Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 22:59 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Asia

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

Taiwan: Is there a political generation gap?

Taiwanese media has branded the youth of Taiwan with a new collective name: ‘the naturally independent’ generation (天然獨 or 自然獨). A typical member of the ‘naturally independent’ generation would be born after 1980, identify as Taiwanese (as opposed to Chinese), and would view

China’s growing interest in the Middle East

Much has been said about US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the Middle East but it’s worth remembering that only a few weeks earlier a mirror image of Trump’s Middle East tour took place in China. In mid-March, King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Four Corners sees the Party-state in all the shadows

Last night ABC TV aired a Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigation into China’s power and influence in Australia that promised to uncover 'how China's Communist Party is secretly infiltrating Australia'. The program traced the stories of various individuals and their ties to China and concluded we

What Chinese media thought of the Shangri-La Dialogue

As most readers of The Interpreter already know, last weekend the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) hosted the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore (SLD17). Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull provided the keynote speech. US Defence Secretary Mattis gave a much-anticipated

Vietnam’s free trade pitch to the US

It was trade, not China's manoeuvring in the South China Sea, that was top of the agenda when Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc met US President Donald Trump on Wednesday in the first visit by an ASEAN leader to Washington under the new administration. It was a slightly surreal affair with

A dam at Sambor: Another Mekong domino teeters

Almost exactly 57 years ago, as a junior Australian diplomat, I accompanied a Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme engineer to what was then the remote town of Kratie in northeastern Cambodia. His brief was to undertake a preliminary survey of the Sambor region - just to the north of Kratie town -&

Competition for influence in an integrated Asia

Since 1991, leadership of the international order has been a monopoly: the US has been the only game in town. But, as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit in Beijing earlier this month made clear, Xi Jinping has stepped up his ambitions for China’s global role. The BRI may be couched in the

Incident at Three Pagodas Pass

After decades of strained bilateral relations, Australia’s defence ties with Myanmar are gradually being restored. The office of the Defence Attache (DA) in the Australian embassy in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), which closed in 1979, was reopened in 2014. This coincided with a port visit by HMAS

China's undeclared foreign policy at the poles

In November 2014 the Chinese media deliberately mistranslated the words of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi had just given a speech in Hobart on China's polar agenda, with then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, standing beside him. Using standard political phraseology to describe China’s

With martial law in Mindanao, where next for the Philippines?

The shocking siege in Marawi City in the Philippines island of Mindanao this past week represents the apex of heightening violence between Islamic militants and counter-terror forces, alongside inevitable strong-arming from President Rodrigo Duterte. The declaration of martial law amid the bloody

Pages