Monday 29 Nov 2021 | 22:31 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Belt and Road means big data and facial recognition, too

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to grow the Chinese economy through facilitating extensive trade across Eurasia and Africa, is now so large it is shaping how China engages its near region and the wider world. Some 126 countries and 29 international organisations have signed

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

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

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

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,

China and Japan’s island dispute

When I was a news hack in 2012, I had the good fortune of interviewing Fumio Kishida, Japan’s foreign minister. He was only 16 days into his new post, and he was doing a four-nation swing of Asia. While he initially sounded tentative, he started to grow more comfortable as he spoke about the

In India and Africa, women farmers lack land rights

In October 2016, women from across the African continent met at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with a charter of demands pushing for women’s right to use, control, own, inherit and dispose land. The Women2Kilimanjaro hike’s demand for more inclusive land rights proved not to be in

Who really killed the Quad 1.0?

The tale has become accepted diplomatic folklore. In the telling, it was Australia, back in 2008 in the early days of the Rudd government, that decided to scuttle the then-nascent Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the four-way talks also involving Japan, the United States and India. To compound

The local cost of rising India-China tensions

India-China tensions have recently escalated at two Himalayan flashpoints: Ladakh and Sikkim. On 5 May, scuffles broke out between Chinese and Indian soldiers near Pangong Tso, a lake that straddles the border in Ladakh. At the same time, there were skirmishes near Nathu La, a mountain pass that

Seychelles: Truth, justice and Australia

Australia has not usually had a high profile in the Indian Ocean island states such as Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. This despite Australia’s huge Indian Ocean littoral, presence of three oceanic territories, mutual Commonwealth links and substantial investment. Inter-governmental visits

The Trump card in the Sino-Indian rivalry?

As worrying details about the month-long India-China border dispute continue to pour in, Donald Trump, in his signature style, has muddied waters in two significant ways. First, on Wednesday morning, he tweeted: “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and

Another pearl in China’s string?

The Cambodian island of Koh Rong, long a backpacker’s haven, lies just a quick boat ride from Sihanoukville, a city that has come to symbolise the governmental intimacy of Cambodia and China. Omnipresent Chinese-owned casinos, along with frequent reports of criminal behaviour, have turned

Rohingya in Malaysia, doubly trapped

For some people living in the Ampang district in eastern Kuala Lumpur, self-isolation is nothing new. The area is known for its concentration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, nestled in the grimy apartments and neighbourhoods of this former tin mining centre, and they haven't been going out for a

Hong Kong: System override

At first glance, the latest protests in Hong Kong may seem like a carbon copy of what happened in 2019. On 24 May, thousands of pro-democracy protesters crowded into one of the city’s busiest shopping districts, only to be met by riot police with tear gas and water cannons. Officers arrested at

How is an advanced Australia faring in the Asian century?

China’s barley tariffs have thrust the challenges of trade into the headlines with a prominence rarely seen in the popular Australian media. Although a crucial basis of national prosperity, the “trade” side of Australia’s international engagement has seemingly always had a lower profile than

In Afghanistan, one step forward, but peace still a far leap

Last week, Afghanistan’s top two politicians, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, signed a power-sharing agreement in Kabul, ending their eight-month standoff over September’s presidential elections. The deal allows Ghani to remain president, while giving Abdullah control of the top peacemaking

The battle for a Covid vaccine risks losing the “war”

Leaders of nations around the globe have resorted to the language of warfare to characterise their fight against Covid-19. From US President Donald Trump, who declared himself a “war president”, to China’s Xi Jinping committing to a “people’s war”, to Britain’s Prime Minister Boris

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