Friday 03 Dec 2021 | 14:23 | SYDNEY
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Roosevelt’s lessons for nations across generations

On 23 April 1910, at the Sorbonne in Paris, recently retired 26th President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech entitled “Citizenship in a Republic”. Though delivered 111 years ago, his speech holds valuable lessons that a democratic country such as Australia should heed

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

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

Facebook’s monopoly danger in the Pacific

The recent stoush between the Australian government and social media giant Facebook, with its eight-day-long ban of local news from its platform, had results that were not confined to Australia. Facebook’s block of Australian news also highlighted the vulnerability of information security in the

Australian politics should be as diverse as its people

Australia likes to see itself as punching above its weight as a middle power, but this boast does not hold true when it comes to the representation of cultural diversity in politics. The contrast with near neighbour New Zealand, which last year elected its most diverse parliament ever, has only

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

Lessons from Christchurch

The tragedy of 51 people murdered and many more injured two years ago by an Australian-born far-right extremist was commemorated in Christchurch this week by the New Zealand government along with family and friends of the victims. For the community – in New Zealand most importantly, but also in

The Quad gives a boost to India’s vaccine diplomacy

The most notable takeaway from the first-ever “Quad” leaders meeting involving the US, India, Japan and Australia at the weekend was the agreement on expanding the global vaccine supply. The vaccination capacity of India will be increased to produce 1 billion doses by 2022, the leaders announced

A new “concert” to govern the Indo-Pacific

The joint statement issued following the weekend meeting of the four “Quad” leaders was titled “The Spirit of the Quad”. This title could be read as either self-affirmation or self-praise. The Quad’s first summit of leaders was a somewhat informal affair, held virtually amid a global

Covid vaccines: Charity begins at home

There has – rightly – been a strong reaction in Australia and more broadly to the Italian government decision, endorsed by the European Union and some of its leaders, not to permit AstraZeneca to export 250,000 contracted doses of its Covid vaccine to Australia. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi

Her brilliant career

Book review: Sue Boyd, Not Always Diplomatic: An Australian Woman’s Journey Through International Affairs (University of Western Australia Press, 2020) I first met Sue Boyd in Hanoi, where she was Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam. She was an intriguing figure, combining a razor-sharp

The politics of being Chinese in Australia

The release of the Lowy Institute’s Being Chinese in Australia: Public Opinion in Chinese Communities, based on one of the largest surveys of the Chinese-Australian community ever undertaken, shows that the events of the past year, notably Covid-19 and the deteriorating state of Australia-China

Why Aussie exporters won’t be toasting China or the US

Lock the doors When the China trade numbers were released on Tuesday, you could hardly blame Australia’s 2500 winemakers if they locked themselves in the cellar with a nice bottle of red. They certainly have plenty to drink. Only three months ago, Chinese customers drank 50% of Australian red

Terrorism and New Zealand’s dual citizenship conundrum

Last week, the issue of depriving an individual of their citizenship because of terrorist activity made headlines once again. An alleged Islamic State member, Suhayra Aden, had been detained by Turkish authorities crossing from Syria into Turkey and was being readied for deportation to New Zealand.

What happened to Australia’s “soft power”?

In October, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that it had discontinued its “Soft Power Review”, launched amid considerable fanfare in 2018 by then–foreign minister Julie Bishop with the stated aim of ensuring “Australia remains a persuasive force in our region

Allies but not friends? New Zealand and Australia

A pub quiz question for foreign policy nerds in ten years’ time: In early 2021, why did New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern accuse Scott Morrison’s government of not acting in good faith? “For not living up to its responsibilities on dual citizens crossing from Syria into Turkey” might be the

What Biden means for Australia’s aid policy

Joe Biden has taken the mantle of US president at a critical time for international development – amid a resurgence in poverty, increasing geopolitical contestation, rapid technological and environmental change, and of course Covid-19.  The immediate priorities of the new administration will

Foreign policy’s “Indigenous moment” is here

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, the first Maori woman in that role, hit the ground running in her first few months in office. Not only did her appointment break barriers for Indigenous women in international affairs, she has also begun to outline a stunning example of what an

Covid’s long reach upsets the economic pecking order

Passing lanes New forecasts that the Chinese economy will overtake the US in real terms much faster than expected are likely to have provided the Biden administration with a bracing context for a more coherent China policy. According to just released projections from the London-based Centre for

India and Australia: Beyond the three Cs

India often breezes through the window of Australia’s national consciousness, but rarely lingers. Will India once again disappear from our collective awareness, following a short summer in which we were captivated by a sublime test series in Australia? Cricket has been a common denominator

China and the Australian far right

Since the start of the pandemic, China and the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have become a key rallying point for a diverse array of political groups. This includes the Australian far right, which has seized on new opportunities related to China to radicalise and recruit throughout 2020. In

How to China, from your friends in New Zealand

It was probably only a matter of time before Damien O’Connor, not one of the leading lights in Jacinda Ardern’s second-term Cabinet, stepped into some diplomatic doo-doo. But in an interview with CNBC, New Zealand’s Trade Minister has done so in spectacular style. He gets douze points for

Using the Australian Open as a Tokyo test run

Focus on the upcoming Australian Open tennis tournament these last few weeks in the local media has been intense. Still, it’s possible that Olympics officials in Japan are monitoring the first tennis Grand Slam event of the year even closer than we are in Australia. As tournament organisers

An anthem that is neither fair nor advancing equality

Three anthems walk into a bar, The Star Spangled Banner, La Marseillaise and Advance Australia Fair. The Banner starts singing, O say can you see, and the crowd erupts. La Marseillaise begins, Allons, enfants de la patrie. Again the crowd applauds. Advance Australia Fair, stands, looks around and

Australia’s Pacific Step-up and the Quad

The growing synergy among the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue powers of Australia, Japan, the United States and India has provided a crucial impetus to the security architecture of the Indo-Pacific. Bilateral ties between these four states have also seen positive growth, largely a result of “like-

She won’t be right with “Australian-style” Brexit

As if 2020 has not been challenging enough, the United Kingdom is currently facing the prospect of ending its Brexit transition period on 31 December without a trade deal with the European Union. As post-Brexit negotiations on a UK–EU deal have continued without a breakthrough, the claim that the

When China lashed out

On the wintry night of 27 November 1950, Chinese troops suddenly descended upon the US 1st Marine Division and the 31st Regimental Combat Team around the frozen Chosin Reservoir, less than 100 kilometres away from the China-Korea border. Having failed to dissuade the United States with words from

Avoiding a “lost decade” in the Pacific

The horror year that has been 2020 is thankfully coming to an end with a dose of welcome optimism, now that vaccines are on the way. But the end is still far from within sight for many of Australia’s Pacific island neighbours. In a new Lowy Institute policy brief, we argue that the Pacific is

Australia-Indonesia relations need to talk the talk

This year has been one of great tumult at Australian universities. Not least are the nonsensical proposals to axe Indonesian language programs by several universities, such as La Trobe, Western Sydney University and Murdoch. Australian universities are closing the door of opportunity to the

Do politicians really make “excellent envoys”?

The Interpreter has kept its eyes on political appointees to Australia’s diplomatic posts. Daniel Flitton’s most recent piece ended with the observation that the government should better explain why politicians make “excellent envoys”. The government explanation is likely to be, in the most

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