Saturday 06 Jun 2020 | 17:48 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Why is violence spiking in China's northwest?

Clive Palmer says the Chinese government shoots its own people. If he's talking about Xinjiang, he's right.  Last month saw the deadliest violence in years in the autonomous region, which has a sizeable Uyghur Muslim population. A knife attack in Yarkand on July 28 saw 100 deaths, including a

Hong Kong's twisted political pathology

Another month, another huge political street protest in Hong Kong. Last Sunday the territory's residents marched again, this time against the planned but so far unscheduled Occupy Central sit-in. Just as July's pro-democracy marchers comprised a broad cross-section of Hong Kong society, so did the

What Julie Bishop told China about Clive Palmer

Here's Business Spectator's Fergus Ryan on Clive Palmer's Monday evening TV outburst about China: It was only after Julie Bishop apologised to the Chinese embassy that the Chinese government put out a statement saying Palmer’s attack was “full of ignorance and prejudice”, absurd and

Should the US retrench from South Korea? Yes

Over at War on the Rocks, Christopher Lee (a former officer in the US Forces Korea [USFK]) and Tom Nichols (of the US Naval War College) have gotten into a useful debate on whether US forces should remain in Korea. This issue is not widely discussed, which is surprising given the end of the Cold

What sort of power does Japan want to be?

Hugh White graciously flags my assessment of Japan as he tries to make sense of Chinese policy toward Tokyo. He is right: my 'analysis does lend support to the idea that Japan would accept a subordinate status in a Chinese-led Asia.' I wouldn't reach that conclusion, however. Nor for that matter

What Beijing fears most: Intra-Asian balancing

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a rising China, in possession of a modernising military, must be in want of a non-militarised Japan. So is Beijing being foolish by acting assertively in the East China Sea, thereby helping to fuel Japan's evolution into a full-fledged military rival

China's strategy to sow distrust of Japan

Promoting mutual distrust in the Asia Pacific now appears central to Chinese strategy. As Hugh White has argued persuasively, China seeks greater influence in Asia through weakening the faith of America's regional allies and partners in US resolve to remain engaged in the region. This will be

Jokowi, Indonesia's president in waiting

While Indonesia's losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto is still busy challenging last month's election results at the Constitutional Court, president-elect Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, has already laid ground rules for how he wishes to arrange his cabinet. The court is due to

US courts Vietnam with military chief's visit

'The place for you right now is Vietnam.' So President Obama and Defense Secretary Hagel reportedly told the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and so originated the first visit by a top US military chief to Vietnam since 1971. That historical event began yesterday

AUSMIN 2014: What are we getting ourselves into?

Here's The Australian's Greg Sheridan on this week's AUSMIN talks: ...the two governments committed to establish a working group on integrating their efforts on ballistic missile defence...In time, the US ideal is to be able to track and follow any hostile missile with seamless allied co-

At AUSMIN 2014, let's talk about naval force posture

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrives in Sydney, 11 August 2014. (Department of Defence.) US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel touched down in Sydney today for the annual AUSMIN meetings between Australian and US foreign policy and defence leaders, which start tomorrow. There will be no

SSBNs are unnecessary and destabilising

A Chinese Type 094 (Jin-class) SSBN. (Wikipedia.) Regarding the Chinese and Indian ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) programs and their impact on international security, my arguments are: (1) they are not necessary; (2) noisy SSBNs are destabilising and should not be deployed; and (3) China's

Sea-based nuclear weapons in Asia: Stabiliser or menace?

On this day in 1945, the first nuclear weapon was used in conflict, with devastating consequences for the people of Hiroshima. In Asia today, nuclear weapons remain part of the strategic reality, for better or worse. But calculations about nuclear armaments in the region may be changing, notably

Relax, Japan is not remilitarising

In my previous post I argued that the last few months have seen a spike in punditry claiming that Northeast Asia's status quo is about to change, and that conflict is more likely. Japan's constitutional revisions have provoked exaggerated responses from South Korea and China, while Chinese President

The limits of Indonesia's anti-corruption campaign

'Fight corruption!' A Corruption Eradication Commission event in Bandung in 2009. (Flickr/Ikhlasul Amal.) Indonesia's reputation for corruption in not in doubt: it comes 114th out of 177 in Transparency International's ranking. For more than a decade, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK)

Relax, Korea is not drifting toward China

Perhaps inspired by the centenary of World War I, this year has provoked a lot of clamouring about shifting security in Northeast Asia. The general vibe is that Japan's Article 9 're-interpretation' reflects a looming Sino-Japanese conflict, and that Xi Jinping's trip to South Korea is pulling Seoul

Indonesian election: Time for SBY to step in

There is a joke going around Jakarta this week that Indonesia currently has three presidents: incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the two presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto and Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, who both claimed victory after last week's election. Official results from the presidential

China's determination to be a great power

John Garnaut, writing for Fairfax yesterday, says I'm wrong to argue that Prime Minister Abbott and Foreign Minister Bishop do not understand the nature of China's challenge to the Asian regional order. He says Bishop's remarks, in the fine interview John did with her last week*, show that she

Alliances in Asia: South Korea unlikely to be lost

'Washington, you're on your own' is the gist of a recent piece by Stephen Walt, who assesses that Europe would have no dog in an Asian fight and will therefore distance itself from the American's long list of troubles involving China. This was underscored by Angela Merkel's recent visit to China,

Does Abbott understand the China challenge?

Sam Roggeveen says that Mr Abe's visit last week, and Julie Bishop's interview with John Garnaut, show that the Abbott Government now accepts there is a serious strategic competition underway in Asia as China challenges US primacy. If so, I think this would be an important shift. The simplest

China's aid white paper: What's changed?

The Chinese Government is frequently criticised for not being transparent about its aid program. As I mentioned in my quick summary yesterday, there's not a lot of specific data in the Chinese aid white paper. But we can make a few comparisons — on geographical spread, type of aid, and income

Malcolm Fraser talks 'Dangerous Allies'

Earlier this week the Lowy Institute hosted former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to discuss his new book Dangerous Allies. Below is the full video of the event. Yesterday evening Mr Fraser tweeted the video, adding that he was 'debating the established political class!', which brought

Election day in Jakarta

Across Indonesia, up to 190 million voters went to the polls yesteraday to choose their next president. In Jakarta the faces of the two candidates, Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, had mostly disappeared from advertisements in public spaces under an enforced cooling off period, appearing

Prabowo loses election, but how will he respond?

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, best known as Jokowi, has won the race to become the next president of Indonesia. His rival Prabowo Subianto has refused to concede, however, setting up a showdown over the results that could last until late August. We know Jokowi won because a collection of

Abe's Canberra speech: Dispelling doubts

Prime Minister Abe's carefully crafted speech to the Australian parliament gave credence to Prime Minister Abbott's much tut-tutted claim that Japan is Australia's best friend in Asia. The historic speech also clearly helped dispel one doubt about Prime Minister Abe: that he was unwilling to

Middle powers in Asia: The limits of realism

In the world of international relations theory, the realist paradigm reigns supreme. In large part, this is because it has core features that exert strong appeal beyond the academy: explanatory parsimony and the use of historical analogy. Realists place great emphasis on Europe's experience of

A conservative clean sweep in Asia?

If Prabowo Subianto does win tomorrow's presidential election in Indonesia, most if not all of Asia's elected democracies will be led by realist conservatives who triumphed over candidates less associated with this political position. From Netanyahu and Modi in West Asia to Park, Abe and Ma (less

India's nuclear doctrine: The fog lifts

Lieutenant-General BS Nagal was an important man in India's nuclear weapons program. From 2008 to 2010 he served as India's Strategic Forces Commander, an office established just over a decade ago to lead the process of managing and using nuclear weapons. After his retirement from the military,

Indonesian election: Testing the grassroots

At a presidential debate screening in Jakarta on Saturday night, checkered shirts dominated the wardrobe of the crowded cafe. While supporters of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto had asserted a strong presence at previous screenings in the same venue, this time support had clearly turned in

Weekend catch-up: Indonesia election special

With Indonesia's presidential election to be held next Wednesday (9 July), we thought we'd depart from our normal weekend catch-up to highlight some of the first rate Indonesia election coverage we've featured on The Interpreter. Back in September 2013 Stephen Grenville commented on the possibility

Japanese collective self-defence: Abe's changes won't help

Clearly Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has deep personal and political motives for wanting to change Japan's strategic posture, 'escape from the postwar regime' and make Japan a normal country. But he has only been able to push this week's changes through because many Japanese who reject Abe's

Bishop invokes World War I

As Julian Snelder wrote yesterday, World War I analogies are all the rage among Asian security scholars this year (we posted a two-part examination of the similarities and differences by Robert Kelly in March). Now Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has joined the fray, with what Fairfax's

China and the World War I analogy: How does this end?

Painting depicting the signing of the armistice in 1918. (Wikipedia.) One hundred years ago last weekend, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire was assassinated in Sarajevo, triggering World War I. The origins of the Great War have, for good reason, been intensely scrutinized. They are a

Indonesian election: The grass-roots campaign

With two weeks to go until Indonesia chooses its next president, mainstream and online media are flooded with political messages. Mainstream media has given up any pretense of nonpartisanship, while social media has become a battleground of slogans and symbols. But even for those who choose to

Indonesian election: More on the Prabowo surge

The Interpreter has been flooded with traffic since we published Aaron Connelly's analysis of the Indonesian presidential race on Tuesday afternoon. Aaron said Prabowo Subianto was now favourite to win the Indonesian presidential election, an unthinkable prospect just a month ago in the race

Asia's coal demand: You ain't seen nothing yet

Sam Roggeveen yesterday showed us how much demand for coal has risen in Asia during this century. Now consider what the future will hold. A recent joint publication from the International Energy Agency and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia forecasts what is in store for the

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