Saturday 11 Jul 2020 | 21:39 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

Designing a “built environment” for the pandemic age

We don’t give much thought to a flushing toilet, until the damn thing is broken. The same goes for the footpath that runs out the front of the house. A ribbon of smooth concrete serves as an unconscious guide for our feet, unless it’s cracked and potholed, transforming what is intended as a

Can Pacific airlines pull out of the dive?

“People who invest in aviation are the biggest suckers in the world.”– David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways “If you want to be a millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline.”– Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways The last few

Rohingya in Malaysia, doubly trapped

For some people living in the Ampang district in eastern Kuala Lumpur, self-isolation is nothing new. The area is known for its concentration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, nestled in the grimy apartments and neighbourhoods of this former tin mining centre, and they haven't been going out for a

New Caledonia: coronavirus deepens the divide

Four months out from New Caledonia’s next scheduled vote on independence, a pro-independence leader has denounced France’s handling of the Covid pandemic in the territory as colonialist and partisan, and called for the expulsion of France’s senior political and military representatives. The

The battle for a Covid vaccine risks losing the “war”

Leaders of nations around the globe have resorted to the language of warfare to characterise their fight against Covid-19. From US President Donald Trump, who declared himself a “war president”, to China’s Xi Jinping committing to a “people’s war”, to Britain’s Prime Minister Boris

West Papua: Looking for an opening

When the world is grappling with the kind of calamity few of us have experienced before, it can be easy to forget other crises. Climate change springs to mind. So, too, does the record level of human displacement around the world, a problem largely driven by conflict. That brings us to the long-

India’s Covid-19 tracing app: Power in the right hands?

Governments around the world are working hard to convince their populations to download the various Covid-19 infection tracing apps. As well as potentially helping to stymie the spread of the virus, the app download numbers serve another purpose: they could be read to indicate how much trust there

We’re all losers in the space arms race

Politics does make for unlikely bedfellows. Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it had signed a joint declaration with the Republic of Burundi, whereby both agreed not to be the “first” to place weapons in space. Two weeks later Russia conducted an anti-satellite missile test

Covid-19: The need to aid Asia to open up

Two things about the public health and economic impacts of Covid-19 are now clear. First, with just a few exceptions, most affected countries have suffered egregiously, and in many cases unnecessarily. This is a tragic situation. Second, the response has been mainly left to the national

Covid-19 chaos creates fertile ground for cyberattacks

Coronavirus-related cyberattacks have proliferated since the first Covid-19 cases emerged in Wuhan, China. According to a recent Microsoft analysis, every country in the world has now experienced at least one such cyberattack, with the number of successful intrusions increasing daily. In a

PNG and Covid-19: The costs of economic stress

Papua New Guinea has grappled with economic instability for years, exacerbated by generally declining global commodity prices, increasing national debt and allegations of fiscal mismanagement. None of this is helped by high rates of population growth and unemployment. Now the coronavirus pandemic

Diego Garcia: An American perspective

Diego Garcia is the United States’ major geostrategic and logistics support base in the Indian Ocean. Sovereignty over the island is increasingly being challenged by Mauritius, but it seems unlikely that Washington would be interested in a deal that would facilitate its transfer. The base has

Why Vietnam embraces multilateralism at this uncertain time

Today the mere mention of multilateralism leaves many jeering that the heyday of international cooperation has past. Isolationist politics appear preferred. Yet Vietnam’s recent activism in multilateral forums appears to demonstrate that Hanoi does not believe that cooperation is a faded luxury.

Covid-19 exposes the need for a European constitution

As Europe begins to emerge from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, another crisis seems to be looming. The German Constitutional Court last week threatened to block the Bundesbank from taking part in the EU stimulus program to save the Euro, in a challenge to European unity. The reaction

Muddled messages as Britain seeks to stay alert

After the seven weeks of lockdown, which had managed to suppress the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the British people on the evening of Sunday 10 May to explain the next steps. Restrictions were to be eased, but moves would be tentative and contingent, checking

Covid-19 and foreign policy: What’s changed, what hasn’t

A lot of ink is flowing about the “new normal” that will prevail post-crisis. A brief look at four different international issues offers a glimpse of what this “new normal” in international cooperation might be. The first concerns global health. Leaving aside for the moment the call by

America’s rudderless Covid response

Projecting optimism about US recovery from the coronavirus pandemic requires one to take the long view. America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, relative to the rest of the world, has been abysmal. The US has more than 30% of all cases, despite being home to only 5% of the world’s

For Australia, a testing friendship

It’s got nothing to do with Covid-19, but a fascinating short passage in Malcolm Turnbull’s new memoir is illustrative of the challenges Scott Morrison faces in dealing with US President Donald Trump, and how much Australia can rely on the US as it squares off in an increasingly sharp rhetorical

Vietnam defies the odds on Covid-19

If you want to see real Olympic-level panic-buying, head to a Vietnamese supermarket a week before Tet, or Lunar New Year.   Yet when the coronavirus broke out in China, Vietnam, with which it shares a border, there was only an hour or two of panic-buying before things settled down to

Weight on the scales

A few months back – only in January, yet seemingly a very different time ­– Mike Mazarr and I offered some initial reflections on America’s and China’s contrasting “theories of influence”. The article prompted a series of contributions, including an initial rejoinder from Sam Roggeveen

Samoa’s constitutional crisis: Undermining rule of law

While the global community struggles to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, Samoa is embroiled in a constitutional crisis. The South Pacific nation is frequently lauded for its good governance and regional leadership. The current crisis, however, has exposed fault lines around race and identity that

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