Thursday 23 Sep 2021 | 15:20 | SYDNEY
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Europe

AUKUS and the CPTPP: It’s all about China

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.

China – a lonely superpower

As the United States, United Kingdom and Australia move to form a new AUKUS grouping, various reports have emerged of a “new Quad” led by China and featuring Iran, Pakistan and Russia. Iran’s imminent admission to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and plans for the four countries to

Sunk! France cries outrage over snubbed subs

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 “

Europe and the South China Sea 

In the 16th century the Portuguese were the first Europeans to navigate the South China Sea and lay eyes upon the thousands of islands and reefs that lay in these waters. Long years have passed since the days in which European navies played a major role in the seas of Asia. However, in recent years

Lukashenko running on empty

Belarusian autocrat Alexander Lukashenko is under pressure and increasingly isolated. That makes him more dangerous. And it poses challenges, as well as opportunities, for his only ally, Russia. In August 2020, mass public protests calling for political change engulfed Belarus. The

Europe turns away from asylum-seekers

Lapped by clear waters, Chios is one of five main islands wedged in the northern Aegean Sea, a stone’s throw from Turkey. Seen from the plane, the island’s interior is dotted with quaint olive groves and walled medieval villages. On the jagged coastline stone watchtowers perch facing out to sea

UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt – not just for the good times

The United Kingdom’s proposed “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific was met with plenty of scepticism, including from this author, when it was unveiled in March as part of a broader Integrated Review of defence and foreign policy. Politicians and foreign policy analysts tend to obsess about

Germany’s federal election: choose any colour you like

Pizza, kiwi, traffic light, Jamaica, Kenya or Germany? This curious spectrum of possibilities currently tantalises and torments German minds. Based on the trademark colours of the country’s mainstay political parties, it refers to the bewildering constellation of potential coalitions on offer

Afghanistan: Russia faces its own risks and uncertainty

The American withdrawal from Afghanistan offers some opportunities to Russia – but exposes it to greater uncertainty and risk. Russia has long been ambivalent about the US/NATO force presence in Afghanistan. On the one hand, Moscow recognised, and valued, the stabilising role they played in the

Russia and Vietnam: An alliance of convenience

Russia is one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Southeast Asia, with Vietnam alone a major customer for Russia’s arms. While it is estimated that throughout the 1980s Moscow had provided Vietnam with an average of US$1 billion annually in military assistance and another US$1 billion annually

Why China and North Korea decided to renew a 60-year-old treaty

Sixty years have passed since the China-North Korea Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance was signed on 11 July 1961. On the anniversary this month, China’s President Xi Jinping and North Korean chairman Kim Jong-un pledged to renew the Treaty for another 20 years, as China and

Merkel and beyond

She was wading through debris left by catastrophic floods in the west of Germany. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel had, last week, come to assess the damage and promise help to survivors. So, too, had all three candidates in the race to succeed Germany’s long-serving leader after the federal

Russia’s National Security Strategy: Same book, new cover

“The weak get beaten,” declared Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2004 after the Beslan tragedy. Russia’s recently-unveiled new National Security Strategy bears the stamp of Putin’s world view. It is not a revolutionary document, but builds on familiar themes identified in its 2015

Ukraine: Balancing China and the rest

Ukraine is attempting to improve its relations with China after the nation’s authorities, allegedly pressured by the United States, decided to halt the takeover of a local aircraft engine manufacturer by a Chinese company. Ukraine is typically seen as country inside a Western sphere of

Macron’s right-wing gamble

On a recent Saturday afternoon in Paris, thousands of protesters gathered at the Place de Clichy in the north west of the city in one of 140 so-called “Liberty Marches” across France that day in a statement against a perceived lurch to the right by mainstream politicians, especially President

Australia sweeps the table in the UK trade deal

Australian trade negotiators often enter talks with difficult demands and a comparatively weak hand. Agriculture, where they seek concessions from the other side, is politically sensitive meaning they are asking their counterparts to do what is hard. In exchange, they have little to offer because

Believing Biden

At the conclusion of US President Joe Biden’s one-week visit across the continent and to the United Kingdom, Europeans appear to believe in the need to push back against the authoritarian China of Xi Jinping – a faith evident despite their mutual economic interests with Beijing along with a fear

Economic diplomacy: Trade deals for a fast-growing family

Worker vs worker vs student Almost five million Kiwis have always been at least cousins. And Scott Morrison’s distinctive contribution to regional security has been his embrace of about 10 million other islanders as “our Pacific family”. But in a week of rhetoric about international

Biden-Putin summit: Managing expectations

The United States and Russia are both carefully managing down expectations of any dramatic breakthroughs when US President Joe Biden meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva on 16 June – their first face-to-face contact since Biden took office. This is understandable and sensible.

New Caledonia eyes final vote on independence

France is showing signs of frustration as it exerts all efforts to underline the real consequences of independence for those long-standing New Caledonian residents who will vote in a third and final referendum before the 1998 Noumea Accord ends next year. French Minister for Overseas Territories

London and Hong Kong: Financial centres in parallel peril

There is a curious parallel between Hong Kong and London as financial centres in potential decline due to the recent loss of a unique position. Historically both cities were crucial nodes in the global network of the British Empire. More recently both functioned at a critical junction between the

Russia–China: An Unholy Alliance?

Russia and China’s verbal sparring with the US over competing visions of multilateralism last week in the UN Security Council exemplified the closer ties forged over recent years between Moscow and Beijing. The burgeoning relationship undoubtedly offers mutual advantage for both countries –

Sticks and carrots in Biden’s Russia strategy

The Biden administration’s recent comprehensive package of sanctions against Russian individuals and organisations is probably the clearest indication yet of a US decision to use sticks to moderate Moscow’s adventurism. But do these measures go far enough, and what will the US need to do next if

Russia’s Asia diplomacy

Russia’s long-serving Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shuttled between Beijing, New Delhi and Islamabad in recent weeks, putting on a diplomatic display that could be described as admirably adroit as much as it was divisive. From China and India, Lavrov fulminated against a hostile America’s

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

Cracks beginning to appear in the Russia-India relationship

India’s annual summit with Russia was cancelled last year for the first time since its inception – the official reason, as was commonly blamed for many abandoned events, Covid-19. The summit’s cancellation was a rare hiccup in what has otherwise been a traditionally close partnership. Moscow

India must be realistic about Russia relations

The visit to Moscow by India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla on 17–18 February was his first overseas trip outside South Asia during the corona crisis, underscoring the importance India attaches to its strategic partnership with Russia. But it is a relationship where New Delhi must also be

Palaces and protests: Where to next for Russia?

Large street protests swept more than a hundred Russian cities in late January. The rallies were sparked by the arrest and jailing of prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the release of his widely viewed “Putin’s Palace” corruption exposé video on YouTube. Unsurprisingly, security

Russia vs the EU

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell visited Moscow this month intending to lodge a strong protest against the treatment of dissident Alexei Navalny and his supporters in Russia. Not surprisingly, this was forcefully rebutted by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei

Germany’s ordinary new world

In extraordinary times, ordinariness can be a virtue. That, in any case, is the hope of Armin Laschet, who was elected as the new leader of Germany’s largest party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), on 22 January. A moderate Catholic from Aachen, Germany’s westernmost city, Laschet

The Donbass conflict: Waiting for escalation

Europe’s “forgotten war” between the Western-backed Ukraine and the Russian-sponsored, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic over the energy-rich Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has been “on hold” for six years. Despite the formal truce declared in

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