Thursday 24 Sep 2020 | 02:45 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

China

Interesting times for TikTok

From Delhi to Washington to Canberra, the future of the digital economy may be heavily influenced by how one question is answered: What to do about TikTok? The popular short-video platform owned by Beijing-based parent company ByteDance has been at the centre of a storm of controversy. Concern

A nervous watch on the Three Gorges Dam

To understand China, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on what is happening inside the country. Much of the current international discussion about China focuses on China’s plans to expand its overseas influence – both in Asia and beyond. But as the legendary American politician Tip O’Neill

Is Huawei in the UK a canary in the coalmine?

It is not a coincidence that Britain’s turnaround on using Huawei for its 5G infrastructure happened at the height of the pandemic. Covid-19 brutally brought back the realisation that international value chains are only as strong as their weakest link. This new awareness made plain that

Social credit: The next China risk for Australian business

As China recovers from the Covid-19 crisis, the apparatus of the state is about to be devoted to a new form of social control. By the end of 2020, China plans to introduce its national social credit system. For some, this evokes dystopian visions of a surveillance state, monitoring more than a

The obstacles to Syrian aid

On Saturday last week, following weeks of lobbying by humanitarian agencies and difficult diplomatic negotiations, the UN Security Council renewed its authorisation for the UN and its partners to provide humanitarian assistance in north-western Syria from across the Turkish border. The final

Twisting India’s Chicken’s Neck

Indian officials claim that China is continuing its build-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between India and China in the Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh region. New satellite imagery supports the claim that not only is the People’s Liberation Army holding ground

Obstacles remain for Pakistan dam backed by China

Over the last decade, the demand to build a new mega-dam intensified in Pakistan. The proposed Diamer-Bhasha dam, 320 kilometres from the border with China in the north, was an obvious choice, because all provincial governments agreed to its location. At 272 metres high, it would be the highest

The brakes on Beijing’s ambition

When discussing the rise of China, a sense of inevitability often pervades. China’s sheer population size and economic base will inevitably see it become the dominant regional power– or so the argument goes. China’s faster reopening from Covid-19 lockdowns has added to such arguments. That

Keeping the Kremlin in the Kelvinator

One effect of Australia’s more assertive posture on the People’s Republic of China has been to try to split off Beijing’s current and potential partners. This thinking was apparently behind Liberal MP Dave Sharma’s recent suggestion that Australia should back Russia’s participation in the

The economics of national security in Hong Kong

In the late hours of Tuesday evening last week, China’s new national security law for Hong Kong came into force. Seen by many as a response to the pro-democracy protests that erupted in the city last year, the law criminalises four types of national security offenses: sedition, subversion,

Hong Kong: The finishing blow

The 30th of June is always a challenging day in Hong Kong, as it marks the eve of the anniversary of its 1997 accession by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This year, it proved especially trying for Hong Kong’s beleaguered chief executive, Carrie Lam, whose approval rating has swung over

Economic diplomacy: Diversification dilemmas

Costing the D word Diversification might be the word of the moment in the lexicon of Australian trade debate, even though few advocates make much attempt to explain how it will actually work. But now we have two interesting efforts to quantify just how selected reductions in trade with China in

Canada won’t fall for China’s hostage diplomacy

It has been more than a year and a half since the Chinese government arbitrarily apprehended two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Their arrests have been widely interpreted as retaliation for Canada detaining Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive and the daughter of the company’s

After ASEAN summit, little change on the South China Sea

On 26 June, the leaders of the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their 36th annual summit by video conference, after the in-person summit scheduled for April was postponed because of Covid-19. The pandemic was the main topic of discussions.  Also high on the

China’s pipeline dream in Pakistan

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the flagship projects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It initially attracted US$46 billion in investment, which was later increased to $62 billion by April 2017, to support large-scale “infrastructure construction” and industrial

Solomon Islands gets a lesson in Chinese diplomacy

China’s efforts to marginalise Taiwan and promote its “One China” policy has been a challenge for many countries. Some have diplomatic relations with Beijing while continuing to pursue trade and cultural links with Taiwan. The US can do this because it is a global power. This was clearly

China’s charmless offensive

Nearly a century ago, Dale Carnegie achieved world renown for his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I’m not sure if it was ever translated into Mandarin, but I’m guessing that Chinese President Xi Jinping has never read it, either way. Perhaps he should. Under Xi’s leadership,

Book Review: What’s holding China’s economy back?

Book Review: Dexter Roberts The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, the Factory, and the Future of the World (St Martin’s Press, 2020) With the US, Brazil and many European countries struggling to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, China seems to be emerging as an even greater economic and

Australia should support India in the Himalayas

The conflict between India and China on their disputed Himalayan border may be an important turning point in their relationship. Australia should take the opportunity to show firm support for India over the issue. Last week’s fighting between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh was the bloodiest

Canberra vs Beijing: A response to Sam Roggeveen

Sam Roggeveen is absolutely right. Australia’s China debate has been dramatically transformed over the past few years. Like him, I welcome a robust discussion about our relationship with Asia’s emerging power and our major trading partner. It’s a pity China’s citizens can’t have one about

Lessons from the India-China border clashes

The India-China border clash on the night of 15 June, the worst in over half a century, is nothing less than a chapter break in the relationship between the two countries. A dynamic that was, at the best of times, fraught with mutual suspicion is now on the cusp of becoming downright adversarial.

India-China: Pressure at altitude

Even before the shocking events of 15 June, in which at least 20 Indian soldiers died along with an unknown number of their Chinese counterparts, it was clear to some that this year’s shadow boxing on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was different. In late May, the respected Indian defence

Canberra vs Beijing: A reply to Alan Dupont

Australia’s national debate about China has been dramatically transformed over the last few years. China’s rise is arguably the most important thing to happen to Australia’s place in the world since federation, so the fact that we are debating its implications so openly and

The geopolitical consequences of a pandemic

The global system is in a state of flux. China’s renewed territorial assertions and growing military power continue to pose challenges to regional peace and stability. US-Russia relations have plummeted into a downward spiral. We have passed through a crisis on the Korean Peninsula that has had a

COVIDcast: Xi Jinping and Covid-19

In this episode of COVIDcast, Richard McGregor, Lowy Institute Senior Fellow, sat down with Chris Buckley of the New York Times to discuss Xi Jinping’s China. Buckley is widely acknowledged as one the world’s leading authorities on Chinese politics. He was back in his hometown of Sydney after

COVIDcast: Xi Jinping and COVID-19

COVIDcast is a Lowy Institute pop-up podcast for anyone interested in understanding the effect of coronavirus on global politics. Each week for the next few weeks, Lowy Institute experts will sit down to discuss the implications of coronavirus for the world. In this episode of COVIDcast, Richard

Hong Kong: What China stands to lose

China’s recent national security legislation and ensuing crackdowns in Hong Kong are a certain sign of the Chinese Communist Party’s fragility as it deals with its economic woes amid Covid-19. Xi Jinping’s latest move to suppress political dissent is a blatant, but failed, attempt to convey

China toys with a new propaganda technique: Irony

As the world struggles with the Covid-19 crisis, the US and China have been locked in a heated propaganda warfare over the handling of the virus. Hitting back at President Donald Trump’s claim that “China let it spread”, Chinese official media angrily accused the US of “groundless accusation

The case for Australian strategic ambiguity

It is June 2021. An American destroyer sailing near a reef held by Beijing in the South China Sea has had a collision with a Chinese frigate that was attempting to drive it off. Both vessels have suffered multiple fatalities and, damaged, are at anchor near the reef. While who was at fault is

The gravity of China’s space base in Argentina

For most people, the first things that likely come to mind when imagining Patagonia in South America are mountains, glaciers, lakes and fjords. But there is also a lesser-known tourist destination: the visitors centre of a Chinese-owned space station in remote north-west Patagonia, Argentina. In

New Zealand and China: Contending with words and actions

New Zealand was one of the more than 130 countries which, at the recent World Health Assembly, sponsored a resolution setting up an independent inquiry into Covid-19 – a proposal initially rejected by China. New Zealand also backed Taiwan gaining observer status at the World Health Organisation,

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