Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 20:11 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Dupont on the Defence White Paper

In his address to the Lowy Institute last week, Professor Alan Dupont offered a well argued rebuttal to the Government’s Defence White Paper. In his interview with me afterwards, he summarises his overall reaction to the White Paper, the likely regional response to the document and what will have

Debt2Health in Indonesia

Robert Filipp is Head of Innovative Financing at the Global Fund. The Australian Government’s recent decision to implement a Debt2Health swap with Indonesia will permit Jakarta to invest considerably more resources into fighting tuberculosis – one of the most serious health issues currently

China dollars

Keith Bradsher’s piece in yesterday’s New York Times, drawing on work by Brad Setser, looks at how China is changing its portfolio of foreign assets. In part, this involves Beijing switching the composition of its dollar holdings, moving out of the debt of government-sponsored enterprises

China flight of ambition

Ben Sandilands runs a very good aviation blog for Crikey, and he's right today to note the symbolism of the first flight of a Chinese-assembled Airbus A320. It is a milestone toward China's ambition to become an independent player in a field now dominated by Airbus and Boeing — building

China economy by the numbers

Late last week, I received a copy of a 15 April report on the Chinese economy by JP Morgan's Jing Ulrich. The spread of the data in this 'hands-on' report is quite impressive and certainly helped me get a better grip on how the Chinese economy and its demand for things Australian is

US-Burma relations: Told you so

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of Burma and the Threat of Invasion: Regime Fantasy or Strategic Reality? President Obama has just renewed US sanctions against Burma. This follows a strong statement by Secretary of State Clinton condemning the

Asian optimism and global pessimism

Earlier this week I discussed how official forecasters for the region reckoned that any sustained Asian recovery was conditional on growth recovering in the developed world. For a different take on the issue, see this story in this week’s Economist, which cites some more optimistic views,

An important question for the Defence Minister

And the question is, is this true?: Why is the (US) Navy promoting AEGIS BMD (ballistic missile defence)...when the new anti-ship ballistic missile capability being developed by China cannot be stopped by the Lockheed Martin AEGIS BMD capability of the DDG-51. Oh, you didn't know

A glimpse of Aung San Suu Kyi compound

I don't want to say how I got hold of the picture below, but it is a recent photo of the home of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. As reported in the media, the actions of a loony American swimming across Inya Lake (in central Rangoon) and staying uninvited at the house have

Good news from Indonesia: SBY picks his running mate

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo.  The key news from Indonesia in the last 24 hours is that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has reportedly chosen Dr Boediono to be his running mate in the presidential

Five-minute Lowy Lunch: The civil-military nexus

Yesterday the Lowy Institute welcomed as its Wednesday speaker Michael Smith AO, Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence. You can listen to Michael's presentation and see his slideshow here, or join me below for a five-minute chat with Michael about the

China growth: Careful what you wish for

From the excellent blog of Michael Pettis, a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, I learn that there is an ongoing debate among China's governing classes about how the Chinese economy should be restructured as a result of the financial crisis. It is now

Rudd election headache: The Asian economic cycle

Mark points to the trifecta of official forecasts which assume that a sustained recovery in Asia’s growth is conditional on growth returning in the developed world. Australia’s budget expresses similar thinking but is not as explicit. The Canberra caution is due to an unmentionable

Reader riposte: Those Obama shadow puppets

John Hannoush writes: An associate to whom I showed Michael Fullilove’s post thought it looked more like Thai or Cambodian dancers depicted on the wall than Javanese shadow puppets

Asia recovery: Not under its own steam?

Last week, the IMF released its Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific. Following on from the World Bank’s April East Asia and Pacific Update and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Asian Development Outlook the month before, this completes a trifecta of official forecasts for the

Indonesia democratic choices

Last weekend, Indonesia’s electoral commission released the official final results of the 9 April parliamentary elections. Since the last parliamentary elections in 2004, Indonesia’s electorate has grown by more than the total Australian population. Alas, the parliamentary election, the quite

That sea between Japan and Korea

I'm on my way to some meetings in Canada so got to read the print edition of the NYT this morning. Page nine had an interesting reminder of some of the lingering disputes Asian countries are still to resolve. It was a full page advertisement from this group, claiming in giant font an '

Taiwan White Paper on aid: Detente gets a boost

Some interesting news from Taiwan. It has released its promised aid White Paper, which is a sign that the hope for a diplomatic truce between China and Taiwan, discussed here previously, might have legs. As I've noted, the prospect of a detente has been on the cards since the election of

Northeast Asia hot spots: One cooling, one not

Security worries in East Asia have long been fixed on cross-Strait tensions between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, and Pyongyang's brinkmanship on the Korean peninsula. It seems North Korea is now taking over, even if only temporarily, from cross-Strait tensions as the #1 worry

Keelty: Top Cop, big bucks and geopolitics

Just as Navy reveres the admirals who buy big boats, so the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will long remember the top cop who brought home big bucks. The Age of Terror has been the coming of age of the AFP. In eight years as Commissioner of the AFP, Mick Keelty went close to tripling his empire

Missile defence in the White Paper

Both The Interpreter and the Sydney Morning Herald have noted a curious piece of wording about ballistic missile defence in the Defence White Paper. Para 9.103 says: The Government is opposed to the development of a unilateral national missile defence system by any nation because such a

2020 Summit outcomes: Asia scholarships

I just received in my Email inbox the latest update from the Asian Studies Association of Australia. It notes that the idea for an enhanced scholarship program for Australians to study in Asia and students from Asia to study here offered up in the 2020 Summit held last April in Canberra has been

Indonesian democracy: Action and sentiment

Last night the head of Indonesia's anti-corruption watchdog was arrested on murder charges. It's another wobble on the path to a full democracy. As Kevin Evans said 'while the arrest has sent shockwaves through the anti-corruption establishment, the arrest could prove that the system

Japan and Australia: Approaching agendas

Last week, yet again, Australia’s front pages were dominated by divergences, apparent and real, between Australia and China. Alas, this meant that the good news about Japan-Australia relations was largely ignored (except by The Age). On April 30, Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone arrived in

White Paper: Japan and ROK like what they see

Good news for the Australian Government: indications are that at least two of North Asia’s powers will like what they see in the Defence White Paper, due to be published on Saturday. My conversations this week with strategic analysts and former officials in Japan and South Korea suggest

Kim Beazley on the Gates budget

A good column from former defence minister and Labor leader Kim Beazley yesterday that offers a slightly different interpretation to US Defense Secretary Gates recent budget announcement. My argument was that, by cutting several big weapons projects, US Defense Secretary Gates was

Petering patience with Pyongyang

In this Year of Friendship between the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it seems Pyongyang’s latest nuclear-tipped petulances are testing the patience of its largest (and only remaining?) friend

US-Burma: Where to from here?

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of Burma and the Threat of Invasion: Regime Fantasy or Strategic Reality? Hillary Clinton’s announcement in January that the Obama Administration was reviewing US policy towards Burma has raised hopes that the

Canberra answer to Chinese investment: Yes, but...

So, as The Australian puts it, that's two down and the big one (Rio) still to go.  Last week, the Treasurer quietly announced that he had approved a revised bid from China’s MinMetals for Oz Minerals, after having knocked back an earlier bid on national security grounds. And last month,

More on China cyber censorship

Like Rory, I tested China's internet censorship while there last week, and was similarly surprised. A Google search for 'Tiananmen Square' brought back this Wikipedia page about the 1989 massacre as the top return. YouTube was completely blocked, however, which was probably due to the

Gaps in China cyber shield

An intriguing diversion while visiting China is to test which websites one can and can’t access from within the land of the Great Firewall and the Golden Shield. Much of the time it is surprising to discover that seemingly provocative journalism from outside, about matters like Taiwan, Tibet and

Beijing scenes 2

There are signs for the China Economic Census up all around town — they are meant to encourage citizens to cooperate if they are contacted by census staff. Although overwhelmed by the amount of commercial advertising, you do see a lot of government signage around Beijing too. I was told this

Beijing scenes

I have been in a state of orientational beffudlement since I arrived in Beijing on Wednesday. Partly it's the sheer scale of the place, which no amount of reading really prepares you for, but which a couple of hours stuck in traffic does bring home. The other reason I couldn't find my arse

China naval parade

China's state media is full of proud stories today about yesterday's international fleet review to mark the 60th anniversary of China's navy. There were no huge surprises in the parade itself, though it did mark the first official public viewing of China's nuclear-powered

Seen on a Shanghai news-stand

It's a copy of Blog Weekly, a magazine that compiles the best of the Chinese blogosphere into a weekly print issue. It perhaps defeats the purpose of blogging a little, though people do prefer to read things in print. And perhaps this is something of a media harbinger, with bloggers producing

China cyber snooping (and ours)

Australia needs to apply a certain cynical realism to the unpleasant fact of Chinese internet and industrial espionage. The fact of China’s growing espionage effort doesn’t automatically confirm the Beijing Bogey thesis. Yes, the Chinese are pouring lots of effort into snooping around

Three Shanghai scenes

Above: With landscaped greenery in the foreground and a gothic skyscraper behind, you'd almost think this was New York's Central Park. But Shanghai's People's Park is one of a number of attractive green spaces I spotted around town, something that is apparently a fairly

Two photo essays

Just a quick note from Shanghai, where I arrived yesterday evening, to alert you to a couple of photo essays I've come across. The first is on a Southeast Asia blog I've recommended before, the ANU-based New Mandala, and has on-the-ground reporting and some really vivid photos of political

Pyongyang petulance (3)

Pyongyang’s petulance is nothing if not consistent. After being found to be in breach of a UN resolution in a 15-0 vote in the UN Security Council due to its recent failed (again) ‘satellite launch’, Pyongyang has announced it has picked up its bat and ball and stormed away from the long-

Defence debate: Australia won't be alone

This is the second contribution to our debate on Australia's defence policy which started here.   Hugh White’s ‘A Focused Force’ is already focusing the minds of Australia’s security community on the eve of the launch of Australia’s (real) Defence White Paper. As with so

The East Asia nadir

The last minute (literally) cancellation of the long-delayed 2008 East Asia Summit and ASEAN-3 leaders’ meeting last weekend due to Thailand’s domestic political chaos vividly exposes one of the central weaknesses of East Asian and Asia-Pacific regionalism: ASEAN’s insistence that it 

Reader riposte: accepting differences on China

Retired Brigadier Brian Cooper has this response to Sam's post on bureaucratic differences when it comes to assessing China's rise. The suggestion that Australia's intelligence agencies were leant upon to change their assessment of China's future path smells of the

Indonesia is stronger after parliamentary elections

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo.   How times change. Just a few years ago, the talk around Southeast Asia was that the influence of Indonesia — long seen as the natural leader within ASEAN — was on the wane,

How China is viewed in the bureaucracy

The Weekend Australian's scoop about bureaucratic disagreements over defence policy is a good one. I had certainly heard rumours of resentment within the intelligence community that their assessments about China's long-term strategic trajectory were being disputed by the Defence White

Gates and China

In response to yesterday's posts from Rory and myself about the Australian perspective on Robert Gates' budget statement, Judah Grunstein at World Politics Review says 'there's still some ways to go before...the U.S.' margin of superiority over China becomes alarming'. To

Sinophiles and Sinophobes

The Australian discussion about China may be at a new stage. Certainly the tempo is up. The terms of the debate seem more intense and complex (if not any more sophisticated). Let’s lay out some of the strands of this discussion to see how they interweave (and which bits need to be treated in

Gates budget will worry Asian allies

Sam’s right: the US Defense Secretary’s planned changes to the way Washington allocates its military budget have large implications for Australia. In particular, Gates’ logic seems starkly at odds with that of Kevin Rudd, who has flagged that his foremost strategic worries are about the

North Korea: Fantasy and reality

A colleague alerted me to some comments by prominent Republican Newt Gingrich, who wanted to clobber North Korea's missile before it got off the ground:  There are three or four techniques that could have been used, from unconventional forces to standoff capabilities, to say: "We&#

North Korea missile test

That North Korea failed to put a satellite into orbit is significant for its political symbolism but is less important militarily. According to this analysis, what matters is that North Korea has successfully tested the first two stages of its Taepo-Dong 2 missile, which is a milestone on the

Selamat tinggal Jakarta

A few weeks ago, the Lowy Institute was involved in a major conference on the future of Australia-Indonesia relations that focused on the growing gap between government-to-government ties and broader people-to-people ties. With this theme still fresh in my mind, I was saddened to hear that

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