Wednesday 18 Sep 2019 | 23:20 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Political leadership versus diplomacy

Following the Trump-Kim summits and a gush of commentary on “presidential diplomacy”, “face-to-face diplomacy”, “summit diplomacy”, and even “Trumpian diplomacy”, we’ve somehow come to accept politicians as diplomats. It may be time to recall the difference – before it

Malaysia joins the International Criminal Court

On Monday, Malaysia ratified the Rome Statute, making it the 124th State party to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The decision to join the ICC after 20 years of resistance is not only a welcome development but highlights the importance of long-term persistence in the pursuit of human rights

The Huawei indictments: allegations and politics

Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is reportedly suing the Canadian government, its border agency, and the national police force for false imprisonment in relation to her arrest as she transited through the country in December. Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder and

Four reasons why China supports North Korea

Of all the countries on the sidelines of the Hanoi summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, few were watching more intently than China. Chinese financial and trade support effectively facilitated North Korea’s nuclear program by keeping its economy afloat and thus fractured the chances of a

India’s wobbly quest for fighter aircraft

India’s air strikes this week targeting suspected terrorist hideouts in Pakistan and subsequent air battles comes at a time of growing concerns about sharply declining strength of India’s fighter squadrons. The number of aircraft presently stands at 31, against the authorised level of 42. The

Kim-Trump 2.0: three observations

Assessing the import and impact of the Trump-Kim summits is a challenge. The visual spectacle of the two “colourful” leaders, both of whom prize the optics almost more than the substance of meetings, can prove highly distracting. Viewed from Beijing or Pyongyang’s perspective, the two

Economic diplomacy: Development aid in the Belt & Road era

Mergerplomacy Five years after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) swallowed AusAID in the first major spending cuts of the new Coalition Government, two contradictory trends seem to be emerging. The reality of the takeover is getting some grudging acceptance in the

The intrusion of domestic politics in Kashmir tensions

On Tuesday, India launched air strikes targeting what it claimed was the biggest training camp of the militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) near the town of Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The strikes were said to be aimed at preventing an imminent attack on India and

India-Pakistan: shadow dancing in the Himalayas

The strike by the Indian Air Force on Tuesday against targets in Pakistan is the latest step in a delicate shadow dance between India and Pakistan. This began after a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy at Pulwama in Indian Kashmir on 14 February, which killed more than 40 Indian

The gloom about Myanmar’s economy

Talking to business owners across a variety of sectors in Yangon in January this year, the mood was universally glum. Big-spending Western tourists were staying away in droves, concerned over human rights abuses. Bureaucratic red tape was clogging up business and investment, and the country

Pakistan: the wrongheaded crowdfund for mega dams

In June last year, the top judge in Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar, was hearing a case about the need to build new dams in Pakistan. During the proceedings, he remarked that building dams is vital for the country’s survival. The passion of the judge for water security was encouraging, but not

Indonesia: policy missing in talk of politics

Indonesia’s second presidential debate might be a source of amusement for many Indonesian voters, thanks to the colourful exchange between the incumbent Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and the contender Prabowo Subianto. Analyses, fact-checks, and memes referring to and criticising the candidates’ debating

Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure

The Pulwama attack was clearly calibrated to pile pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the general election to be held in April and May 2019. The location and the target – paramilitary police deployed in Kashmir as part of an on-going effort to quell unrest that has

Courting change in Malaysia

Malaysia’s political upheaval looks likely to drag on for years. A three judge panel has granted former prime minister Najib Razak a last minute stay in a corruption trial, which had been set to begin in the High Court last week. Rather than the charges and a political changing of the guard

Demystifying Kashmir

A suicide attack on the Indian forces in Pulwama, Kashmir that killed more than 40 security officials has set India and Pakistan – two nuclear powers ­– on a warpath. India has blamed Pakistan for sponsoring the attack, while Pakistan has denied any involvement, blaming India for its human

India: another five years of Modi?

That India’s 14th prime minister is a gifted storyteller is well-known. An author of several children’s storybooks, Narendra Modi has in the past few years not only trumpeted the narrative of a poor tea-seller making his way to the highest office in the land but has also controlled every

Indonesia’s domestically focused foreign policy

Indonesia, for a country of 260 million people covering a vast archipelago, is often remarked to have a small global profile. This wasn’t always the case. In the early years after gaining independence, for example, Indonesia’s Sukarno was a leader of the non-aligned movement during the Cold War

Pulwama attack: more questions than answers

The attack on a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on 14 February is one of the most serious single strikes against security forces in the troubled region of Kashmir. Travelling from Jammu to Srinagar in the South Kashmir Pulwama district, a vehicle laden with 350 kilograms of

One casualty of Jolo bombing: Indonesian-Philippine trust

The Philippine government’s premature declaration that Indonesians were the perpetrators of the Jolo cathedral bombing has set back the prospects for regional cooperation on terrorism and reinforced a perception among Indonesian counterparts of the Philippines as an unreliable and unprofessional

The legacy of nationalism in Korea

South Korea has a national holiday on the first day of March to commemorate the start of the 1919 March First Movement. A century later, the legacy of the movement still resonates in both North and South Korea.  In South Korea, the constitution which had been established in 1919 by the

A rising China and the future of the “Blue Pacific”

The focus of the Pacific Islands Forum and its Secretariat is securing the future prosperity and wellbeing of the “Blue Pacific”. The Forum seeks genuine partnerships with all actors who are willing to join us along the pathway towards that vision. Therefore, I reject the terms of the dilemma in

Spats in the straits between Malaysia and Singapore

Australia has presented itself as a defender of the international “rules-based order” in response to rising challenges facing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In particular, Canberra has directed its concerns towards China’s actions in the South China Sea and

The long tail of the al-Araibi case

With Hakeem al-Araibi now landed in Australia, returned from Thailand, what seems like a totally unnecessary crisis looks to be over. After some 11 weeks of excruciating limbo, and with numerous heroic efforts here in Australia and elsewhere to free the refugee footballer, now vindicated, it

Nepal’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission limps on

On 9 February 2019, the operational mandate of Nepal’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) was due to expire. With neither commission having completed even one investigation into the tens of thousands of complaints filed

Singapore: data leaks in a “Smart Nation”

Medical advances have turned HIV into a manageable condition, allowing people living with HIV (PLHIV) to live as long and healthy as anyone else. But there is, unfortunately, no medication that can combat stigma and prejudice. It’s unsurprising, then, that many PLHIV choose to keep quiet about

Indonesia’s role in multilateral development banks

After Jim Yong Kim resigned last month, President Donald Trump indicated he intends to nominate senior US Treasury official David Malpass to lead the World Bank. Under an unofficial agreement, the World Bank President always comes from the United States. Although the multilateral development

The fight to preserve the Khon Pi Luang rapids

In 2000, China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand concluded an agreement to begin clearing the Mekong River of obstacles so that cargo vessels could travel from southern Yunnan to the old royal capital of Laos, Luang Prabang. Neither Cambodia nor Vietnam, the other two riverine countries, were

Hong Kong: when rich dreams interrupt fortunate life

Kung Hei Fat Choi is the auspicious Cantonese phrase most commonly heard in Hong Kong this week during the Lunar New Year. Kung Hei stands for congratulations, while Fat Choi literally means making a lot of money. The phrase was said to be originated in the Guangdong region during the Self-

Thailand: the Princess vs the General

The Princess versus the General is completely new for Thai politics, which makes it both fascinating and unpredictable. Princess Ubolratana, the elder sister of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, has been declared a prime ministerial candidate for a party loyal to ousted prime minister

Is Australia wise to pick sides in US-China trade war?

The US-China trade war is viewed by many as a dark cloud over the global economy. So why is Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, seemingly urging Trump to go harder, and not settle for a “pyrrhic victory” that fails to resolve long-term differences between the US and China? In

Russian arms flood Southeast Asia

Russia’s “hard” power is generally well-understood. President Vladimir Putin has ensured this is the case, particularly through his proclivity to showcase Russian strength in Ukraine and Syria. And who could forget Russia’s arsenal of nuclear weapons? Not Donald Trump: just last weekend,

The Vietnamese venue will shape the second Trump-Kim summit

The news is in. US President Donald Trump will meet North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un for the second time on February 27-28. Instead of Singapore, this time Vietnam will play host. Although there are many concerns regarding the prospect of success for the second summit and North Korea’s

Getting a better outcome from the second Trump-Kim summit

If press reports are accurate, US President Donald Trump and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un will again meet this month. They met for the first time last June in Singapore. Rumour suggests this meeting will be in Vietnam. The first summit was sharply criticised as a photo-op for Trump –

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