la Dialogue, Asia's leading informal defence gathering, do not come from the public utterances of high-profile figures like Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Indeed, the most extraordinary thing I heard at the first full day of this year's dialogue here in Singapore

Shangri-La snippets

One of the talking points so far has been how vocal the Chinese delegation has been from the floor. The blunt question put to Secretary Hagel is just one example; in every session so far, one representative from the PLA has put a polite but firm line. UK Defense Secretary Hammond suggested that

Chuck Hagel at the Shangri-La Dialogue

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has just finished his remarks here at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore and has left for bilateral meetings. What kind of speech was it? I ran into a couple of American journalists this morning who had seen a transcript of Hagel's speech and said there was

Asia Pacific trade: Choosing sides

Hugh White makes a compelling case that we may have to choose between America and China one day, with that moment of choice decided by the two great powers. Here is one small example where we could do something which might – just might – make it less likely that this moment of choice will

The Interpreter this weekend

Usually we observe strict radio silence on weekends here on The Interpreter, but do check in with us tomorrow and Sunday for analysis and (I hope) some interviews from the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore, a think tank conference that has become something of a staple in the Asia Pacific's regional

In conversation: Chan Heng Chee

Last week Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove caught up with one of the Institute's newest board members, Ambassador Chan Heng Chee. Ambassador Chan is the first member of the Board from Asia and was Singapore's Ambassador to the US from 1996 to 2012. In this short video

NZ diplomacy: The budget buzz cut

In what is becoming an annual ritual after the Australian budget for Foreign Affairs and Trade has been handed down, I take a look at how DFAT's New Zealand counterpart fared in its own budget-cut fest. The NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade 'Estimates of Appropriations' usually make

Defence White Paper: French Pacific power ignored

The Australian Defence White Paper 2013 was not the only such document to be released recently: France's 2013 White Paper on Defence and National Security appeared the same week. But, as far as strategic perceptions of France in our region are concerned, there the symmetry ends. I looked

China doomsayers run out of arguments

Ever since China slowed from unsustainable 10%-plus growth figures in the pre-2008 decade, there has been a barrage of voices foreseeing a painful slump. Some even doubt that China will overtake American GDP.  Meanwhile, official figures show China growing at more than 7%, which is enough to

China-Taiwan: Risk of war 'near zero'

This is one of those interviews that I wish could have gone longer. Former Taiwan Deputy Defence Minister Dr Chong-Pin Lin visited the Lowy Institute last week for a roundtable with China experts from around Sydney, and he was kind enough to agree to this short chat. Dr Lin has a mild-mannered

China no rival for island influence

China's activities in the Pacific Islands are being viewed in the same light as its growing geo-strategic role in Asia. Australia's recent Defence White Paper 2013 cautioned that Australia's role in the Pacific may well be balanced in the future by the growing influence of Asian nations. America

Four fascinating years in Timor-Leste

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, ANU. Interpreter readers with long memories may remember my name from a series of pieces on Timor-Leste posted a year or so ago. The articles included profiles of the campaign to elect war hero Taur Matan

Will Aung San Suu Kyi be president of Burma?

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow?at the Griffith Asia Institute. One question uppermost in the minds of many who attended last week's Lowy Institute's panel discussion on Burma (event video above) was whether Aung San Suu Kyi might become president when Thein Sein's five-year term expires in

Dreaming of China in the Pacific Islands

Research staff at the Lowy Institute meet with many visiting foreign delegations: European foreign ministers, US State Department and Pentagon officials, Pacific Island MPs, senior officials from Asian countries, academics from India and China. We also meet regularly with Australian ministers and

Today in killer robot planes

Chinese military websites have been abuzz lately with images emerging of China's first stealth drone, dubbed 'Sharp Sword', which has started undertaking so-called 'taxi trials' (moving under its own power on a runway) and will presumably make its first flight soon. This image posted today on

Reader riposte: Divided Asia

Professor Richard Rosecrance writes on a recent discussion thread about the above graphic: The main problem with the 'Asian circle' is not its population or its economic importance — which was initially great 200 years ago and is growing now. It is its manifest and lasting divisions. Like

Documentary trailer: Red Obsession

It's nice to be able to flag an Australian film once in a while, and this one combines two modern Australian pre-occupations: China and wine. Red Obsession looks at the enormous appetite that China's wealthy elite have for fine French wine from the Bordeaux region. As the film-maker notes in this

China-PLA: 2nd comes right after 1st

Every year the US Defence Department releases a Congressionally-mandated unclassified study called Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China. This year's edition was released earlier this week.  China specialists tend to pay this document some attention and so

In conversation: Burma's transition

Yesterday the Lowy Institute was privileged to host two of Australia's most prominent Burma watchers, Dr Andrew Selth of the Griffith Asia Institute and Dr Sean Turnell from Macquarie University, for a discussion on Burma's recent rapid transformation. Interpreter readers will be  familiar

Gillard must stand up for PNG's women

Julia Gillard's first visit to Papua New Guinea as prime minister, starting tomorrow, is loaded with symbolism. Following on from the April visit of Australia's first female Governor-General, the Prime Minister can demonstrate to Papua New Guineans that women can effectively and confidently

Malaysian election: PM Najib Razak on thin ice

Associate Professor Lily Zubaidah Rahim, from the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, is an affiliate of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Malaysia's thirteenth election, held last Sunday, was fiercely contested and controversial. The 80% voter

Documentary trailer: The Defector

The full title for this film is The Defector: Escape from North Korea, and it follows the life of a people smuggler who helps North Koreans escape via the Chinese border. But since North Korean refugees are not recognised by China, these escapees then face the challenge of getting to a third

After the MDGs: What's next for Asia?

Later this month, a high level panel convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will deliver its recommendations on what should come after the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It's no ordinary panel. Co-chaired by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf