Tuesday 21 Sep 2021 | 01:05 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Asia

China’s problematic lending comes home to roost

On 13 November, the finance ministers and central bankers of the G20 will hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss action to help poor countries struggling to pay debts. A key issue will be getting China, the world’s largest bilateral creditor, to play a more active role. The push by China’s&

Economic diplomacy: A headless WTO, selling the Asian farm

New world order The leadership of the World Trade Organisation may be the first test of whether the world can move on with normal life amid the divisions and recriminations as the US recovers from a bitter election. In one of its last international policy moves, the Trump administration last week

A Trump legacy?

The “who won” question isn’t quite resolved. Bleary-eyed pundits fossicking over every county result are making about as much sense – and as much noise — as a flock of seagulls scrabbling for chips on the beach. Joe Biden might just have the numbers. But Donald Trump hasn’t been blown

Book review: The China bubble that never pops

Book review: Thomas Orlik China: The Bubble that Never Pops (Oxford University Press, 2020) Way back in 2001, Gordon Chang wrote a book entitled The Coming Collapse of China. Western analysts of China have been predicting a crisis ever since. Among the many concerns have been China’s massive

Coming soon: A neutral South Korea?

Around five years ago, I submitted an article to a leading strategic studies journal detailing how options previously considered extreme – such as abandoning the US alliance, acceding to China’s dominance, declaring a position of neutrality and/or securing a nuclear weapons capacity

Taiwan: Rising stakes for Australia

The Taiwan Strait is a key hotspot in the intensifying US-China rivalry, where the two superpowers’ spheres of influence overlap. Beijing claims the area as a uncompromisable “core interest” of sovereignty and territorial integrity, while the US seeks to maintain its close economic, political

Why Kim Jong-un will soon miss Donald Trump

If US President Donald Trump loses the 3 November election, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un will be first in line to mourn Trump’s departure from the White House. Despite a rocky start (those months of “fire and fury” seem a lifetime ago), the Trump-Kim relationship has grown incredibly in

Seychelles: New man, changing strategic environment

The election of Wavel Ramkalawan as President of Seychelles breaks the 43-year stranglehold of the party of former dictator France-Albert René. For Australia and the West, the election result removes many old assumptions about the central Indian Ocean and presents some new risks and opportunities

Thailand: Military, monarchy and the masses

At the heart of Thai street protests is the country’s inability to agree how power should be gained and used. What we are witnessing is a break from the past. The new king is more assertive than his father. And the junta’s five-year enforced hiatus in politicking has given rise to a new

Economic diplomacy: Japanese investment takes a Toll

Will the bell Toll? The quiet flood of Japanese investment into Australia over the past few years amid at times mounting alarm about much lower levels of Chinese investment has been regularly noted here. But the astounding story of corruption and mismanagement inside the largest single Japanese

A real-life Bollywood soap opera, with a political twist

When things get grim in India, the usual way of dealing with it is to look towards Bollywood for some distracting relief. This time, however, it’s not the latest musical providing distraction, but rather the imbroglio over the suicide of a popular movie actor, which was blamed on his girlfriend

Can China be a peacemaker in Afghanistan?

“China would be welcomed as an arbitrator in negotiations [for peace in Afghanistan] and should not leave matters of such a great importance solely to the US.” So said Maulana Samiul Haq, the so-called “Father of the Taliban”, in 2018. Peace talks between the Afghan government and the

Power in Asia in five charts

How should one think about power in Asia? Headlines would suggest that US-China competition is all that matters. But although the US and China wield substantially more power than most, there are still 24 other players in the regional game. Recognising the different ways these states generate and use

Progressive politics in Thailand’s polarised polity

Book review: Duncan McCargo and Anyarat Chattharakul Future Forward: The rise and fall of a Thai political party (NIAS Press, 2020) Youth-led protests in Thailand in recent months have rocked the army-backed ruling elite which has been politically ascendant since a military coup in 2014

Keeping West Papua on the agenda

When Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman addressed the UN General Assembly last month, he echoed a concern that has often been expressed by his predecessors, not about the Pacific directly, but about alleged human rights abuses in West Papua. “The world is taking a selective approach

Pakistan gets on the TikTok ban wagon

Pakistan has become the second South Asian nation after India to ban Chinese video-sharing app TikTok.  The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on 9 October banned TikTok in the country after  ByteDance, the Chinese tech giant that owns TikTok, failed to “put in place effective

The many trails of Ant Group

When the last of the big four state-owned Chinese banks listed a decade ago, one could be forgiven for thinking that the age of mega Chinese financial listings was over. After all, with financial services being such a strategic sector for the Chinese Communist Party, who would have thought that the

North Korea’s new missile

To restore your faith in the power of social media, I suggest logging on to Twitter just after a North Korean weapons parade.  Maybe “faith” is too strong a word here. In the heady days of 2011, we dared to hope that Twitter and Facebook would be the tools that toppled dictatorships all

China’s vision of sovereignty for the next world order

President Xi Jinping grabbed headlines last month with the announcement that China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is aiming for carbon neutrality within 40 years. Xi’s speech, to the UN General Assembly, gave no details about how this would be achieved, beyond a

Stepping past the fatalism trap

The Australian government is fatalistic about its ability to shape the future of the Indo-Pacific region. This stems from longstanding assumptions – as Coral Bell wrote more than 50 years ago, Australians “remain fully and inescapably vulnerable to the diplomatic stresses arising in Asia, on

A Quad of consequence: Balancing values and strategy

What makes the Quad foreign ministers conversation this week in Tokyo consequential? Probably the strategic setting – a pandemic, global economic contraction and an accelerated Sino-US strategic competition on one hand, and rising regional tensions from the Himalayas to the South China Sea and

A dose of climate realism about China’s carbon pledge

In 2009 China was blamed for destroying the Copenhagen conference on climate change, leaving the world with no successor to the Kyoto Protocol. In 2015, along with France and the United States, its leadership helped make the Paris Agreement a reality. And in 2020, China is the first major greenhouse

Timor-Leste’s youth leave or get left behind

A crowd of young Timorese standing in front of the Portuguese Embassy in Dili has become a familiar sight in recent years. They are hoping to acquire a Portuguese passport, which represents an opportunity for a shot at a better future in Europe. But why are these young people so eager to leave their

Pages