Wednesday 03 Jun 2020 | 00:27 | SYDNEY
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Victoria takes the initiative with China

I thought to myself, here’s Xi Jinping walking past, here’s a chance to ask him a question. But instead he just gave me a wan look and a bodyguard quickened a step to put himself in the way, allowing the delegation to brush by before I got a word out. It was Vice President Xi back then, in

Finally, some plain talk on the Quad

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a foreign policy speech to the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. Australia’s foreign policy analysts can be very grateful for these candid remarks, because they should prompt Canberra to rethink its policy stance on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the “

ABC: Australia’s waning soft-power star

As the ABC chair Ita Buttrose reminded the audience at the weekend’s Lowy Institute Media Awards dinner, this year marks 80 years since Australia started broadcasting internationally. As she noted, Prime Minister Bob Menzies mused at the inauguration of the service on 20 December 1939, “The time

Antarctica and the China test

At the current meeting in Hobart for CCAMLR, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Australia is once again moving to establish marine sanctuaries off the east of Antarctica with the support of the US, Europe, and a coalition of environmental organisations. And

Ironclad - Forging a new future for America's alliances: book chapter

In a new book edited by Dr. Michael J. Green of Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington D.C., the final chapter by Alex Oliver looks at international public opinion towards the US' system of alliances and finds that attitudes have been surprisingly

The sharp shift on Syria

Just last week, much of Washington seemed to reach consensus on the direction of US policy in Syria. The Syria Study Group, a bipartisan committee convened by Congress to examine policy options released a final report, laying out a way forward. The committee concluded that sharp shifts and reversals

Scott Morrison strikes an anxious and inward-looking tone

After a couple of thoughtful speeches to Asialink and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Lowy Lecture last night marked a clear step away from the sort of Australian foreign policy articulated in the government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and towards the

Book review: Common enemies

Book review: Common enemies: crime, policy and politics in Australia–Indonesia relations, by Michael McKenzie (Oxford University Press, 2018) Next month marks the 17th anniversary of the Bali Bombing, which on 12 October 2002 claimed the lives of 202 people and injured 209 others. The attack

Remembering Timor – a soldier’s view

Twenty years ago, several hundred soldiers from the 3RAR Parachute Battalion Group, including me, flew from our base in Holsworthy to Darwin. We had a brief training session with a cavalry squadron we had never worked with, and then, never having conducted any maritime training, we embarked on HMAS

Syria: Is it time for the West to talk with Assad?

Syria is one among several Middle East regimes which believe that repression, if not used in moderation, provides a necessary answer to challenges to the existing political and social order. Accordingly, Western governments have to decide the relationship they wish to have with Syria, and its

Gladys Liu and the pitfalls of cultural anxiety

This country’s diverse Chinese-Australian communities are hurting. From conversations with friends, I gather they feel burdened by an obligation to show loyalty to Australia that others simply take for granted. Some report feeling caught in the crossfire between a Chinese Communist Party (CCP)

Australia sails into muddy waters in the Gulf

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was at pains last week to emphasise the “modest and time-limited” nature of Australia’s contribution to the new US-led maritime security mission in the Strait of Hormuz known as the International Maritime Security Construct’ (IMSC). He batted away suggestions

Australia in the Gulf: Will we make a difference?

Australia’s commitment to the US-led coalition to provide maritime security for the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf will be one maritime surveillance aircraft, to start operations later this year, and one frigate from early 2020. Military personnel will also help staff a coalition

The changing dynamics of Australia, PNG and the Pacific

Prime Minister Scott Morrison showed he was serious about the Pacific “step up” when he ensured that his first overseas visit was to the Solomon islands and the first foreign dignitary he invited to host was Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape. The visit by Marape represented a

Australia in the Gulf: The order-based rules

Back in December, Scott Morrison went halfway in following Donald Trump’s change to the diplomatic recognition of Israel, deciding to leave Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv while formally acknowledging “West Jerusalem” as the capital. But at the same time, Morrison decided not to follow Trump

Bougainville: A nation in waiting?

On 23 November this year, Bougainvilleans will vote in a referendum to decide whether they wish to stay part of Papua New Guinea or become an independent nation. It is perhaps the high point of a 20-year peace process that in turn followed a gruelling, 10-year battle for independence waged between

The reluctant coalition

The Australian government’s announcement today that it will contribute assets to a maritime coalition force in the Persian Gulf comes as no surprise, given the very public way the US request was delivered in Sydney at the recent AUSMIN meeting. Washington doesn’t make those type of requests

The (other) continent we can’t defend

For all the back-and-forth Hugh White has generated with his latest book, How to Defend Australia, in a national preoccupation with the China question, little serious discussion has been devoted to how to defend Australia’s southern front and cope with China’s increasing Antarctic footprint.

Iran: Washington calls on Canberra

Washington has asked for Australian support to participate in a coalition maritime Persian Gulf security force. The request was formally announced as part of Sunday’s AUSMIN talks. It is the type of request that Australia would prefer not be made. Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the

The Pacific step up goes to Washington

One evening every June for more than 20 years, a “Pacific Night” reception has featured as a mainstay of the diplomatic circuit in Washington DC. It is organised largely through the New Zealand embassy, and also sponsored by the Australian embassy and other Pacific island countries. This year,

Harnessing demographic destiny

Once confident predictions that the world’s population will reach 11 billion by the end of this century are beginning to be debunked. It is now appears more likely that the global population will hit a ceiling before reaching nine billion by mid-century, and then begin to decline. This tapering

Book review: Hugh White’s How to Defend Australia

Book Review: How to Defend Australia, by Hugh White (La Trobe University Press, 2019) Defence commentator Hugh White never shouts from the rooftops, and his new book How to Defend Australia is written in the same measured tone that has long driven his more strident critics crazy. Yet if White

National security: Australians and their elites

It may be distasteful to some, but there is no escaping the need for political elites. The trick, particularly in a democracy, is for those elites to carry a sense of legitimacy. Australians are disconnected from politics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they differ from politicians in their

Australian attitudes to China shift: 2019 Lowy Poll

Among many interesting findings in this year’s Lowy Institute Poll, one new question produced a particularly striking result given Australia’s debate over how to navigate the looming tech cold war between the US and China. 44% said “protecting Australians from foreign state intrusion”

The Matildas and Socceroos vs. Marta and Messi

The Australia women’s national soccer team bowed out of the Women’s World Cup this past weekend following a dramatic loss to Norway on penalty kicks. It was the end of a rollercoaster campaign, with the highlight coming from a comeback victory against a Brazilian side led by Marta – whose goal

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