Tuesday 21 Aug 2018 | 14:50 | SYDNEY
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Working with China on Pacific climate change

The recent release of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Aid Map has relieved some “strategic anxiety” around China’s growing influence in the Pacific islands. Beijing committed only 8% of total aid to the region between 2011 and 2018. If we want to live in a more peaceful world,

Xi Jinping, Senegal, and China’s West Africa drive

Xi Jinping’s choice of Senegal for a state visit on 20–21 July, his first visit to West Africa, en route to the BRICS summit in South Africa, suggests that China seeks to deepen cooperation in a region that has seen comparatively less Chinese engagements than elsewhere in Africa. In using

“Poor old” China meets “poor young” Africa

The success of China’s reform and opening program across 40 years has shifted the nation from backwater to the centre of global growth, lifting 800 million people from poverty in the process. A largely complementary economic relationship has meant Australia has enjoyed a record-breaking prosperity

Japan floods a warning for a changed climate

The scenes in Japan in the wake of torrential rain that has caused landslides and widespread flooding are heartbreaking. The rains have been described as unprecedented, and the death toll has continued to rise as emergency workers and volunteers search for those who are still missing. While

Climate change and shifting alliances

In 2009 the first democratically elected President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, held an underwater cabinet meeting. The stunt was crafted to draw international attention to the plight of many low-lying island nations as climate change causes sea levels to rise, threatening their continued

Climate change and security and why it’s so hard

Australian officials have paid increasing attention to the links between climate change and security. The 2016 Defence White Paper and the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper both clearly set out a view that climate change will contribute to insecurity in the Asia-Pacific region, and specifically

Public holiday: Australia Day

Friday is a public holiday for Australia Day, and posting will be light on The Interpreter. Normal publishing will resume on Monday. For those of you getting a break, enjoy! See you next week

The Kyoto Protocol 20 years later: Heroes and villains

He was hailed as the ‘hero’ of the Kyoto climate talks 20 years ago, but the diplomat who oversaw negotiations for the world’s first legally binding emission cuts had some remarkably simple approaches to success. The first was to cut back on time. Raul Estrada Oyuela reduced the length of

Searching for sustainable energy in the Mekong

Southeast Asian governments are starting to wake up to the vast potential of solar energy, under pressure from civil society groups that insist it is time to get on board with a global revolution in renewable energy. Cambodia's former Energy Minister Pou Sothirak, now head of the Cambodian

What keeps global security academics awake at night

At the start of a Global Security course I ask my undergraduate students what they think are the greatest threats to global security. This year I went a step further, surveying academic colleagues around the globe. The results were telling in terms of what was emphasised and what was missing. The

How the fight for Mosul is likely to play out

Compared to Syria, Iraq is going well. Admittedly, war-torn Syria is a low bar but still, as the Mosul offensive accelerates, it is worth reflecting on how far Iraq has come since 2014, when its army collapsed in the face of the relatively small force of Islamic State. Iraq’s future will now be

Australia downplays the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations adopted a new global development agenda with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In Australia, however, this agenda seems to be making little headway. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000, predecessors to the SDGs, were a unifying call to

Ground control of space is highly political

In January of this year, Vietnam announced plans for a ground station that could downlink high-resolution imagery from Indian satellites as they pass overhead. Vietnam now has a view of its immediate area from space in near real-time. The ground station is another chessboard move in the increasingly

The globalisation of our discontent

Globalisation is currently everyone's whipping boy. Not only is everyone criticising it, but they also have ready answers on how to fix it. Unfortunately many of these glib solutions, if implemented, would diminish the very real benefits of globalisation. Politicians on both the left and right

Myanmar-China relations: Glass half-full

By Carrie Zhang, an intern with the Lowy Institute's East China program Situated between much larger powers and ruled for decades by a military junta, Myanmar is emerging anew under the de facto leadership of its state counsellor and foreign minister, Aung San Suu Kyi. For many of Myanmar’s

The Anglosphere renaissance: Britain's global view in flux

For years in Britain the idea of the Commonwealth looked marginal at best, eccentric at worst. It was some sort of national consolation prize for having lost the British Empire; it gave the Queen something to do; it reminded us Brits that we were an old country with, to put it mildly, an interesting

Thailand poised for an orderly royal succession

The passing of an ailing octogenarian can never be truly unexpected. Yet the mood in Thailand is one of collective shock at the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch. Against this backdrop, the military transitional government of Prayut Chan-Ocha has begun

Desmond Ball: 1947-2016

As with many of those who die of cancer, the death of Desmond Ball this week did not come as a surprise to those who knew him. He had been ill for quite some time. Still, when it occurs, the death of someone we have known and esteemed always gives us pause. So it is with Des. In my case, having

Time to put the foot down on Putin

Matthew Dal Santo’s analysis of diplomatic tensions between the US and Russia over Syria makes the argument that diplomatic talks must resume, but he really hits the mark when he says that 'a diplomatic solution was from the start a mirage at best and a trick at worst'.  Russia cannot

Where Rudd might end up on team Guterres

With the UN General Assembly expected to approve Antonio Guterres as the next UN secretary-general (SG) this week, 'the race is on to join team Guterres'. As Peter Nadin has suggested, Kevin Rudd may try to translate his work as chair of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM) into a '

Australia's military equipment in Yemen

It’s not often that the maritime environment features prominently in any Middle Eastern conflict, but in the waters of the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen there have been two noteworthy incidents recently, both of which have a decidedly Australian angle (even if these weren't obvious at first

Starting anew in Uzbekistan

By Deirdre Tynan and Magdalena Grono, respectively the Central Asia Project Director and the Europe and Central Asia Program Director for International Crisis Group. Outside powers may be relieved that the death of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan's president since 1991, has been followed by a seemingly

Reporting migration: Big challenges for old and new media

By Rachael Buckland, an intern with the Lowy Institute's Migration and Border Policy project Last week Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio, resigned after 34 years working for the English broadcaster and delivered a stirring speech at the Prix Italia festival in Lampedusa criticising journalism.

A Foreign Policy White Paper: How to do it right

What exactly is the new Foreign Affairs White Paper supposed to do?  The foreign minister’s own words don’t help much. A ’philosophical framework to guide Australia’s engagement, regardless of international events’, sounds dangerously like a collection of pious platitudes. And how

A renegotiated TPP may not be in our interest

After a decade of negotiation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed a year ago by its 12 participants, to come into force when ratified by the partners' legislatures. America's ratification is the key, and as President Obama had achieved 'fast track authority', Congress should either agree or

Brexit and Australia: No need to rush for an FTA

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, UK Prime Minister Theresa May added some clarity to the Brexit debate by stating that formal negotiations for British withdrawal from the European Union will begin no later than March 2017. Australian ears pricked up at this announcement, and with good

Timor Sea dispute: Timor-Leste is running out of time

Earlier this year, Timor-Leste initiated United Nations Compulsory Conciliation (UNCC) proceedings under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to assist in resolving its maritime boundary dispute with Australia. While Australia disputed the jurisdiction of the UNCC,  the

Syria: What we could do now

I wrote previously about the practical difficulties of military intervention, difficulties which pundits and commentators gloss over when criticising Obama for doing nothing ('Syria: What Are We Going to do Now?').  One key element missing from the plans of the 'for God's sake let's do

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