Tuesday 25 Jan 2022 | 19:38 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 25 Jan 2022 13:00

    AUKMIN shows the UK is a world away from Australia

    London’s global focus on malign authoritarian actors makes clear thinking and prioritisation impossible.

  • 25 Jan 2022 10:00

    Solomon Islands: cops bearing gifts

    Australia and China offer the archipelago nation a grab bag of policing options that often miss the mark.

  • 25 Jan 2022 06:00

    China’s new reality

    Forget geopolitics and military muscle flexing. Reality TV is where Beijing and Taipei can put aside their differences.

Asia

Some reflections on the “anonymous Xinjiang paper”

During an event to launch the China Story Yearbook at the National Press Club in Canberra on 21 April, the Director of the Australian National University’s China in the World Centre, Professor Jane Golley, stated that she had received an anonymous “scholarly” article that “debunks much of

China’s leap into space

China has launched a new space station, the most ambitious project it has ever undertaken in spaceflight. Right now, the station is just a cylindrical module without a crew, but it will grow over time as more components are added. Although some media reports will cite this as China’s first space

Response to Myanmar coup shows need for UN reform

It’s been almost three months since Myanmar’s military junta seized power from the democratically elected government. More than 700 protesters have been killed, and more than 3000 arrested. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said that the military is likely committing

Guiding Myanmar away from ruin

On 4 January 2012, at the beginning of what was commonly assumed to be Myanmar’s transition to democracy, the government-run New Light of Myanmar published an editorial that contrasted “the violent conflicts, protests and bloodshed” that mark other countries’ transitions to democracy with

Pakistan’s extremist dilemma

Pakistan is at a crossroads, with a choice either to become hostage to religious groups or to take independent foreign policy decisions. After making an apparent shift away from its policy of tolerating extremist religious organisations, Pakistan’s government last week surrendered to the demands

Indonesia raises ASEAN’s bar on Myanmar

For much of his presidency, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo has taken a mercantilist view of foreign policy, pushing the country’s diplomats to promote trade and investment while keeping their heads below the parapet on most thorny international issues. Indonesia’s inward-looking approach compounded

China drops the mask on its global ambition

As China’s economic revival has given the country a global weight commensurate with its demographic scale, the choices it makes are crucial for regional and indeed global prosperity and peace. After the 1997 Asian financial crisis, for instance, the People’s Republic of China opted not to

Indonesia gambles on special ASEAN summit on Myanmar

In a bid to resolve Myanmar’s political crisis sparked by the February military coup, Indonesia will host a leaders’ summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta on 24 April. Myanmar’s coup leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, is expected to attend,

America and China: Imagining the worst

Book Review: Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War (Penguin 2021) The book begins with a clash in the South China Sea – an imagined conflict, this being a work of fiction, but the authors explain having felt compelled to write because, in the tradition of

South Korea on North Korea: Keep on keeping on

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in’s policy of engagement with North Korea copped a triple whammy in the past two weeks. After months of deliberation, the Joe Biden administration affirmed that the US President would not meet with North Korea Chairman Kim Jong-un, a clear policy break with

Russia’s Asia diplomacy

Russia’s long-serving Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shuttled between Beijing, New Delhi and Islamabad in recent weeks, putting on a diplomatic display that could be described as admirably adroit as much as it was divisive. From China and India, Lavrov fulminated against a hostile America’s

Has China given up on state-owned enterprise reform?

Outside observers have all but given up hope that China will engage in meaningful state-owned enterprise (SOE) reform. There is a pervasive sense that rather than shrinking SOEs, China’s leaders are committed to increasing their prominence within the economy. Foreign perceptions of Chinese SOEs

The Quad’s uneasy place in Southeast Asia

Last month, the leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – the United States, Japan, India and Australia – met for the first time. Promising to strive for a region that is “free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion”, the Quad

With Olympic snub, North Korea returns to isolation

North Korean sports officials announced last week that the country would not be sending athletes to the Tokyo Olympics due to Covid-19 concerns. The brief statement, buried at the bottom of a post on North Korea’s quaint Sports Ministry website, instantly flashed across news bulletins around the

The Quad (finally) delivers: Can it be sustained?

On 19 March, the leaders of four important democracies of the Indo-Pacific region – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – held (virtually) their first-ever “Quad Summit.” This meeting at the leaders’ level of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was significant on two counts. It

Obstacles and opportunities in Vietnam-Australia ties

Australia and Vietnam officially became strategic partners in 2018, promising to expand cooperation across multiple domains. Yet economic ties have grown slowly from a relatively low starting point, while defence relations are mostly restricted to training and high-level dialogues. Education and

Legalising same-sex marriage in Japan

Last month, a Japanese district court for the first time ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional. The verdict by the Sapporo District Court was a result of simultaneous lawsuits against the nation demanding marriage equality as well as compensation for psychological

The big bark but small bite of China’s trade coercion

Beginning last May, China has hit Australia with a barrage of trade sanctions in a fairly overt attempt at economic coercion. It’s still early days, but it’s worth taking stock of what the economic impact has been so far. The fact that China’s trade sanctions have taken place

In Singapore, Covid vs privacy is no contest

Life in Singapore during the pandemic has become about tracking, tracking, tracking. Wherever one goes, one has to scan QR codes that log entry into malls, restaurants, shops and office buildings. For those who have just arrived on the island, it might seem like an uncomfortable intrusion into

Washington risks an unsustainable climate policy

A couple of months after the inauguration of the new Biden administration, the 18 March Alaska summit provided the first big test of US-China relations. While most of the talks between senior officials were in private, tense exchanges during opening remarks suggest bilateral ties won’t fast

An interim government would bring ruin to Afghanistan

The Afghan government is fighting for survival as external and internal actors exploit its weaknesses in preparation for a US exit. The latest US initiatives to bring “a responsible end” to the Afghan war will likely have the opposite effect, pushing the Afghan government closer to a knife’s

Unresolved questions in US-India relations

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent visit to New Delhi was a chance for the United States and India to discuss the nature and depth of their strategic partnership – particularly against the backdrop of tensions with an aggressive China. Austin visited New Delhi soon after leaders

In India, a taste of political variety

With five state elections to be contested in coming weeks, India is heading back into election mode: alcohol shops are being shuttered, petrol prices have been cut to appease voters, and top leaders of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main opposition party Congress have been

The upward spiral of violence in Myanmar

The clashes in Myanmar’s streets between largely peaceful protesters and armed members of the security forces over recent weeks evoke memories of similar confrontations in 1974, 1988 and 2007. The result in each of those cases was the brutal suppression of the popular will and a crackdown on

When a middle power is not caught in the middle

South Korea is set on a policy course that seeks to balance its economic relations with China and its security relations with the United States. Aiming for such a balance is understandable. China accounts for around one quarter of South Korea’s merchandise exports, and a fifth of its commercial

Lockdown déjà vu in the Philippines

It’s hard to tell whether the Philippine government intentionally sought to mark exactly one year since 15 March 2020 Metro Manila Covid lockdown by tightening quarantine restrictions once again, first on 15 March and then further on 22 March. New Covid cases have been piling up at

North Korea and Malaysia’s predictable diplomatic divorce

Last Friday, North Korea severed diplomatic relations with Malaysia. In turn Malaysia gave the North Koreans 48 hours to leave the country. By Sunday, the North Korean embassy was empty. The Malaysians did not have to worry about their embassy in Pyongyang, as it was already informally shut down in

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