Monday 27 Sep 2021 | 11:09 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 27 Sep 2021 06:00

    Dankeschön Frau Merkel

    A former Australian ambassador to Germany reflects on the Chancellor’s significant impact in the Indo-Pacific.

  • 24 Sep 2021 12:00

    Afghanistan: The Hazara dread

    What the Taliban takeover means for one of the most persecuted peoples in the world.

  • 24 Sep 2021 10:00

    Whipping the Covid-19 vaccine market into shape

    The COVAX vaccine procurement facility has run a remarkable race, but needs stable funding for long-term success.

Asia

China debate not just a matter of hawks and doves

Book Reviews  Peter Hartcher Red Zone: China’s Challenge and Australia’s Future (Black Inc., 2021)David Brophy China Panic: Australia’s Alternative to Paranoia and Pandering (La Trobe University Press, 2021) If you wanted to give a political outsider a sense of

What to do after the Taliban take-over

I am not an emotionally detached observer of Afghanistan. The country was once my second home, and I still have friends and colleagues there. Frankly, I am gutted – it is hard to erase the kind of images that emerged from Kabul airport on Monday. Nor should we, this is what desperation looks like

UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt – not just for the good times

The United Kingdom’s proposed “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific was met with plenty of scepticism, including from this author, when it was unveiled in March as part of a broader Integrated Review of defence and foreign policy. Politicians and foreign policy analysts tend to obsess about

Kabul has fallen and so have we

In September of 1996, I along with a group of journalists based in New Delhi, followed the Taliban into Kabul. It was a cold day all round. There were munitions piled high on the side of roads, bloated bodies and destroyed buildings. The corpse of President Mohammad Najibullah had just been cut down

Afghanistan: the right time to leave

Joe Biden is right to get the United States out of Afghanistan. Even as Kabul has been taken over by the Taliban, the case remains strong that after 20 years, the United States has fought its war in the country. It is sometimes easy to forget that the president is also commander-in-chief of the US

Economic diplomacy: Burning down the house

Follow the money Forget Extinction Rebellion, carbon border adjustment mechanisms and doctors’ wives in inner city Liberal seats. When Prime Minister Scott Morrison locked onto the existential message in this week’s United Nations climate change report it seems to have been about how foreign

How can Australia reset relations with China?

Australia-China relations appear caught in a well-charted downward spiral. In the past year alone both countries have lodged complaints against the other with the World Trade Organisation and a freeze on high-level diplomatic relations remains in place. China has slapped tariffs on key Australian

Afghanistan: Russia faces its own risks and uncertainty

The American withdrawal from Afghanistan offers some opportunities to Russia – but exposes it to greater uncertainty and risk. Russia has long been ambivalent about the US/NATO force presence in Afghanistan. On the one hand, Moscow recognised, and valued, the stabilising role they played in the

Australia and India: A time to refocus on trade talks

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has just completed a packed visit to India from 2–6 August as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s special trade envoy. Abbott should have reason to be encouraged by his interactions and his meetings with a cross section of decision-makers in India,

Life in a host city, at home, live-streaming the Olympics

One of the unexpected benefits of studying abroad for an extended period is the new perspective it brings to understanding your own country. Certainly, my first two years of study abroad in Tokyo the 1980s, in pre-internet times, taught me things about Australia that I didn’t know, like just how

Is Pakistan fuelling a Taliban takeover?

As districts fall to the Taliban one after another without resistance, the government in Afghanistan has squarely put the blame on Pakistan for the mayhem in the country. This is because the Afghan officials believe that without help from Pakistan, the Taliban could not possibly takeover

Man on a mission: Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan

President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan in a short space of time aligns with the priorities of the Democratic party, but it would be a mistake to view the decision as ideological and impetuous. Since Biden’s opinion on American involvement in Afghanistan has

India-US ties: Work in progress

Diplomatese papered over the political turbulence in India during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s two-day official visit to the country on 27 and 28 July. Narendra Modi’s government has been stigmatised not only by the Indian public and the opposition parties for its excesses against

Russia and Vietnam: An alliance of convenience

Russia is one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Southeast Asia, with Vietnam alone a major customer for Russia’s arms. While it is estimated that throughout the 1980s Moscow had provided Vietnam with an average of US$1 billion annually in military assistance and another US$1 billion annually

China’s Afghan conundrum

Beijing traditionally looked with discomfort at the presence of US troops in Afghanistan, urging Washington to withdraw. Now, as the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, China has changed tack, criticising the US for the “abrupt” nature of its exit. While not baseless, such criticism

Why China and North Korea decided to renew a 60-year-old treaty

Sixty years have passed since the China-North Korea Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance was signed on 11 July 1961. On the anniversary this month, China’s President Xi Jinping and North Korean chairman Kim Jong-un pledged to renew the Treaty for another 20 years, as China and

Bad news for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

The release of recent research from the Netherlands adds an additional insight into what is happening in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, the country’s all-important food producing region that contributes some fifty per cent to its agricultural GDP. In a stark conclusion the research cites 2050 as the

Far more world leaders visit China than America

In April, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga became the first foreign leader to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House. Suga’s trip marked the return of leader-level travel to Washington after the Covid-19 pandemic. Suga told reporters that his team was so excited to meet their

India: A very colonial hangover

In the 1830’s Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay set about drafting a piece of legislation that would outlive not just him but also the empire that gave him the license to do so. Indeed, it’s a cruel irony that Macaulay’s world view, long discredited in the former colony, has found an almost

When the chips are down: Biden’s semiconductor war

Export control policy in the semiconductor sector – an industry that supplies the world’s computer, smartphone, appliances and medical equipment industry with electronic chips – was at the forefront of Donald Trump’s tech war against China. The addition of China’s top chipmakers, such as

Another proxy war in Afghanistan?

With the US in the process of withdrawing the last of its troops from Afghanistan, it has taken little time for fierce fighting to flare up in several parts of the country, as the Taliban seeks to wrest control from the elected government. Already, it has overrun large swathes of territory and is

China’s numbers game harms us all

Speaking before a crowd at Tiananmen Square that gathered in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi Jinping triumphantly declared that the goal of building China into a “moderately prosperous” society had been completed. Though without a clear measurable

US-China rivalries: What matters for ASEAN

An interesting discussion about how Australia should respond to US President Joe Biden’s call for closer alignment and cooperation among democratic states has featured in a recent series of articles on The Interpreter. Between them, Susannah Patton and Ashley Townshend,  Michael Green, Ben

Bringing the grey zone into focus

Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update was, by the standards of such publications, a hard-hitting document. It had a particularly strong focus on grey zone activities, seen as increasingly troubling the Indo-Pacific and involving “military and non-military forms of assertiveness and coercion

The politics of PacMan

Boxer and Philippine senator Manny Pacquiao knows how to pick his fights. For weeks, the champ has engaged President Rodrigo Duterte in a word war. First, Pacquiao jabbed Duterte’s leniency on the incursion of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea ­– a major thorn in the President’s side

Postcard from Tokyo 2020+1

My university campus sits amid several Olympic venues and the international media centre, down by the ports on Tokyo Bay. From my tenth floor office, I can observe the construction of the second Olympic flame plinth and across the port, the island where canoeing events will be held. On the other

Olympic glory: Tokyo’s success is a win for Beijing

As the excitement of Euro 2020 fades into the football world’s collective memory, another international sporting event rapidly approaches. The Tokyo Olympics, after being in doubt for over 12 months, are now less than two weeks away. It won’t just be Japan wanting things to run smoothly when the

Sun, surf and a sandbox escape from a pandemic

Before the pandemic, Thai island Phuket offered visitors the perfect blend of sun, beach and seedy-but-fun nightlife as one of the region’s best-known tourist destinations. Now, it offers visitors something much more novel: a quarantine free holiday. As of the start of July, fully vaccinated

China’s law on conscription under revision

Last December the Chinese government released its updated National Defence Law in order to rectify the law with changes in the organisation, structure and missions of the Chinese armed forces undertaken over the past two decades, especially those resulting from force-wide reforms initiated on 31

Afghanistan, Australia and the visa conundrum

With the advance of the Taliban in parts of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of coalition forces, the question of how to help Afghans who worked intimately with Australian forces has become a significant media and political issue. Former Prime Minister John Howard, who dispatched Australian troops to

Taipei’s growing legion of friends

“If a major problem occurred in Taiwan, it would not be going too far to say it could be an existential threat [for Japan].” These are the words of Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso during a speech in Tokyo last week. In a significant shift in Japan’s foreign policy, he stated, “If

Xi and beyond

After more than four decades of reform and opening up, the centenary celebrations of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were an opportunity for the Party-state to proclaim the success of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. President Xi Jinping’s speech on 1 July made no bones about China

Whatever happened to the South China Sea ruling?

Five years ago on this day, an international tribunal in a landmark ruling dismissed Beijing’s claim to much of the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague said on 12 July 2016 that there was no evidence that China had exercised exclusive control historically over the key

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