Saturday 31 Oct 2020 | 16:13 | SYDNEY
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Asia

China sees the West behind Liu Xiaobo

The reaction in China to the death of Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo last week is both surprising and illuminating. Surprising in that few in the West would have expected anger at the West to feature so strongly, and illuminating in what that anger tells us about Chinese attitudes to the West

Jokowi’s bungled ban of Hizbut Tahrir

On 13 July, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) issued a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) which will allow the banning of the Islamist organisation Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). This follows the government’s announcement on 9 May that it intended to disband HTI on the grounds that its

Pakistan’s political turmoil

This week Pakistan's Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is corrupt. The country is in turmoil with its often febrile politics turned up to boiling point. The trigger point for the Supreme Court hearing is clear. Earlier this month, the Joint Investigation

Australia’s shameful silence on Liu Xiaobo

Overnight, a Nobel laureate and former professor of literature died from complications of liver cancer. He had been imprisoned for more than eight years and appears not to have received genuine medical attention at a municipal hospital until recent weeks, when his illness was well advanced. On his

Malabar 17 exercise: The China subtext

The annual Malabar naval exercise series is underway in Chennai, with the at-sea phase in the Bay of Bengal running from 14-17 July. This year’s iteration is notable for a number of reasons. While Malabar 17 won’t be the largest-ever exercise in the series – Malabar 07-2, the second of the two

Entering the North Korean re-entry debate

South Korean intelligence claims that the recent test of a North Korean ICBM possibly failed to produce a successful warhead re-entry. The statement from Yi Wan-young (a member of the South Korean parliament’s intelligence committee) seems intended to soothe concerns over the potential for North

Vietnam and India: Shared interests in the South China Sea

Vietnam's recent request to India to play a more prominent role in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea did not come as a total surprise. It's not the first time Vietnam has asked a nation with no direct interest in the area for backing – it made a similar call to South Korea a few months ago.

How to complicate North Korea’s nuclear weapons plans

North Korea has the strategic initiative. Its plan to build a nuclear armed, long-range missile force is nearing completion. Other countries can do little – with China's ongoing support, sanctions can be evaded and UN resolutions ignored. Accordingly, many commentators now argue that the Trump

Learning to live with a North Korean ICBM

Last week’s test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by North Korea raises the time-honored question of East Asian international relations: what to do with a neo-feudal, cold war-relic wildly out of touch with the modernising ethos of the fast developers of this region? North

Game-changer: The China-India stand-off in the Himalayas

In recent years, there have been periodic reports of incursions into Indian territory by Chinese soldiers that have led to stand-offs between the two militaries. The most recent such incident, which could be discussed at the G20 meeting this weekend, began on 16 June near the borders of India, China

Enter the dragon: Thailand gets closer to China

The recent announcement that the leader of Thailand’s ruling military junta, General Prayut Chan-Ocha, would use the controversial Article 44 to speed up construction of the delayed $US15 billion Sino-Thai railway confirms warming relations between Thailand’s military-led government and

Pakistan and Jaish-e-Mohammad: An unholy alliance

The resurgence of the extremist Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed in recent years is clear. Less obvious is the nature of - and motivation for - Pakistan's links with the group. India has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for terrorist attacks in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), as well as

North Korea: Jake Sullivan on America's policy dilemma

As world leaders gather in Hamburg for the G20 Summit, North Korea will be high on the agenda following Pyongyang’s successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told a UN Security Council meeting the US was

Winding back the China Solution

The cluster of foreign policy initiatives labelled the 'China Solution' has evolved over the past two years, from a strategy that spoke to the aspirations of a still dev­eloping China to those of a nascent major global power. Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump precipitated a

North Korea’s ICBM weakens Washington’s hand in Asia

So North Korea has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. That is definitely alarming, though a few caveats: the missile is almost certainly not operational with the North Korean armed forces, and nor have we seen evidence that North Korea could mount a minituarised nuclear warhead on such a

How China views the plight of refugees

With assistance from Zixin Wang, an intern with the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. Following World Refugee Day on 20 June, Chinese netizens have been heatedly debating whether China should accept refugees. 'Debating' may be too strong a word – social media users are for the most part

China and Hong Kong: ‘One country above all’

One country is above all. That was the loud and clear message President Xi Jinping delivered to Hong Kong as the city commemorated the 20th anniversary of the handover from the UK to China. Hong Kong might have been 'returned' to the motherland in 1997, but the hearts of the people have not, a

Book Review: Graham Allison’s 'Destined for War'

Graham Allison’s new book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides Trap?, crashes China's rise into the US political mainstream. Unsurprisingly, it took 'a red-blooded, perhaps red-necked American' (Allison's words) to draw attention to an issue that those residing in our part of

Modi-Trump meeting: Signs of continued convergence

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inaugural visit to the Trump White House this week was fraught with uncertainty, with recent irritations in the relationship (visas and climate change), a softening in US policy on China, and tension between Trump’s transactional instincts and the longer-term

Media scrutiny of China is critical for Australia

In responding to recent media coverage of Chinese communist party influence over Australia’s institutional infrastructure ('Where have all the grown-ups gone on China policy?', Australian Financial Review), former Ambassador to China Geoff Raby makes an important point. The issue is not the

Hong Kong 20 years after the handover: Locked in stasis

A decade after the handback of Hong Kong in 1997, most analysis was positive. The period up to 2007 had had its up and downs – the calamitous impact of the Asian Financial Crisis that began in1997 for instance, and the rows over Article 23 law forbidding subversion, which led to mass protests and

The tragedy of Otto Warmbier

Earlier this month, an American tourist to North Korea, Otto Warmbier, died of injuries suffered in detention in that country. The cause of his death is not yet clear. But it appears the North Koreans medically mistreated him in such a way that he suffered major brain damage. My guess is that

A revived Quad won't help Australia

The resurrection of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), a proposal that would bring Australia into a strategic grouping with India, Japan and the US, has again been floated, this time in ministerial talks between Australia and Japan in Tokyo. Australia has a perfect right to form

Who will abandon Taiwan next?

Earlier this month Panama established formal ties with the People's Republic of China (PRC) immediately after severing diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (ROC), as Taiwan is officially known. The question that is now being insistently, even fastidiously, asked is which state will be the

Does Abe want to fast track constitutional reform?

Last month Japan’s Shinzo Abe marked a political renaissance that few would have expected when he secured an unusual second go at being prime minister at the 2012 election when his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) returned to power. Abe is now the third longest serving prime minister in the post-

India-Australia relations: Getting over the Quad blues

Last week the Indian warships INS Kamorta, INS Shivalik and INS Jyoti arrived in Western Australia’s port city of Fremantle to participate in a bilateral exercise. The military drills came close on the heels of a controversial decision by New Delhi to reject Canberra’s request for observer

Back in focus: The United Nations Command in South Korea

Following his recent speech at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis was asked a question about North Korea. This excerpt from his answer should be of interest to Australians, among others: We obviously work very, very closely with the United Nations Command.

Could China go the way of the USSR?

Could China be witnessing the beginnings of its own end? The vast majority of commentators say the chances are slim. Indeed, most are as dismissive of China-sceptics as Nikita Krushchev was of USSR doomsayers in the 1950s. Yet within three decades of his ‘We will bury you!’ speech, and Yuri

Why altruism is risky in China

Several days ago some very upsetting footage surfaced online of a woman being hit by car in the central Chinese province of Henan. She was ignored by passers-by as she lay injured on the road, and then hit again, this time fatally. The incident - not the first of its kind - has caused a resurgence

Beware the infrastructure debt trap

Much has been written about the massive infrastructure investments needed to sustain Asia’s growth performance. The Asian Development Bank estimates that the region’s infrastructure will require investments of $US26 trillion by 2030, or $1.7 trillion annually, more than double its estimate less

‘Maphilindo’ cooperation on the Marawi siege

On Monday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano announced that Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi is planning a trilateral conference with the Philippines and Malaysia to discuss the situation in Marawi City. Several Malaysian and Indonesian terrorists have been killed in the

Belt and Road PPPs: Opportunities and pitfalls

China’s push for the new normal has seen its local governments convert to public-private partnerships (PPPs), long-term contracts between a private party and government to provide a public asset or service. More than 12,000 such projects worth around US$2 trillion have kicked off since public

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