Tuesday 28 Jun 2022 | 15:28 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Asia

Common prosperity meets the Belt and Road

China’s President Xi Jinping’s concept of “common prosperity” is slowly being internationalised. The most obvious manifestation of this came last month when Xi framed the Belt and Road (BRI) as a vehicle for achieving global common prosperity. While it is far from clear at this stage how

Crisis stability as a priority in US-China relations

Prospects for US-China arms control run hot and cold. China continues to vociferously oppose the recent Australia-UK-US agreement to cooperate on Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines. And over the past six months there have been three significant revelations by open-source

Lights! Camera! Action! A new Hollywood

In 2016, the live-action film adaptation of the popular videogame Warcraft took a dismal $24 million in its opening weekend in the United States, revenue that dropped a further 73 per cent the next weekend to a meagre $6.5 million for a film that cost $160 million to make. It was a widespread flop,

Duterte is playing both sides

The Philippines national election looms in May 2022. Sitting President Rodrigo Duterte is running to become a senator, while his daughter is campaigning to be vice-president to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the offspring of another strongman. Current senator and Duterte’s closest ally

Europe is finally getting serious about China

On 1 December, the European Commission unveiled its Global Gateway Strategy, a new scheme which will mobilise “up to €300 billion” in investments between 2021 and 2027. At first glance, the Global Gateway looks like another entry in an increasingly crowded field of competitors to China’s

Myanmar’s annus horribilis

It has been just over a year since Myanmar emphatically re-elected Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy as the dominant partner in the country’s quasi-civilian government. Next February, it will be a year since the armed forces, or Tatmadaw, ignored that result and seized power

Taming the “grey zone”

Unease about so-called “grey zone” tactics is increasingly in vogue. From a position of relative obscurity, the term has surged onto the official agenda. There was no mention of “grey zone” in Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper, but it appears 11 times in the 2020 Defence Strategic

Covid in Asia: the immediate payoff of donating vaccines

Covid-19 has loomed large over everything again this year and the new Omicron variant is a warning that there is still plenty of fight left in the virus. But the pandemic is ultimately an economic and geopolitical story as well as a health threat. Donations of vaccines and the economic impacts of

Twenty years of BRICS

It is 20 years since Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill invented the BRIC economic grouping – Brazil, Russia, India and China – with South Africa added later to make up the BRICS. He celebrated this anniversary with a self-congratulatory article in the Financial Times, expressing his

Economic diplomacy: Free trade vs economic resilience

Santa clauses The value of global goods trade during the biggest pandemic in a century last year dropped about a third less than it did during the biggest financial crisis in a generation in 2008. But internet searches about “economic resilience” are running more than twice as high these days

Russia, more than China, leaves India with a dilemma

Ukraine and Taiwan are now the major focal points in the geopolitical arena, testing the diplomacy of the United States but also other nations – India as much as any. Where India-China relations have soured in recent years, in some ways making India’s response to the Taiwan issue more

Honouring the dead on the path to Korean peace

Almost 70 years on, the Korean war is still not formally over. The United States and South Korea are in the final stages of drafting an end-of-war declaration text. Since his address at the United Nations General Assembly in September, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has made the declaration

Increasingly illiberal Thailand

The Thai state is increasingly intolerant of dissenting voices. But, instead of ending opposition, the government’s tightening restrictions will drive contrarian voices underground. The administration would be better advised to provide space for alternative points of view to be expressed, and to

The Doha accord and Taliban legitimacy

Under the 2020 Doha Agreement, the US withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan was conditional on Taliban security assurances that Afghan territory would not be used as a launch pad by al-Qaeda or Islamic State for attacks against the United States. Similar accords seeking security promises from

Trouble on the Mekong

Two reports released last month by The Mekong River Commission (MRC), an inter-governmental organisation that works with the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to jointly manage the river’s resources, serve as a crucial health check on the state of Southeast Asia’s longest

North Korea: Law, but not as we know it

For years, North Korea’s human rights situation has been in the spotlight of activists who pile voluminous report upon report, while the North Korean government repeatedly rejects the criticism as political, based on lies or lacking understanding of realities on the ground. Pyongyang

India, China cop finger pointing in climate politics

Two weeks of negotiations in Glasgow meant that COP26 resulted in a resolution – of sorts. Nations agreed to resume next year with stronger 2030 emissions reduction targets in a global bid to try to alleviate the worst consequences of the climate disaster. It wasn’t the achievement that was

Maldives: India first or India out?

Recent protests in Maldives against India’s influence in the country calling for “Indian military out” has led the Maldives government to respond by reiterating its “India First” policy. This has highlighted the difficulties that both countries face in building a stable strategic

Vietnam: “Let them eat steak”

There are plenty of ways to squander good will. Vietnam’s communist party has picked an oldie but goodie, with a twist (of salt). Minister for Public Security Tô Lâm has been caught eating a terrifically expensive steak, prepared by a celebrity chef after meeting his French counterpart to

Palau faces the dragon

In 2015, tourism officials from the tiny Micronesian island nation of Palau likely scratched their heads in bewilderment at incoming figures on visitor arrivals. A record number of tourists had touched down that year in the archipelago, but more perplexing was the figure of 91,174 visitors from

The Indo-Pacific Operating System: How can America shore up the regional order?

Five essays from experts from, or based in, Southeast Asia provide a sense of the region’s complexity and the nuance with which any effort to shore up – or rebuild – regional order must grapple

Minorities under attack in Bangladesh

Last month, a series of attacks on religious minorities in Bangladesh shook the country’s typically pluralist outlook. The violence began after a Facebook post from Comilla district in the southeast of the country alleged that the Quran, the holy book for Muslims, had been desecrated at a Hindu

Myanmar: Totalitarian terror shouldn’t fly on our watch

For many Australians, their first-hand experience with the military is the welcome sight of the Australian Defence Force assisting our community in times of drought, flood and fire. It is unimaginable for most Australians that in 2021, a nation’s military would embark on an overt campaign of

China’s digital currency: Next stop, Africa?

In April 2020, China was the first major economy to pilot a digital currency, the e-yuan or e-CNY. The e-CNY, which will eventually replace physical cash and is currently being tested in Chinese cities, is integrated with the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system and data processing

Planning for progress in Timor-Leste

After two decades of independence, development in Timor-Leste is exemplified by growing economic activity in Dili, the country’s capital city. Businesses are emerging on various corners, new infrastructure and public buildings are being constructed, and much improved information and communication

Is Australia relevant?

Last week, Singapore’s Education Minister Chan Chun Sing addressed the Fullerton lecture series on US-China relations and his own country’s foreign policy. Chan, a leading member of the so-called “4G” or fourth-generation of Singaporean politicians, echoed some familiar refrains about the

Thailand’s regressive royal insult law

At a recent anti-government rally in central Bangkok, one of the leaders of a youth-led movement demanding sweeping political reforms carried a message etched in blood. After addressing the crowd on a rainy Sunday evening on 31 October, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul used a razor blade to

Australia-Indonesia: burn the boats

Last week, Australian Border Force released photographs of burning Indonesian fishing vessels allegedly caught fishing illegally in Australian waters. Border Force reported it had found 16 Indonesian vessels operating unlawfully near the Rowley Shoals Marine Park off the northern coast of Western

China: rejecting rubbish

On hearing Beijing had instituted the ominously named “Operation National Sword” it would have been easy to imagine Chinese warships crashing across the Taiwan Strait or perhaps submarines emerging from the depths of the South China Sea. But this “sword” had a different edge. On 31 December

India’s answer to China’s ports in Sri Lanka

On 30 September, Adani Group, India’s largest private port operator, signed what has been reported as a US$700 million agreement to build a new container terminal in Sri Lanka. The deal to jointly develop the Colombo West International Container Terminal (CWICT) with Sri Lanka’s largest listed

Filipino migrants are agents of change

The Philippine labour diaspora is one of the largest in the world with around 9 million people or 10 per cent of the population working overseas, and sending massive remittances (US$33.5 billion in 2019) that contribute to the economy. Yet the popular construction of the Filipino migrant is that of

Sport between India and Pakistan is not just that

Cricketing salutations can be baffling. Why did India’s men’s team captain Virat Kohli hug Pakistani player Mohammad Rizwan, and team mentor M.S. Dhoni greet Pakistani players, after India’s defeat last week to Pakistan in cricket’s Twenty20 World Cup in Dubai? India’s leaders seemed

Pages