China is now the top export and import partner for 12 of the other 20 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group and a top one-way partner for five others. The US score on this measuring stick is two and one.
This is one very basic way of seeing how China’s bid
China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) just hours after announcement of the new tripartite AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and United States) security partnership may – or may not – have been coincidental.
There is a new mood of optimism around the most recent effort to revive the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) being spearheaded by Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan and his Indian counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.
There is an old saying that if you find yourself in a hole, the best course of action is to stop digging. If only Australia understood this wisdom. Abandoning the French submarine project, the government has decided to double down and design a new nuclear-powered sub with technology and assistance
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) does not currently deploy highly autonomous devices – whether weaponised or not. Existing devices tend to be remotely piloted and unarmed, or, as is the case with close-in weapon systems, designed to operate in a highly predictable way in uncluttered operational
China’s maritime warfare capabilities become more potent almost daily. Thomas Shugart’s new Lowy Institute paper explores this and then imagines the potential dangers arising for Australia. Shugart’s US-centric perspective is nicely complemented by Hugh White’s and James Goldrick’s debate
The French word déception means disappointment rather than deception, making it one of the infamous “false friends” the French language abounds in for English speakers trying to learn it. But when Naval Group, the French company that just lost what has been described in France as “
Australia is about to join an exclusive group of nations operating one of the most lethal military platforms ever conceived – nuclear-powered submarines. My initial thoughts on this extraordinary announcement are below. These are subject to revision as I think through the implications of what is a
When Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton land in Washington this week for the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), they’ll be at an important juncture for the Australia-US alliance. The “forever wars” in the Middle East are
The reality of living in a pandemic has dawned on Australia. Covid cases at the time of writing are high and still climbing. The virus is here to stay. Equally clear is that ring-fencing the country from the world — the ‘Fortress Australia’ policy — is no longer viable
In Australia, over the last few weeks, international headlines have focused on the United States, between the problematic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty, the 20 years since 9/11, and the AUSMIN meeting this week.
So readers could be forgiving for overlooking
National security thinkers follow a distinct pattern when they consider Australia’s future defence requirements. For most, the preferred point of view is risk-based. A policy response is framed in military-diplomatic terms, generally a proposal for increased capability and support for the ANZUS
The most important foreign policy speech by a cabinet minister so far this year was delivered last Monday. That Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was the speaker was a little surprising. A little less surprising was that he identified an ascendant, muscular China as a first order threat to the country’s
Australia’s sovereign wealth fund – the Future Fund – was established 15 years ago when the rivers of gold from selling iron ore to China were just starting to flow and country was only about half-way through its record-setting 28 years of economic growth.
The Future Fund’s
When the Taliban emerged from the wastes of Afghanistan in the 1990s, the international community was caught completely off guard. Intelligence on the ground was pretty much non-existent and whatever policies that followed in dealing with this new threat reflected this deficiency. Subsequent events
Donald Trump himself may have disappeared from our TV screens and smartphones, but Trumpism is alive and well. US President Joe Biden is doing all the right things to fracture the Trump coalition and pave the way for responsible Republican leaders to repudiate Trumpism. Since winning the election,
9/11 and the subsequent terror attacks in Bali were the catalysts for rapid and considerable change in the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Most obviously the AFP was deployed to Indonesia in the aftermath of bombings in Bali and Jakarta. But the national security role for the police extended
Tom Shugart’s Lowy Institute analysis of the rising maritime capabilities of China’s armed forces presents a bleak prospect for the imbalance between China’s growing offensive capabilities and Australia’s long-term ability to deter China from employing them against Australian territory and
In the lead-up to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in November, the world is looking for nations to step up in the clean energy sector. Australia, with its plentiful resources, economic capacity and established trade connectivity is perfectly poised to become a leader in that step-up –
Call it a measure of remarkable diplomatic consistency. Every year since 2013, at least one of two familiar faces has represented Australia at the regular “2+2” ministerial dialogue with the United States, more commonly known as AUSMIN.
Either Julie Bishop or Marise Payne has been in the room
The ANZUS Treaty turns 70 today, having been signed on 1 September 1951. When political leaders mark the anniversary, it’s safe to predict they will pronounce the US-Australia alliance (let’s leave the NZ part of the acronym out of it for now) to be stronger than ever.
They have a point.
Book review: Emma Shortis, Our Exceptional Friend: Australia’s Fatal Alliance with the United States (Hardie Grant, 2021)
Depending on your perspective, Australia’s China debate might be relatively sophisticated, or resemble shell-churned ground in a war zone. Either way, it’s noisy and
“If you want peace, prepare for war.” The idea that states can avoid war by strengthening their military is attractively simple, and the advice, attributed to Roman author Vegetius, has proved enduringly popular. In modern strategic lingo, it’s embodied in the buzz word “deterrence”.
Less than a month into his term, US President Joe Biden issued a Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Persons around the World.
Biden’s foreign policy focus on LGBTQI rights confirms that it is now time for Australia to step
Thomas Shugart’s excellent Lowy analysis Australia and the growing reach of China’s military is by far the best thing I’ve read on the specific defence implications for Australia of China’s swift emergence as a maritime power. It not only explains how China’s maritime forces have developed
Bob Carr recalls in his Diary of a Foreign Minister how a senior Australian intelligence official told him bluntly in 2013 that the war against the Taliban was failing.
“We spent a billion dollars in Uruzgan province … We could have achieved the same result if I had been
Is Afghanistan any longer a State in the international system under international law? More particularly, is the Taliban capable of being recognised as a legitimate government?
These are not just technical legal issues. They are ones that have already been raised and have political consequences.
Events this year have meant that uniformed members of the Australian Defence Force are more visible to the public than ever. But they are also more vocal. When Kabul fell to the Taliban last week, public messages of frustration and despair included members of the ADF. Understandably, having spent
In an increasingly contested world, basic questions about how the world works, and how it should work, are being asked anew. In Rules Based Audio we will be posing those questions to some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners. This podcast series is part of the Lowy Institute’s Rules
Peter Hartcher Red Zone: China’s Challenge and Australia’s Future (Black Inc., 2021)David Brophy China Panic: Australia’s Alternative to Paranoia and Pandering (La Trobe University Press, 2021)
If you wanted to give a political outsider a sense of
Follow the money
Forget Extinction Rebellion, carbon border adjustment mechanisms and doctors’ wives in inner city Liberal seats.
When Prime Minister Scott Morrison locked onto the existential message in this week’s United Nations climate change report it seems to have been about how foreign
Australia-China relations appear caught in a well-charted downward spiral. In the past year alone both countries have lodged complaints against the other with the World Trade Organisation and a freeze on high-level diplomatic relations remains in place. China has slapped tariffs on key Australian
In this episode of Conversations, Alexandre Dayant talks with Prof. Jeffrey Sachs about global cooperation in the time of COVID-19, vaccine distribution and Australia’s responsibility in the face of climate change
International education is a key plank of Australia’s soft power arsenal. Students from across the Asia-Pacific region come to Australia, live and work in the Australian community and imbibe its values. Many of these students return home and rise through the ranks to become entrepreneurs,
Book review: Richard Marles, Tides That Bind: Australia In The Pacific (Monash University Publishing, 2021)
There’s much to like in Richard Marles’ new essay on Australia’s relations with the Pacific, Tides That Bind. Above all is the author’s passion for his subject. Those who
Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has just completed a packed visit to India from 2–6 August as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s special trade envoy.
Abbott should have reason to be encouraged by his interactions and his meetings with a cross section of decision-makers in India,
The Covid pandemic relentlessly rolls on but prescribed burns have now also begun across Australia as the next bushfire season rapidly approaches. Such actions highlight that compounding, overlapping disasters are the new normal and now need to be planned for. Indeed, last year’s Bushfire Royal
Silver medal winner
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week became the latest national leader to bank the immediate short-term political benefits from the projected long-term economic and soft power value of hosting the Olympic Games. Morrison declared after Brisbane won a competition against no
The Covid-19 pandemic has dominated global and local news to such an extent for the last 18 months that there remains room for little else. But the aftermath of military campaigns in the broader Middle East has continued to generate headlines. Most recently it was the debate over Canberra’s
Recent reports that Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) will be redirected to focus on operations in the Pacific Islands signals Australia’s commitment to follow through on prioritising its immediate region in defence planning.
In a leaked briefing delivered last year to Australian
An interesting discussion about how Australia should respond to US President Joe Biden’s call for closer alignment and cooperation among democratic states has featured in a recent series of articles on The Interpreter. Between them, Susannah Patton and Ashley Townshend, Michael Green, Ben
On top of staving off a China telco monopoly, underwriting the purchase would show the government is putting big money on the table to get ‘blue chip’ companies to invest in the Pacific. Originally published in the Australian Financial Review
Today is my last day at the Lowy Institute after 14 years. With Sydney in a Covid-19 lockdown, this is not quite the farewell I had imagined. But one advantage of working from home is the time to reflect (once you tire of talking to the walls).
In 2007 I was a “refugee from the law”, as a