Thursday 30 Jun 2022 | 13:40 | SYDNEY
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Asia Pacific Security

The diplomacy of hard and soft power at Shangri-La

The Shangri-La Dialogue styles itself as the premier forum for defence diplomacy in Asia. Given the scale of the event, the number of countries represented and the media coverage, the description is probably warranted. Defence diplomacy is a curious beast. Institutions and individuals whose

Scene set for torrid Shangri La Dialogue

Tonight Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers the keynote address to the annual Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore. It's ostensibly a think-tank conference organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, but is also something of an unofficial summit gathering for the region's

West Point speech neglects East Asian security

Amid tensions in the South China Sea and new alarm about a China-Russia alignment, President Obama's speech at West Point sends some confusing signals to the countries of Indo-Pacific Asia.   To be fair, the speech was not meant to be principally about Asia. It was intended to draw a final line

Obama at West Point: The limits of American power

Barack Obama has declared a new foreign policy doctrine: the limits of American power. The US, he argues, 'must always lead on the world stage,' but 'US military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.'   Addressing future US Army

How competitive is China's civil aviation industry?

Reports have surfaced that the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) C919 airliner program is struggling, with first deliveries pushed back to 2018, two years later than scheduled. Local newspapers have run positive stories about progress, but the tone is defensive. Aviation Week has

Asia Pacific security: Is the F-35B relevant?

With Prime Minister Tony Abbott implying recently that Australia could buy the F-35B 'jump jet' version of the Joint Strike Fighter (a suggestion reinforced this week by Defence Minister David Johnston), this is a good time to ask: what relevance could the F-35B have for the Asia Pacific? Designed

South China Sea: ASEAN Summit falls short again

History neither repeated nor reversed itself at the ASEAN Summit last weekend when it came to the South China Sea disputes. Three preliminary judgments can be made with an eye for ASEAN's future centrality in relation to this issue. 1. ASEAN and its host state clearly learned from its historic 2012

From the comments section: Chinese actions in the South China Sea

Featuring the best comments by Interpreter readers, as selected by the editors. A couple of excellent reader responses to Sam Roggeveen's post on Chinese actions in the South China Sea. First, Mishmael disagrees with Sam's proposal that China could pursue a less risky (and cheaper) 'rise' by

The China-Vietnam standoff: Three key factors

So, another maritime incident between China and one of its neighbours. There are reports from officials in Hanoi that Chinese and Vietnamese vessels collided on at least two separate occasions in the South China Sea on Sunday, in waters 120nm off the Vietnamese coast. The dispute began last

Interview: Malcolm Fraser on 'Dangerous Allies'

Yesterday I had a long and fascinating talk with former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who has just released Dangerous Allies, his new book calling for a substantially more independent Australian strategic posture. You can listen to the whole conversation below, but I have also

Mearsheimer's big question: Can China rise peacefully?

The University of Chicago's famed international relations theorist John Mearsheimer has generously updated, and posted free of charge, the epilogue to his legendary realist book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. The original book, published in 2001, is frankly hard reading for any young IR or

Three reasons why North Korea continues to provoke

Yesterday North Korea conducted artillery exercises in the Yellow Sea (West Sea). Approximately one hundred rounds feel across the border, prompting the South to counter-fire and scramble F-15s to the area (here is a useful write-up of the incident). South Korean residents of local islands were

Anti-piracy effort marks China's rise as global power

Here's a major piece of research from the US Naval War College about China's participation in Gulf of Aden anti-piracy operations over the last four-plus years. It's from November last year but very much still worth flagging. It's incredibly thorough, covering everything from operational lessons to

Xi Jinping consolidates his control of PLA

Chinese President Xi Jinping's consolidation of power in military affairs has picked up over the past week. On Saturday state media reported that Xi is to lead a group in charge of deepening military reform. Xi already heads up similar bodies on economic reform and runs the newly established

Is India 'losing' the Bay of Bengal?

Is the Bay of Bengal the next strategic locus for Sino-Indian strategic competition? Prominent strategic commentator Raja Mohan recently lamented that India was on the point of 'losing' the Bay of Bengal to China. The occasion of his complaint was the attendance by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan

General Hurley previews the Defence White Paper

Twenty months ago the Chief of the Defence Force delivered a speech at the Lowy Institute outlining how he thought the 2013 White Paper would be developed. Today at the University of Canberra's National Security Institute, the CDF again gave a speech foregrounding a Defence White Paper. But this

US position hardens on China's nine-dashed line

In January 2013, senior US Navy intelligence officer Captain James Fanell described China's maritime strategy and ambitions as 'hegemonic' and aggressive, and said China 'bullies adversaries'. This unusually blunt assessment made news around the world. Sam Roggeveen, who broke the story for The

US defence budget: Hagel cuts won't be the last

Those of you who read Mike Green's post this morning and who have followed the coverage of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's budget bid will understand that this is not the last word on the US defence budget. Congress will try to fight some of the cuts, the sequester may impose further cuts, and as

Burma: A critical look at those chemical weapons claims

Since the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, strategic analysts monitoring developments in Burma (Myanmar) have been on quite a roller-coaster ride, particularly with regard to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Over the past 25 years, both the former military regime and President Thein Sein's reformist

Interview: Danny Russel on the status of the US rebalance

Daniel (Danny) Russel is US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which means he is the State Department's senior Asia diplomat (he succeeded Kurt Campbell in the role). Russel traveled with his boss John Kerry to Jakarta early this week and then made a quick visit to

China's navy showing its inexperience on the open oceans

The US Navy has formed the view that the November 2013 incident between the American cruiser Cowpens and the Chinese carrier group arose directly from the PLA Navy's lack of experience with oceanic operations and the formal and informal rules which govern interactions between foreign navies. That's

Three notes on the State of the Union

1. The importance of Asia to America Robert Kelly's outstanding contribution on the absence of Asia from Obama's State of the Union speech deserves a brief addendum. Here's a key excerpt from Bob's post: ...in both security and economic affairs, the relationship is highly asymmetric, and those

Is Burma really buying submarines?

For the past six months, there have been intermittent reports in the news media and on specialist websites stating that Burma (Myanmar) is developing a submarine capability. If this is true, it has important implications not only for Burma and the region, but also for the wider international

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