Wednesday 25 Apr 2018 | 12:54 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 25 Apr 2018 06:00

    Anzac Day and the matter of meaning

    In modern and multicultural Australia, sustaining a tangible connection to a national day of remembrance poses a challenge.

  • 24 Apr 2018 16:00

    Public holiday: Anzac Day

    Publishing will be light on Wednesday.

  • 24 Apr 2018 14:00

    Attack of the Twitter bots

    A surge in social media followers across Asia has raised questions about self-censorship.

China

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The Beijing way of trade punishment

On 18 April, The Australian newspaper reported that Chinese students had “defied” warnings from their government about safety in Australia and enrolled in record numbers in the country’s universities for 2018. It was a nice image, of brave families and their children

Is Japan’s rare earth discovery fool’s gold?

Rare earth. The term sounds like something derived from the imagination of J. R. R. Tolkien, but these composites of seventeen rare minerals are a silent but central foundation of global industry. Rare earth metals are critical to the production of a massive array of industrial goods,

Caught in a pincer

China, China, China. All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully ignore the elephant in the room.  Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years has not been China, but Indonesia. Through its

Australia vs China, Europe vs Russia

The “bitter split among Australia academics” (reported in the Financial Times) with regard to attitudes towards China, and the Skripal poisoning incident that prompted an unprecedented number of European countries to take highly symbolic measures against Russia, have a common denominator.

The many questions about China’s Vanuatu ambition

What to make of the extraordinary story in Australia’s Fairfax newspapers on Tuesday about reported discussions between China and Vanuatu that could allow the People’s Liberation Army to establish a presence in the South Pacific nation? If true, there would be significant cause for

Xi’s big bureaucratic shake-up

Beijing is shaking up its bureaucracy. Two blueprints, released on 17 and 21 March, launched a major reform which will make crucial changes to the balance between the Communist Party and the state, and between central and local governments. Underpinning these reforms is a critical effort to make

Leslie – 15 years on

I first heard Leslie Cheung’s voice when I was five years old, sitting in the passenger seat of my parent’s car. A Cantonese song came on the radio: “Let me hide from the bustle of life / What is the mood like in heaven? / What new scenery will I get to enjoy?” I asked my dad who was singing

Hot take: what does Kim Jong-un’s trip to China mean?

So it’s now confirmed that Kim Jong-un went to China in the past few days to meet Xi Jinping. And apparently Xi will now go to Pyongyang. Breaking: Photos of secret talks between Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping emerge in the Chinese media https://t.co/kdnPKQixGq pic.twitter.com/G7tQh0Amd8— Javier C

Happiness and the “China Dream”

In his report delivered at the 19th Party Congress, Xi Jinping declared that it was the Chinese Communist Party’s aspiration and mission to seek happiness for the Chinese people. Hu Angang, one of China’s leading economists, predicts that by 2030 China will be one of the happiest countries

Q&A: China’s mounting great wall of debt

In his new book, China’s Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle, Dinny McMahon, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, takes the reader on a grass-roots tour of the underworld of Chinese finance. Perhaps much more than the

Silent Invasion: the question of race

Clive Hamilton’s new book Silent Invasion: Chinese Influence in Australia is coming in for considerable criticism. Some of it is warranted, including elements of this thoughtful review; some of it is not. I will discuss both kinds when I join Hamilton in conversation in Canberra next month.

China’s new aid agency

Last week, the Chinese Government announced its decision to establish China’s international development cooperation agency. As described by Beijing, the main purpose of the new agency is to give full attention to foreign aid, as a key means of major-country diplomacy. The goal is to

Australia, Asia, and the “Wealth of Nations”

How does Australia’s economy align with those of our Asian neighbours? What are the development challenges facing nearby South East Asian countries? And just how large is China’s economy? These questions are of particular interest this week as the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit is held in Sydney

The patchy results of China’s soft power efforts

Chinese media has reported that the Chinese Ministry of Culture is set to be merged with the National Tourism Association. So what? Well, as Xinhua points out, this is no mere bureaucratic reshuffle. Rather, this is about trying to further build China’s soft power: [T]he move is aimed at

The myth of Chinese containment

The great debate on the meaning of China’s rise is coming to a close. Where academics once argued over whether the Asian power would be a status quo or systemic challenger, there is growing consensus that China intends to reshape the global system in its image. From its criticism of the US

Beijing’s welcome mat for overseas Chinese

China has opened new doors for overseas Chinese through changes to its visa program. Beijing’s latest policy announcement allows foreign citizens with Chinese heritage to apply for a special multiple-entry visa granting a residency period of up to five years. This extends the existing policy

Xi Jinping and the grip of the party

Xi Jinping’s leadership of China has been notable on numerous levels of foreign policy, domestic affairs, and economic management. Since taking over from Hu Jintao in late 2012, Xi has centralised decision-making in his personal office; purged a legion of once-powerful comrades

China’s loans and the debt dilemma

It’s no fun being in debt. Creditors want to chase you, the debts increase as you procrastinate about paying them, and you literally feel “indebted” and guilty, especially if those creditors are friends or family. There are studies about the effects of debt on personal well-being. Micro-

Philippine troops to China?

Imagine this. China builds a military base on the Australian continental shelf off, say, Cairns. Then, according to the Australian prime minister, China threatens a military response should Australia attempt to exercise its maritime rights in accordance with a unanimous international

China: the web closes in

The era of easily exploitable internet loopholes in China appears to be ending. Starting on 31 March, Beijing will ban non-licensed Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) via which Chinese residents privately access blocked websites, such as Google, Facebook, and The New York Times. Chief Engineer of

China’s agenda behind inter-Korean talks

The first two weeks of 2018 have seen a significant thaw in inter-Korean tensions. In the highest-level talks between North and South Korea since December 2015, Pyongyang agreed to send a delegation to the 2018 South Korean Winter Olympics. China welcomed the developments, which it considers, in its

Understanding China’s approach to aid

International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells' remarks about China's aid to the Pacific are part of a long tradition of concern in Australia. Yet while some Chinese aid projects are less than perfect, as my colleague Jonathan Pryke notes, Fierravanti-Wells' sweeping

Calm the alarm on Antarctic krill fishery

There is periodic hyperbole surrounding the future use of the Southern Ocean krill fishery, often sensationally blaming a future threat from China. Yet krill are in no danger of being overfished. China’s krill take is currently a miniscule portion of catch limit under the present international

A turning point in US economic relations with China

The US appears to have reached a turning point in its economic relationship with China. During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump accused Chinese policy makers of perpetrating the ‘greatest theft in the history of the world’ and blamed their foolish and incompetent American

China and North Korea: Following the paper trail

Bill Gertz, senior editor of The Washington Free Beacon, specialises in scoops. But even by his high standards, his 2 January story that states a ‘(s)ecret Chinese Communist Party document reveals covert support to North Korea, including missiles, increased aid’ was a major coup. If true, Gertz

Best of The Interpreter 2017: China's influence

Former senator Sam Dastyari cetainly found that history repeats itself as farce. Or as Stephen Conroy, the former Labor defence spokesman that Dastyari infamously contradicted over the South China Sea, would later observe, it took a 'unique set of abilities to

Xi saves sea slugs on the sea floor

This post is based on Episode 16 of The Little Red Podcast, featuring Kate Barclay and Michael Fabinyi of the University of Technology, Sydney. My first culinary meeting with a sea cucumber - bêche-de-mer or BDM in its processed form - came out of curiosity. After nearly two decades travelling and

Saying the unsayable in Australia’s relations with China

The issue of influence by the government of the People’s Republic of China in Australian public and political life reached a turning point with the resignation of senator Sam Dastyari. It concluded a year of forceful reporting and vitriolic debate about China in Australia, fuelling a steady flow

China: Contradictions in climate leadership

This article is part of a series for the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Xi Jinping had a good year in 2017. It began on the international stage

Mistrust of Australia is growing in China

Over the past year or so the mood in Canberra has soured toward China. Indeed, of the countries unsettled by China’s rise and its increasingly confident and assertive foreign policy, Australia is now among the most outspoken in its criticism of Beijing’s behaviour. This change has been visible

Risk aversion in domestic Chinese politics

The 19th Party Congress was a watershed for the Xi administration. Feverish speculation about candidates for promotion the Politburo Standing Committee is over, but their policy significance much as before: enigmatic. There is a natural interest in factional or interest group allegiance. It is now

No need to self-censor in the face of China

The recent decision by Allen & Unwin to drop Clive Hamilton's book on Chinese influence illustrates that China need not exert much effort in influencing us. We're doing the job ourselves. Hamilton's book Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a Puppet State was pulled, according

The long reach of China’s United Front Work

China’s official state mouthpiece, the Xinhua news agency, last month declared 'Enlightened Chinese Democracy Puts the West In the Shade.' While Xinhua maintains the fiction that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its 89 million members represent the majority of the people, it also '

Censorship is superfluous in Xi’s ‘New Era’

Tiny children sit in a row on miniature wooden chairs, their attention focused on a television screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping in full oration mode, in incongruous juxtaposition beside the candyfloss-pink play castle of their kindergarten. In hospitals, patients have Xi beamed to the

The move to one-man rule in China and beyond

The much anticipated 19th Party Congress has come to a close in China after a week of painstakingly constructed public displays of Chinese Communist Party successes, goals, and virtues. Held every five years, the event offers rare insight into the intentions of the Chinese leadership and the future

Australia’s One-China Policy and why it matters

Australia is in the midst of a vociferous debate over China. Reporting and commentary on Chinese Party-state sway over Australia's public and political institutions has been met by a strong pushback by those who emphasise the opportunities presented by China's influence. The

Beijingers keep calm and carry on

In the lead-up to the 19th National Congress this October, Beijing has been undergoing some physical changes. As yet more gleaming architectural marvels are being unveiled, other parts of the city are being cleaned out and 'tidied up', with buildings being knocked down or bricked in. Many have been

China: No country for old men?

On 18 October the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will kick off, and the new makeup of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) will be revealed. The policy direction and success of President Xi Jinping's next term depend on who makes the cut. A mostly informal set of rules

The thought and messaging of Xi Jinping

What rides on a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) slogan? These days, a lot. It's surprising for those who saw the launch of Jiang Zemin's tepid 'Important Theory of the Three Represents', which provided ideological cover for capitalists to join the Party, and Hu Jintao's even more underwhelming '

Doklam: Paths ahead for India and China

As the India-China standoff at the Doklam tri-junction area enters its second month, it is clear this is the most serious crisis between the two countries in 30 years. There are several ways in which it might develop. Unilateral concessions and Chinese escalation are unlikely, with the local

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