Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 00:56 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Reader riposte: Chinese exceptionalism

Ben Croxon, who recently wrote a sub-thesis comparing US and Chinese exceptionalism, writes: I agree with both Graeme Dobell and Hugh White, but wanted to mention another phenomenon which also may be seen as a factor in why China behaves the way it does. As Hugh states, there are different

Washington is not naïve about Beijing

Raoul's reply to my post on America's China policy begins by acknowledging that 'you would be hard pressed to find anyone' who agrees with the proposition that a growing China will necessarily become more deferential to the US. Yet in the next paragraph he says that this assumption 'continues

Reader riposte: China status quo

Robert Flawith writes: Graeme Dobell's mission to move beyond the mutually exclusive dichotomy of 'revisionist power' or 'status quo power' to more accurately describe the role of a mercurial China in the future of international relations is an admirable one. However, his explanation of China

China new mission in Fiji

In November I looked at China's engagement in East Timor, including its brand new Embassy, nearing completion. In Fiji, there are also signs of China's largesse and increased engagement. On a Sunday afternoon in stiflingly hot Suva all was quiet except for the Chinese labourers busy completing the

China and the status quo

I like Graeme's description of China as 'status quo-tidal', but I'd like to offer an alternative way of looking at the question of whether China is a status quo or a revisionist power. I think it all depends which 'status quo' we mean. If we mean the stable, open international order that Asia

France mixed messages for the Pacific

Recent rare comments (full text here) by President Nicolas Sarkozy on his Government's approach to France's overseas entities raise questions about France's sincerity in implementing a genuine choice for independence in New Caledonia, and its plans for French Polynesia and even tiny Wallis and

China as a status quo-tidal power

It's hard enough describing what China is now. Describing where it might be going stretches the standard international relations lexicon. The standard categories of 'status quo' or 'revisionist' power aren't much help. No wonder the panda huggers and the dragon slayers of Washington can never

China to be more cooperative?

Is it a conventional expectation in Washington that a stronger China will also be more cooperative, as I recently suggested? Sam’s doubtful, and in a number of respects, I can understand his scepticism. The notion that a more powerful country will be more deferential seems so counterintuitive

Reader riposte: NZ-Fiji relations

Paul Cotton responds to Jenny Hayward-Jones' post: The only position for which a receiving country expects advance notice is that of Head of Mission (ie. Ambassador or High Commissioner). McCully statements last week made it clear that he and the Fijians had not spoken of the appointment at this

US-China: Unconventional wisdom

Raoul says in his latest post that American commentators 'have only just begun to question the bizarre but conventional expectation in Washington that a stronger, more prosperous China would also be more cooperative'. Bizarre, perhaps. But conventional? Who in Washington actually believes that

US-China: Frost warning

Hold on to your hats — US-China relations are about to get ugly. Obama may have turned out to be something of a diplomatic masochist, but even he has his limits. Having been rolled in China and dragged through the mud by the Chinese in Copenhagen, his serenity in dealing with Beijing over

China public diplomacy tested

As far as I'm aware, we are still yet to hear anything substantive from Beijing on the Google question. That may be because, as Kaiser Kuo suggested in our interview, Google has the goods on Beijing. Or it may be that, as James Fallows has said, the Government is just not very good at crisis

China-Google: How do we fix this?

I've just done an interview with Sydney radio host Deborah Cameron about the China-Google dispute. I'm unhappy about my last answer. Deborah asked me if I felt the Prime Minister ought to be speaking out more about China's increasingly assertive behaviour toward foreign companies. I replied

Australia on the couch

As often happens when I read Sam's posts, I paused, slightly confused.  Are major bilateral relations really only an 'ephemeral' part of foreign policy for a self-described middle-power like Australia? Therefore, is Australian foreign and security policy also wilfully ephemeral due to the

Does Google have a smoking gun?

That's the intriguing possibility raised in a phone interview I conducted an hour or so ago with Kaiser Kuo, a Beijing-based American with years of experience in China's online world. Here's an earlier post I wrote about Kaiser, and here's his Twitter feed. I started by asking Kaiser where he

Why did Google do it?

The TechCrunch post I referred to yesterday was not an isolated piece of scepticism about Google's threats to withdraw from China. Dan Drezner has some other examples, and some Chinese netizens also seem convinced that Google is acting for commercial reasons rather than out of concern for

Wednesday (mostly China) linkage

James Fallows on the Google decision: China enters its Bush-Cheney phase. CFR's Asia blog adds important details to the Google story: 1. Secretary Clinton is due to give a major speech on internet freedom on 21 January; and 2. It looks like google.cn is now displaying uncensored search returns

Mehta banished to Wellington?

Admiral Suresh Mehta (pictured, at a 2008 event at the Lowy Institute) has one of the wiser minds in the Indian strategic community. This speech last year was the most sensible and balanced piece of advice on Indian defence policy uttered publicly by a military officer. It has also been one of

Google rips into China

Whoa: These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to

Reader riposte: Japan and whales

Ashley Murtha responds to a previous reader riposte: Having spent some time living with a Japanese family and in one instance experiencing a light-hearted interrogation regarding Australia's affiliation with anti-whaling activities, I found it quite surprising to read Richard Green's response

Is China consuming enough?

One of the big questions to come out of the wash of the GFC is, will domestic (particularly consumer) consumption in the PRC expand significantly to help moderate global imbalances and provide a powerful new source of domestic and global demand while the traditional engines of global growth stay

Reader riposte: Japan and whaling

Richard Green responds to this from Malcolm and this from me: On the Japanese media reaction, may it also be restated how difficult this reaction is to actually find. It's very hard to forget this with the prominence an issue can take in the Australian media's slow January period, but the word

Tokyo: Coming cleaner

The new DPJ Government in Japan is having a rough time. It is plummeting in the polls, it just lost its finance minister while its new one has spooked jittery financial markets as well as his leader, and it is letting domestic and partisan politics have much too much sway in its alliance

Burma: If not nukes, what about missiles?

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of 'Burma and North Korea: Conventional Allies or Nuclear Partners?' Fears that Burma's military government is secretly building a nuclear weapon, with North Korean help, seem to have subsided — at least for the time

The fun of finding fault with others

One sentence in Malcolm Cook's post about whaling jumped out at me: The Japanese media's response so far to Australian reactions to Japanese whaling is not to shine a critical light on Japan's own practices but to seek out superficially similar actions in Australia and to mount culturalist

Whaling: Best not to spout

Earlier today, Sam put up a link to Joseph Nye's sober argument that Washington should not risk damaging the US-Japan alliance by pushing the new (and still on training wheels) Hatoyama Government on the 'second order' Futenma issue, despite Hatoyama's reckless election promise to ditch a deal

China, science superpower?

Yesterday I linked to a blog post by the New Yorker's man in Beijng, Evan Osnos, which detailed the rise of China up the world rankings of published scientific research. Today, I see that the Council on Foreign Relations' Asia Unbound blog has thrown some cold water on Osnos' post: While

China: Up, periscope!

One reliable way to get things wrong is to argue that people will not do something because it would be dumb. I spent most of 2002 blithely predicting the US would not invade Iraq for exactly that reason. So I'm about to take a big risk and say that, notwithstanding Naval War College Review piece

The joys of empire

Middle sized powers like Australia often have to accept their limited spheres of influence. Australia's dominion spreads across the Pacific, where its power and influence are felt so intensely that its labels and appellations have ranged from 'bully' to 'Deputy Sheriff'. But over the break there

Carry on up the Pacific

The latest issue of the US Naval War College Review has a very thorough analysis of China's aircraft carrier ambitions. There's no doubt China has made a decision to field aircraft carriers — the article notes the many public statement made by Chinese officials about carriers in recent years

Gus Dur and Australian dreams

Indonesia can direct Australia's regional dreams or dominate its nightmares. The death of Abdurrahman Wahid is a reminder of how old nightmares have faded as Indonesia has transformed itself in a decade. Wahid's short presidency was part of an extraordinary period when the region saw that a

Things I have changed my mind about this year

I have abandoned much of my earlier hope that China can be persuaded to apply much more pressure on North Korea to renounce the nuclear weapons path. Arguments like those made by Zhu Feng – despite their excellent, interests-based logic — appear to be on the losing side in the internal

East Asia many odd men out

Joel Rathus' piquant response to my latest post got me thinking beyond my regular concern that ASEAN voices demand centrality and then ask others to fund it. East Asia, if one could ever actually define this term, seems to have almost as many 'odd men out' as it does in. Joel nominates Japan

Reader riposte: Regionalism research

Joel Rathus, a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide who blogs here, responds to Malcolm Cook: Until ASEAN members actually start to take a sense of ownership and even perhaps fund the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) its influence as a research body for

Regionalism needs research grunt

I would like to thank Richard Woolcott for responding to my views as a participant at the APc conference at Taronga, particularly since I have not had the chance to discuss the APc initiative with him yet. Having organised and hosted conferences myself (though never on the scale or with the

Blaze at the Siam Society

Only because I was told by a friend from Bangkok on 16 December did I learn of the destruction by fire of the venerable Siam Society buildings in Bangkok. Founded in 1904 and operating under royal patronage, the Siam Society has a claim to be the most most active learned society in

The APc continuing role

Richard Woolcott is the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to develop the Asia Pacific community concept. As host of the APc conference in Sydney last week, I want to respond to Malcolm Cook's piece in The Interpreter. Apart from the apocalyptic title ('The APc's fatal flaws'), Malcolm Cook

Reader riposte: ASEAN and APc

Carl Thayer writes in response to my post about the recent conference to discuss Prime Minister Rudd's Asia Pacific community (APc) proposal: I do not think there is an official ASEAN position on the APc. It is clear that there is no ASEAN consensus on the idea because it has not been discussed

Media freedom in Singapore

In late October, the Singaporean Government told British freelance journalist Ben Bland that it would not renew his visa, and that he had a month to leave the city-state. Censorship is common in Singapore but, according to Ben, no foreign journalist has been forced out of the country since 1988.

The damned Mekong

Readers who have consulted my recent Lowy Paper, 'The Mekong: River Under Threat', will be interested to learn of the publication of a joint report by the Australian Mekong Resource Centre (AMRC) of the University of Sydney and Oxfam Australia. With the title, 'Power and Responsibility: The

Things I have changed my mind about this year

They fall into two categories: one I was wrong about and one that surprises me. Wrong: I thought the GFC would have a greater impact on the PRC and its hybrid economy. It now looks like Beijing will actually do as it promised its subjects – keep the GDP growth rate for 2009 at or above 8%.

Buying off North Korea

East Asia Forum has reproduced an article by Asia Foundation scholar Scott Snyder proposing a way forward on the diplomatic impasse over North Korea's nuclear program: ...the North Korean plea for foreign investment does suggest a potential point of leverage that deserves careful consideration

A useless feud with Singapore?

With real challenges like climate change, China's rise, nuclear proliferation and the fraying of Pakistan dominating Australia's horizons, you would think that the last thing we need is a prolonged diplomatic fight with a largely likeminded country. Yet, from the tenor of Peter Hartcher's

APc conference evaded the big issue

I was pleased to get an invite to last week's Asia-Pacific community (APc) conference (co-sponsored by Lowy), but a bit surprised too, because I am a registered sceptic about the whole idea. And I am bound to say that I came away after a day-and-a-half's discussion no less sceptical. It is not

Balibo ban not so democratic

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at the Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia's foreign policy. Although the Indonesian National Film Censorship Board's decision on Tuesday to ban the screening of 'Balibo' was not entirely surprising, it represents a small

Introducing Hans Rosling

My friend Alistair sent me an email recommending this presentation, by a Swedish academic I'd never heard of before, Hans Rosling (here's his blog). It's a terrifically entertaining and informative talk about the rise of Asia, ending with a bold prediction of the exact date that Asia will overtake

AP community: Whither ASEAN?

Other items in this Asia Pacific community series are on the APc concept paper, the text of the paper, Japan, the US, APEC, and Asian architecture. Australia is both stroking and shaking ASEAN in the discussion of an Asia Pacific community. The Canberra line is that ASEAN has a central role

Lowy Institute China Poll 2009

The Lowy Institute today released its first public opinion poll conducted in China. There's a lot in there, but here are some of the findings I found most interesting: In the context of the upcoming Copenhagen climate change negotiations and China's lukewarm pledge on emissions intensity

China and foreign investment

Looking closely at Fergus' poll numbers on foreign takeovers by state-owned firms into Australia and into the People’s Republic of China, three things occur to me. One is good for China's integration into the world, one is bad for Western integration with China, and one is bad for Northeast Asian

China poll on investment and education

The Lowy Institute will tomorrow release its first opinion poll conducted in China, but today we're releasing two findings on Chinese attitudes towards foreign investment and education abroad. The poll uses a methodology developed by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs — a world leader in

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