Monday 27 Sep 2021 | 11:37 | 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

Covid crisis deepens in junta-ruled Myanmar

A worsening third wave of Covid-19 is a cruel new blow in Myanmar, still reeling from the human costs of the coup on 1 February, and with a military junta more focused on combatting dissent than combatting the virus. Thousands of new cases have arisen since late May, and the Delta, Alpha and Kappa

Abandoning Afghanistan won’t bring peace

Bagram airbase, the nerve centre of US and allied forces operations in Afghanistan, turned into a ghost town over the American Independence Day 4 July weekend. Reports indicate that US forces left in the dead of night on 2 July without informing their Afghan counterparts. Afghans are stunned that

China’s forced invisibility of LGBTQ communities on social media

This week, Chinese multinational technology giant Tencent shut down hundreds of accounts on WeChat linked to LGBTQ groups. Suddenly millions of queer people in China were confronted by a blunt message on their favourite social media accounts: In response to related complaints, all content has been

Ukraine: Balancing China and the rest

Ukraine is attempting to improve its relations with China after the nation’s authorities, allegedly pressured by the United States, decided to halt the takeover of a local aircraft engine manufacturer by a Chinese company. Ukraine is typically seen as country inside a Western sphere of

Staying ahead in global tech leadership

On the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping reiterated the longstanding Chinese goal of strengthening science and technology to help achieve national rejuvenation. China’s advances in areas such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and facial recognition have already

Central Vista Project: Raining on Modi’s parade

The face of New Delhi’s political heart, Lutyens Delhi (named after the British architect Edwin Lutyens who designed it) is a place of broad boulevards, imposing red sandstone buildings, flowing fountains and wide swathes of green space. Built between 1911 and 1931, the area was intended to be the

K-drama takes a dark turn

In recent months, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has raged against the cultural influence of South Korea, calling K-pop a “vicious cancer” permeating North Korean society. This push against South Korean popular culture is nothing new for the regime. In fact, K-dramas and K-pop have long been

Hobbling Indonesia’s anti-corruption body

Ask any Indonesian about their country’s most pressing problem and more likely than not the answers you’ll get are “the economy” and “corruption”. This is with good reason. Indonesia ranks 102 of 179 on Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index, falling over four

Building stronger Australia-Indonesia ties

When then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressed the Australian parliament in 2010, he argued that the bilateral relationship faced four major challenges: improving mutual public understanding, managing diplomatic differences, boosting economic ties and adapting to emerging regional

North Korea: The long-awaited fallout of summit diplomacy

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un delivered an important speech last week during a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea – the first substantive response from Pyongyang on the prospects for United States-North Korea relations since the Biden administration completed its North Korea policy

The dangers in Australia’s blissful ignorance about India

A major headline from the 2021 Lowy Institute Poll is the dramatic decline in the Australian public’s assessment of China, continuing the trend already observed in previous years. While 52% of respondents said they trusted China to “act responsibly in the world” either “a great deal” or

India’s hidden Covid crisis

India’s second wave of Covid-19 has been brutal on its people. During the first wave, images emerged of a mass exodus from the major cities with countless people walking – sometimes more than 700 kilometres – back to their villages, many not surviving the journey. Now it is happening again.

The battle for Africa

In his first overseas trip as US President, Joe Biden has flagged he intends to rally European allies in a critical “battle between democracies and autocracies”, and “make it clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight”. Biden is not the only one in

Economic diplomacy: Trade deals for a fast-growing family

Worker vs worker vs student Almost five million Kiwis have always been at least cousins. And Scott Morrison’s distinctive contribution to regional security has been his embrace of about 10 million other islanders as “our Pacific family”. But in a week of rhetoric about international

Australia’s China politics heats up

After a long period of uber-bipartisanship in the handling of China relations, Labor has opened a clear line of attack on the Morrison government.   Last month, at the Canberra launch of Nine columnist Peter Hartcher’s new book, The Red Zone, shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong said

A rising Bangladesh starts to exert its regional power

The recent announcement that Bangladesh would provide US$200 million in aid to Sri Lanka is an important turning point as that country moves from being an impoverished supplicant towards an increasingly influential regional state. It is an outcome of years of high economic growth and points to Dhaka

Myanmar pushes ASEAN to the brink

There is an anxious wait for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to effectively intervene in Myanmar’s political crisis caused by the February 1 military coup. The Myanmar state is functionally failing. The country is spiralling into chaos with rising urban armed violence, civil war, a

China overtakes America in presidential diplomacy

Joe Biden is about to fly to the United Kingdom on his first foreign visit as US President. Biden will attend the G7 summit in Cornwall from 11–13 June, head to Belgium for summits with NATO and the European Union on 14–15 June, then meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland the

Moon’s last, best chance after Biden summit

US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held their first in-person summit in Washington last month, signing a lengthy joint statement that underscored the linchpin alliance forged in the battlefields of the Korean War and a shared vision governed by democratic norms, human

Saudi Arabia wins back Pakistan

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Saudi Arabia last month, the official reason being to establish the grandly named Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council and give strategic direction to bilateral ties – yet in reality a scramble for the chance to reset relations between two

China’s never-ending Tibet paranoia

Beijing has long been anxious about the popularity of the Dalai Lama, and Tibet remains a principal source of international vulnerability for the Peoples Republic of China. After the Dalai Lama relinquished political responsibilities in 2011, the position of Sikyong, considered president of the

Is Southeast Asia ready for a US-China tech decoupling?

Recent developments suggest that both China and the United States are taking steps towards unravelling or “decoupling” their technology ecosystems. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the semiconductor industry, which manufactures the chips allowing everything from smartphones to cars to

How strong is Duterte the strongman?

The 2016 presidential race in the Philippines looked like the perfect time for Rodrigo Duterte to come to power. The country was coming off of Noynoy Aquino’s soft and ineffectual presidency, and there was a sweeping sense that voters were keen on the unconventional. In stepped Duterte, who spoke

Thailand’s overcrowded prisons hit by Covid-19 surge

Thailand emerged from the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic as one of the best performing countries in the world in terms of minimising cases and deaths. But 2021 has been a different story. A surge in infections since the beginning of April has seen thousands of new cases each day and a spike

Myanmar is not the next Syria

The deteriorating situation in Myanmar has led some observers to issue warnings of a “new Syria”. The two scenarios are not without broad similarities. In mid-April, civilians in Myanmar were being killed at a higher rate than in 2011 Syria, when a crackdown on protests sparked a brutal civil

South Korea’s green goals

Last year, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in launched a climate-change policy branded as a “Green New Deal” as part of a wider stimulus package for the country’s pandemic-afflicted economy. This sat alongside a commitment to achieve a net-zero carbon emissions target by the year 2050

How Gaza occupies Indonesia’s identity wars

Indonesia’s public debate over the issue of Palestinian rights was reawakened by the latest violence, which claimed at least 243 lives in Gaza and 12 in Israel before an eventual ceasefire. Social media was especially animated by vehement arguments as most Indonesians – 86.7% of whom identify as

PNG can’t turn a blind eye to the conflict next door

A video recently surfaced on social media in Papua New Guinea, featuring a group of about 20 men, gathered around their apparent leader, declaring war on Indonesia. “People of East Sepik,” the leader says, referring to one of the two provinces which stretch along PNG’s northern coastline

“Flexible” is the new North Korea policy buzzword

South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a boost in his outreach to North Korea last week after talks with US President Joe Biden. Biden announced he would be open to a summit with North Korea Chairman Kim Jong-un on the proviso that Kim would be willing to give up his nuclear weapons during a

ASEAN’s huge gamble on Myanmar

It has been a month since the ASEAN Leaders met with Myanmar junta Leader Min Aung Hlaing on 24 April in Jakarta to discuss the situation in Myanmar. The meeting itself and the outcome of it – the Five-Point Consensus – has been applauded by some as a rare win for ASEAN, given its limitations in

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