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Populism, poison, and The Party: the big stories of 2018

The year 2018 was a killer, here’s what came across The Interpreter’s desk.

Populism, poison, and The Party: the big stories of 2018
Published 17 Dec 2018   Follow @lowyinstitute

The year 2018 was a killer, here’s what came across The Interpreter’s desk.

Getting away with murder: lies, damned lies, and Chinese police statistics

Serving the Party does not always equate with serving justice.


The comic opera of Italy’s election

Should Italy turn a shade of populist or nationalist, will we see yet another crisis in Europe?


Zucker punched

Facebook is unlikely to have been as surprised by the Cambridge Analytica revelations, as Zuckerberg has claimed.


Skripal: the weight of evidence

The alternatives to Russian culpability in the nerve agent attack strain credulity.

The peril of North Korea’s charm offensive

The US and South Korea must be wary about Pyongyang dangling the strings.

The many questions about China’s Vanuatu ambition

Talk of a Chinese military base in Vanuatu should provoke tough questions in Australia, but not undue alarm.


Trump–Kim summit: what’s in the venue?

Singapore, Panmanjom, Ulaanbataar or anywhere else, deciding where the leaders meet will broadcast an important signal.

Mourning Cambodia’s press freedom

The media crackdown continues with the sacking of the country’s last independent newspaper editor.

Can Europe salvage the Iran deal?

The EU had more than a year to plan, but instead sought to downplay Trump’s statements and appease him.

Surabaya and the ISIS family

From the beginning, ISIS has been a family affair.


The photos that go down in history

Theatricality, frisson, an unguarded glimpse behind closed doors – the art of a momentous political photograph.


Novichok poisoning and the test for Britain

The difficulty for the UK now is in crafting a fresh response to the continued effects of Russia’s brazen attack.

Syria: extinguishing the flame of the revolution

Bashar al-Assad faces more challenges, but momentum in military campaigns is a difficult thing to stop.

Thai cave rescue: no country for Wild Boars

Attention has turned to the “stateless” problem of three of the boys, their coach, and maybe 3 million more in Thailand.

Myanmar’s fourth estate

The trial of two Reuters reporters is a sign of a withering local press and the rise of social media rumourmongering.


The women taking on spycams in South Korea

Growing grass-roots action by Korean individuals and businesses is being taken against female sexual harassment.

The world won’t wait for Scott Morrison

After an extraordinary week at home, the new PM will need to contend with a pressing international calendar.


No safe return for Rohingya refugees

A larger struggle over the “soul” of the Myanmar state and society greatly limits the scope for international influence.

What Canberra’s turmoil means for foreign policy

Scott Morrison’s new government shows considerable continuity in both personnel and approach for Australia in the world.


Where’s Jamal?

The bizarre disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi could complicate Saudi relations with the West.

Courting supreme mistrust

Where India’s Supreme Court has grown in stature, partisan bickering may undermine the US Supreme Court for years.

Decoding the bombshell story for China

Right or wrong, claims Beijing hacked computer chips has accelerated a push to cut out China from US supply chains.

Friends like these … allies and the Pence speech

The US may have to adjust its goals and means to obtain full allied support for its China policy, and what about Trump?

The last man executed in Singapore, until the next

Singapore doubles down as Malaysia retreats from the death penalty.


The Merkel legacy – a study in shades

Success and failure mark all careers in high office. Angela Merkel could often persuade, but not always inspire.

China: re‑engineering the Uighur

The re-education camps represent one of the visible planks of an overarching attack on Uighur identity.

US midterms: the no‑joke elections

Is anything short of a punishing defeat for Republicans actually an endorsement of Donald Trump?


Playing the hostage card: the Meng Wanzhou & Michael Kovrig cases

China’s tit-for-tat diplomacy with Canada has a recent precedent, yet Donald Trump is hardly helping.

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