Bringing together the best longer Interpreter articles you were too busy to read this week.
We skipped the Weekend Catch-Up last week to focus on the Shangri-La Dialogue, and you can see my coverage here , here and here. There were also analytical pieces from Rory Medcalf...
In my view, Chinese warnings about a supposed return of Japanese militarism and fascism are far removed from Abe's carefully-worded policy speech which focused on Japan's willingness to help other countries build their own security capacities, Japan's readiness as a normalising military power to work more with allies and partners to discourage Chinese maritime coercion, and Japan's record as a peaceful nation. If you want to form your own judgement, here is the full text. The onus should be on Abe's and Japan's critics to say precisely what is unreasonable about a Japan that can protect its interests and help its partners.
Far from building common ground, the dialogue is providing a forum to put pressure on China. Japan, the US and others are sending a clear message to Beijing: the existing order works well and you need to accept it and work with it. Washington and its friend appear to find it hard to understand why Beijing may see things differently. Indeed, based on events of the first day, it is easy to see why China sees the Dialogue, ostensibly neutral as it is run by the London-based think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies, as representing an international order that is rigged against it.
...and Malcolm Cook:
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...But Japan is also in the midst of an economic rebalance towards Southeast Asia. This rebalance is sharper, and has some key differences to Abe's security shift. First, Prime Minister Abe is a minor figure; second, Japan's domestic situation is the primary driver, not a constraint; and third, the economic rebalance could well have a greater and more positive impact on Southeast Asia than the security rebalance.
This week the Lowy Institute launched its 2014 Poll. Here's a wrap up of the major findings from Stephanie Dunstan and a great short video, and here's Khalid Koser on what the poll says about asylum seekers:
...the results of the Lowy Poll create a window of opportunity to reap the benefits of stopping the boats. The public has renewed its trust in Government policy, media and public scrutiny have died down, and immigration is firewalled. Opening this window may also help unwind some of the collateral damage of the Government's policy: a demotivated public service, a vexed judiciary, an alienated civil society sector, strained relations with critical regional neighbours, and international opprobrium.
First, the Government should make a commitment to progressively increase its quota for refugee resettlement. Second, it should redouble efforts to build the capacity to protect and assist asylum seekers and refugees in South East Asia. Third, Australia should take a lead on convening international action on responding to the prospect of 'climate change refugees'.
Stephen Grenville looked at foreign investment in light of the poll:
I've just written on the widespread antipathy in Indonesia to foreign investment, and how it is colouring the presidential election campaign. I attributed this hostility to the historical experience of colonialism. Now the Lowy Institute's annual poll reminds us that a similar (if less pronounced) aversion also exists in Australia, without the excuse of centuries of foreign domination.
The Shangri-La Dialogue launched broader discussion on America's role in Asia. 'Would Americans give their lives for Asia?' asked Harry Kazianis:
As much as I believe in my heart of hearts that America must rebalance its foreign policy towards Asia and that Washington should certainly come to the aid of its allies, absent the loss of American lives or an outright invasion of a treaty ally it is hard to see a scenario in the near future where an American president is able to present successfully such a vision.
To be clear, none of this is to cast a vote in favour of America abandoning its Asian allies in any way, shape or form. I strongly believe the present international order as constructed in the Asia Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific is worth fighting for. American prosperity and security is based on an international order created by Washington and its allies after World War II. If and when it were to be overthrown, Americans would find themselves in a less secure, less stable international environment.
Mike Callaghan covered this week's G7 summit in Brussels:
Since the elevation of the G20 to be the 'premier forum for international economic cooperation' at the 2009 Pittsburgh summit, there has been speculation about the relationship between the G7/8 and the G20. In addition to the Ukraine, half the G7 statement is devoted to commenting on security trouble spots across the globe: Syria, Libya, Mali and Central African Republic, Iran, North Korea, Middle East, Afghanistan, tensions in the east and South China sea and the kidnapping of the school girls in Nigeria. None of this would be found in a G20 declaration. So a clear demarcation between the two forums is the coverage of geopolitical and security issues.
Julian Snelder looked at the Tiananmen Square commemoration from Hong Kong:
I worked in Beijing during those strange, quiet years of the early 1990s. That was when Chang'an Avenue was still a swirl of bicycles and the Great Wall Sheraton was the most lively place in town. If Chinese were traumatised by the events of 1989, they didn't show it. If anything, Beijing felt less oppressive than it does today. The young people working with me had no interest in history; they looked forward. Even today, there seems to be a genuine lack of interest in the recent past, and it is true that most Chinese are satisfied with — or at least they respect — their social compact with the Communist Party.
Melissa Conley-Tyler sees the role of women in international relations improving:
I've written before about the continuing under-representation of women at senior levels in Australia's international affairs, explaining it by four factors: the legacy of direct discrimination (now, mercifully, fading), continuing indirect discrimination, the lack of support for family responsibilities and gendered notions of international relations. I looked at three case studies of women who commenced their careers in different decades (Helen Hughes in the 1950s, Penny Wensley in the 1960s and Hilary Charlesworth in the 1970s) to see what barriers they faced and how they overcame them. The trend is clear: things are getting better.
Photo by Flickr user Yagan Kiely.