Thursday 27 Jun 2019 | 03:00 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Australia and Asia

One belt, one road? China's community of common destiny

More details emerged over the weekend about two Chinese big-ticket initiatives, 'One Belt, One Road' and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia, President Xi Jinping outlined his vision for the region in a keynote address titled 'Towards a Community of

Are the Khmer Rouge and ISIS similar?

Elliot Brennan's comparison between the Khmer Rouge and ISIS raises a number of questions. No one is more aware than I of the terrible cost of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. It was a period that devastated a country I knew well, and which led to the death, as Elliot rightly

Shambaugh's China disaster scenario examined

'Always predict disaster', a shrewd academic economist told me some years ago. 'If it happens, you are proved right. And if it doesn't, then catastrophe was avoided by people heeding your wise and timely advice!' Dystopia is, as least for those foreseeing it, a win-win game. 18th National Congress

Do we need 'full-spectrum defence'?

The first thing to say about Alan Dupont's recent paper is that he is absolutely correct about the dire condition of Australian strategic policy. As he suggests, we lack a coherent answer to the most basic question of all: 'What do we want our armed forces to be able to do?' Until that question

China and the AIIB: Towards a new rules-based order?

Australia's likely decision to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) marks the loosening of America's 70 year command over global governance. US Secretary of State John Kerry and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the African Growth and Opportunity Act

India is no ally of the US

In the continuing debate between Hugh White and Shaskank Joshi regarding US-India strategic cooperation, I would associate myself closely with the views of White and what he sees as the eventual limits of the relationship. But I would take it one step further. In the long-term, an anti-US

Would India go to war with China to help America?

In his latest contribution to our debate, Shashank Joshi raised some excellent points against my sceptical view of the emerging India-US strategic partnership. But I'm still unpersuaded. To explain why, it helps to step back and clarify the question we are debating here. It is not whether

Tough road for Asia's women activists

On 3 March, Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, 'We must use the celebration of International Women's Day to highlight the plight of women still fighting for freedom and equality, for when that is achieved it will be for the betterment of us all.'  That fight is ongoing in the Asia-

Indonesians against the death penalty

As we learned from a recent Lowy Institute poll, 62% of Australians oppose the use of the death penalty in the case of Bali Nine members Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia. But what do Indonesians think about the case? While I have yet to find a similar survey of Indonesian public

Khmer Rouge Tribunal: Two more charged, but not indicted

Contrary to media reports of two more 'indictments' of former Khmer Rouge figures by the Cambodian-UN Khmer Rouge Tribunal, what has actually happened is that Meas Muth (the former Khmer Rouge navy commander) and Im Chaem (a former regional detention centre director) have been charged in absentia

Jokowi makes a political spectacle of executions

It's hard to believe that just four months after President Jokowi swept to power on a wave of disillusionment with Indonesia's politics, his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is now openly displaying schadenfreude.  President Jokowi's disastrous handling of the appointment of a new police

Obama's India visit reveals weakness of US position in Asia

Shashank Joshi makes a good case for the importance of Obama's visit to India last month, and against my view that there is much less to the US-India alignment than meets the eye. My argument is that their underlying strategic objectives remain too different for real strategic alignment. Shashank

India nuclear deal needs serious parliamentary scrutiny

The Australian parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will soon review the proposed treaty between Australia and India on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, signed by Prime Ministers Abbott and Modi in New Delhi on 5 September 2014. A 1984 cartoon on Australia's

Police massacre threatens Philippines peace deal

The best chance for peace in Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines has just noticeably faded. The deadly clash in the early morning of Sunday 25 January between the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police and the local command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the

How Chinese media covered Obama's State of the Union

In his State of the Union address on Wednesday, President Obama mentioned China a total of three times. One was to praise China's commitment to cut carbon emissions. The second was to encourage American manufacturing executives to bring back jobs from China. The third was a call-to-arms to

Cambodia's controversial dam seems set to go ahead

What is happening with Cambodia's Lower Se San 2 dam? Elliot Brennan's citation of a Bangkok Post report of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's speech at the opening of the Stung Russey Chrum Krom hydroelectric dam in Koh Kong province in Tuesday's Southeast Asia links is interesting for a number

India's new Asia-Pacific strategy: 'Act East'

It has been a busy year for India in the Asia Pacific. From multilateral summits to bilateral diplomacy, the Modi Government has deliberately moved to step up engagement with its East and Southeast Asian partners. At this year's India-ASEAN Summit, Prime Minister Modi announced his intention to

Abe's mandate: The strategic dimension

As discussed in part 1 of this post, Prime Minister Abe is likely to make the economy his first post-election priority. He wants to pull the economy out of recession and set the basis for long-term growth. But he cannot ignore national security. Abe's own deep interest, allied with that of a

Why economics doesn't explain China's FTA decision

Malcolm Cook and I have been debating why China has been willing to bless Tony Abbott with an FTA when Mr Abbott has so strongly opposed Beijing's political and strategic interests and aspirations in Asia. Why has President Xi met Mr Abbott's stick with such a juicy carrot, especially when

East Timor, Australia and the 'Timor Gap'

Tom Allard recently reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia and East Timor are ready to restart talks on the maritime boundary between the two countries, with all its complications of petroleum revenues and history. The tradition is to keep these talks under wraps, but Allard's article

Why does China bother with coercion?

Hugh White's willingness to admit his mistakes and revisit his assumptions is admirable. His error in predicting that China would punish Australia by withholding final agreement on the FTA out of displeasure with the Abbott Government's pro-US and pro-Japan tilt is understandable. After all, Beijing

Adolescent Australia's road to adulthood

In his new Lowy Institute Paper, Peter Hartcher is correct when he writes that Australia is an adolescent country. However, I believe the roots of our adolescent behaviour lie deep in the lack of maturity of our national consciousness. The juvenile language of our leaders, our false bravado, and

Obama on Asia: Holding the Brisbane line

America's commitment to security, dignity and prosperity in Asia, facing up to global challenges, and some strong words on climate change – President Obama's just-concluded speech in Brisbane was a hybrid package. I imagine other contributors will add context to his applause-evoking remarks on

Australia's provincial reflex

'The provincial reflex', Peter Hartcher's coinage in The Adolescent Country, a Lowy Institute Paper released today, is a neat way of describing the chronic parochialism that has infected Australia public life for much of the past decade. It is a period, paradoxically, when the shift in global

Whitlam's visionary leadership on Indonesia

As commentators rightly eulogise Gough Whitlam's foreign policy achievements, most of the attention has focused on his grand outreach to communist China and the independence of Papua New Guinea. These two acts were conspicuous hallmarks of Whitlam's game-changing diplomatic moments. A 1979 Peter

Quick Comment: Jokowi should enjoy the party while he can

As Catriona Croft-Cusworth’s commentary and photos showed, there is a celebratory mood in Jakarta this week with the inauguration of Jokowi as Indonesia’s new president. In the spirit of reconciliation, Jokowi’s defeated opponent Prabowo Subianto even showed up for the ceremony. For this

Jokowi's maritime inaugural address

The inauguration speech of Indonesia's 7th President, Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, was powerful despite its brevity, or perhaps because of it. It contained a striking blend of personal humility, national pride and an ethos of unremitting work. But as an analyst of Asian geopolitics, I was most struck by

Corruption in China: The cultural divide

Since Xi Jinping took over the multiple reins of leadership in China he has overseen an unprecedented crackdown on corruption. Government officials at heights or with connections generally considered to be safe have not been spared. A notorious example is Zhou Yongkang, former chief of China's

Is Abbott spreading Australia too thin?

Two months ago, as Prime Minister Abbott's globalist reflexes were becoming increasingly apparent, I offered a perspective from Washington that the US should welcome a more prominent role for Australia on the world stage. I argued that America's steadfast ally had unique normative, diplomatic and

Abbott's first year: What the pundits get wrong

So, the first-year assessments are in, and it seems the Abbott Government has done well on foreign policy. Mark Kenny says Abbott has established 'a solid profile as a man of purpose' on the world stage. Michelle Grattan says Abbott 'has shown an unexpected sureness on the international stage'.

What Julie Bishop told China about Clive Palmer

Here's Business Spectator's Fergus Ryan on Clive Palmer's Monday evening TV outburst about China: It was only after Julie Bishop apologised to the Chinese embassy that the Chinese government put out a statement saying Palmer’s attack was “full of ignorance and prejudice”, absurd and

Does Abbott understand the China challenge?

Sam Roggeveen says that Mr Abe's visit last week, and Julie Bishop's interview with John Garnaut, show that the Abbott Government now accepts there is a serious strategic competition underway in Asia as China challenges US primacy. If so, I think this would be an important shift. The simplest

Abe's Canberra speech: Dispelling doubts

Prime Minister Abe's carefully crafted speech to the Australian parliament gave credence to Prime Minister Abbott's much tut-tutted claim that Japan is Australia's best friend in Asia. The historic speech also clearly helped dispel one doubt about Prime Minister Abe: that he was unwilling to

Australia in Asia: Who is our best friend?

When Australians were asked to nominate 'Australia's best friend in Asia' in the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll, 31% placed China and 28% placed Japan in a statistical dead heat, far ahead of Singapore, Indonesia, India and South Korea. The response 'don't know' made sense to 11% of those asked.

SBY: Abbott says farewell to a friend of Australia

Tony Abbott has effectively said farewell to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as president of Indonesia. Our prime minister was right to praise him. SBY has presided over remarkable change in Indonesia. During his presidency he has consolidated democracy and championed a moderate approach to Islam. He

Pages