Monday 18 Nov 2019 | 00:11 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 15 Nov 2019 12:30

    Ayodhya verdict and unruly consequences

    India’s Supreme Court has delivered a ruling that will embolden the Hindu right and challenge the country’s secularism.

  • 15 Nov 2019 10:00

    Autocrats Anonymous

    A White House confessional reveals Donald Trump incapable of change – a kind of Marvel superhero, but less interesting.

  • 15 Nov 2019 06:00

    Book Review: The original corporate raiders

    Historian William Dalrymple looks at how a small trading company in London became a mighty army and conquered India.

China

Saying the unsayable in Australia’s relations with China

The issue of influence by the government of the People’s Republic of China in Australian public and political life reached a turning point with the resignation of senator Sam Dastyari. It concluded a year of forceful reporting and vitriolic debate about China in Australia, fuelling a steady flow

China: Contradictions in climate leadership

This article is part of a series for the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Xi Jinping had a good year in 2017. It began on the international

How America can build a durable military balance in Asia

During his tour of East Asia last month, US President Donald Trump visited five countries, but Americans could be forgiven for thinking that he only went to China, given the US media's coverage of the trip. Whereas journalists dissected Trump’s every move during his visit with Chinese President Xi

Post-Soviet states feel lure of (Chinese) socialism

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang's visit to Hungary for the sixth China-Central and Eastern Europe Countries (CEEC) Summit last week demonstrates that China has become an increasingly important player in the post-Soviet space. Its presence in Central Asia is now an undeniable fact, but less well-

Mistrust of Australia is growing in China

Over the past year or so the mood in Canberra has soured toward China. Indeed, of the countries unsettled by China’s rise and its increasingly confident and assertive foreign policy, Australia is now among the most outspoken in its criticism of Beijing’s behaviour. This change has been visible

Risk aversion in domestic Chinese politics

The 19th Party Congress was a watershed for the Xi administration. Feverish speculation about candidates for promotion the Politburo Standing Committee is over, but their policy significance much as before: enigmatic. There is a natural interest in factional or interest group allegiance. It is now

Sam Dastyari and Chinese government influence in Australia

Senator Sam Dastyari has found himself back in the spotlight after Australia media outlets reported allegations that Dastyari gave Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo 'counter-surveillance' advice and unearthed the audio from Dastyari's now-infamous media conference last

What the White Paper misses on China

The Foreign Policy White Paper paints a picture of an uncertain world and troubling times. With this understanding as its foundation, the White Paper outlines what approaches Australia should take to protect its national interests. While some elements are new, these approaches are still a

Academic cooperation with Chinese characteristics

I recently co-convened a small international academic workshop with a Chinese university. Since we wanted to involve quite a few China-based scholars and the topic concerned China, I thought it made perfect sense to hold the workshop in China. A number of scholars from outside China were to attend

Trump's coming hard line on China

US President Donald Trump’s first visit to Beijing was an exhibition of mutual flattery. China rolled out the red carpet for what it termed a 'state visit plus', replete with unprecedented pomp and circumstance for an American leader.  Trump returned the favour with incessant fawning over

How art threatens to spoil China’s party

This article is based on Episode 15 of the Little Red Podcast, featuring Sampson Wong, Badiucao and Louisa Lim Many of my best friends in China are hated by all but their families – they are mid-ranking cadres in a rural county, assumed by their fellow citizens to be stupid, on the take, or both

No need to self-censor in the face of China

The recent decision by Allen & Unwin to drop Clive Hamilton's book on Chinese influence illustrates that China need not exert much effort in influencing us. We're doing the job ourselves. Hamilton's book Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a Puppet State was pulled, according

Trump in China: Game, set, and possibly match to Beijing

The bullish US President has finally visited China. No doubt, as he watched the city swish past in his motorcade, he must have looked appreciatively at the Beijing skyline and imagined how good a Trump tower would look in among all the other splendid modern skyscrapers being thrown up there. But for

Quad redux: A new agenda for Asia's maritime democracies

With President Donald Trump part-way into his protracted tour of Asia, much of the focus has been on the North Korea threat, his personal relations with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and President Moon of South Korea, and his interaction with President Xi Jinping, China’s political strongman who

The long reach of China’s United Front Work

China’s official state mouthpiece, the Xinhua news agency, last month declared 'Enlightened Chinese Democracy Puts the West In the Shade.' While Xinhua maintains the fiction that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its 89 million members represent the majority of the people, it also '

Censorship is superfluous in Xi’s ‘New Era’

Tiny children sit in a row on miniature wooden chairs, their attention focused on a television screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping in full oration mode, in incongruous juxtaposition beside the candyfloss-pink play castle of their kindergarten. In hospitals, patients have Xi beamed to the

Xi, Orwell and the language of Chinese politics

The 19th Party Congress closed earlier this week with the announcement that 'Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era' would be enshrined in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) charter. This eponymous ideological contribution is the first since 'Deng Xiaoping Theory'

The 19th Party Congress: Xi's mid-term appraisal

As Interpreter readers will no doubt be aware, this is an exciting week for China-watchers as it marks the mid-term point for President Xi Jinping's time in office – that is, presuming he leaves his post after ten years, as is the custom. This week the 19th Party Congress, Xi's mid-term

Belt and Road: The case for ‘wait and see’

Nick Bisley is right to call for a clearer – and I would add more confident – Australian strategy towards China. But should this involve signing up to President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)? I am not convinced. BRI is long on rhetoric and unclear in design. According to Xi,

Australia’s oddly absent Belt and Road Strategy

In a recent speech at the University of Adelaide's Confucius Institute, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Frances Adamson tackled the controversial issue of Chinese students in Australia. Her comments were both shrewd and part of a larger pattern of Australian government policy

Australia’s One-China Policy and why it matters

Australia is in the midst of a vociferous debate over China. Reporting and commentary on Chinese Party-state sway over Australia's public and political institutions has been met by a strong pushback by those who emphasise the opportunities presented by China's influence. The

On North Korea, China’s interests are unchanged

China's recent move to close North Korean businesses operating in China is undoubtedly welcome news to Australian and US policymakers. However, this is should not be seen as a shift in China's approach to North Korea. Rather, it is a tactical manoeuvre – China's goals and interests regarding

Resisting China’s magic weapon

In the classic Cold War-era film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, aliens quietly invade earth by replicating the bodies of each human being they encounter. The resulting 'pod people' take on the physical characteristics, memories, and personalities of the humans they replace. In its day, the film was

Beijingers keep calm and carry on

In the lead-up to the 19th National Congress this October, Beijing has been undergoing some physical changes. As yet more gleaming architectural marvels are being unveiled, other parts of the city are being cleaned out and 'tidied up', with buildings being knocked down or bricked in. Many have been

Coming full-circle in the Sino-Indian relationship

Despite the recent BRICS Summit's theme of a 'stronger partnership for a brighter future', the two-month stand-off between China and India at the Doklam plateau (which China refers to as Donglang) has confirmed a bitter truth – the territorial dispute is still a constant thorn

China: No country for old men?

On 18 October the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will kick off, and the new makeup of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) will be revealed. The policy direction and success of President Xi Jinping's next term depend on who makes the cut. A mostly informal set of

China’s toxic nationalism

This article is based on Episode 13 of The Little Red Podcast, featuring Richard MacGregor, Sow-Keat Tok and Louisa Lim, and MacGregor’s new book 'Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of US Power in the Pacific'. Last week, China's government took the surprising step of increasing the

Delhi’s new Indian Ocean diplomacy

As China continues to ramp up its Indian Ocean presence, Delhi is stepping up its engagement, collaborations and demonstrations of leadership in the region. In addition to expanding its network of naval partners and bilateral exercises, India is also reviving regional institutions such as IORA and

Doklam: Who won?

North Korea's latest missile outrage has stolen the global headlines from a potentially even more significant turn of events in world security. That is the seemingly sudden resolution of the border confrontation between Chinese and Indian troops in an area known as Doklam in disputed Himalayan

How Trump’s new approach to Pakistan might pan out

Perhaps the most notable part of President Trump's new Afghanistan 'strategy' is its treatment of Pakistan, with Trump saying out loud what was once largely debated and threatened in private: The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan. We can no

Doklam stand-off may spark Indian Ocean tensions

The two-month standoff between India and China on the desolate Doklam plateau in the Himalayas shows no signs of ending. Indeed, while both sides have so far been careful to avoid a shooting match, there are indications that relations are souring further and the confrontation could easily

Burn the books, bury the scholars!

Chinese censorship has come a long way. During his rule in the 2nd century BC, the First Emperor of a unified China famously quelled the intellectual diversity of his day by 'burning the books and burying the scholars'. This infamy would be decried throughout Chinese history until, in 1958, Mao

What the US would need to deter China

I am reassured to see from Ely Ratner's most recent post in our exchange on US-China relations and the South China Sea how much he and I agree about, because I have such a high regard for his ideas on these important questions, and for his lucid and gracious way of presenting them. In fact, we

India feeling the heat on Belt and Road

In May, when China organised a major summit in Beijing around its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as 'One Belt, One Road', or OBOR), one invited country was completely absent: India. In response to queries, New Delhi issued only a short statement that underscored the benefits of

Big job ahead for China’s new envoy to North Korea

Competition for the world’s most thankless jobs is hotting up. Donald Trump’s chief of staff, the Premier of China, the official standing next to the UK’s Panglossian Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davies – all these jobs have, as their number one objective, taking endless

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