Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 06:38 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

China

US regional leadership: A shot across the bow

For years at the Shangri-La Dialogue, the pre-eminent meeting of defence ministers held in Singapore, successive secretaries of defence from the United States have repeated ad nauseam that Washington is a “resident power” in the region.It is becoming increasingly evident that the Covid-19

Xi Jinping emerges stronger from Covid-19 outbreak

The tardy response by the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) to the Covid-19 outbreak triggered widespread community outrage. But Beijing’s draconian crackdown, paired with intense scrutiny and intrusion into the daily lives of ordinary citizens, has further consolidated power in the hands of

China-US geopolitics in the age of corona

The coronavirus pandemic is a “black swan” moment: a rare and unpredictable event that could have momentous, system-wide, and unforeseen consequences. China deserves credit for having mobilised quickly, efficiently, and effectively after initial missteps to defeat the Covid-19 disease.

The Belt and Rebranding Initiative

China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) continues to defy simple explanations. Initially used as a means to promote and frame the country’s key foreign policy initiatives, it has now morphed into somewhat of an umbrella term for all sorts of Chinese overseas activities. Is this development

On the Mekong, Khon Pi rapids saved – for now

Just over a year ago, I reported on the uncertain future of the Khon Pi rapids, located near the Thai town of Chiang Khong and lying in the riverbed between Thailand and Laos. At issue was the desire of a Chinese company to blast the rapids and thus open the course of the Mekong for commercial

Who will be the 21st century’s rule maker?

Mike Mazarr and I are debating the way Asia will be “governed” in future. That term needs to be placed in quote marks because international affairs aren’t analogous to domestic politics – there is no supreme sovereign authority with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, so states

China’s counteroffensive in the war of ideas

From Beijing's perspective, political influence operations are at least as important as military operations, if not more so. Although the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) military modernisation programs have been at the centre of attention for decades, China's influence operations have only

Power and legitimacy go hand in hand

I was delighted to read Sam Roggeveen’s thoughtful reply to The Interpreter article by Ali Wyne and myself about the relative qualities of US and Chinese power. Roggeveen makes good points; I agree, for example, that US military power has been critical to the post-war order. But I remain convinced

In Africa, the US plays catch-up with China

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced his first trip to Africa, 15–19 February, with stops in Senegal, Ethiopia, and Angola. The choice of these three countries demonstrates that the US remains focused on security and economic investment issues in Africa, and, in the case of Angola, is

Chart of the week: Trust in China

Almost 30,000 cases of coronavirus have been officially confirmed, amid reports of Chinese authorities increasingly cracking down on information at the epicentre of the crisis. With governments around the world imposing travel bans, as well as local Chinese communities being unfairly stigmatised,

Afghan transit a game changer for Gwadar port

On a sunny Tuesday in the third week of January, a cargo ship named Diyala docked at Gwadar seaport, in south-west Pakistan. The enthusiastic port staff quickly unloaded the cargo. When the unloading was finished, Chinese officials operating the port, along with their Pakistani counterparts, posed

Forging consensus in the South China Sea

Analysis as to how Hanoi might resolve its South China Sea disputes with other claimants has been overshadowed by a near exclusive depiction of its competition with Beijing. Hanoi’s current maritime disputes with Beijing have presented few opportunities for strategic progress. Comparatively, the

Wuhan coronavirus: How upfront has Beijing been?

It is too early to make a definitive judgement about how Beijing has handled the outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China. But it is already clear that any assessment will have to take into account not just the medical side of the virus’s

Deng’s pragmatism is China’s poison pill

China’s contemporary economic renaissance, measured across the past 40 years, is largely an orchestration of the expansion of capitalism, and the repression of communist ideology. The economic divergence brought forth by the Global Financial Crisis, between China and the West gave China the

Economic diplomacy: Two big-C issues

Change of pace If Australia’s bushfire crisis has done one thing to inadvertently calm the national zeitgeist during the holiday season, it is in the way climate change has suddenly returned to supplant China as the country’s biggest wicked problem. But in reality, these two big-C issues

What Xi wants in Myanmar may not be what he gets

If there were any doubts around China’s thinking about where to direct its money and influence in Southeast Asia, they were dispelled by the recent announcement that Xi Jinping would visit Myanmar on 17 and 18 January, the first state visit by a Chinese leader to its southern neighbour in 19 years

Another dam on the Mekong

Since the announcement in July last year that the Lao government was notifying the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its intention to proceed with the construction of a dam due to be completed by 2027, not far from the old royal capital of Luang Prabang, there has been a steady increase in the

Beijing’s Hong Kong appointment sends a clear message

Messaging, as anyone knows, is a big part of politics. In Zhongnanhai, the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing, messaging is a form of gospel. A strong storyline, no matter how twisted the truth becomes (e.g., Uighurs and “education camps”), is central to much of what goes on there, and

Book review: Betraying Big Brother

Book review: Leta Hong Fincher, Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (Verso, 2018) In China, a country of contradictions, a feminist movement emerged when women connected with each other using technology and social media. Through interviews with young women, and in

US-China trade deal, phase one done: Now what?

It may go awry between now and the promised finalisation in January, but both the US and China now agree that phase one of the most difficult bilateral economic negotiation in recent decades is over. Unusually for this negotiation, the two sides also seem to agree on what they have agreed – at

Favourites of 2019: Yangyang Cheng

As 2019 winds up, Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Or in this instance... For me, this year will be remembered as one where the world could no longer ignore the realities of the Chinese party-state. I realised

Pacifying Australia-China relations

Australia and China cooperating in the Pacific Islands? At first glance it seems absurd. Australia-China relations are hardly warm and glowing right now. Just in the last few weeks, there’s been a focus on alleged espionage courtesy of Wang Liqiang, claims of attempted political

The Wang Liqiang case in Cold War perspective

The recent publication of Peter Hartcher’s Quarterly Essay Red Flag: Waking Up to China’s Challenge coincided with fast-breaking stories about Chinese espionage and influence operations in Australia, the leaking of the Xinjiang Papers from inside China, and the overwhelming victory by Hong Kong

Reconsidering Australia’s China debate

The recent allegations of Chinese espionage and election interference – and the subsequent doubts cast upon them – have reignited the China debate in the Australian public consciousness. The debate has become increasingly polarised, with a shortage of goodwill. Some have had their integrity and

China-US trade war: For all the bark, not much bite

It is now nearly 17 months since the Trump administration began collecting 25% tariffs on the first tranche of Chinese imports to the US – time enough to evaluate the economic impact the trade war so far. That impact? Surprisingly little. It is certainly true that comparing the first nine

Pages