Saturday 25 Jun 2022 | 18:24 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


India consolidates its role in southern Maldives

The visit in recent days by Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Maldives is further demonstration of India’s intention to build long-term ties. Jaishankar’s visit to Addu Atoll, in the far south of the country, also highlights the particular importance of that atoll to India and

How the Marcos family could rule again in the Philippines

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, only son and namesake of the Philippines’ late kleptocratic dictator, looks set to win the country’s upcoming presidential election in May. Consecutive polls in January and February have the junior Marcos winning with a staggering 60 per cent of the national vote. Bongbong

Stiffening the ASEAN spine in the South China Sea

“Coalition” is one of those politically loaded terms that the sovereignty-conscious member-states of ASEAN tend to avoid – especially in dealing with disputed claims in the South China Sea. Keeping the region away from direct conflict with its giant neighbour the People’s Republic of China

What counts for victims of trafficking?

Trafficking in persons is a billion-dollar global industry that seeks anonymity in every aspect of its criminal execution. Yet data related to human trafficking is a rare resource and, until recently, not one that focused on the experience of victims and survivors of human trafficking. A landmark

Waiting for North Korea to escalate

After North Korea conducted a spate of missile tests in January, it was argued that the country had ended its self-imposed 2018 moratorium on testing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and possibly also nuclear weapons. Even the UN Secretary-General claimed that a test on 30 January had

China’s women “hold up half the sky”

Advocacy for women’s rights is on the rise in China, whether the censors like it or not. And feminism is gathering more support, highlighted in recent weeks across China’s social media through debate on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an uncomfortable exposition of the country’s

Does the Quad Plus add up?

According to its members, the Quad – a group comprising the United States, Japan, India and Australia – seeks to present an inclusive vision for the Indo-Pacific region, and its members seek to work with a range of countries. Despite this rhetoric, the group hasn’t established any clear

Common enemies and instinctive friends

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Likewise, there may not be an instinctive alignment of my two adversaries. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s reference to “arc of autocracy” and the “instinctive” alignment between Russia and China in the address at the Lowy Institute was

Ukraine war triggers debate on Japan’s nuclear option

In the wake of the Ukraine conflict, Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former prime minister and now head of the largest faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), has suggested that Japan consider hosting US nuclear weapons facilities on Japanese soil, similar to some European nations, such as

What the Ukraine crisis means for the Indo-Pacific

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has overturned the post-1945 international system.  Attention has focused on the sea change in European attitudes to security threats, the defence spending that Russia’s aggression has produced, and the sobering challenge Russia’s invasion poses to accepted

Putin and Xi: Surviving Ukraine

Polling by Russian Field at the end of February indicated that a majority of Russians (59 per cent) supported Vladimir Putin’s “special military operations” in Ukraine. Yet, the longer the war goes on in Ukraine, and the more restrictive international economic sanctions become, factors from

Asia’s space race: China leads India on strategy

China and India are historical space nations having invested in space since the 1960s. Both countries have viewed investments in space as part of their national development goals, and a mechanism to establish autarky, help develop and sustain regime legitimacy, augment internal national pride and

Reading Southeast Asia on Ukraine 

Southeast Asia doesn’t much matter to the outcome of a war far away in Europe. Yet Southeast Asian countries responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offer an insight into the region’s ability to navigate sharpening major power rivalries. So how does the region’s response stack up so far

The Ukraine crisis and Timor-Leste

In the midst of an international crisis, it is remarkable when small countries still find the courage to adhere to their democratic principles. This time the Timorese government has chosen to respect its independence history and democratic values by condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This

China needs to rethink its Russia policy

When the Chinese embassy in Ukraine hastily began the evacuation of its citizens much later than those of other nations, it seemed a sign that Beijing either wasn’t given advance notice of the Russian invasion, or at least failed to grasp the immediacy. In a call with Russian President Vladimir

China and the Ukraine crisis

The 2008 financial crisis accelerated China’s emergence as a global power in ways that Beijing found unsettling. The economic mess in the North Atlantic world thrust the People’s Republic of China into a global position that it had thought would take a generation to reach. Suddenly China could

The election for the future of the internet

In September this year, UN member states will cast their votes for the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). While elections for bureaucratic positions in obscure, technical UN bodies normally pass unnoticed, the ITU has emerged as the major battleground in

Russia-Ukraine: Lessons for Australia’s defence

Lesson 1:  The era of state-on-state conflict is still with us The idea that war between nations has become an anachronism over the last 40 years has some statistical support, but evidence from the post-Cold War period of relative peace needs to be weighed against hundreds of years of

Courting change for Indonesia’s invisible brides

This month, the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice 2 (AIPJ2) published data on child marriage in Indonesia in collaboration with a number of Indonesian government agencies. On the face of it, this may look like another set of numbers. However the fact it was published at all is quite a feat

Okinawa’s vocal anti-US military base movement

In early January this year, US military bases in Okinawa, Japan, were again the subject of criticism after the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was detected among US base personnel and subsequently spread to locals. Hostility towards the presence of the bases has existed since the 1950s and the anti-base

Myanmar’s military numbers

Over the years, countless attempts have been made to estimate the size of Myanmar’s armed forces (or Tatmadaw). However, the fact remains that no-one really knows. Despite the Tatmadaw’s critical role in Myanmar’s national affairs, its size has always been for observers one of the great “

Handle with care: China’s economic engagement in Myanmar

As a resource-abundant country and a close neighbour, Myanmar has been a popular destination for Chinese investment. Although China has had a cosy time investing in Myanmar since 1988 when the military regime was internationally isolated, it is fair to argue that Chinese businesses in Myanmar faced

Indonesia makes a big defence statement

The fuss made over Friday’s Quad meeting in Melbourne is quite out of proportion to the group’s significance. Australians shouldn’t take any comfort from rhetoric about democratic solidarity and common values. The bonds holding together the quadrilateral relationship between the United States

Asia’s Covid waste dilemma

For the last couple of years, virtually every news feed or broadcast has included images of mask-clad people or health workers suited up as protection from Covid-19. While the images might be ephemeral, those masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), along with used test kits and discarded

Delivering promises will show steel in Quad

The German naval chief, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, lost his job during a visit to Delhi last month. During an interaction where he went woefully off-script, he urged the West to offer “respect” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and keep the focus trained on China, a “not so nice

Mauritius sets sail to Chagos

On Tuesday, Mauritius made good on a long-standing threat to Britain and sent a boatload of officials to visit the Chagos Archipelago without permission. This action has placed Britain, which administers the disputed island territory, in a very difficult position. Touted by Mauritian Prime

Getting ready for Trump as President 47

Paul Kelly’s recently published book, Morrison’s Mission: How a Beginner Reshaped Australian Foreign Policy, provides the most detailed account yet of the formation of the country’s foreign policy since Scott Morrison became prime minister in 2018 and is full of useful insights. The Forever