Wednesday 01 Apr 2020 | 07:29 | SYDNEY
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Asia

If a tree falls in Nepal, will anyone care?

For all its natural attributes, Nepal is considered a country that provides a template for what not to do, ecologically. Officials from neighbouring states will quietly admit to looking at Nepal in horror, as a country that has blithely sacrificed its environment in favour of rampant

Pushing the Philippines‑US alliance over the cliff

The termination of the 1998 Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) initiated by the Duterte administration will mark a historic disruption of American power projection in the Asia-Pacific, and deal a serious blow to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea–based maritime order

Japan–South Korea tensions show little sign of easing

2019 saw a rapid deterioration of Japan–South Korea relations on several fronts. In a culmination of the reoccurring spats over nationalist issues such as reparations for Korean comfort women and protests over the Dokdo/Takeshima islands that have characterised the bilateral relationship in recent

Bad news for the BJP as Delhi turns its back on Modi

In this month’s election to the Delhi Legislative Assembly, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Adami Party (AAP or the Common Man Party) won another landslide victory, claiming 62 of the 70 seats. This left only eight for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that currently rules India under Prime Minister

Economic diplomacy: Indonesian trade deals and real deals

Moving on It is notable that while the three old Cs (curry, cricket, and the Commonwealth) still reappear at Australia-India gatherings, this week’s Indonesian summitry occurred with little reference to the parallel three Bs (boats, beef, and Bali). These two strange neighbours seem

In Africa, the US plays catch-up with China

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced his first trip to Africa, 15–19 February, with stops in Senegal, Ethiopia, and Angola. The choice of these three countries demonstrates that the US remains focused on security and economic investment issues in Africa, and, in the case of Angola, is

Singapore’s quarrel over colonialism

If you take an early evening stroll through Singapore’s old civic heart, the ghosts of Empire loom all around. You might start your walk at the celebrated Raffles Hotel, where – as tourists are endlessly reminded – English literary giants like Rudyard Kipling and Noel Coward once languidly

Australia-Indonesia: Building trust

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi highlighted the importance of developing what she called “strategic trust” in Australia-Indonesia relations, just ahead of the visit to Canberra this week by President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”). Retno declared a more trusting Australia-Indonesia

Jokowi’s Canberra trip: A step ahead on a long road

In any relationship, it’s never a great sign when both parties have to reassure each other constantly about the strength of their bond. The more you feel the need to say it, the less true it tends to be. So it was revealing that both Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indonesian

Five urgent issues for Indonesia’s president

On 10 February, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) will address Australia’s parliament. Indonesia is often referred to as the democratic success story of Southeast Asia and a model of Muslim democracy, yet it has been responsible for significant backsliding on human rights in recent

Brexit and the Pacific: Sink or swim?

After 47 years of a chaotic marriage, and more than three years of debates and negotiations that have cost two prime ministers, the United Kingdom has finally separated from the European Union. The current conversations on the global consequences of this rupture have largely ignored the Pacific,

Chart of the week: Trust in China

Almost 30,000 cases of coronavirus have been officially confirmed, amid reports of Chinese authorities increasingly cracking down on information at the epicentre of the crisis. With governments around the world imposing travel bans, as well as local Chinese communities being unfairly stigmatised,

US-China competition in Asia: Who risks wins

If Australians could rely on the US to remain the uncontested most powerful state in our region, and the preferred security partner for our neighbours, we would be mad not to want a future like that. Maintenance of the post-Second World War American-led order in Asia has required major sacrifices

ASEAN: Perceptions of power and security

The State of Southeast Asia: 2020 Survey Report, produced by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute of Singapore, has confirmed the power rivalry between China and United States is one of the primary concerns of Southeast Asian states. The survey of professionals from the business sector, public service,

Indonesia: the not so good news

Indonesia’s booming economy has been growing between 5% and 6% for years and its GDP (PPP) is well ahead of Australia’s. A G20 member, it is proud of its new status as an emerging middle-class country, with PricewaterhouseCoopers predicting it will be among the world’s top five economies by

Carlos Ghosn – from rock-star CEO to international fugitive

Carlos Ghosn’s fall from grace is one of the most amazing recent episodes in international corporate life. It seems just like yesterday that Carlos Ghosn was the “rock-star executive” who in 1999 restructured and saved the highly indebted Japanese motor vehicle maker Nissan on behalf of

Afghan transit a game changer for Gwadar port

On a sunny Tuesday in the third week of January, a cargo ship named Diyala docked at Gwadar seaport, in south-west Pakistan. The enthusiastic port staff quickly unloaded the cargo. When the unloading was finished, Chinese officials operating the port, along with their Pakistani counterparts, posed

Forging consensus in the South China Sea

Analysis as to how Hanoi might resolve its South China Sea disputes with other claimants has been overshadowed by a near exclusive depiction of its competition with Beijing. Hanoi’s current maritime disputes with Beijing have presented few opportunities for strategic progress. Comparatively, the

For Rohingya, the long distance between law and justice

One would think that, after 100 years, the International Court of Justice would know about administering international justice. To the extent that the “world court” does or doesn’t understand international justice really depends on your interpretation of the term. The ruling on Myanmar’s

Wuhan coronavirus: How upfront has Beijing been?

It is too early to make a definitive judgement about how Beijing has handled the outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China. But it is already clear that any assessment will have to take into account not just the medical side of the virus’s

India: Navigating the straits of capability

Early in the new year, India’s defence industry witnessed a rare moment of glory when the domestically developed light combat aircraft made its first-ever landing on the navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. It was a major achievement for the Indian navy – a force that has spearheaded

Japan has struck low in climate ambition

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has repeatedly pledged that his country would lead global efforts to address climate change. Increasingly, however, Japan is facing scrutiny over the gap between its lofty rhetoric and the reality of its climate policies, which include ongoing support for coal-

In Timor-Leste, failed budget sparks a political crisis

In an extraordinary development, the government’s revised budget for 2020 failed to pass Timor-Leste’s parliament last Friday, despite the governing alliance having an outright majority. Xanana Gusmão’s CNRT – the largest of the three parties of the Alliance for Change and Progress (AMP

Deng’s pragmatism is China’s poison pill

China’s contemporary economic renaissance, measured across the past 40 years, is largely an orchestration of the expansion of capitalism, and the repression of communist ideology. The economic divergence brought forth by the Global Financial Crisis, between China and the West gave China the

Economic diplomacy: Two big-C issues

Change of pace If Australia’s bushfire crisis has done one thing to inadvertently calm the national zeitgeist during the holiday season, it is in the way climate change has suddenly returned to supplant China as the country’s biggest wicked problem. But in reality, these two big-C issues

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