Saturday 21 Sep 2019 | 00:06 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Cambodia: the regime’s base survival instinct on display

Rumours of a Chinese military presence in Cambodia have again resurfaced following claims from a senior Pentagon official that Cambodia intends to host Chinese military assets. This week it was reported that Cambodia’s Defence Ministry declined a US offer to refurbish a training facility and

Japan is again hunting whales. What can be done?

This week Japan has formally recommenced commercial whaling for the first time in over 30 years. A small Japanese whaling fleet left port on 1 July after the Japanese government announced that it had set a quota of 227 whales for the remainder of 2019. The quota is made up of 150 Bryde’s whales

Unpacking the Asia Power Index – Podcast out today

This week on the Rules Based Audio podcast: power in Asia. Who’s got it, who’s losing it, and who’s using what they’ve got in the smartest way? The world’s geopolitical centre of gravity is shifting to Asia; and tensions between the region's great powers threaten to shape this

The Indo-Pacific is the New Asia

It’s official. We live in the Indo-Pacific. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations released a joint statement this week in Bangkok during its annual summit called the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific”. It defines the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions as a single interconnected region

Why Mahathir is unlikely to make Anwar his successor

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s latest promise that he “will not go more than three years” in the premiership is the latest in an ongoing saga of leadership succession within the Pakatan Harapan coalition government. While the coalition has insisted that there exists a “signed

Australian attitudes to China shift: 2019 Lowy Poll

Among many interesting findings in this year’s Lowy Institute Poll, one new question produced a particularly striking result given Australia’s debate over how to navigate the looming tech cold war between the US and China. 44% said “protecting Australians from foreign state intrusion”

Australian PM talks US China tensions ahead of the G20

Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison delivered his first major foreign policy speech since his surprise win in the May election, to an invited audience in Sydney on Wednesday. Two days ahead of his attendance with other world leaders at the G20 in Osaka Japan, in a historical moment defined by

Seychelles: life after the boss

Seychelles’ long-time authoritarian ruler France-Albert René died in February. His authority derived from his coup in 1977 that overthrew the country’s first president James Mancham a year after independence and ushered in a one-party state. Although Seychelles began a transition under pressure

Jokowi and Modi’s budding bromance

The re-election of India’s Narendra Modi and Indonesia’s Joko “Jokowi” Widodo saw India-Indonesia relations take another step forward after both leaders congratulated each other on social media. The results put both leaders in a strong position to advance a comprehensive strategic

Book review: The Great Successor

Book Review: The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong-un, Sun of the 21st Century, by Anna Fifield (Hachette, 2019) Anna Fifield’s The Great Successor is a wonderful narrative, weaving together Kim Jong-un’s childhood (and adulthood) basketball

Are we ready for a rare earths trade war?

Rare earth minerals have emerged as the latest front in the escalating US-China trade war. Nearly a decade after the Chinese government controversially suspended rare earth exports to Japan during the 2010 Senkaku dispute, similar threats are now being made if the bilateral trade dispute with the US

The bad news for press freedom in India

Press freedom is under the scanner in Australia, as it is around the world. For the first time in decades, Australian journalists have found themselves the subject of police raids over reporting on national security issues, with the prospect they could be jailed over the stories that date back more

The deeper malaise in Hong Kong’s civil service

On Saturday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that she would suspend consideration of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill (“the Bill”). The Bill would have, among other things, allowed mainland Chinese authorities

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

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