Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 23:48 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Is China making good decisions?

Here's Francis Fukuyama in the FT: The most important strength of the Chinese political system is its ability to make large, complex decisions quickly, and to make them relatively well, at least in economic policy. This is most evident in the area of infrastructure, where China has put into

Reader riposte: Sizing up China and the US

John Daley from the Grattan Institute responds to Sam's post about China overtaking the US in economic weight: I think we have more than one example of a great power surpassing another: I don't know whether you have had a chance to read Why the West Rules – For Now, but it is a

Maritime linkage

Alessio Patalano from The Diplomat discusses geostrategy versus capability in relation to the PLA Navy and East Asian security debate. Rear Admiral James Goldrick outlines the role of submarines in Australia's future maritime strategy. This short paper is an edited version of a speech

How social media got the J-20 scoop

The way the world found out about China's stealth fighter test flight yesterday is a fascinating lesson in the agility and impact of social media, and the disadvantages faced by traditional news organisations and governments in handling fast-moving stories. It took hours for mainstream media,

The PLA\ stealth symbolism

Following up Rory's remarks, here's an interesting detail from Reuters' coverage of US Defense Secretary Gates' meeting with Chinese leader Hu Jintao: A Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mr Hu and other civilian leaders at the meeting with Mr Gates did not appear

J-20 flies, Gates sighs

I hope US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was braced for disappointment ahead of his visit to China this week, because that is precisely what he is being served up. The flight test yesterday afternoon of China's prototype J-20 stealth fighter looks to have been a calculated signal of defiance

The shallow roots of our diplomacy

The organised habit of attempting independent foreign policy is hardly 60 years old in Australia — although the moment Bert Evatt got his hands on the levers, that policy became robust in its language. Evatt established a diplomatic tradition that means Australian ambassadors are

Sentences that make your head spin

Here's the FT on a Chinese plan to consolidate the country's two big railway equipment producers into a single entity: Yet the idea faces opposition from the companies themselves and from other ministries, including the powerful central planning agency, which wants to maintain competition

Reader riposte: Rudd\ honourable failure

Andrew Carr, a PhD student at the University of Canberra, writes: What seems to have emerged out of the Asia-Pacific community (APc) debate is that, while few countries wanted Rudd's new institution, there is strong support for his 'vision' of greater US engagement and reform of the region's

Canberra\ Clouseau strategy

Aaron Connelly produces the CogitAsia blog for CSIS Washington and has written for The Interpreter on Indonesian politics. Graeme Dobell's post of yesterday offers up another argument by the Australian diplomatic corps that their then Prime Minister's ill-fated Asia Pacific

North Korea\ Beijing bar economy

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. While WikiLeaks gave some indication of a sense of uncertainty in Beijing about the regime in Pyongyang, China and North Korea remain fast friends. Nothing brings this home more than an evening spent carousing at a selection

2011: Year of the PLA?

For Asia Pacific governments and other observers of the Chinese military, the Christmas season was anything but quiet. CFR's Asia Unbound blog sums up the news from late December: Chinese officials suggested that they would launch their first aircraft carrier next year; Admiral Robert Willard

Three things I have changed my mind about this year

One thing I have not changed my mind about this year is the value of constantly questioning one's own assumptions and assessments. 1. India's prospects: India's image has had a shocking year, and I am increasingly convinced that this potentially great nation will not progress far as a global

Cop shop potboiler Xmas reads

Other Interpreter regulars have offered you serious and worthy tomes for your end-of-year best books consideration. This column goes the other way, with cop shop potboiler Xmas reads, maintaining the Interpreter mantle by picking Asian sleuths. First up, some rattling good

What have I changed my mind about this year? China\ naval build-up

Hugh White has already written about China's growing maritime assertiveness in 2010, but there's also the question of hardware. It's barely two-and-a-half months ago that I wrote a blog post which described China's naval modernisation as 'methodical' and 'modest'. I even

Hard data on Pacific development

Annmaree O'Keeffe is a Lowy Institute research fellow. She has served as Australian Ambassador for HIV/AIDS and Deputy Director General of AusAID. It's been 20 years since the first Human Development Report was published by the UN. The core message of that first report was that while economic

Timor-Leste: Is UNMIT a dud?

Edward Rees is Senior Adviser with the Peace Divided Trust. Well, it was always going to come down to this sooner or later: the days of a large UN peacekeeping operation in Timor-Leste are numbered.  For this we should be thankful. However, its now time for Timor-Leste and its

Indian students in NZ: Australia as cautionary tale

Dr Andrew Butcher is Director of Policy and Research at the Asia New Zealand Foundation. A recent Department of Labour report on international students in New Zealand shows two trends that might be eerily familiar to Australian readers of this blog: there is a rapid increase in students

Japan: Three epochal changes in one

Mike Green and Nicholas Szechenyi's CogitAsia post on Japan's forthcoming National Defense Program Guidelines demonstrates the policy challenges for Japan and its partners stemming from the fact that Japan is in the midst of epochal political, strategic and fiscal pressures. Last year we saw

China-India: Optimism and mistrust

As Chinese premier Wen Jiabao prepares to accompany over 100 senior business leaders on an official trip to India, it is timely to reflect on the state of relations between Asia's two greatest powers. Relatively unharmed by the GFC, rapidly growing India and China continue to forge an ever-

5-minute Lowy Lunch: Courting reform

On Wednesday we hosted two distinguished Indonesia experts, Cate Sumner and Tim Lindsey, to launch their new Lowy Institute paper, Courting Reform: Indonesia's Islamic Courts and Justice for the Poor. Click on the link to download a copy for free or order a hard copy, or listen to their

Q. How do you negotiate with your banker? A. Carefully.

Credit Hillary Clinton with a wonderful quote which is, indeed, a great question: 'How do you deal toughly with your banker'' Rework the question from the Canberra end: 'How do you deal toughly with the country that is driving both Australia's and Asia’s economic future' How do you deal

Boost to Indonesian maritime security

Justin Jones is Navy Fellow at the Lowy Institute and is the maritime adviser to the MacArthur Foundation Lowy Institute Asia Security Project. Yesterday, the Jakarta Post reported an increase in funding for Indonesia's Maritime Security Coordinating Agency. It's an impressive boost,

Divide On Mekong\ future sharpens

Since my last post detailing the strong arguments against building dams on the Mekong's mainstream below China, further grist has been added to the anti-dam mill through the release by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of two reports by Panels of Experts on basin development plans

China’s inflationary environment

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. China's consumer price index rose 4.4% year-on-year from October – a 25-month high. Food prices are the main driver for the fastest increase in two years. Water rates have doubled, from 11RMB to 22RMB per cubic tonne

North Korea: Why China won\'t act

Tim Lindenmayer is a Lowy Institute intern working with Michael Fullilove on a research paper on China's approach to the UN, launched today. Tim will be a DFAT graduate trainee in 2011. The recent Wikileaks revelation highlighting China's decreasing influence and increasing frustration with

Pacific politicking and a new democracy

It's been an eventful few weeks in Pacific politics. In a month usually devoted to presentations of annual appropriations bills to parliament, the region has engaged in a few changes of personnel. Vanuatu's Prime Minister Edward Natapei has paid an especially high price for trying to attend

Reader riposte: More on NATO in Asia

Stephan Fruehling writes: The Reader Riposte on NATO is mistaken with regards to the Article V guarantee, which does not apply to French (or, for that matter, US) territories in the Pacific. Article 5 of the Washington Treaty refers to attacks 'in Europe or North America', which

Korea and the 'A' word

SMH columnist Gerard Henderson today accuses former US president Jimmy Carter of favouring 'appeasement' of North Korea. In the lexicon of international relations, there's hardly a more serious charge to throw at anyone. As Paul Kennedy wrote: ...talk of someone being an Appeaser brings us

Yeonpyeong-Cheonan comparisons

At first glance, the action-reaction scripts for the DPRK's two recent acts of war against South Korea seem depressingly similar: The North attacks the South. There is an immediate global call for calm, no escalation (largely ignoring the fact that a non-military response to North Korea is

Reader riposte: Aussie e-diplomacy

Scott Smith from the US State Department has written in with this response to the e-diplomacy paper I launched last week, pointing out that other areas of the Australian Government (with whom he worked three years ago) are advanced users of digital technology.  ...I

The new East Asia

As I come to the end of my term as the East Asia Program Director here, I am bothered by the increasingly powerful thought that the traditional way East Asia is divided into Northeast and Southeast Asia may be becoming less useful as China's power grows. Rather, in strategic terms, the future

Korea: The bind Washington is in

As the chances of a reflexive escalation of this week's hostilities on the Korean peninsula gradually subside, the most probable and consequential risk of this latest conflagration, as Rory Medcalf has noted, is that it will further aggravate US-China relations, which have already deteriorated to

The origins of Fiji\ New Order

To argue that Fiji's New Order regime is already a decade old means explaining what happened during the bizarre and violent period in 2000. To understand Fiji's New Order today means going back to its strange birth. Marking 2000 as the start of Fiji's New Order regime sees the 2006 coup

Korea crisis: Beijing\ choice

I came to Seoul this week to discuss nuclear deterrence and North-South relations with local experts. Little did I expect that scholarly consultations would turn into all-too-lively field research. Here are a few very initial thoughts on what is happening. First, the good news: escalation

North Korea: Hold your fire

It's hard to overstate just how brazen Pyongyang's provocations have been over the last few years, with the shelling of a South Korean island yesterday just the latest example. Off the top of my head, we can also include the recently exposed uranium enrichment program, the sinking of the Cheonan,

Fiji\ New Order regime

After a decade of effort, Fiji's New Order regime is settling in place, with the colonels, cronies and carpetbaggers thriving. The reality of the way Bainimarama's regime is evolving tracks key elements of Indonesia's New Order under Suharto, even if Suva doesn't use the term. The rhetoric of Fiji

China: Naval and air developments

Commander Justin Jones is Navy Fellow and maritime advisor to the MacArthur Foundation Asia Security Project at the Lowy Institute. Firstly, news has emerged that the US Navy and PLA Navy cooperated during a piracy response operation over the weekend. USS Winston Churchill and USNS

Australian resources in China: Where do they go?

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. For all the talk on how the Australian resources sector relies on China's insatiable appetite for Australia's rocks, little has been written about where these commodities end up. Much of this economic growth has been attributed

Taking stock of the ASX-SGX deal

The public debate on the proposed take-over of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) seems to be dying down. But there are some important issues not yet covered. Here are just a few: Capitalisation of ASX-listed companies is over twice as large as SGX’s

Indonesia, Obama and diplomatic leverage

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia’s foreign policy at Griffith Asia Institute. It seems ironic given recent trends that the relatively few macro studies ever written about Indonesia's foreign policy interpreted it principally in terms of '

The US in Asia: A good week

One of the many questions that makes my mind itch is how many 'short-terms' make a 'medium term' or a 'long-term'' This year I have been spending a lot of my time at Lowy both pondering the long–term — the future of the Asia–Pacific security order — and commenting

AUSMIN: Decoding the declaration

Yesterday's Australia-US Ministerial Consultations, or AUSMIN, was one of the most consequential Australia-US security discussions in years. It is an answer to this year's unsettling Chinese assertiveness. And, as one newspaper has long trumpeted, it marks a shift towards a greater US military

US-New Zealand relations: Back in from the cold

Matt Hill is a Lowy Institute intern in the Global Issues Program. A New Zealand Freyberg Scholar, he recently completed a Master's in Strategic Studies at the ANU. It's been an interesting week for foreign policy across the Tasman. Tuesday saw the release of New Zealand’s first Defence

US: Your money where your mouth is

While Australia's media keeps its eyes on the prize — Hillary Clinton's pending visit to Australia — there are those, albeit a small few, who are more interested in Hilary's fly-by into the Pacific Islands, and what this means for US engagement, or lack thereof, in the region

Notes on the Silk Road: Tashkorgan

Raffaello Pantucci is a Visiting Scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Photos by Sue Anne Tay, a freelance photographer in Shanghai; see more of her work at Shanghai Street Stories. Hiring a taxi in Kashgar, we kept going first to the spectacular Karakul Lake and

Gillard Indonesia visit bears some fruit

In a Lowy Institute Policy Brief calling for a 'step change' in Australia's relationship with Indonesia, published in March this year, Fergus Hanson said the two countries should 'negotiate a multi-decade vision for the economic relationship' which goes beyond a free trade agreement:

Harmoniously carrying out census obligations

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. This morning I received a knock on my door. Wearing (among other things) furry ankle boots and bright smiles, two young women with identification badges wielded a pen in my direction and asked me to answer ten-or-so questions in

How indispensable is China?

Last week's Economist had an interesting piece looking at the world's dependence on the Chinese economy. It provided a sample of statistics and factoids highlighting just how important China now is – last year China accounted for about 46% of global coal consumption and a similar

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