Monday 27 Sep 2021 | 02:39 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Obama was rolled in China

President Obama might have bowed in Japan, but it was China where he was really humbled. Beyond the countless diplomatic formalities and expansive, but typically platitudinous communiqué, the most striking thing about Obama’s recent trip was his inability to wrest a single, meaningful concession

Asian architecture: The win-win solution

In an earlier post, Graeme Dobell argues that the Obama administration’s decision to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) strengthens the United States’ hand in the Asian architecture game. I fully agree and take it even further. The United States signing of the TAC, especially if it

Chinese naval proposal wrong-headed

If China wants its anti-piracy naval presence in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden to be recognised as essentially defensive and legitimate, then a recent proposal about creating maritime zones of exclusive national responsibility is precisely not the way to go about it. As I’ve written

Australian attitudes towards China

I've been looking at some old opinion polls recently and came across this one the Age did back in the 70s. The findings on China were quite interesting in light of recent Lowy polling. In 1977, asked whether China was 'likely to be a threat to Australia' 41% of Australians said 'yes' and 59% 'no

Obama in China: A fun night

From the AFP's account of the Obama-Hu dinner: A People's Liberation Army military band played a selection of Chinese and American music including Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You" and "We Are The World", penned by the late pop icon Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. Obama's a

Burma: Obama 'pragmatic engagement'

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. I recently returned from Washington, DC where I was able to hear Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Scot Marciel, US Ambassador to ASEAN, speak about the Obama Administration's

East Asia forgotten alliance

I have just come from a session on regional security architecture. There was much discussion about the role of the US alliances in East Asia, with the standard criticism from Chinese and Southeast Asian participants that these alliances are exclusive, outdated, backward-looking, needing to be

AP community: APEC demotion

After 20 years on top, APEC no longer reigns supreme in Australia's foreign policy firmament. In the week of the APEC summit in Singapore — and only days after the 20th birthday of APEC's creation in  Canberra — APEC's demotion must be seen as a significant structural shift, hastened by

AP community: America strong hand

Other items in this Asia Pacific community series: Graeme's analysis of the APc  concept paper; the text of the paper; and Graeme's thoughts on Japan. Barack Obama is coming to Asia with strong cards to play in the dialogue on an Asia Pacific community. Look beyond the economic woes

Reader riposte: Subversive interns

A reader in China writes about our Twitter feed. A VPN, as I understand it, is a bit of kit that allows people in China to read the unfliltered internet. Without it, you're seeing the approved version: Am using a non-VPN internet connection for the first time in a while today, and thought the

AP community: Japan and Australia

At the East Asia Summit, Japan's leader expressed support for Australia's Asia Pacific community approach — then hit it with a substantial backhander. Yukio Hatoyama said the broad principles of the Rudd community could be supported. Then he immediately kicked away one of the central Rudd

China declares diplomatic ceasefire

China has called a halt to its diplomatic offensive against Australia. Read the terms of the ceasefire — perhaps even armistice — in the unusual Australia-China joint statement issued after the talks between Kevin Rudd and China's Vice Premier, Li Keqiang. The statement has to be

AP community: The concept paper

The conversation on an Asia Pacific community is entering a new phase. Last weekend's East Asia Summit has given enough of a nod to Kevin Rudd for him to claim acceptance of his call to talk. The game is launched. Rudd had a win at the Summit merely by gaining a significant bit of the four hours

The despondent admiral

This article from the Jakarta Globe is a couple of weeks old now, but I only just discovered it (via this blog), and it contains a passage worth sharing. The piece is mainly about delays in the Indonesian Navy's plans to purchase four new submarines, and quotes Navy Chief Adm. Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno

Burma uperstitious' leaders

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Whenever critics of Burma's military government run out of explanations for the regime's apparently self-defeating policies, they tend to fall back on the fact that regime leader Senior General Than Shwe is very superstitious.

PNG: Japan back in the game

While China is increasingly perceived to be the major Asian player in the Pacific Islands region, Japan's interests in the region should not be forgotten. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) last week signed a memorandum of understanding with the PNG Government to support the

APc: Starting what has already started

Last week I was at a conference in Singapore on the future of regional security architecture. From the discussions held and my own deliberations about them, I arrived at five thoughts on the Rudd Government's Asia Pacific community (APc) initiative: two not so good, two potentially good and one

APC/APc: What in a name?

Regarding my exchange with Professor Carl Thayer on the Asia Pacific Community/community, I need to make a correction. I implied in my response to Carl that the version of the speech posted on the IISS website contained only references to 'community', not 'Community'. That was incorrect; in

Reader riposte: Indonesia and Timor

I have been taken to task for my depiction of East Timor's 'forgive and move on' philosophy in its dealings with Indonesia. Perhaps I should have used a formulation along the lines of 'report-and-await-a-proper-response-from-Indonesia-that-may-never-come.' But that's too cynical a characterisation

Reader riposte: Asian multilateralism

Ray Lockman isn't happy with the visual aid I posted yesterday, which I pinched from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS): Isn't Papua New Guinea a member of the Pacific Islands Forum? The CNAS chart you posted yesterday appears to exclude PNG from PIF. There's admittedly a lot of

Reader riposte: APC or APc?

Professor Carl Thayer picks up on an old post from Graeme Dobell, which Malcolm Cook referred to recently: With respect, I do not think Graeme Dobell has got it right about the APc. Dobell incorrectly stated that 'throughout the printed text, the reference was to an Asia-Pacific community (APc

Australia, Indonesia and East Timor (3)

Here are a few tips for Australia's relations with Indonesia, should Australia decide to pursue the Indonesian military for murdering Australian journalists in East Timor: Don't put much reliance on personal relations between leaders and foreign ministers. Don't resort to megaphone diplomacy

Understanding Asian multilateralism

There's really no easy way to understand the various overlapping bits of Asia's mulitlateral diplomatic architecture, but a visual aid helps. Here's one I found in a new report by the Center for a New American Security, called China's arrival: A strategic framework for a global relationship.

Australia, Indonesia and East Timor (2)

If Australia seeks to prosecute members of the Indonesian military command for murdering Australians in East Timor, how dangerous will that effort be for the relationship with Jakarta? Stephen Grenville worries that any AFP inquiry into the Balibo Five 'will surely seriously damage the important

Trouble at Caijing

It looks as if rumours of a staff revolt at China's biggest and most influential business magazine, Caijing, are true (more reports here and here). It has been noted in the Australian media that the Lowy Institute had organised a conference with Caijing, to be held in Sydney in September. I

Australia, Indonesia and East Timor (1)

Australia is again proving its friendship with Indonesia in a time of tragedy, underlining why Australia has some rights to speak directly to Indonesia about an old tragedy. Debate has rumbled through this blog about the interests and morality involved in the Australian Federal Police

An update on Indonesia democracy

Today the Lowy Institute hosted a half-day portion of the Australian National University's regular Indonesia Update conference, which gets Indonesia experts from around the country and the region together to discuss recent events. Sidney Jones, the Jakarta-based senior adviser to the

Nobel: Ma Ying-jeou overlooked

Like many people, I tend to think the decision to pre-emptively award President Obama the Nobel Peace prize was a very poor one. Not only is Obama undeserving, having failed thus far to secure any substantial foreign policy achievement, but the decision appears to have been motivated primarily by

Good news for the APc

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post looking at how Japan's idea for an East Asia Community runs counter to Prime Minister Rudd’s Asia-Pacific community initiative (note the lower-case 'c' in Rudd's formulation; Graeme Dobell explains). Since then, regional capitals have had a chance to respond

Silence on Tibet

In 2007, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, at the last moment, met the Dalai Lama during the election campaign. Then, in his principled Beijing University speech on his first visit to China as prime minister, he argued that: Some have called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics because of recent

Chinese investment: FIRB debacle?

Has Australia somehow managed to concede the moral high ground to China over the core issue of Chinese investments in Australian minerals? Incredibly, this might just be the case. The stakes could not be higher. The Chinese economic miracle is set to sustain Australia's prosperity for a long time

Japan: Climate rhetoric and reality

The parallels between the first months of the Rudd Government and the first weeks of the new Hatoyama Government in Japan extend beyond proposals for new forms of regional architecture. The new Rudd Government basked in the warm glow of the global media spotlight early on by signing Australia

Sumatra earthquake: Get cash in fast

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. Early reports suggest that perhaps a thousand people or more have died in the earthquake which has struck the West Sumatra provincial capital Padang (population: around 900,000). 

China looming PR disaster

Alistair Thornton is a Beijing-based economic analyst. As Beijing makes the final preparations for its 60th anniversary National Day celebrations tomorrow, the political elite in Zhongnanhai are no doubt itching with child-like anticipation. The city is going to have an enormous daytime parade

Oz media: Spinning out of control

The Australian government and Prime Minister, when it comes to foreign policy, have been enjoying an Indian summer in the broadsheet media of late. The Australian’s Greg Sheridan has stood up against The Age and Foreign Affairs in favour of  Prime Minister Rudd’s rejected essay. Now, Fairfax

Economist misses mark on FEER

The Economist does many things well, not least its regular obituary page, but the offering from Banyan in its latest issue, with the excruciatingly twee pun as the lead, 'Without FEER or favour' to mark the demise of the 'Far Eastern Economic Review' fails signally to meet the mark. There is

Burma nuclear status: Not the last word, but...

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of the forthcoming 'Burma and North Korea: Conventional Allies or Nuclear Partners?' It is indicative of the uncertainty surrounding Burma's nuclear status that the issue has attracted as many true believers as it has

Japan East Asia Community

I am feeling a bit sorry for Prime Minister Rudd. Early on in his reign as Australia's prime minister, he made a speech about an idea for a new 'Asia Pacific Community', making general reference to the European Union and calling for a regional institution that dealt with both economic and security

PNG: Problems of sickness and health

This morning we received a visit from the National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea. The Institute's Director, Thomas Webster, sat down with me afterwards to talk about two of the issues the Institute is currently focused on: the enormous challenge posed by HIV/AIDS and what to do with the

Understanding China netizens

Kaiser Kuo is an American residing in Beijing who is prominent on the local journalism, technology and music scenes — he's quite the renaissance man, in fact. He is also an extremely sharp observer of China's online culture, and there's a short interview with him here about the political

Balibo: Lives and interests

Graeme Dobell’s post on the Balibo Five makes the perfectly valid point that journalists covering wars must take risks, and they are justified in doing so because they perform an important function. For that reason he rejects the idea that the Balibo Five were wrong to be where they were and

Friday funny: Poemtry

The Interpreter has raged against the bureaucratisation and formulaic phrasing that the English language is increasingly falling victim to. So it was refreshing to see some of the creative phrases and idioms that have emerged in China. Sadly, many of the best and most colourful signs in Shanghai

5-minute Lowy Lunch: JI-AQ connection

Early reports emerging about the death of senior Jemaah Islamiya (JI) terrorist Noordin Top suggest evidence of close links between his group and al Qaeda. The International Crisis Group's Sidney Jones is sceptical, and on Wednesday, when I interviewed Australia's Counter-Terrorism Ambassador Bill

Bobbitt: China as 'market-state'

My friend Paul Monk has an essay in the latest issue of Quadrant that draws me back to a subject I had sworn not to revisit: the work of Phillip Bobbitt. Bobbitt's central claim is that 20th century nation-states (devoted to territorial integrity and public welfare) are transforming into

On the scene: Beijing parade rehearsal

While I was in China, the Roggeveen rule of social progress emerged. Sam's initial post was sparked by preparations for China's 60th National Day celebrations on 1 October. My hotel, which sat on the main parade avenue, helpfully listed the three rehearsal periods before the big event. I was

Obama very bad week in Asia

Last week was a bad one for the Obama Administration's Asia policy. Three decisions in particular seem hard to square with Administration rhetoric and the values America claims to uphold. Last Friday, the Obama Administration agreed to consider bilateral talks with Pyongyang before the next round

Bearing witness at Balibo

The pragmatic realists have spent several decades trying to bury the Australian journalists murdered by Indonesian troops in East Timor. The most brutal and explicit example of this was offered nearly three decades ago by one of the great Australian diplomats of his generation, Sir Keith Shann. The

China: North Korea not so dependable

Claudia He is a graduate student from Tsinghua University's School of International Relations in Beijing, specialising in security issues in North East Asia. She is an intern at the Lowy Institute. Every member of the international community hopes China can use its close relations to somehow curb

Reason no.2384 why I love the internet

Late this morning I posted a link to what struck me as an interesting story about the fleet of freight ships parked off the coast of southern Malaysia as a result of the global recession. Freelance journalist Ben Bland saw the link, read the Daily Mail story by Simon Parry and then tore it

China is not ready for refugees

Claudia He is a graduate student from Tsinghua University's School of International Relations in Beijing, specialising in security issues in North East Asia. Zhao Lin graduated from Tsinghua University's School of International Relations. He is now an independent researcher on North Korea. The

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