Wednesday 03 Jun 2020 | 07:27 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Australia and South Korea: Time to expand co-operation

This week the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, supported by the Korea Foundation, is hosting the Australia-Republic of Korea (ROK) Emerging Leaders International Security Forum in Sydney and Canberra, bringing together scholars and future policymakers focused on the bilateral

Beware of provocation in the South China Sea

American Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson has provoked controversy with statements about possible actions by the United States in the South China Sea. In testimony at a confirmation hearing he suggested the US might deny China access to its artificial islands in the South China Sea. This

Missed opportunities at the Australia-Japan summit

Although it took place at Kirribilli House, just around the corner from where I live, I can unfortunately claim no inside information on last weekend’s Sydney summit between Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Shinzo Abe. From this nosy neighbour’s reading though, the outcomes on defence and

South China Sea: Tillerson throws a rhetorical bomb

US Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson has made some potentially explosive remarks about the South China Sea at his Congressional confirmation hearing: In comments expected to enrage Beijing, Rex Tillerson told his confirmation hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that

Central Asian connectivity: Going beyond China

Central Asia is experiencing a connectivity boom, with China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ the most dominant vision for the region. Yet this dominance has started to worry Central Asian powers, leading to the emergence of a new narrative – that of diversification. With China becoming the

Australia-India relations: Poised for take off

Relations between India and the United States before the redefining changes of the past two decades were possibly best summarised in the title of a book by the American diplomat Dennis Kux: Estranged Democracies. But that phrase could just as easily have applied, more recently, to India and

The year to come: Northeast Asian security in 2017

The consensus seems to be that 2016 was terrible (perhaps because your favorite celebrity died, or because you still have not processed that Donald Trump did actually get elected), but 2017 promises to be tougher. Trump will take office, and in East Asia, medium-term trend lines are

Asia’s educational arms race

Once again East Asian countries have dominated the global education tables. In recent weeks, both the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) published their rankings of education systems worldwide based on students’

Afghanistan: Big power disagreements add to instability

Afghanistan has long suffered from interference by neighbouring and regional states. Despite the presence of international military forces, the donation of billions of dollars in aid, and commitments from the United States, United Nations, and NATO to uphold the development, territorial integrity,

Northeast Asia: Five big security shifts in 2016

As the year winds down, it's time to look back on the biggest stories in the always-tense northeast Asian region. End-of-year lists are a useful, if soft, methodological tool in that they force a ranking or prioritisation on events. Issues that may seem like a big deal at the time can blow over,

The future according to Vlad and Shinzo

Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan later this week is not interesting in itself. Rather, it is the strategic environment in which it is happening that holds our attention. Through this visit we can discern what the world’s powers think a Trump administration may mean for them, and see how they

What to make of Abe's Pearl Harbor visit

In May this year, US President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima, the first serving president to do so. At the end of this month, on 26 and 27 December, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe will visit Pearl Harbor (though whether he is the first serving Japanese prime minister to do so is subject to some

Laos: Playing to win in Mekong hydropower game

At a time of deep concern about the ecological future of the Mekong River (declining fish stocks, reduced water and sedimentation flows, and destructive saltwater incursion into the Mekong delta), Laos, the minnow of the participants in the Mekong River Agreement of 1995, is continuing to

Dealing with xenophobic nationalism: Lessons from Singapore

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech to a conference of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) on 4 December highlighted his government’s acute recognition of the challenges posed to the liberal international order that has provided a benign context for the city-state’s

In Vietnam, Castro receives his dues

Vietnam is to hold a national day of mourning for Fidel Castro this Sunday, 4 December. Even now the old comrade commands respect in Vietnam. The country has been cultivating a varied network of foreign relationships in recent years, lately strengthening its ties with India and dismantling

South Korea-Japan relations: Threat and identity

In May 2012, Japan and Australia signed a bilateral information-sharing agreement. There was little media coverage in either country and neither government faced any political backlash. In the same year, Japan and South Korea were supposed to sign a similar agreement with the inelegant acronym

What to expect from Pakistan's new army chief

On Tuesday, General Qamar Javed Bajwa succeeded General Raheel Sharif to become Pakistan’s chief of army staff (COAS). Bajwa was the dark horse in the race, superseding four generals (including the reputed favourite) to reach the top job. This is not unusual: setting aside the first two Britons in

Indonesia considers trade options post TPP

US President elect Donald Trump's confirmation he intends to pull out of the TPP has led to confusion and uncertainty across the region. For its part, Indonesia is still keen to sign on to the TPP but there are many factors to consider in the cost-benefit analysis on the topic the

High hopes and a big let-down: Vietnam and the TPP

Vietnam was thought to be a big winner from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As such, US President-elect Donald Trump's promise to withdraw from the deal is obviously bad news. Though it wasn’t unexpected, Vietnam has several reasons for disappointment: It might be a signal of a slowdown in

The crisis in Seoul and risks to the region

South Korea is engulfed in a month-long national crisis that has brought politics to a standstill, and the timing could not be worse for the Korean Peninsula and the region. A president in name only The headlines out of Seoul over the past month have been one head-scratcher after another:

Laos dams bad news for those downriver on the Mekong

A few days after Donald Trump's stunning election victory, a potentially bigger story broke for the millions who depend on the Mekong river for their food and livelihood: Laos informed the Mekong River Commission that it intends to proceed with a new hydro dam in the Pak Beng district, its

The Ahok witch-hunt in Jakarta

While Saturday’s rally in Central Jakarta celebrating the tenet Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (‘Unity in Diversity’) failed to pull a crowd as large as the rally calling for Jakarta’s governor Ahok to be jailed for blasphemy in the same spot just over a fortnight earlier, it was thankfully a calmer

APEC: Staggering past relevance

Even though it is the region’s second oldest multilateral mechanism, APEC continues to find relevance hard to come by. Best known for the photo taken at the annual leaders’ summit at which said leaders bond over the humiliation of donning often garish 'national attire', this grouping has never

Cambodia: Would Hun Sen's CPP accept electoral defeat?

Cambodia goes to the polls in both 2017 and 2018, with local elections next year and national elections the year after. At a time when the Brexit vote in Britain and Donald Trump’s election victory have underlined the dangers of prediction, it would be a bold forecaster who would be prepared to

Jakarta rally exposes division among Islamic State loyalists

By Nava Nuraniyah, an analyst at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), Jakarta. Extremist groups have failed to exploit the 4 November Islamist protest against the Jakarta governor in order to spark sectarian conflict. In fact, the rally has deepened internal

Australia must prepare for an Asia without America

Our first thoughts should be for Americans, and the damage that has been done to their institutions, their society and their national self-respect. But there is nothing to say about this American tragedy that has not been said far better by Americans themselves. So let’s leave it at that. Our

What Donald Trump means for India

Like all American envoys, the US Ambassador to India Rich Verma has had a difficult job in the past forty-eight hours, as New Delhi gets to grips with the election of Donald Trump. US-India ties, he argued, transcended the ‘friendship of the American President and the Indian Prime Minister’,

Japan’s golden opportunity

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s overtures to China, hostility to the US and lavish praise of Japan have certainly raised some eyebrows. Yet, as surprising as his rhetoric has been, there is no reason to be overly concerned at this juncture. The fissure that has opened between Manila

PLA Air Force unveils its pride and joy

Yesterday at the Zhuhai Air Show, China's air force officially unveiled its worst-kept secret, the J-20 stealth fighter. What is China hoping to achieve by showing off this new weapons system? In earlier times China would have waited until a new fighter entered squadron service before even

Dominoes in the South China Sea

First the Philippines, now Malaysia is being drawn deeper into China's orbit. Are dominoes teetering again in Southeast Asia? The limitations of that metaphor were clear in the Cold War, and are even more so now given the region’s much greater geopolitical fluidity. Originally published in the

China drives Australia and Indonesia into a closer embrace

Australia holds so-called 2+2 meetings of foreign and defence ministers with a steadily expanding number of nations, Germany having joined the A-list last September. Getting senior defence and foreign affairs officials in the same room at the same time makes perfect sense: many foreign relations

Law of the sea: Activist judges open a pandora's box

The recent judgement by the Arbitral Tribunal constituted under Annex VII of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the nature of the features in the South China Sea caused some stir in both foreign ministries and among international lawyers, and not just because it favoured the

Why Indonesian extremists are gaining ground

If anyone wonders why Indonesia has been ineffective in curbing extremism, the anti-Ahok campaign provides an object lesson. In the name of demanding that the Jakarta governor be prosecuted for blasphemy, it brings together violent extremists, moralist thugs and powerful political interests. And

What's next for Xi Jinping?

There has been considerable speculation about whether Chinese President (and newly annointed 'core' leader) Xi Jinping might be secretly planning to extend his time in power past the standard two five-year terms. In 2017 the Chinese Communist Party will hold its 19th Congress, where it

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