By John Gooding, Digital Editor at the Lowy Institute and Associate Editor at The Interpreter.
Tomorrow US President Donald Trump will arrive in Japan, the first stop on his Asia trip. This week the Lowy Institute published Aaron Connelly's Analysis on how US East Asia policy is on autopilot under Trump. On The Interpreter, Mike Green examined what the President's message to Asia might be:
It is safe to say that even his closest advisors don't know the answer to that question, which has host governments from Tokyo to Manila a bit anxious.
But there are also clear strategic themes emerging from the Administration in the lead-up to the visit that offer a starting point for assessing what the generally capable national security team around the President hopes will be the message.
Louisa Lim wrote on the changing nature of censorship within and emanating from China – and whether such censorship is even necessary at all:
Beijing is picking up pace in its efforts to export ideological conformity by coercing Western publishers to block content perceived as politically sensitive. In recent days, two more incidences have surfaced in the wake of the uproar over Cambridge University Press, which first agreed and then demurred to remove 300 papers from its archive inside China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's centralisation of power is an example of a new trend emerging in authoritarian states across the world, argued Erica Frantz and Andrea Kendall-Taylor:
Xi's consolidation of personal power is not a development unique to China. As we document in a new study, personalist dictatorship – in which leaders face few constraints on their decision-making – is on the rise and part of a changing face of authoritarianism in the post-Cold War era.
Van Jackson on Trump's high-risk, low-reward, maximum-pressure politics on North Korea:
If effective strategy requires realistic aims, then America is in trouble. US officials have shown themselves to be pathologically overconfident in their ability to achieve political outcomes with military signals, and the outcome they’re trying to achieve is utterly unrealistic.
While security issues might top the agenda for Trump’s visit to the region next week, there will be quieter judgements being made about how Trump is managing what is still the world’s largest economy in market terms.
Abhijit Singh on China's growing presence in the Indian Ocean, and what the Indian navy should do to counter it:
To deter China from operating in the Indian Ocean, Indian naval commanders need to leverage China’s vulnerability in its near seas. The Indian Navy’s Western Pacific operations, however, must be calibrated to ensure the Indian Navy does not accidentally cross the threshold of provocation to conflict with China.
Malcolm Turnbull's decision to delay his Middle East trip due to domestic political strife isn't embarrassing – but it is a bit awkward, wrote Daniel Flitton In his first post as the Interpreter's new Managing Editor:
As Turnbull travels the region, he might be asking other leaders to forgive him for a moment as he keeps a distracted eye on politics back home.
Trump's approach to Iran has created an apparent dilemma for France, wrote Clément Therme:
Rather than building a bridge between Tehran and Washington, Macron may be turning the page on French neo-conservatism and going back to a more traditional and more independent 'Gaullo-Mitterrandism'.
Australia's heavy use of Facebook is seemingly at odds with Australian sentiments towards social media companies, wrote Danielle Cave:
We may be a country of Facebookers but we have little faith in the social media companies that feed our addiction.
While I argued for a more organised approach to Australian engagement with and about the regulation of big tech:
Algorithms and platforms devised in Silicon Valley or Dublin gird our political system and determine not just the style of content that the Australian public consumes, but how it is delivered to them.
If global output growth is strengthening, is low inflation a problem, asked John Edwards?:
A big question here is whether contemporary inflation is the right guide to what central banks are likely to do, and to the trajectory of interest rates. I am not at all sure it is the right guide, or at least not in the current circumstances.
From Ternate in Indonesia, Stephen Grenville on the first global supply chain and what it tells us about globalisation and the free market:
One key characteristic of the Dutch trade might serve as a reminder that globalisation is not always exactly the same as the 'free market' expounded in economic textbooks and extolled by business.
There is cause for both concern and optimism over New Caledonia's upcoming referendum, argued Denise Fisher:
The conduct of the referendum raises uncertainties and the prospect of a return to instability right on Australia's doorstep.
Finally, Euan Graham on why it's time to fast-forward the Future Submarine program:
I’m not convinced Australia can afford to wait until 2032 for the first of its 'regionally superior' submarines to enter the water. That’s 15 years from now if the planned schedule is maintained. By then, the youngest Collins hull will be almost 30 years old. Assuming retiring Collins submarines are replaced one-for-one, Australia will remain a six-submarine force for most of the 2030s.