Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Weekend catch-up: Huawei’s wolf culture and more

Indian aircraft carriers, Bitcoin, and the vacant US Ambassadorship: the week that was on The Interpreter.

Richard Yu, CEO of Chinese Huawei Consumer Business Group, speaks in Shanghai (Photo: VCG/Getty)
Richard Yu, CEO of Chinese Huawei Consumer Business Group, speaks in Shanghai (Photo: VCG/Getty)
Published 30 Jun 2018   Follow @lowyinstitute

Telecommunications company Huawei has been at the centre of debates about Chinese state-linked firms posing national security threats. Elliott Zaagman:

Market research firm Kantar Milward Brown ranks Huawei as second only to Lenovo as the most internationally recognisable Chinese brand. However, the two companies play a very different role in the Chinese cultural imagination. While Lenovo expanded through acquisition of the IBM PC division, as well as Motorola Mobility and IBM’s server business, Huawei is viewed as growing from the ground up. While Lenovo manages brands that were built by foreigners, Huawei is seen as more genuinely “Chinese”, operating from the inside out. 

The US announced its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council, calling it a “cesspool of political bias”. Susan Harris Rimmer:

The human rights system has never needed champions more than now, and if superpowers step away, it sets a precedent. There is no clear strategy under which US withdrawal could strengthen and reform the council, or any other part of the UN human rights architecture.

With US President Donald Trump reportedly planning a trip to Australia, almost two years have passed since the US was represented here by a permanent ambassador. Geoff Kitney:

The government is just a little nervous about the Trump administration’s second choice for Ambassador to Australia. A former senior diplomat put it this way: maybe it would be better to leave things as they are rather than end up with a ‘crazy Trump crony’.

The photograph from the G7 summit at La Malbaie, Canada, released recently on Instagram by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s team, attracted a lot of attention (and duelling tweets). Kyla McFarlane:

Politics and spin aside, looking across the range of photographs released from the meeting, Denzel’s is still the one that will go down in history. And the reasons why are reflected in the memes.

President Trump has floated withdrawing US troops from the Korean Peninsula on multiple occasions. Markus Bell and Geoffrey Fattig:

South Korea’s progressives had already been testing the waters of public sentiment regarding the withdrawal of US troops ahead of the Singapore summit, albeit by proxy through Presidential Special Advisor Moon Chung-in. In an article published in April, he suggested that it would be difficult to justify the presence of US troops in South Korea if a peace treaty was signed between the North and South.

Vietnam has seen an unusual outbreak of protests against government plans to offer ninety-nine-year leases (raising concerns about Chinese ownership of Vietnamese land) and clamping down on free speech online. Vu Lam:

Some watchers have dubbed the subsequent demonstrations the ‘worst flare-up of anti-Chinese sentiment in years’, and certainly the worst since 2014.

Richard Yetsenga argues that angst due to technological disruption is likely to mark politics in the coming years:

The political surprises of 2016 have given way to a more jaundiced view of politics. As we re-explore issues such as protectionism, the nature of work, and how to distribute gains more evenly, this cynicism seems likely to become even more entrenched.

One of those disruptive forces in the finance world is cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin. Stephen Grenville:

To displace, or even rival, conventional currencies, Bitcoin has to perform the functions of a currency better than existing monies. It would have to provide a widely accepted transaction medium, a stable unit of account, and a reliable store-of-value. It performs none of these functions.

Abhijit Singh responds to David Brewster’s recent article on India’s “unsinkable aircraft carriers” – the Andaman and Nicobar Islands:

It is the shifting context of naval warfare that provides the strongest argument in favour of aircraft carriers. In an era of hostile peace, when maritime powers have neither the resources nor the appetite to engage in fully fledged combat, big naval assets are necessary platforms for posturing and strategic signalling.

Aaron Jed Raben argues that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s strategy to manage the China relationship may not be as damaging as often portrayed:

To say the Duterte government has adopted a policy of appeasement may be premature, as the Philippines has not yet lost any of its occupied features in the South China Sea. Significantly, what the Duterte government has demonstrated is that there are alternative diplomatic strategies in safeguarding sovereign rights and national interests, which is partly reflective of other nations’ (India, Malaysia, Vietnam) strategies on China.

Rachel Mason Nunn reflects on her conversation on Australian aid effectiveness with former deputy director general of AusAID, Richard Moore:

We should ask what purpose such a benchmark serves. Does the 0.7% figure function as a line in the sand, between states that support foreign aid and states that do not? Or does it simply distract from the real question regarding the effectiveness of aid spending? I agree with the growing number of economists, practitioners, and humanitarians who argue that benchmarks restrict our debates to quantitative terms, when what we need more than ever is a qualitative discussion.

The Australian Government will soon unveil contentious national security legislation granting law enforcement exceptional access under warrant to the encrypted data of suspected criminals. Dirk van Graver:

The lengthy debate over encryption and exceptional access is at an impasse over ‘backdoors’. Privacy and security advocates worry that legislation compelling companies to leave a key under the doormat for law enforcement will weaken the digital security of law-abiding citizens.

You may also be interested in