Sunday 27 Sep 2020 | 18:28 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Modi’s pandemic gambit

As the world tries to make sense of the daily debacle of Donald Trump’s response to Covid-19, there’s another democratically elected leader moving in a similar trajectory. India’s Narendra Modi, the man who 15 weeks ago placed his country’s 1.3 billion people under lockdown, is today

Interesting times for TikTok

From Delhi to Washington to Canberra, the future of the digital economy may be heavily influenced by how one question is answered: What to do about TikTok? The popular short-video platform owned by Beijing-based parent company ByteDance has been at the centre of a storm of controversy. Concern

A nervous watch on the Three Gorges Dam

To understand China, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on what is happening inside the country. Much of the current international discussion about China focuses on China’s plans to expand its overseas influence – both in Asia and beyond. But as the legendary American politician Tip O’Neill

Is Huawei in the UK a canary in the coalmine?

It is not a coincidence that Britain’s turnaround on using Huawei for its 5G infrastructure happened at the height of the pandemic. Covid-19 brutally brought back the realisation that international value chains are only as strong as their weakest link. This new awareness made plain that

Singapore’s election: Why aren’t the winners smiling?

The People’s Action Party (PAP) has won its 13th consecutive general election since Singapore became an independent country. PAP won 83 out of 93 seats, a spectacular performance anywhere else. So why isn’t the ruling party smiling? In this election, PAP obtained 61.2% of the popular vote.

India, Australia and containing the China challenge

Australia’s strategy on engaging India has long revolved around the so-called “three Cs”: cricket, curry and the Commonwealth. In light of the changing status of bilateral relations in 2020, let’s add a couple more Cs to the list: China, and containment of. On Friday, it emerged that

Moon’s North Korea vision up in smoke? Not so fast …

North Korea’s demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong on 16 June sent a powerful visual message to the world that North-South relations were degrading. But perhaps equally telling were South Korea’s handling of the destruction and the subsequent personnel and policy

Social credit: The next China risk for Australian business

As China recovers from the Covid-19 crisis, the apparatus of the state is about to be devoted to a new form of social control. By the end of 2020, China plans to introduce its national social credit system. For some, this evokes dystopian visions of a surveillance state, monitoring more than a

The obstacles to Syrian aid

On Saturday last week, following weeks of lobbying by humanitarian agencies and difficult diplomatic negotiations, the UN Security Council renewed its authorisation for the UN and its partners to provide humanitarian assistance in north-western Syria from across the Turkish border. The final

Taiwan tiptoes in cross-strait relations

“The hills will be toppled and the earth will quake,” warned a metaphorically-minded Su Chi, former secretary-general of Taiwan’s National Security Council, ahead of Taiwan’s presidential elections last year. “If Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen were to be re-elected … cross-strait

The kind of test the world doesn’t need

In May, the Washington Post reported discussions within the Trump administration about the possibility of conducting the first US nuclear detonation test since 1992, ostensibly as a countermeasure to the nuclear programs of China and Russia. Last month, officials said no tests were planned, but, in

Twisting India’s Chicken’s Neck

Indian officials claim that China is continuing its build-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between India and China in the Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh region. New satellite imagery supports the claim that not only is the People’s Liberation Army holding ground

Obstacles remain for Pakistan dam backed by China

Over the last decade, the demand to build a new mega-dam intensified in Pakistan. The proposed Diamer-Bhasha dam, 320 kilometres from the border with China in the north, was an obvious choice, because all provincial governments agreed to its location. At 272 metres high, it would be the highest

Philippines government driving jeepneys off the road

After almost four months of lockdown measures due to Covid-19, the Philippines government in June eased restrictions for the majority of the country. But even as public transport systems slowly got back to running, something was missing: the distinctive jeepneys, still banned from plying their trade

The brakes on Beijing’s ambition

When discussing the rise of China, a sense of inevitability often pervades. China’s sheer population size and economic base will inevitably see it become the dominant regional power– or so the argument goes. China’s faster reopening from Covid-19 lockdowns has added to such arguments. That

Keeping the Kremlin in the Kelvinator

One effect of Australia’s more assertive posture on the People’s Republic of China has been to try to split off Beijing’s current and potential partners. This thinking was apparently behind Liberal MP Dave Sharma’s recent suggestion that Australia should back Russia’s participation in the

Singaporeans’ tricky exercise in tactical voting

Singaporeans will go to the polls on 10 July, after a characteristically speedy campaigning period of nine days, along with a “cooling-off day” on which electioneering is banned. Unlike most elections elsewhere, a general election in Singapore isn’t about choosing between different political

Calling out “expansionism”: The Modi way

India’s message to China is loud and clear: expansionism is outdated. In a decisive move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi choose to make the point right from the heart of Ladakh – the scene of violent face-off in Galwan Valley last month that claimed 20 lives in a “pre-meditated and planned

The economics of national security in Hong Kong

In the late hours of Tuesday evening last week, China’s new national security law for Hong Kong came into force. Seen by many as a response to the pro-democracy protests that erupted in the city last year, the law criminalises four types of national security offenses: sedition, subversion,

Indonesia: Still caught between trade and protectionism

The entry into force of an ambitious Indonesia-Australia trade deal on Sunday is a boost to the bilateral relationship, coming after nearly a decade of difficult negotiations. No two neighbouring G20 economies trade as little as Australia and Indonesia, and the investment relationship is similarly

Hong Kong: The finishing blow

The 30th of June is always a challenging day in Hong Kong, as it marks the eve of the anniversary of its 1997 accession by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This year, it proved especially trying for Hong Kong’s beleaguered chief executive, Carrie Lam, whose approval rating has swung over

Economic diplomacy: Diversification dilemmas

Costing the D word Diversification might be the word of the moment in the lexicon of Australian trade debate, even though few advocates make much attempt to explain how it will actually work. But now we have two interesting efforts to quantify just how selected reductions in trade with China in

Canada won’t fall for China’s hostage diplomacy

It has been more than a year and a half since the Chinese government arbitrarily apprehended two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Their arrests have been widely interpreted as retaliation for Canada detaining Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive and the daughter of the company’s

After ASEAN summit, little change on the South China Sea

On 26 June, the leaders of the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their 36th annual summit by video conference, after the in-person summit scheduled for April was postponed because of Covid-19. The pandemic was the main topic of discussions.  Also high on the

International law takes a step towards Asia

As the historical development of international law has been dominated by European principles and doctrine, there is an argument that public international law has always been associated with a Western-centric view of the world. Moreover, major public international law judicial organs such

China’s pipeline dream in Pakistan

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the flagship projects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It initially attracted US$46 billion in investment, which was later increased to $62 billion by April 2017, to support large-scale “infrastructure construction” and industrial

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