Friday 10 Jul 2020 | 19:13 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


Flat-tops everywhere

A quick update on the regional boom in 'flat-tops'; that is true aircraft carriers for fast-jet operations and also amphibious ships with large flight decks designed to carry helicopters and maybe drones and jump jets. There's been something of a boom in this type of vessel in the region, though I

The Pacific in the foreign policy debate

It was great to see Australia's relations with Pacific Islands feature in last night's foreign policy debate and particularly pleasing to see this issue raised outside of the inevitable focus on the PNG asylum seeker deal. Overall, I thought Ms Bishop demonstrated greater commitment to enhancing

Movie trailer: The Attack

The Attack is a Lebanese (and French, Qatari and Belgian) production about an Israeli surgeon of Palestinian descent who discovers that his wife was a suicide bomber. Powerful stuff: The film recently premiered in Jerusalem but apparently there is little interest from Arab-world distributors

Cambodia: A humbled Hun Sen?

Much of the external commentary on the Cambodian election results has had a distinct character of schadenfreude, with the Economist's take a typical example. I have no doubt that Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party colleagues were surprised by the results, as I readily admit I was. I

Singapore, you're creeping us out

Actually, that headline's a little unfair. It's Mentos that's responsible for this weird four-minute ad to mark Singapore's National Day (9 August). Last year Mentos produced a racy (by Singapore standards) ad encouraging couples to procreate on National Day. Evidently it worked so well that this

Iran: Rouhani needs willing foreign partners

Dina Esfandiary is an Iran specialist and a Research Associate in the Non-proliferation and Disarmament programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, was sworn in last Sunday. To slogans of 'Ahmadi Bye-Bye', President Ahmadinejad stepped down

African Islamic world in turmoil

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. It took the presidential elections of 28 July in Mali (now entering a run-off phase) to bring the western frontier of the Islamic world to the attention of the world's media

Is there any point to an embassy?

Over the weekend the US closed many of its embassies in the Middle East and North Africa as a result of what was described as a serious al Qaeda threat. Given the number of times US embassies have come under attack in the last decade or so, and certainly in the post-Benghazi era, it would seem hard

The EU's dysfunctional asylum system

Benedict Coleridge recently worked as a policy researcher for Jesuit Refugee Service Europe. He will soon begin graduate study at the University of Oxford. I recently returned from Brussels, where I researched and wrote a report on the Balkans as a transit route for forced migrants attempting to

Indonesia relations: Three lessons from Timor

Iain Henry is a Fulbright Scholar and PhD Candidate at ANU's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He tweets at @IainDHenry. Recent events have thrust the Australia-Indonesia relationship back into the spotlight. Managing this relationship will be one of the next Government's highest

Views across the Pacific: North Korea

The Lowy Institute and leading US think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) present a new video discussion series called 'Views Across the Pacific'. These real-time conversations will feature Fellows from both organisations discussing topical foreign policy issues,

Middle East: Indyk back on board

Marty Harris is an Assistant Digital Editor at the Lowy Institute. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Middle East and Central Asian Studies from ANU. Secretary of State Kerry today formally appointed Ambassador Martin Indyk as US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. Ambassador Indyk

Asylum seekers: The cost to Defence

There must be days when the Chief of the Defence Force and Secretary of Defence pine for the creation of an Australian Coast Guard, just so they can prise the Australian Defence Force away from the toxic debate on Australia's asylum seeker policy. Labor's PNG solution will rely on the ADF to

Youth vote emerges in Cambodia

Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party remains firmly in power following Sunday's elections, but with a substantially reduced majority. With an officially announced 68 seats won to the opposition's 55, the Government has a comfortable working majority. Nevertheless, the contrast with the previous

Emerging economies: Why so gloomy?

Ever since the 2008 financial crisis left many advanced economies in disarray, global growth has been sustained only through the continued spectacular performance of the emerging countries, especially China. But a wave of gloom has now spread concerning their prospects and the knock-on

China's worrying blue-water ambitions

[youtube:HUPVW2ep4oc#] Compared with the Rudd Government's 2009 Defence White Paper, which was criticised for what many viewed as its alarmist treatment of China's rise, the most recent White Paper, released in April this year, has become known for its considerably more relaxed take on the issue.

Risk and reward with Burma's security sector

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Part 1 of this post here. The initiatives for closer ties between the West and Burma's police and armed forces summarised in the previous post have aroused the ire of the activist community, which has been quick to remind everyone

Indonesia's development formula II

Part 1 of this post here. The debate Joe Studwell has advanced in How Asia Works (see Sam Roggeveen's three-part interview here) is, in fact, not that novel. Studwell is not alone in advocating industrial policy: Justin Lin, former World Bank chief economist, makes the same argument in his

West reaches out to Burma's security sector

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. One of the most striking aspects of Burma's re-emergence as an international actor has been the readiness of Western democracies to renew or strengthen ties with the country's armed forces and police. Before the advent of President

Who says China lacks innovation?

OK, so China has yet to produce a Steve Jobs, but if there's hope for China moving up the manufacturing value chain, it might lie in its Pizza Hut outlets. My colleague Dirk alerts me to the Chinese phenomenon of strategically loading the bowl to make the fullest possible use of Pizza Hut's

A more expensive Chinese lunch for Australia?

Last week, the IMF made its contribution to the ongoing debate over Chinese economic performance. The growth forecasts included in the Fund's latest Article IV Staff Report on China – which see growth this year at around 7.75% and at 7.7% in 2014 – are right up at the optimistic end of current

Indonesia's development formula

I share Sam Roggeveen's enthusiasm for the iconoclastic approach of Joe Studwell's How Asia Works (his previous book on Asian Godfathers was a great read too). I also share Studwell's scepticism about the 'magic of the market', his views on the IMF, and his admiration for the achievements of the

PNG reacts strongly to asylum seeker deal

Martyn Namorong is a multi-award winning writer, blogger and television presenter. His initial reaction to the PNG-Australia asylum seeker agreement appeared on The Interpreter yesterday. From online postings to offline activism, a new generation of protest-hardened Papua New Guineans is making

Asylum deal a nightmare for PNG and Australia

Deni ToKunai is a political commentator who writes PNG's leading political blog, The Garamut. In the public commotion and media frenzy of Kevin Rudd's announcement that a new arrangement will see Australian asylum seekers resettled in PNG, one key point has gone largely unnoticed: it was his

The Anglosphere: A view from Europe

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. I was amused and intrigued by the recent ruminations on Tony Abbott's stated views on what the 'Anglosphere' means (apparently something anti-Asian, in Hugh White's interpretation

Japan's turn to nationalism? Not quite

Rikki Kersten is a Professor of Modern Japanese Political History at the ANU. Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party may have scored a thumping win in Japan's half-upper house election on Sunday, but this will not translate into carte blanche for Abe's agenda. Pundits have been quick to assume

Kevin Rudd, you're not a good friend of PNG

Martyn Namorong is a multi-award winning writer, blogger and television presenter. In March 2008, Kevin Rudd made his first official visit to Papua New Guinea to build ties, the first such visit by an Australian prime minister in 11 years. Out of that visit was forged a special affinity and

Rudd's PNG solution will work, but it isn't right

Dr Khalid Koser is a Lowy Institute Non-Resident Fellow and Deputy Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. Prime Minister Rudd's new asylum policy is likely to work. First, he has filled a dangerous political void. Even Mr Abbott appears grudgingly to condone the policy. The Labor

Japan: Back to the future

The exit polls from yesterday's Upper House elections confirm that Japan has returned to one-party democratic rule. The all-powerful Liberal Democratic Party again faces a rabble of small opposition parties, none with a serious chance of taking power for the foreseeable future. The Liberal

Boats, aid and the art of the possible

Retired Brigadier Gary Hogan has been Australia’s Defence Attaché in both Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Indonesia. In March 1964, the 'Year of Living Dangerously', Indonesian President Sukarno, speaking at a public rally, told the US ambassador in attendance to 'go to hell with your aid

Reader riposte: US 'all in' for the rebalance?

Iain Henry responds to Sam Roggeveen's post: Biden may be insisting that the entire Obama Administration is 'all in' with the rebalance to Asia, but something is revealed by the very fact that senior US figures are offering such reassurances. If America's partners in Asia already believed that

Food security and Australian land

Cynthia Dearin is Managing Director of Dearin & Associates, a consulting firm focused on investment and cultural ties with the Middle East and North Africa. In the last five years the world has witnessed two major spikes in food prices, one in 2007-2008 and another in 2011. In October 2012, the

Whaling debate redux

With Japan having just made its closing argument in the International Court of Justice case launched by Australia, some highlights from a debate we hosted back in March between Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson and Griffith University's Michael Heazle. First, Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd is in

The coming Afghanistan mess

Anatol Lieven in the New York Review of Books: In one respect, we are in a much weaker position than the Soviets in 1989. They could leave behind a rather formidable Pashtun dictator, Najibullah Khan. We have committed ourselves to holding presidential elections in Afghanistan next year—

Interview: 'How Asia Works' part III

Below is the third part of my exchange with Joe Studwell, author of How Asia Works. Here's part 1 and part 2. SR: In your previous answer you took a swipe at the IMF for its behaviour towards Indonesia during the currency crisis, so I wonder if you could say some more about the role of

Why does China still receive foreign aid?

Dr Philippa Brant is a Lowy Institute Research Associate. Over the weekend published an article by Isaac Stone Fish pondering why the US and Japan still provide aid to China, their potential geopolitical rival. It is legitimate to ask why aid is still being provided to a

Israeli film festival, Sydney

My thanks to reader Markus for a link to TimeOut's coverage of Sydney's upcoming Israeli film festival (13-27 August). Among the films on show is a documentary called The Gatekeepers, about Israel's internal security service, Shin Bet. We showed you the trailer back in February. Here are trailers

China: What about the workers?

While the worrywart commentators are focused on the slowing of China's growth (even though most forecasts still start with a '7', which doubles income in a single decade), they reinforce the drama by implying that China has run out of policy options to maintain growth. Sure, China may not be

The 'win-win' New Zealand-Taiwan FTA

On the measure of FTAs signed, New Zealand's 'Asian Century' project is doing better than that of its larger, louder neighbour. Last week, New Zealand became the first OECD member to sign an FTA with Taiwan. In 2008 New Zealand was the first OECD member to sign an FTA with Taiwan's larger, louder