Wednesday 01 Apr 2020 | 07:03 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


Indonesia's next president: A form guide

Gary Hogan was the first foreigner to graduate from Indonesia's Institute of National Governance (Lemhannas) and was Australia's Defence Attaché to Indonesia from 2009 to 2012. For over eight years, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has cut a large and impressive figure on the world

Fragile gains: Women in Afghanistan

Last night I was fortunate enough to join an Amnesty International panel discussing the future of women's rights in Afghanistan. Amnesty had brought prominent Afghan activist (and Lowy Institute contributor) Wazhma Frogh to Australia to discuss her concerns about what the transition of foreign

PNG plans military build-up, but why?

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in political science at the University of Goroka and an intern at the Lowy Institute. Papua New Guinea's Defence Minister Dr Fabian Pok has announced that PNG plans to build up its military capacity from around 2000 personnel to 10,000. While it is hardly unusual

Iran: Suspicious minds

One thing every thinking person should have learnt from the Iraq intelligence debacle was to treat claims of state support for external armed groups with caution (see Wikipedia for a run-down of debunked allegations that Saddam's regime supported al Qaeda). Some simple questions about the sourcing

North Korea's third N test: What does it mean?

John Carlson is a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute and the former Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office. From seismic analysis, it appears North Korea's latest nuclear test had a yield of 6 to 7 kilotons (thousand tons of TNT). This is larger than the

China-DPRK: Different this time?

The regime in Pyongyang has tested a third nuclear device and the depressing diplomatic ritual has begun again. The liturgy is familiar: the threat, the ineffective warnings, the big event, the brief uncertainty about what happened, the regime's confirmatory boast, the international outrage, the

'Mutual denial' may not change very much

Stephan Fruehling is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Program, ANU. Sam Roggeveen's post on whether 'mutual denial' can work raises an important point about the future strategic relationship between the US and its allies, and China. 'Mutual denial' is useful as a slogan to

Barry Wain, 17 July 1944 — 5 February 2013

John Funston is a Visiting Fellow at the College of Asia & the Pacific, ANU. Michael Montesano is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. Barry Wain, as several tributes have noted, was the doyen of Australian journalists in Asia. The Queenslander's

US-China: Can mutual denial work?

Thanks to all the blogs and news sites that picked up on what I described as the 'bracing' commentary by a senior US naval intelligence officer about China's naval capabilities and ambitions. I notice that strategist Thomas Barnett has commented on the video too, though his interest was in

Friday funny: Punxatawny in the Pacific

It's the twentieth anniversary of one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed films of my lifetime, Groundhog Day. And given Malcolm Cook's post today about the sudden cold snap in China-Japan relations, this seems like the right clip. Enjoy your weekend

Japan-China: A winter's tale

During the Koizumi prime ministership, China depicted Japan-China relations as 'politics cold, economy hot', with Japanese FDI inflows into China a key warming agent. Liberal optimists have repeatedly represented this situation as inherently moderating (Sam's brief response to Raoul Heinrichs 

The economics of Japan-China tension

One line of Raoul Heinrichs' analysis of the increasing maritime tension and military competition in Northeast Asia that jumped out at me was his claim about the effects of economic integration (my emphasis): Virulent forms of nationalism are increasingly finding expression in the form of

More on 'Frank Gehry diplomacy'

Alan Davies, who writes Crikey's invaluable The Urbanist blog, has responded to my musings on Hillary Clinton's call for 'a new architecture for the world, more Frank Gehry than formal Greek.' I thought this analogy raised a number of questions about the new diplomatic architecture now operating

China at sea: Wake up, Australia!

For Australia, the principal threat posed by the growth of China's military power is not yet to its direct strategic interests but rather to the US-led order from which much of Australia's security derives. As China's ongoing accumulation of advanced air, maritime and surveillance capabilities

The Syrian deadlock (part 2)

Part 1 of this series, which focuses on the political aspect of the conflict, is here. Part 2 looks at the military dimension. Civil wars are never clean wars (if there is such a thing), and the Syria conflict has proven no exception. It is reminiscent in some ways of the Lebanese civil war in

China's navy: Urgent need for new mindset

Rear Admiral (Ret'd) James Goldrick AO CSC is a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute. Despite the harsh language about China's maritime strategy and ambitions identified in Sam's post, the session of the US Naval Institute's recent conference which Sam wrote about identifies a number of key

Blunt words on China from US Navy

  In the context of yesterday's article in The Australian that China was being invited to America's biggest annual Pacific naval exercise, RIMPAC (which wasn't really news), it is useful to be reminded of the climate of wariness and mistrust in which such invitations are extended. 

China's domestic focus creates dangers

In this short video I talk with East Asia Program Director Linda Jakobson about the conclusions of her new Analysis paper, launched today, China's Foreign Policy Dilemma. As part of her research, Linda, who lived in China for twenty years before moving to Sydney to join the Lowy Institute, 

More photos from Lahore

Yesterday we posted some beautiful images and trenchant commentary from our regular Pakistan-based contributor, Alicia Mollaun, which I encourage you to check out if you haven't already. We'll have another dispatch from Alicia soon from the Pakistan-India border, but above and below are a

China's foreign policy dilemma

Therefore Chinese foreign policy can be expected to be reactive. This may have serious consequences because of the potentially explosive nature of two of China's most pressing foreign policy challenges: how to decrease tensions with Japan and with Southeast Asian states over diverse territorial

Lahore: The heart of Pakistan

Alicia Mollaun, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU, is based in Islamabad. All photos were taken by Alicia.  Badshahi Mosque. Lahore is a stunning old city and is widely considered to be the cultural capital of Pakistan. It has gone through many transformations and since its

The Syrian deadlock (part 1)

The second anniversary of the Syrian civil war is looming and the political and military situation remains deadlocked. The Assad regime's superiority in conventional weapons has meant that, while government forces have ceded ground, they have denied the rebel groups control over any of the main

Singapore Government loses control of narrative

Dr Michael Barr is a Senior Lecturer at Flinders University and Editor-in-Chief, Asian Studies Review. Last weekend's by-election in Singapore has inflicted the fourth electoral blow in a row to the ruling People's Action Party. The PAP had already lost six seats to the opposition in the

Reader riposte: China training Cambodian army?

Chris Williams writes: I need to challenge your China linkage reporter for 29 January for drawing the headline directly from the Bangkok Post source article, 'China will train the Cambodian army, a move likely to rattle its ASEAN neighbours'. The headline was intended to cater to an internal

Documentary trailer: The Act of Killing

I'm sorry to spring this disturbing trailer on readers as you wind down for the weekend (a long weekend in Australia), but this film looks too astonishing not to share. Here's part of the synopsis: When Sukarno was overthrown by Suharto following the tragic 30 September Movement in 1965,

Sydney's new airport: A nod to Asia?

One of my favourite online distractions, ArchDaily, yesterday posted a photo spread on Gibraltar's glorious new airport. This got me thinking about the two-decade debate over a second Sydney airport, which everyone except the owners of the existing airport seems to agree is necessary. Problem is,

Xayaburi Dam's domino effect?

There is increasing concern among commentators charting the Mekong's future that the Lao Government's decision to proceed with the construction of a dam on the mainstream of the Mekong at Xayaburi could lead to other dams being constructed on the river. While some of the evidence about plans

Henderson's head-scratcher

Interpreter alumnus Andrew Carr does sterling work on Twitter today, drily recounting Gerard Henderson's 'scoop' in the SMH: Here are the opening two paragraphs of Henderson's column, which Andrew refers to: The fashionable left-wing view of former president George W. Bush is he invaded

China's demographic turning point

Back in mid-2010, I wrote a lengthy post looking at the possible link between labour unrest in China and the so-called 'Lewisian turning point'. Last week, we got another critical data point on China's demographic profile when the country's National Bureau of Statistics announced that China's

Unfriending: Japanese public opinion on China

Matthew Linley is an Assistant Professor at Temple University, Japan. The past few months have seen a number of problems in the Japan-China relationship. Numerous commentators cite the dispute over the Senkaku Islands and the re-election of Shinzo Abe as prime minister as reasons to predict a

Reader riposte: The China narrative

Chris Williams writes on one of the items in yesterday's China Linkage: Dirk van der Kley's China linkage is commendable to provide a clearer perspective to geopolitical changes in North Asia, as they impact on Australia's sphere of influence. I valued Christopher Ford's insight into the

Floods: Jakarta's infrastructure deficit

Last week's floods in Jakarta illustrate that the private sector can provide valuable public goods, available free of charge to just about anyone. If you wanted to see how hard it was to get around the city, a free web link ( gave access to real-time cameras at various strategic

Reader riposte: Rudd's Pax Pacifica

Luke Maynard writes: Hugh White's final blog post of 2012 was characteristic in its effort to sketch the boundaries of Asia's strategic future while remaining firmly rooted in modern realities. In it, White draws parallels between his vision for order in this region with that described by Kevin

Hague: Asian century or global century?

You may have heard by now that UK Foreign Secretary William Hague is cutting short his Australia visit because of the hostage crisis in Algeria (Prime Minister Cameron, too, is changing his plans; the important speech on the eurozone that Mark Thirlwell referred to in his post yesterday has been

The Pakistan march: What next?

Alicia Mollaun, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU, is based in Islamabad. The winds of change are stirring in Islamabad. On Monday 14 January, tens of thousands of people joined Dr Tahirul Qadri (pictured), a Pakistani-Canadian Sufi scholar, in Lahore on a 'million man' march towards

China and India in the Fiji equation

Professor Wadan Narsey is an Adjunct Professor at The Cairns Institute. The Fiji regime's clear breach of its own decrees and roadmap to democracy, as described in my previous post, has unsettled traditional donors and must also create serious question marks over the continuing support by China

Indonesia's WTO candidate

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the Asia Development Bank Institute, Tokyo. During the first decade of this century we heard a lot about the economic role of China and India but very little about Indonesia. For close to ten years following