Saturday 28 Nov 2020 | 21:50 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

Prospects for a G20 “pandemic treaty”

Summit season has flashed before our eyes in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic means we have largely been spared of the “theatre of summitry”, with less headline-grabbing drama than in previous years. For the G20, this was an opportunity to once again become a functional forum focused on developing

A Biden presidency and US-Russia relations

Moscow’s muted reaction to Joe Biden’s election victory is unsurprising, and speaks volumes. The Kremlin is likely bracing itself for more confrontation with Washington, as US policy towards Russia hardens. That’s saying something. Since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and revelations

Gauge-changing train is no game changer for China

Railways are a natural pillar of overland transport for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, given their large capacity. But there is an obstacle to getting direct services across the borders and into neighbouring countries: different rail gauges. With the exception of North Korea, which uses

The G20’s existential crisis

2020 could be defined as a year of global crises – health, political, environmental and economic. The G20 is caught among all four, and how the forum responds raises questions about whether it is facing its own existential crisis. With a chaotic US election and presidential transition as well as

The evolving threat from chemical weapons

The established system of chemical weapons control is showing signs of fraying. This pressure will only escalate in an increasingly uncertain and competitive world. Emerging technologies offer new methods of chemical agent use and logistical planning. Global manufacturing of chemicals is rapidly

In post-Covid recovery, hidden costs of going green

Amid concerted global efforts to mitigate the economic and social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a growing interest in promoting a “green recovery”. Green recovery encourages a closer link between economic restoration and transition towards a more sustainable economic model

A chance for the US to change its tune on justice

On Monday last week, 72 countries at the United Nations offered their “unwavering support” for the International Criminal Court (ICC). Among them were Australia, Canada, the UK, France and others that have signed the Rome Statute, which established the ICC. In doing so, these states expressed

Peace Prize to WFP: A win for international cooperation

The recent announcement that the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Program (WFP) attracted little attention in Australia. It is true that the spirit of internationalism is not strong across the globe at present. Nevertheless, Australians should celebrate WFP’s global role. Over

But what does “rules-based order” mean?

Although the “rules-based international order” is central to Australian strategy, what exactly this concept means remains a work very much in progress. For Australia to achieve its objectives for the order, it will have to get more specific. A hardy perennial The importance to Australia of

The hate matrix of online gaming

The word that the extreme right use to describe the political radicalisation of newcomers to their worldview is “red pilling”. The metaphor comes from to the techno-dystopian film The Matrix. But its modern cultural usages refers to a radical political conversion or awakening, where individuals

Diplomacy after Covid: No looking back

The 75th United Nations General Assembly held last month was unique. The media spectacle of leaders’ speeches gave way to resident diplomat introductions, pre-recorded video presentations, and videoconferences. For some, the unspectacular and even boring nature of the General Assembly’s high-

Pakistan gets on the TikTok ban wagon

Pakistan has become the second South Asian nation after India to ban Chinese video-sharing app TikTok.  The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on 9 October banned TikTok in the country after  ByteDance, the Chinese tech giant that owns TikTok, failed to “put in place effective

The many trails of Ant Group

When the last of the big four state-owned Chinese banks listed a decade ago, one could be forgiven for thinking that the age of mega Chinese financial listings was over. After all, with financial services being such a strategic sector for the Chinese Communist Party, who would have thought that the

China’s vision of sovereignty for the next world order

President Xi Jinping grabbed headlines last month with the announcement that China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is aiming for carbon neutrality within 40 years. Xi’s speech, to the UN General Assembly, gave no details about how this would be achieved, beyond a

The unique power of TikTok’s algorithm

Most people know TikTok as an entertaining app with an endless stream of snappy, addictive short videos that make them smile after a long day. Kids jiggle away in cute dance routines, while US comic Sarah Cooper rose to “TikTok fame” with her lip-synching impressions of US President Donald Trump

Global trade policy at a lull, but for how long?

Like a sailing ship caught in the doldrums, the international trade policy world seems stagnant and listless. Is there any fresh wind to be detected? Can we create some movement? In this coronavirus–dominated environment, nothing much is happening. The trend in global trade itself is not easy to

Protecting political leaders from Covid-19

In light of news Donald Trump has his wife Melania have tested positive for Covid-19, we have re-issued this article first published in The Interpreter on 31 March outlining the challenges of protecting leaders from infection.  Since the onset of Covid-19, we have entered a twilight

In Bangladesh, Covid adds to a list of maladies

The Covid-19 situation has had a devastating effect on the local economy, the brunt being borne by the country’s export-oriented garments industry. It has propelled owners of various businesses – and that includes the media sector – into showing employees the door, and with rising unemployment

Duterte’s vaccine promise is a political placebo

As early as April, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte set a P50 million (A$1.45 million) reward for anyone who comes up with a vaccine for Covid-19. Since then, Duterte has assured the public that inoculations for the virus will soon be readily available. The administration went so far as to

Colonialism and cultural erasure in Xinjiang

On 17 September, the Information of Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China released a White Paper, “Employment and Labour Rights in Xinjiang”, detailing the Chinese Communist Party’s “proactive employment policies” in the region. The paper is clearly part of China

Francis Fukuyama in Minsk

Thirty years ago, Francis Fukuyama sprang to international prominence by suggesting that history might be at an end. Ever since, lesser academic lights have queued up to tell anyone who would listen why he was wrong. Less thought has been given, however, to what Fukuyama was actually right about,

How much did the spies really know about the virus?

Something doesn’t quite line up in Bob Woodward’s latest book – and you have to look at what we know about intelligence assessments in Australia to understand why. Woodward tells us in Rage, his second look into the current White House, of top-secret warnings delivered to US President

Building a Covid vaccine strategy for Australia

This month, Australia signed a partnership with AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company behind the University of Oxford’s proposed Covid-19 vaccine, securing the rights to locally manufacture the vaccine, should it meet safety and efficacy requirements. The Oxford vaccine group has been one of the

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