Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 18:05 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Around the Shanghai Expo: British pavilion

Raffaello Pantucci is a Visiting Scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, where he is working on an EU-funded project on EU-China relations. One of the more intriguing parts of the Shanghai Expo is to see the correlation between the queues at various pavilions and the effort that has

5-minute Lowy Lunch: MDGs in Asia

Over the next couple of days we hope to bring you a number of interviews from the Lowy Institute's conference on the Millenium Development Goals in the Asia Pacific, now underway in Sydney. One participant in the conference also took the time to give our Wednesday Lowy Lunch address yesterday.

Rugby Union as soft power

Like Rodger Shanahan, I also believe Graham Dobell gives Rugby League way too much credit in terms of its regional impact and influence. Outside of parts of northern England, League is only taken seriously in two Australian states and PNG. The Pacific nations are far more interested in Rugby

900 million slum dwellers, and counting

Mary Fifita is a Lowy Institute intern working on a Policy Brief series tracking China's aid program in the Pacific. Even for those of us enduring Sydney's infrastructure woes, the devastating poverty, inadequate housing and substandard living conditions which result from accelerated

What behind China labour unrest?

The international press is full of stories about labour unrest in China.  There have been several (usually complementary) interpretations on offer: this is push-back against China's high level of inequality; its a product of demographic change and the changing nature of the workforce (fewer

North Korea: China has much to lose

Gilbert Rozman is Musgrave Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and author of Strategic Thinking about the Korean Nuclear Crisis. As observers write the obituary of the Six-Party Talks in the wake of the Cheonan sinking, they are overlooking the essence of these multi-layered

5-minute Lowy lunch: Thailand

Yesterday, Wednesday Lowy Lunch subscribers were treated to an insightful look at the recent turmoil in Thailand by Dr Milton Osborne, who is only recently back from a trip there. I spoke to him afterwards about the significance of the unrest and the divisions within Thai society, the role of

Burma, North Korea and WMD: A postscript

Andrew Selth is Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Since the release of the Democratic Voice of Burma's (DVB) compelling documentary film on Burma's military ambitions and the written report on nuclear related activities in that country (which I wrote about here), the report's co-

Japan new cabinet: Escape from Ozawa?

Rikki Kersten is a professor of politics at the Australian National University. Japan's new cabinet is designed around the desire to change voter perceptions of two issues: the influence of DPJ power broker Ozawa Ichiro on government, and politician-led policy development. If only things can

Whaling in 'Australian territory'

Donald Anton is a Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University College of Law. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan Law School from 2008-2010. Over the last thirty years, Australia has opposed commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean on two alternate tracks: one

Hatoyama: Lost in space

Rikki Kersten is a professor of politics at the Australian National University. Before becoming Prime Minister, Hatoyama Yukio cleverly embraced his nick-name of 'uchu-jin' (alien) by producing t-shirts showing his bulbous eyes and bouffant hair squeezed into a space helmet. His campaign team

Does Burma have a WMD program?

Andrew Selth is Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Reports produced by activist organisations always need to be treated with caution, particularly if they rely heavily on a single source. However, a documentary film (preview above) and written report just released by the Oslo-

Shangri-La Dialogue: Sounds of silence

Sometimes what is left unsaid is more profound than what is said. This was very much the case at the 2010 Asian security dialogue held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore at the weekend. For me, there were at least three palpable and troubling silences. Silence number one: extraordinarily,

Cheonan and the emerging Asian order

As Graeme Dobell reported yesterday, the Lowy Institute has released a report that explores the ways a changing balance of power, together with critical political choices, could produce a number of different scenarios for Asia's future security environment.  It was propitious timing. Asia is

Chinese aid linkage

Mary Fifita is a Lowy Institute intern working on a Policy Brief series tracking China's aid program in the Pacific. The Lowy Institute has been following China's development assistance to the Pacific for a few years now. China still regards the details of its aid program as a state secret and

5-minute Lowy Lunch: Australia-NZ

'Standing Together, in Single File' is the title Malcolm Cook chose for his new paper (published by the Asia New Zealand Foundation) about how Australia and New Zealand are engaging Asia. After launching the paper at yesterday's Wednesday Lowy Lunch (held on Tuesday, just for this week), ANU

Choice questions about Asia power

The questions posed by politicians and diplomats can be more revealing than the answers they give. Australia's top diplomat last night laid out a set of excellent questions. They came as the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was launching the Lowy Asia Security Project

Singapore: Railing against history

The time: 1990. The place: Singapore. The beverage: Tiger beer. A senior hack – long since departed to the great sub-editor's room in the sky – is opining on the deep history of tensions, even enmity, between Singapore and Malaysia: 'The day they manage to fix up the railway issue, that will

Australia and Fiji

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is in New Zealand today for a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group to discuss Fiji. He might be interested in this result from the 2010 Lowy Poll, released today

Motoring with the G20 middle powers

I'm filing this from Jakarta, where I've been trying to find points of agreement between some of the middle powers in the G20 — Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and South Korea. The conference I attended was run by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Australian Institute of

Whaling: Floundering around

Two wrongs don't make a right. They just make a bigger wrong! The Rudd Government's cavalier anti-whaling policy and its decision today to try to take Japan to the International Court of Justice is proof positive of this maxim. The first wrong committed was in the heated days of the 2007

North Korea: Smith handball

Last week, after the South Korean Government released its report into the Cheonan sinking, Malcolm Cook wrote that 'most voices are calling on Seoul to continue to exercise restraint and not 'escalate' the situation (ie. to not respond militarily)'. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is part of

Hatoyama East Asian community

As with PM Rudd's ill-fated Asia-Pacific community initiative, many observers have found it hard to grasp what Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama's East Asian community is and what it would entail. Last week, Hatoyama gave a full speech that helps clear some of the fog around the idea. Alas, this

North Korea: Consequences

The multinational investigation into the sinking of South Korea's Cheonan naval corvette, to which Australia contributed, has found the proverbial smoking gun with North Korea's fingerprints all over it. The question now is, how should South Korea, its security partners and North Korea's only

North Korea: Preparing for collapse

For those readers who wonder what ever happened to 'The Diplomat', a foreign policy-focused print magazine once published in Sydney, it's now an online-only title based in Tokyo. There's a good piece up on their site about the possible collapse of North Korea, which makes the point that, in

Burma, North Korea and US policy

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. The Obama Administration's policy of 'practical engagement' with Burma is running into serious trouble. The military government in Naypyidaw has shown no inclination to respond to US overtures and, although the policy is barely

Indonesia drama: All well that ends well

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU. The news last week that Indonesia's feisty Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani (pictured), was resigning to take up a key job with the World Bank in Washington sent shock waves across the Jakarta political stage. Well, parts of

Interview: The Bangkok crisis

I just got off the phone with ANU Associate Lecturer Nicholas Farrelly, an expert on mainland Southeast Asian politics and editor of the must-read New Mandala blog. I started with a 'Thai Politics 101' question: who are the red shirts and what do they want? Nicholas also has some unnerving

Singapore/Indonesia trivia

To round off my short visit to the region, some random observations: Singaporeans seem to have a sense of humour about some of the more draconian regulations the city-state is known for internationally. Tourist shops sell 'I survived Singapore' t-shirts, which list things like the chewing

Indonesia: Australia blind spot?

The few days I have spent here in Jakarta talking with journalists, diplomats and businesspeople have given me a new appreciation for something ABC broadcaster Geraldine Doogue wrote on The Interpreter in March: for Australians to get a fairer picture of Indonesia, the country needs to be '

Reader riposte: Kiwis and the US

Paul Cotton writes in with this reply to Graeme Dobell's recent post. A point you overlooked in your excellent and interesting article. In a few days or weeks Kim Beazley will have as his fellow Ambassador in Washington none other than Mike Moore, whether he likes it or not

Interview: Jakarta Post editor

It was a great pleasure to meet Endy Bayuni today, chief editor of Jakarta's well known English-language daily, The Jakarta Post (the younger Jakarta Globe is now giving the Post some competition in this market). As you'll hear in our interview, Endy and I talked about the issue that

Interview: Indonesia today

I'm in bustling Jakarta for a few days, and earlier today I sat down with Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Bill Farmer, who took up his posting in 2005 and is set to leave in July (his successor has not been announced, though there are strong rumours that Duncan Lewis will get the nod). I

Interview: China on a high

The International Crisis Group yesterday held its first ever Asia Briefing here in Singapore, and in between the sessions of a very busy and stimulating conference, I managed to get five minutes with the ICG's North East Asia Project Director, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt. Stephanie argues that

Our colleague, Hadi Soesastro

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU. One of Indonesia's leading scholars of international economics and regional affairs, Hadi Soesastro, died on Tuesday. This is a huge loss — to Indonesia, to Australia, and to Asia. Dr Hadi Soesastro was for many years

Reader riposte: Rudd and ASEAN

Alison Broinowski writes: If we didn't have Graeme Dobell, many in Australia would not understand the dots, let alone join them, about the East Asia Community/Asia Pacific community fracas and its predictable conclusion. Thanks to him for deciphering the Prime Minister's backdown at the Hanoi

Jakarta reporting

Having criticised journalists' efforts on Indonesia, I should record that Tom Allard has produced some gems recently for the SMH, most of which fit Geraldine Doogue's suggestion of writing about things that the two countries have in common — Jakarta has its revheads too. I take this as

Rudd to ASEAN: You win

Kevin Rudd has fluttered a tiny white flag to ASEAN on his Asia Pacific community idea. The nod — something less than a kowtow — is in the Prime Minister's recent China speech, which I examined in my previous column. It's message to ASEAN: You win. The context for all this is the elbowing

Dark China days

Kevin Rudd has offered a series of dark scenarios for China's international future. The Prime Minister's China speech last Friday was a rare foreign policy interlude in what will be a remorselessly domestic year. The big sign over The Kevin's mental mantelpiece reads: 'It's the election,

Asian Keynesianism: It worked

Back in the first half of 2009, official sector forecasters were very cautious about the prospects for an Asian recovery and keen to emphasise that a sustained pick-up in growth was conditional on a resumption of activity in the developed world. This was a reasonable judgment; in the final quarter

Jaw-dropping China fact of the day

The Transport Politic on Shanghai's metro: Just fifteen years after the first segment of its first metro line opened, the city’s metro network has gained the title as the world’s longest with the opening of a section of Line 10 last week... ...Now Shanghai offers 282 stations and 420

The mainland minister can go to Taiwan

Taiwanese journalists have long waged a contest entitled, 'Enrage the Chinese Foreign Minister'. The game has been going for about 15 years at the ASEAN Regional Forum, and goes like this: at the all-in press conference with foreign ministers at the end of the ARF, Taiwanese reporters line up

Thailand: Talking about the King

Beyond the borders of Thailand, the Thai royal family is, at last, a topic for frank discussion by the media. As the King has fought for life in a Bangkok hospital since September, the prospect of the Crown Prince taking the throne has seen the taboo crumble – outside Thailand.  The royalist

The new Guam doctrine

The new Guam doctrine will mark a significant stepping-stone in the creation of Asia's concert of powers. This ranks as a 'brave' prediction, because we don't yet have an Asian concert, and Barack Obama hasn't yet set foot on Guam to unveil a new doctrine. But both are approaching. If Obama had

Your DPRK must-read of the day

It's a truly eye-opening interview with Brian Reynolds Myers, professor of international studies at Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea and author of The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why it Matters. A few extracts: "Juche Thought is a jumble of humanist cliches

Asia: Silk roads or sow ears?

An article about Asian infrastructure in the latest issue of The Economist (which references a piece for The American Interest written by my colleagues, Anthony Bubalo and Malcolm Cook) contains one paragraph that left me a little bemused: Railways reflect the boldest ambitions. China has

Mekong summit changes nothing

With something closer to a whimper than a bang, the first summit meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) concluded in Hua Hin, Thailand, on Monday 5 April. As I predicted, none of the MRC leaders chose to confront China over its repeated claims that dams in China have nothing to do with

Khmer Rouge trial: Hurry up and wait

For those who might have wondered, the reason you have not heard of any developments since last December involving the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (officially the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC) is because another three months have passed without anything of note having taken

Burma: Of arms and the man

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. In their continuing search for policies that might have an impact on the Naypyidaw regime, nearly 30 countries have called for a global arms embargo against Burma. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith expressed Australia's support for

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