Sunday 11 Apr 2021 | 04:42 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

Why Twitter was right to dump Trump

President Donald Trump’s social media ban (aka de-platforming) has had some free speech advocates in conniptions, not just in America but across the world. In an ironic twist, China’s censored netizens have, with official support, also fancifully railed against the ban, suggesting that Weibo is

Resisting uncertainty, Malaysia is finding itself

Malaysia is in a quandary, desperately trying to figure out how to resolve political and economic questions. The fragmentation of the Malaysian market for votes is at a point it has never before experienced. In a country where ethnic politics have long dominated, there are the Malays, who are

A very British crisis

Returning to the country of one’s birth is a common experience for many Australians. In the more than 45 years since I first arrived in Australia, though, I have never been more astounded and appalled by what has happened to Britain in my absence, or more grateful that I no longer live there. I

What does the arrival of Covid vaccines mean for 2021?

On the eve of 2020, the first case of an unexplained SARS-like pneumonia was noticed in Wuhan. 2021 has begun with vaccines against Covid-19 already approved and mass vaccination campaigns rolling out. But we also begin the year with almost 85 million people confirmed to have been infected by

Covering the Covid shock on The Interpreter in 2020

From the first days in January this year, the question that dominated the outbreak was how upfront Beijing had been about the novel coronavirus that became known as Covid-19. Richard McGregor: So far, the handling of the crisis seems to have underlined one of the ongoing problems with the

Your most-read articles on The Interpreter in 2020

We had 70% more page views this year compared to last. With numbers like that, wry office jokes about a potential stock market float for The Interpreter took on a certain edge. It was thrilling to see the value readers put in our articles to help them try to make sense of a year of extraordinary

The strange connections of isolation

Today, as it has for nine months, the Australian government’s Smartraveller website tells me “do not travel”. Every country on the map is coloured red. To leave the country, I would need an exemption on compassionate grounds. Apparently it’s a high bar. For the last few years, I averaged

The modern sharing of Pacific “public goods”

The Covid-19 crisis has made the importance of data sharing more urgent than ever. For the island nations of the Pacific, ensuring a ready flow of information to support decision-making is critical. Robust data-sharing systems will be instrumental in helping countries collaborate with one another,

Favourites of 2020: Running for nothing?

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. Any runner with a shoebox full of medals knows that

How extremist messaging co-opts emergency events

Australia experienced two major emergency events in 2020 – the summer bushfires followed shortly after by the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout these events, social media played a critical role in providing information, facilitating social connection and public discussions. However, there

Learning from an island in a pandemic

Through a quirk in circumstances, I presently find myself sheltering from the pandemic in Iceland. I wouldn’t consider myself stranded like other overseas Australians. I am here due to personal necessity and because the country is a relatively safe place. While the recent success of my home city

Avoiding a “lost decade” in the Pacific

The horror year that has been 2020 is thankfully coming to an end with a dose of welcome optimism, now that vaccines are on the way. But the end is still far from within sight for many of Australia’s Pacific island neighbours. In a new Lowy Institute policy brief, we argue that the Pacific is

The wrong side won: Remembering John le Carré

The verdict of John le Carré (real name David Cornwall) on the outcome of the Cold War was: “The right side lost, but the wrong side won”. This ambiguous conclusion is attributed to le Carré’s favourite character, George Smiley, in his novel The Secret Pilgrim, but it is an unmistakable

Bringing space law into the 21st century

Throughout 2020, a renewed debate has taken hold over international legal frameworks and the governance of outer space. A flurry of outer space activities has ensured this debate has gained extra attention. These include China’s Chang’e-5 mission, which in December landed an unmanned craft on

Favourites of 2020: A lockdown loaf

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. A year like no other. From global pandemics to climate

PNG and the politics of the death penalty

Another season of turmoil has swept politics in Papua New Guinea. The Supreme Court has ruled the recent budget sitting to be unlawful, ordering the parliament to resume on Monday while the prospect a no confidence motion in Prime Minister James Marape hangs in the air. But for all the raucous

Favourites of 2020: Casting a line in Pacific fisheries

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. The evolution of Pacific fisheries management is a

China’s online meddling goes beyond the Great Firewall

Last week, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted on Twitter a fake image which portrayed an Australian soldier with a bloody knife next to a child holding a lamb. The Australian government was outraged, describing it as “disinformation”. This is just the latest episode of the

Women, peace and security are not only wartime issues

Many women fight wars every single day within their homes. This is not the violence of wars that features on the nightly news, but something far more insidious – a hidden conflict that is far more costly. Domestic violence is rampant, within both developed and developing countries, yet is a

The case for going all-in on renewables

Current perceptions of renewables have been driven by the need to address climate change, a narrow view that overlooks benefits such as reducing our reliance on imported energy and creating thousands of high-tech jobs. As countries grapple with the outwardly ineffective efforts to pass climate

Jim Wolfensohn’s knowledge bank

Jim Wolfensohn, an Australian-turned-American who became president of the World Bank in 1995, was a mercurial character. His struggle to tackle the challenges of global development, relying on the weak reed of the World Bank, is a classic story of the heroic individual challenging global forces.&

In the Philippines, a label can take your life

A civil war has been going on in the Philippines for over 50 years, waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with the armed guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA). The rebels boast a strength spread across 73 out of the country’s 81 provinces. Every president since the conflict

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

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