Wednesday 20 Oct 2021 | 05:53 | SYDNEY
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Australia and Asia

Why no tears will be shed for Australia's knights and dames

So Tony Abbott's revival of knights and dames has proved a short lived thing, with newly installed PM Malcolm Turnbull moving quickly to axe the contentious honours. It's a move likely to be greeted with relief at home and bemusement abroad, given it is less than two years since knights and dames

Diagnosing Asia's Australian problem

For decades, there has been a familiar refrain: Australia has an Asia problem. We don’t engage enough with Asia, or understand its languages or diverse cultures. From Ross Garnaut in the 1980s to the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, the narrative has been that if only Australia could

Reader riposte: Australia-India nuclear deal

By Ron Walker, currently a visiting fellow at the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy at ANU. Ron is a former DFAT officer who worked for 20 years in Australia's nuclear diplomacy. Among the positions he occupied were the first Head of the Nuclear Safeguards Branch and Chairman of the Board of

Reflections on the 2015 Lowy Lecture: Greater Asia

Delivering the 2015 Lowy Lecture in Sydney yesterday, General David Petraeus outlined a thought-provoking grand strategy for 'Greater Asia'.  Geographically, Petraeus defines Greater Asia along a maritime axis from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Japan, but also overland 'from Western Russia to

Economic crisis in China? We're not there yet

I started my job at the Federal Reserve three weeks before Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. I wish I had kept a diary of my initial months at the Fed, so I could recall clearly what we thought was happening each day. I do remember there was a discrete point where suddenly everything felt like

Indonesia: We don't have to be condemned to crisis

Ken Ward is to be congratulated for a straight forward and sober analysis of the Australia-Indonesia relationship. In his own matter of fact style, Ken takes us through a complex relationship and provides unique understanding and insight. His core point is that the Australia-Indonesia

Indonesia: Too many 'unforced errors'

Maybe it's just the title – Condemned to Crisis? – that gives Ken Ward's book such a downbeat despairing tone, as if the accident of geography has locked us in an unhappy marriage with Indonesia and there is not much we can do about it. Of course we should be realistic: we won't ever have the

Is China ready for global leadership?

Is China ready for a larger global role and should the outside world, in particular a regional partner like Australia, embrace this possibility? Evidently not, judging by remarks made by the Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, Michael Thawley. 'China wasn't ready to take on the

China makes its formal climate-change pledge

China's long-anticipated formal pledge to international climate change negotiations, it's 'intended nationally determined contribution' or INDC, has arrived. China's target is a 60% to 65% reduction in the emissions-intensity of the economy by 2030 pegged at 2005 levels, with carbon dioxide

Papua's education malaise

This is part 3 of former Fairfax Media Indonesia correspondent Michael Bachelard's series on Papua. Here is the introduction, part 1 and part 2.  One sunny November school day at a school in Tagime, hundreds of primary and secondary students are outside having a whale of a time. They're playing

This week in Jakarta: The politics of Ramadan

Indonesia is the country with the greatest number of Muslims in the world, but it is not an Islamic state. Nor is it strictly secular – the first principle of the state ideology is the belief in God. Defining the boundaries between religion and politics has been a constant theme throughout the

With the missionaries of Papua

This is part 1 of former Fairfax Media Indonesia correspondent Michael Bachelard's series on Papua. Here is the introduction to the series is here.  On a chilly Sunday evening in Wamena, the highlands capital of Indonesian Papua, a small group of white Christian missionaries worship together in an

Lowy poll shows that values matter in foreign policy

The 2015 Lowy Institute Poll reveals a great deal about Australian attitudes towards China, both in terms of our bilateral relationship, but also how China fits into our broader sense of economic and political security alongside other actors such as the US. It would appear that values and ideals

Indonesia under SBY: Stability, stagnation, or both?

'What's in a name?' Shakespeare's Juliet asks. Quite a lot, as things turned out for her. And so it is for the just-published proceedings of the ANU Indonesian Update, titled The Yudhoyono Presidency: Indonesia's Decade of Stability and Stagnation. A 'mini' version of the Update was held at the

Unquestioned beliefs on both sides of US-China divide

China and the US have both been described as countries that consider themselves to be exceptional. China, so much so, that some analysts argue it sees itself as 'uniquely unique'. What this means in China is that most Chinese understand themselves to be part of a culture that no-one else can truly

New Defence Guidelines re-brand US-Japan alliance

The US-Japan Defence Cooperation Guidelines are best thought of as an occasional re-branding exercise for the US-Japan alliance in response to changing strategic conditions. Following a review, a revised version of the Guidelines was announced on 27 April. The 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation

Burma: The return of the 'vigilantes'

In 2011, Burma's hybrid civilian-military government launched an ambitious reform program that, among other things, envisaged the transfer of responsibility for Burma's internal security from the armed forces to the national police. Given Naypyidaw's firm and public commitment to this policy, it

America's China consensus slowly unravels

For a long time American (and Australian) thinking about China has been dominated by a broad consensus that, despite many signs of growing assertiveness, Beijing does not pose a fundamental challenge to US leadership in Asia. The argument goes that, whatever they might say, China's leaders know

The coming nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean

While the world focuses on the dangers that a nuclear-armed Iran could present in the Middle East, a potentially more dangerous and unstable nuclear proliferation is occurring in the Indian Ocean. In the coming years India, Pakistan, and perhaps China will likely deploy a significant number of

One belt, one road? China's community of common destiny

More details emerged over the weekend about two Chinese big-ticket initiatives, 'One Belt, One Road' and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia, President Xi Jinping outlined his vision for the region in a keynote address titled 'Towards a Community of

Are the Khmer Rouge and ISIS similar?

Elliot Brennan's comparison between the Khmer Rouge and ISIS raises a number of questions. No one is more aware than I of the terrible cost of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. It was a period that devastated a country I knew well, and which led to the death, as Elliot rightly

Shambaugh's China disaster scenario examined

'Always predict disaster', a shrewd academic economist told me some years ago. 'If it happens, you are proved right. And if it doesn't, then catastrophe was avoided by people heeding your wise and timely advice!' Dystopia is, as least for those foreseeing it, a win-win game. 18th National Congress

Do we need 'full-spectrum defence'?

The first thing to say about Alan Dupont's recent paper is that he is absolutely correct about the dire condition of Australian strategic policy. As he suggests, we lack a coherent answer to the most basic question of all: 'What do we want our armed forces to be able to do?' Until that question

China and the AIIB: Towards a new rules-based order?

Australia's likely decision to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) marks the loosening of America's 70 year command over global governance. US Secretary of State John Kerry and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the African Growth and Opportunity Act

India is no ally of the US

In the continuing debate between Hugh White and Shaskank Joshi regarding US-India strategic cooperation, I would associate myself closely with the views of White and what he sees as the eventual limits of the relationship. But I would take it one step further. In the long-term, an anti-US

Would India go to war with China to help America?

In his latest contribution to our debate, Shashank Joshi raised some excellent points against my sceptical view of the emerging India-US strategic partnership. But I'm still unpersuaded. To explain why, it helps to step back and clarify the question we are debating here. It is not whether

Tough road for Asia's women activists

On 3 March, Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, 'We must use the celebration of International Women's Day to highlight the plight of women still fighting for freedom and equality, for when that is achieved it will be for the betterment of us all.'  That fight is ongoing in the Asia-

Indonesians against the death penalty

As we learned from a recent Lowy Institute poll, 62% of Australians oppose the use of the death penalty in the case of Bali Nine members Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia. But what do Indonesians think about the case? While I have yet to find a similar survey of Indonesian public

Khmer Rouge Tribunal: Two more charged, but not indicted

Contrary to media reports of two more 'indictments' of former Khmer Rouge figures by the Cambodian-UN Khmer Rouge Tribunal, what has actually happened is that Meas Muth (the former Khmer Rouge navy commander) and Im Chaem (a former regional detention centre director) have been charged in absentia

Jokowi makes a political spectacle of executions

It's hard to believe that just four months after President Jokowi swept to power on a wave of disillusionment with Indonesia's politics, his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is now openly displaying schadenfreude.  President Jokowi's disastrous handling of the appointment of a new police

Obama's India visit reveals weakness of US position in Asia

Shashank Joshi makes a good case for the importance of Obama's visit to India last month, and against my view that there is much less to the US-India alignment than meets the eye. My argument is that their underlying strategic objectives remain too different for real strategic alignment. Shashank

India nuclear deal needs serious parliamentary scrutiny

The Australian parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will soon review the proposed treaty between Australia and India on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, signed by Prime Ministers Abbott and Modi in New Delhi on 5 September 2014. A 1984 cartoon on Australia's

Police massacre threatens Philippines peace deal

The best chance for peace in Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines has just noticeably faded. The deadly clash in the early morning of Sunday 25 January between the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police and the local command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the

How Chinese media covered Obama's State of the Union

In his State of the Union address on Wednesday, President Obama mentioned China a total of three times. One was to praise China's commitment to cut carbon emissions. The second was to encourage American manufacturing executives to bring back jobs from China. The third was a call-to-arms to

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