The week that was on The Interpreter.
Xi Jinping is the focus of a new television show aimed at China’s younger generations titled Studying Xi Jinping in the New Era. Gabriel Wilder:
The show is part of a campaign to spread Xi Jinping Thought among the public, particularly the young. It’s also part of the CCP’s campaign to combat what they see as vulgar and decadent television that has become maddeningly popular, especially among younger people.
China Global Television Network has recently expanded its presence in Australia. Graeme Smith:
The goal of the rebooted CGTN, in the words of Xi Jinping at its launch on 31 December 2016, is to ‘tell China stories well’. Unfortunately, within a minute of the channel going to air, viewers are bathed in sphinx-like quotes from the president, such as ‘China needs to better understand the world, and the world needs to better understand China’.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report on Monday explaining what the world can expect if global average temperatures increase beyond 1.5 degrees celsius. Kumuda Simpson:
The several hundred million more people at risk due to climate change will be more vulnerable to weather related disasters, displacement due to food insecurity and loss of livelihood, adverse health impacts, and potentially climate related violent conflict.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi visited his country’s consulate in Turkey last week and has not been seen since. Rodger Shanahan:
If Khashoggi has been detained (or worse), then the action taken against a US-based journalist and Saudi citizen with many admirers in the West will likely impact most on Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who has been the beneficiary of much positive press in the US as a putative modernist Saudi reformer.
Roland Rajah on the competing pulls of geopolitics and trade on the Trump administration.
When it comes to the US-China trade war, there is an increasing alignment between the populists and the national security establishment. Free traders and businesses appear to be the odd ones out.
US Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech last Thursday declaring China as a competitor to the United States. Chengxin Pan:
This comprehensive and assertive turn in China policy is likely to go down well on both sides of US politics. And for this reason alone, the speech needs to be taken seriously. Even as some commentators fault it for lacking a well-articulated competitive strategy against the threat, most in the US do not question the accuracy of Pence’s accusations, which, after all, have been rehearsed through years of extensive Western media and academic coverage of China’s various sins.
Following a rancorous nomination process which included three allegations of sexual assault, Brett Kavanaugh is now officially a justice of the US Supreme Court. Matthew Bevan:
With his attack on Democratic senators and ‘left-wing opposition groups’, Kavanaugh left no doubt about his political allegiances. While nominees in the past may have had historical connections to a particular political persuasion, none have declared under oath in a Senate Hearing their hostility towards one party. In the past, the US Supreme Court has come under criticism for its decision-making, but since the mid 1970s, it has been seen as the most trustworthy of the three branches of the US Government.
India has continuously operated an aircraft carrier for over half a century, but rarely used it in combat. Himanil Raina
Today, anti-ship missile technology immensely outstrips the range of carrier aviation, submaries present a graver threat to all things afloat than any time before and probability of detecting surgance forces has increased exponentially. However, should India envision the employment of naval power to project power far from its own shores – despite its historical record and contemporary developments notwithstanding – the possession of a carrier with some form of aviation capability will become indispensable.
Gita Gopinath has been appointed as Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund. Stephen Grenville:
Over the years, the IMF has developed policy frameworks, often given the short-hand title of the ‘Washington Consensus’, with a strong belief in market-determined outcomes and fiscal rectitude. Many of the long-serving staff hold strong views on these issues, and see their detailed knowledge of history and specific country circumstances as being more relevant than current academic thinking. This is the environment in which Gopinath will operate.
Ian Kemish on the political attention required to build Australia-PNG relationships.
Relationships at the political level need attention. With some notable exceptions, Australian ministers can come across as either too busy or unenthusiastic about PNG. When the PNG prime minister attends a major bilateral business conference in Australia, the Australian Government is too often represented at best by a junior minister or back-bench parliamentarian. Respect is the fundamental requirement of any positive relationship, and PNG counterparts sometimes feel it is in short supply.
A gap in views of regional security priorities has grown between Australia and its Pacific neighbours. Euan Graham:
First, there is a ‘non-traditional’ perspective, focused on broad-spectrum policy challenges affecting small island states and their societies. This paradigm has become the prevailing orthodoxy among Pacific islanders and academic specialists. A second, long-dormant paradigm views Pacific islands and surrounding waters primarily through a geostrategic lens, in an environment increasingly defined by major power competition.
French authorities have been working to assert their neutrality in New Caledonia’s 4 November independence referendum. Denise Fisher:
The legal procedures for preparing for the vote require the French State to provide information on both the pro-independence and pro-France positions. The task was a delicate one, given the sensitivity of the voting process ending compromises that have ensured 30 years of peace and stability. There is also an inherent tension between France’s role as organiser and interested sovereign power, and wide differences between certain parties. Yet France’s stated desire is to ensure the vote will be accepted as legitimate, in New Caledonia, in the region, and beyond.
In the wake of the tsunami, Febriana Firdaus tells the story of women in Sulawesi taking the lead on recovery efforts:
If the government allowed more women activists to design the management of aid, perhaps there would be no controversial debates, as seen as Sulawesi as to whether to distribute milk for the babies or not. The government has banned gifts of milk formula as aid, saying that there’s no clean water in the disaster area and it will only cause diarrhea if they drink it.
Elise Stephenson and Susan Harris Rimmer on the decision by the US State Department to stop issuing visas to the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats sent to the US or the UN in New York unless they are legally married:
In a diplomatic history that has treated homosexuality as a ‘character defect’ to be barred from diplomacy, this policy change is another blow to those operating in international relations. In 1999, senior Australian diplomat Stephen Brady and his partner Peter Stephens became the world's first officially acknowledged same sex ambassadorial couple.