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President Tsai's apology: Signalling the modern Taiwan

On 1 August, the new president of Taiwan, Dr Tsai Ing-wen, offered an apology to Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. In the presidential building, the apology began with a rite of offering of millet and spirits. Bunun community elder Hu Jin-niang blessed the ceremony, and Taiwanese religious leaders

Economists challenge Australia’s trade policy

By Bill Carmichael, former chairman of the Industries Assistance Commission, with the assistance of  economists named in the text below. A debate has raged for a decade about what we have gained from Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). We are now able to assess their contribution to future

What the G20 can do to advance cyber norms

The internet is now so central to the world economy (McKinsey estimates it contributed US$2.8 trillion to world GDP in 2014) we forget how weak the norms are governing behaviour online. In several areas these behaviours threaten to degrade and limit the internet’s future contribution to global

Report shows IMF in need of reform

The IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) recently released its assessment of the IMF’s handling of the euro crisis. It was a damming report. The IMF has been heavily criticised for its response to the euro crisis, particularly its involvement in Greece. As Stephen Grenville has

The political dimension of Olympic success

There are times when national and sporting narratives seem almost to be perfectly synchronised. America’s success at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, which presaged the Reagan landslide later in the year, offered golden proof that the country’s long national nightmare of Vietnam and Watergate had

Japan's economy travels a narrow road

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The International Monetary Fund seems to have lost hope that monetary and fiscal policy can shift the Japanese economy out of its deflationary torpor. The IMF, usually the embodiment of conservative mainstream economics, has published this working paper

Documentary trailer: Do Not Resist

This is a trailer for a documentary about the fear of terrorism and the militarisation of the US police. There's a memorable shot near the end which seems to tell the whole story: a heavily armoured ex-military vehicle designed for counter-insurgency operations in Iraq drives down a suburban US

Syria: Pity the children

Given the widespread use of social media in the contemporary age, and the lack of basic humanity shown by both the regime and the opposition forces, the Syria conflict should on the face of it engender a feeling of repulsion at the actions of both sides. And to a degree it does. But one of the

India plays the Balochistan Card with China

Last week Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid down the gauntlet to Pakistan, sending a clear indication that India may be prepared to destabilise Pakistan’s fractious Balochistan province in response to perceived threats. While this represents a very significant change in India’s public

The National League for Democracy’s drug problem

Myanmar's Upper House of Parliament recently approved a proposal calling for 'prompt action' in eradicating drugs in Myanmar. Myanmar remains the second-largest poppy producer in the world (despite recent reports of reduction in output), and is an increasingly significant producer of

Against the grand political theory of everything

After the Australian election, I flirted with the notion of a worldwide trend away from globalisation, but on further reflection I am reluctant to embrace fully any grand theory about global political trends. First, the notion that Trump, Brexit, the EU crisis and even Australia's near miss with a

Bracing for the exodus from Mosul

Joint forces are planning a major military offensive to recapture the last major Iraqi city under Islamic State control - Mosul. Fierce fighting is already raging south of the city and the escalation in military activity is likely to have an even greater humanitarian toll than the battle for

Putin's plan to restore the Romanovs (Part 3)

Part two of this series examined the public rehabilitation of the Romanov Tsar Nicholas II. This part analyses what the restoration of the Romanovs might mean for Western policy. Could Putin really be planning a restoration of the Romanovs? Of Putin's three 'favourite' philosophers (Vladimir

Women in diplomacy: Look how far we've come

Last month, Frances Adamson was named as the new Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT Secretary Frances Adamson (Photo: Commonwealth of Australia/DFAT) I was delighted – partly because I know Frances and think this is a terrific appointment in its own

The anatomy of a political warning

We’re in a season of warnings. After six Chinese coastguard ships and over 200 fishing vessels sailed close to the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands (also known as the Diaoyu Islands) in the East China Sea, Japan cautioned China over its maritime adventurism. China, meanwhile, has delivered

Q&A: ABC's flagship soft-power program?

In her address to the Lowy Institute Media Award dinner, ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie emphasised the ABC’s soft power potential. Afterwards, Radio National presenter Mark Colvin asked her about what exactly her comments meant (Colvin's question can be heard in full from 38:27 in this

Kashmir uprising threatens the 'idea of India'

Just under eighteen months ago, Kashmir looked to be at a turning point. State elections in 2014 produced an unlikely coalition of hawks from the ruling BJP and doves from the local PDP. The BJP had historically taken a tough approach to Kashmir, while the PDP had been more sympathetic to Kashmiri

Weekend catch-up: Ausgrid, the ABC, asylum seekers and more

By John Gooding, Digital Editor at the Lowy Institute and Associate Editor at The Interpreter. On Thursday evening Jewel Topsfield of Fairfax Media won the 2016 Lowy Institute Media Award (and $20,000) for her reporting from Indonesia. At the ceremony the Institute was addressed by the new ABC

Applying the Duterte filter to US-Philippine relations

Many hoped  and others feared that US-Philippine relations would deteriorate under the Duterte Administration that came into power on 30 June. There are good reasons for this preliminary judgement. The relationship became much closer under the Aquino Administration, highlighted by the

Time for a whole-of-nation approach to asylum seekers

In a little over a month's time, a high level meeting to address large movements of refugees and migrants will take place at the UN general assembly in New York. President Obama will host the leaders summit that will call  for all member states to pledge their commitment to the international

More name games in Burma/Myanmar

Regular readers of The Interpreter will know that, over the past few years, this site has closely followed the Australian government's efforts to grapple with the diplomatic implications of the formal change of Burma's name in 1989 to Myanmar. The indications are that this saga may finally be over

After the referendum, Thailand remains a nation divided

Official results of from Sunday's referendum show that two-thirds of Thais backed the junta-drafted constitution and support enhanced powers for a military-backed senate in selecting a prime minister. Many see this referendum as a test of confidence in military rule, in effect since 2014 when

Lydia Khalil on Q&A

Last night Lydia Khalil, counter-terrorism expert and Lowy Institute Nonresident Fellow, went on a US-election focused episode of Q&A, an ABC current affairs panel show, along with Bob Carr, P. J. O'Rourke, Linda Tirado and Crispin Rovere (who has written frequently for The Interpreter on

French submarines and Australia’s 21st century economy

The politics behind the decision to build the Australian Navy's new French-designed submarines in South Australia have been analysed to death. But what about Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s claim that the high-tech program will play a key role in boosting the economy’s competitiveness and

Jihadis and Vietcong redux

During the Vietnam War the Vietcong coined the term 'hanging onto the belts' of the enemy as a way of blunting the United States' overwhelming superiority in fire support.  In essence the tactic required the Vietcong to fight  American and allied forces in such close quarters that indirect

How Islamic State controls 'lone wolves' in Europe

The New York Times revealed more details last week about the activities of Islamic State’s external operations unit, the Amn al-Kharji. Central to the report was an extensive interview with returned German foreign fighter Harry Sarfo. This isn’t the first time Sarfo has spoken to the

Green power has a long way to go

One factor driving energy policies across the world is repeated claims by activists that green energy is gaining substantial market share over its despised fossil fuel competitors. These claims, made for the likes of the Danish, German, Californian and even Chinese grids, are distorting the energy

Jeffrey Grey: 1959-2016

All staff at the Lowy Institute were saddened to learn of the untimely death of Professor Jeffrey Grey of the Australian Defence Force Academy. Professor Grey was a highly regarded military historian, specialising in the First World War.  Last month, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the

Xi Jinping: A four-year report card

Kerry Brown is the author of CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping, just published by I. B. Tauris. Were China a multi-party democracy and had Xi Jinping been elected by competitive elections in 2012 for a five-year term, a process of assessing his achievements over the last four years would be

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