Monday 23 Sep 2019 | 21:44 | SYDNEY
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Malcolm Cook's picture
People | experts Malcolm Cook
Nonresident Fellow
Lowy Institute
Malcolm Cook's picture
Areas of ExpertisePolitical economy of North East and South East Asia; East Asian regionalism; Japanese foreign policy; great-power relations in East Asia

Rodrigo Duterte's mayoral mentality

Before his first overseas trip as president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte answered a media question about his first planned meeting with President Obama, leader of the Philippines’ most important economic and security partner. It did not go well.  His (un)presidential comments led

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 signing

One ruling, four very challenging tests

The ruling by the Arbitration Tribunal that is comprehensively in favour of the case filed by the Philippines in January 2013 poses four separate tests, none of them easy. 1. The test for China The biggest test is that posed by the ruling for China. It is also the most difficult. Now, if China

Philippine elections: More continuity than change

At first glance it looks like much has changed in Philippine politics. In Rodrigo Duterte the Philippines will have, for the first time, a president from the island of Mindanao, and one who came to power without either the backing of a major party or pre-existing network of local political bosses

Mugabe in Tokyo: The warping of Japanese foreign policy

Two recent extraordinary political statements by the Abe Administration reflect how deep, even neuralgic, Japan's sense of rivalry with China is. Each suggests that this rivalry may be undercutting Japanese diplomacy in general and its aid program in particular. 1.Mugabe in Japan President Robert

North Korea's latest nuclear test: Out of the time warp

Pyongyang's latest nuclear test led to the same responses as the earlier ones: calls for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks and an overwhelming focus on how the present US approach is flawed and needs to change. It feels like we're in a time warp. You could write the same story about each North

Chemistry: Can Turnbull find it with Abe?

The most important outcome of Prime Minister Turnbull's flash visit to Japan today probably won't be in what deals are signed or not (unless Turnbull is delivering bad news on the submarine tender). Rather, the most important outcome will be the hardest to judge from the outside: will Turnbull and

China-Taiwan: A rare alignment of interests

Tomorrow's meeting between President Ma of Taiwan (pictured) and President Xi of China in Singapore truly will be historic, and good history at that. It is also a rare case in which the dual roles of national leaders as both statesmen and leading figures in their political parties (Ma Ying-jeou is

Malcolm Turnbull and bilateral relations with Japan

Among the five bilateral relationships successive Australian Governments have agreed upon as being the most important (US, China, Japan, Indonesia and India), the sudden, though not unexpected, change in Liberal Party leadership will cause the most angst in Japan. When Kevin Rudd replaced John

Despite protests, collective self-defence and Abe remain

There were huge protests over the weekend in Japan against legislation, approved in principle by the Abe cabinet in July, which will reinterpret the Japanese Constitution to permit the very limited exercise of collective self-defence. This fierce public opposition to the normalisation of Japan's

Japanese defence normalisation: Progress on three fronts

Over the last two months, there has been noticeable progress on three separate fronts in Japan's 30-year process of 'renormalising' its' approach to external defence: Last week, the Abe cabinet approved the 2015 Japanese Defence White Paper after revisions were made to make it focus more squarely

China's record shows it isn't ready for global leadership

Michael Thawley's comments on China's present global leadership credentials and ambitions are correct and phrased in the refreshingly direct manner Australians usually take as a badge of national pride and uniqueness. The fact that his comments caused such a stir in Australia (and seemingly in

Will China borrow from the AIIB?

Sidu River Bridge in Hubei Province, China, the world's highest bridge.  (Wikimedia Commons.) China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) initiative was has spurred an explosion of opinion and analysis. The Asian Development Bank's (ADB) 2009 estimate that Asia will need US$8.22 trillion in

A Philippines flip-flop on maritime boundaries

Vice-President Jejomar Binay. (Flickr/ISS.) Elections are rarely decided by foreign policy issues, but election results can decide foreign policy issues. The 2016 Philippines presidential election looks like it could lead to a sharp change in Manila's approach to its maritime boundary disputes with

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

China FTA was an economic deal, not a strategic one

Thanks to Hugh White for continuing our debate on the China-Australia FTA and the intersection between Strategic Studies and Economics. Like Hugh, I do not think that 'Australia's economic weight and sophistication is such an irresistible magnet for China that we can dictate the terms of the

The China-Australia FTA: Option 4

Thanks to Hugh White for responding to my post on the China-Australia free trade agreement (FTA). Hugh lays out three options for interpreting China's decision to go ahead with the FTA despite the Abbott Government's pro-Japan and pro-US stances. I am not an Option 1 believer ('Beijing doesn't

China-Australia FTA busts a stubborn myth

We've all heard of Mythbusters, the TV program that tests whether common assumptions are based in reality or myth. The conclusion of negotiations for the China-Australia FTA, President Xi Jinping's elevation of Australia-China relations from the strategic partnership (agreed during the Gillard prime

Signs of normalisation in Japan as Abe stumbles

When Shinzo Abe led the LDP to a landslide lower house election in late 2012, excitement in and outside of Japan about an abnormally productive period in Japanese politics featuring a strong, popular and reformist prime minister was palpable. The 18 May 2013 cover of The Economist depicted Abe as a

China's Hong Kong: One country, two incompatible systems

The ongoing student-led demonstrations in Hong Kong, which oppose China's undemocratic framework for the 'selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage', are similar in cause, focus and likely outcome as the 2003 mass demonstrations against the then attempts to implement Article 23 of the

Japan and US unified, not split

Hugh White's latest post immediately reminded me of three things: my admiration for Hugh's ability to spark debate; an Interpreter post I wrote on the same topic 18 months ago; and the fact that I frequently agree with Hugh's analysis of the situation and disagree with his conclusions. Hugh poses

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

A conservative clean sweep in Asia?

If Prabowo Subianto does win tomorrow's presidential election in Indonesia, most if not all of Asia's elected democracies will be led by realist conservatives who triumphed over candidates less associated with this political position. From Netanyahu and Modi in West Asia to Park, Abe and Ma (less so

Japan's Asia rebalance

Prime Minister Abe's historic speech at last week's Shangri-La Dialogue focused regional and global attention (and Chinese ire) on Abe's desire for greater and more proactive Japanese security engagement in Southeast Asia. The International Institute for Strategic Studies' Shangri-La Voices series

South China Sea: ASEAN Summit falls short again

History neither repeated nor reversed itself at the ASEAN Summit last weekend when it came to the South China Sea disputes. Three preliminary judgments can be made with an eye for ASEAN's future centrality in relation to this issue. 1. ASEAN and its host state clearly learned from its historic 2012

South China Sea: ASEAN Summit showdown looms

There is a good chance that history will repeat itself at this weekend's ASEAN Summit in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. This could be bad for ASEAN claims of unity and centrality, and for the fraying credibility of the ASEAN-brokered 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea as an

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