Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 09:36 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Why Vietnam embraces multilateralism at this uncertain time

Today the mere mention of multilateralism leaves many jeering that the heyday of international cooperation has past. Isolationist politics appear preferred. Yet Vietnam’s recent activism in multilateral forums appears to demonstrate that Hanoi does not believe that cooperation is a faded luxury.

The Taliban’s empty promises of peace

In a Covid-19 world, there is perhaps little that can still shock and surprise. Still, this week’s brutal attack by Afghan insurgents on a clinic in a hospital in Kabul’s western suburb of Dasht-e-Barchi, during the holy month of Ramadan, made for particularly horrific news, given the targets

Where did Kim Jong-un go?

The three-week disappearance by North Korea’s chairman Kim Jong-un prompted plenty of questions. Could a succession crisis unfold? Might it go even further, with the risk that North Korea could collapse? Analysts have long argued that Kim’s health is a wild card when it comes to regime

Vietnam defies the odds on Covid-19

If you want to see real Olympic-level panic-buying, head to a Vietnamese supermarket a week before Tet, or Lunar New Year.   Yet when the coronavirus broke out in China, Vietnam, with which it shares a border, there was only an hour or two of panic-buying before things settled down to

Weight on the scales

A few months back – only in January, yet seemingly a very different time ­– Mike Mazarr and I offered some initial reflections on America’s and China’s contrasting “theories of influence”. The article prompted a series of contributions, including an initial rejoinder from Sam Roggeveen

With US Afghan exit, Russia eyes Central Asian security

Three months have passed since the United States and the Taliban signed an “Agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan”. For the Americans, it aims to put an end to the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which has lasted more than 18 years. The provisions of the agreement stipulate a

Beyond Covid, might China overreach?

A major disruption and the emergence of a global threat in the shape of a pandemic may have been expected to foster closer global cooperation. While this may momentarily be true, as countries cooperate to strengthen their healthcare infrastructure and in seeking effective cures and vaccines, there

Who would Beijing prefer wins in November?

The 2020 US presidential election may well go down in history as the “China election”. Indeed, if the past month has been any indication, the narratives around this race for the White House will heavily feature how each candidate plans to manage the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the

The prospects for China’s post–Covid-19 economy

While the Canberra political establishment has been sparring with China’s Foreign Ministry – and with Australian billionaires – much of the corporate elite has begun puzzling how to slipstream China’s post–Covid-19 economic recovery. Optimists hope that Beijing will summon a massive

Gwadar Port: New Dubai or pie in the sky?

The small port town of Gwadar, in the south-west of Pakistan, is the centre stage of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the Pakistan component of ther Belt and Road Initiative. Under CPEC, Gwadar is to be developed into a smart port city, and will be not only a major

Unpacking China’s overseas aid program

China’s role in the outbreak of the biggest pandemic since 1918 – both in terms of how it started and how China managed its response – has come into global focus. China is sharing what it has learned and assisting other countries to manage their own response. Its actions are being met with

Is this the Kindleberger moment?

In 1973 Charles Kindleberger wrote his now acclaimed book on the Great Depression. He argued that it was “great” because the global economic system had lost its hegemon – in less exotic terms, its system manager. In the interwar period, the UK was the system manager, but given the grievous

Islands of ire: The South Korea–Japan dispute

In early 2020, Japan reopened its National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty. Displays at the museum in Tokyo assert that islands disputed by Japan, South Korea and North Korea are Japanese territory and refer to these islands as Takeshima. South Korea’s government, which also claims sovereignty

New crackdown will deepen dividing lines in Hong Kong

Whoever first said that “you should never waste a good crisis”, the Chinese government appears to be listening. At least when it comes to Hong Kong. With the city and the world’s attention on Covid-19, Hong Kong police swooped at the weekend to arrest 15 veteran activists on allegations of

Aryabhata: Remembering India’s first satellite

It remains one of the proudest moments, not only for India’s space program, but as a landmark in the history of the country. Forty-five years ago, on 19 April 1975, the rocket thrusters fired to launch India’s first indigenous satellite. It was named Aryabhata, yet like many initial forays

As Africa prepares to fight Covid-19, China steps up

As China slowly begins to recover from Covid-19 and re-start its economy, it is seeking to position itself at the head of the global virus response and fill the void in humanitarian assistance created by Western paralysis. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Africa, where China has a long history

Why Covid-19 only accelerates South Korea’s AI ambitions

South Korea is the perfect arena for the field of Artificial Intelligence to flourish. Plenty of talent and capital has been set aside for scientific research and development, the country has the advantage of stable government, while an aging demographic profile presents an opportunity for the

Book review: The Indo-Pacific contest

Napoleon was prescient in that he said when China “wakes she will shake the world”. In the space of four decades, China has built up the world’s largest economy in purchasing power parity terms. It is the largest trading partner of virtually all of its neighbours. It has become a

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