Monday 17 Jun 2019 | 11:39 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Hong Kong climbdown eases external pressures on China

Claims by Chinese and Hong Kong officials that the huge protests of the last week were instigated by “foreign forces”, rather than Hong Kongers fighting for their rights, are laughable. However, the Hong Kong government’s decision on Saturday to suspend the hated extradition bill will ease

Why China’s rulers won’t admit they could be wrong

On 2 June, two days before the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, I was in Singapore covering the Shangri-La dialogue, the Asia Pacific region’s biggest security forum, at which Beijing upgraded its representation this year with a delegation led by Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe

Maybe Australia should donate a warship to Sri Lanka

The Royal Australian Navy is about to take two highly capable guided missile frigates out of service. But they are not just surplus equipment, but they are important strategic assets that Australia can use for continuing strategic benefits. We should think seriously about giving them to our

Just why is the North Korean status quo so persistent?

Last month in The Interpreter, I argued that inter-Korean status quo is deeply persistent. US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have tried all sorts of tactics in the last 28 months to change things, yet nothing seems to work. In 2017, Trump reached to the limits of

Singapore steers the US-China extremes at Shangri-la

Midway through Lee Hsien Loong’s keynote speech at the Shangri-la Dialogue, I found myself turning to others on my table to register my surprise at how critical he seemed to be about China. Afterwards, talking to many of the Americans who had travelled from Washington for the annual Asian

Tiananmen’s “core” secret in the weeks that followed

This article is based on this month’s episode of the Little Red Podcast, Tiananmen’s Final Secret. In the final moments of this week’s episode of ABC Four Corners recounting the pro-democracy movement in China that came to an abrupt halt 30 years ago, former student leader Wang Dan observes

Superpower scrutiny at Shangri-La

For the past two years, the highlight of the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore was the keynote speech by the sadly departed former US defence secretary Jim Mattis. This year the task of speaking on behalf of America to the leading forum of Asian defence

Charting China, the (not always) super power

Whether high-profile concessional loans for a Sri Lankan port, large-scale Belt and Road deals with Islamabad, or an international push for its newly rebranded China Global Television Network, China’s efforts to boost its place in Asia haven’t gone unnoticed, particularly in Australia. And

Bangladesh’s road to the BRI

There are a lot of different ways for the region to approach China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). We should not assume that all BRI projects are necessarily one sided or economically unfeasible. Indeed, some countries have been better than others in maximising the benefits of BRI investment and

India’s Congress party stares at extinction

India’s National Congress Party is facing an existential crisis, now suffering unprecedented consecutive electoral defeats. Once invincible and a political behemoth having ruled post-independent India for close to five decades, Congress failed to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya

America’s fiscal policy rethink reaches Japan

Among some prominent policy wonks in America, a profound rethink of fiscal policy has been underway for the last couple of years, making the case for more-expansionary – or at least less-contractionary – fiscal policy. Japan, already with a mountain of government debt and substantial budget

Huawei and the decoupling dilemma

In two dramatic policy announcements this month, the Trump administration effectively barred US companies and government agencies from buying telecommunications equipment or services from – or selling any components to –Chinese technology champion, Huawei. President Donald Trump signed a broadly

Modi’s second term: what it means for the South Pacific

The Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Narendra Modi has secured his second term as India’s Prime Minister with a landslide victory in the 2019 general elections. He spearheaded the long drawn out election campaign by labelling himself as India’s watchman, while the opposition criticised him for

Indonesia: don’t over-react to Jakarta violence

Images of rioting by supporters of defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto in Jakarta have been beamed around the world this week, tainting what was otherwise a free, fair and peaceful election in the world’s third biggest democracy. At least eight people were reported killed and

Bob Hawke’s Asia legacy

Bob Hawke’s approach to Asia when prime minister is oft overshadowed by the economic and social policy reforms of his government and the Keating years that followed. This likely reflects Australia’s economically focused political dialogue and the lack of rhetorical architecture surrounding his

Cambodia: weak words on strongman rule

Following her latest visit to Cambodia, United Nations special rapporteur Rhona Smith this month issued what is a customary statement. The wording wasn’t particularly strong – she praised certain developments in the country while condemning other setbacks – but it was in line with previous

In dull midterm elections, Manila is a thriller

In Manila’s most densely-populated and poorest district of Tondo the fight for the mayor of the city is a loud one. For 10 hours, voters line the halls of Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School in the middle of the district. Hundreds of voters will have their say in the Philippines’ midterm

The Sino-Russian relationship is being misunderstood

Too often, the past is mistaken as a guide for the future, rather than as lesson from which to avoid making the same mistakes. Take the relationship between China and Russia as an example. Too often judgements about the decisions of Russian and Chinese politicians are clouded by stereotypes of the

Hun Sen’s natural bilateral “bestie”

On the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum in China last month, Cambodia’s Hun Sen was busy. He secured a further $90 million defence grant from Beijing, adding to the $100 million already pledged in June last year. The defence deal was one of at least nine agreements signed with China at

Australia struggles for clarity on the South China Sea

The Lowy Institute’s Richard McGregor has noted the absence of China discussion in Australia’s current election campaign, a state of affairs which prompted his colleague Sam Roggeveen to observe that “Bipartisanship on China is becoming a form of collusion”. Given that the

Trump’s tariff tussle

As predictable as Big Ben striking the hour, as subtle as a battering ram, the final stages of the US-China trade negotiations involve upping the ante with a further tariff increase, as seen last week. Tariffs are the negotiating instrument, not the objective. For financial journalists needing an

The growing influence of celebrity politics in India

Celebrities and politics are so closely intertwined in India that entire books have been written about “Bollywood Star Power in Indian Politics”. Whether we are talking about Bollywood superstars, Olympic medallists, or cricketing heroes, there are numerous examples of celebrities using their

India’s democracy draws strength from difference

At the end of a visit to India in the middle of a long and heated election campaign, the conversation with some young thinktank staff captured the country’s appetite for its democracy. After mentioning I had been making comparisons with the parallel Indonesian election, they suddenly

Taiwan’s tense politics on the international fault line

The years 2017 and 2018 saw a period of building tension in Taiwan’s politics. Beijing applied intense diplomatic pressure to isolate Taiwan and it lost five of its diplomatic allies. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government of President Tsai Ing-wen managed a reasonably well-performing

Hope, despair and the new normal in Myanmar

Human rights advocates had a rare chance to celebrate on Tuesday as two local Reuters journalists in Myanmar were released from prison. Their situation is viewed by the international community as a test case of the political reform process in the country. For the international community, the

India: encouraging the rainbow vote

As the mammoth task of elections in India continue up to a 19 May deadline, the nation’s election commission is seeking a full turnout of the population – including the often marginalised LGBTQI community. For the first time, transgender people have been anointed ambassadors 

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