Wednesday 25 May 2022 | 11:01 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Fiji’s fear and favour

In seeking fresh engagement with Fiji, the aim of Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the Pacific Islands Forum is to push for the best achievable political bargain between Fiji's people and the Bainimarama New Order regime.  That means outsiders will have to eat a bit of crow, as the

As the crow flies to Fiji

Having flown with the hawks in the cyber-debate on dealing with Fiji\'s military regime, this column confronts the task of eating crow in the wake of some clear wins for the doves. The dove perspective has always been that isolating Fiji was never going to have much impact on the military

Niall Ferguson and his critics (again)

I did worry that my response to the now infamous Niall Ferguson Newsweek cover story could be read as a defence of Ferguson. Dan Nexon at Duck of Minerva (a blog you should definitely bookmark) has read my piece in just that way, which gives me a chance to explain my argument a little

US and China meet in South Pacific

The Cook Islands, a tiny Pacific nation of 10,000 and recipient of significant Chinese aid, is the host of this year's annual Pacific Islands Forum, which starts on Monday 27 August. The meeting's official theme is Large Ocean Island States – the Pacific Challenge. But the real challenge for the

China: Niall Ferguson and his critics

The debate aroused in the US about Niall Ferguson\'s cover story for Newsweek (Hit the Road, Barack: Why We Need a New President) is revealing about the American debate on the rise of China. The graph Ferguson includes in his piece, tellingly titled \'America losing ground\', is reproduced here:&

Movie trailer: The Impossible

The Impossible is a new feature film about the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and I think I can predict one line of criticism already: this was an Asian tragedy which killed an estimated 230,000 people, only a tiny portion of them Western tourists. Yet the movie recounts events from their

Historical echoes in China rise

Robert Ayson is Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University, Wellington. There is a strong consensus today that, to focus on its number one priority, continued economic development, China needs a secure and stable environment. A book published last year on Asian

Indo-Pacific: What in a name?

It was refreshing to hear Australia\'s Defence Minister Stephen Smith declare plainly that this country\'s region is the Indo-Pacific when he spoke at the Lowy Institute last week. This is not just some faddish, interchangeable alternative to those long used and abused expressions \'Asia\' or

Asylum seekers: What is our moral responsibility?

Rawdon Dalrymple is a former Australian ambassador to Israel, Indonesia, the US and Japan. The Expert Panel\'s report on \'asylum seeker\' policy was prepared in less than seven weeks, a remarkable achievement to produce a succinct but comprehensive and compelling document covering all

Laos in denial about dam impacts?

In an earlier update regarding the possibility that the Lao Government might go ahead with plans to build a dam on the mainstream of the Mekong I drew attention to the manner in which the Vientiane authorities continued to equivocate on their intentions. The Lao equivocation continues but

Crowdsourcing and diplomacy in the Pacific

Charles Martin-Shields is Director of Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at TechChange, Washington DC. Gerard McCarthy is TechChange’s Project Manager (Asia-Pacific), based in Sydney. Since 2006 the private sector has been using social media and SMS text messaging to crowdsource consumer

Does the US have regional primacy?

Hugh White is characteristically generous in responding to a blog post of mine about his use of the term 'primacy' in The China Choice. I hope he'll forgive a response and a widening of the discussion. I agree with Hugh (and with Hedley Bull) that 'primacy' means 'preponderance in

What is primacy, exactly?

Many thanks to my ANU colleague Ian Hall for his post over on his own blog about my new book, The China Choice. Ian raises two concerns about the way I use the concept of primacy to characterise the place in Asia that America has enjoyed for the last forty years and at present seems

Launch of Hugh White book

Sometimes book launches can be memorable for what the invited talent says about the book and the writer. Back in 2006 Paul Keating launched George Megalogenis\' The Longest Decade with this: Would I write a better book? Well, of course I would. I write better than George and I know more. But

Reader riposte: What ASEAN is good for

James Wallar writes: I would agree with Hugh White\'s point that ASEAN will not help the US Government very much with managing China. ASEAN does offer, however, a framework within which the US Government can constructively engage China in a regional context. Context, I would submit, is important

ASEAN won't help US to manage China

We all agree that something rather important happened in Phnom Penh last month, but differ about what it portends for ASEAN, and for Asia.  Let me start by agreeing with Ernie Bower that pessimism about ASEAN is easy to overdo. ASEAN has been remarkably successful for over four

PNG politics: Social media & Carol Kidu

Part 1 of this post was published yesterday. Newly-elected female PNG MPs Loujaya Toni and Delilah Gore should be enormously proud of what they have achieved – they have run the election gauntlet and won. They triumphed despite being up against a culture that has a tendency to

Politics in PNG: It a man world

Hordes of newly elected Papua New Guinean MPs are now engaged in post-election horse-trading (or as one blogger puts it, the \'PNG shuffle\'). As those with power stitch together a coalition government, one side story is attracting some deserved attention. Two women have achieved the

Reader riposte: South China Sea and ASEAN

Carl Thayer writes: Michael Wesley\'s Snapshot, What\'s at stake in the South China Sea, contains three major assertions and one policy recommendation that I take issue with. Wesley\'s first assertion is that China claims the South China Sea as its territorial waters and this would

Why ASEAN can't unite

Hugh White says it is difficult to imagine Indonesia putting its relations with China at risk by supporting Vietnam over its claims in the South China Sea. This focuses attention firmly on an issue that used to be debated frequently but now seems to have been forgotten (or is it just that to do

South China Sea: Our diplomatic timidity

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has rejected the suggestion I made in a Lowy Institute Snapshot yesterday, that the South China Sea is the most unpredictable and dangerous dispute in our region and that Australia should be more active in helping work towards a solution. Here\'s what Senator Carr told

China haunts ASEAN dreams

China said boo and ASEAN flinched, jumped and momentarily fell silent. By failing to release any communiqué to mark its annual meeting, ASEAN\'s foreign ministers ensured everyone would note their failure. This is a signal with multiple meanings. Or, to turn that thought around, no single

Reader riposte: ASEAN stumbles

Linda Quayle writes: Much as I admire Hugh White’s work, I have to take issue with his piece on ASEAN and the infamous non-communiqué (and, indirectly, with the piece by Ernest Bower that he endorses). I\'m not sure what is to be gained by taking a \'blame China\' approach.

What at stake in the South China Sea?

As tensions rise in the South China Sea, I argue in a new Lowy Institute Snapshots paper that finding solutions should be given the highest priority, with Australia well placed to play a brokering role. in \'What\'s at Stake in the South China Sea\', I liken the South China Sea to a \'geopolitical

As power shifts, ASEAN stumbles

Thanks to Sam for linking to Ernie Bower\'s excellent piece on China and ASEAN in light of the Phnom Penh contretemps. He and others are right to see this as an important event, because it chillingly shows China\'s determination to get its own way over its smaller neighbours, and to be

Indonesia, emerging aid donor

David Hatch is Indonesia Deputy Program Director for USAID. Since rising powers like Indonesia will one day run the world, argues the American political scientist George Friedman, they can save trouble later by reducing poverty in other developing countries now. To this end, Indonesia is

Tony Abbott China speech

Here\'s a transcript of the speech, and below is a short video we recorded yesterday with my first impressions

Reader ripostes: Containing China

Check our Facebook page for discussions about ediplomacy, and also for responses to Abe Denmark\'s piece on China containment. A selection, beginning with Sugar Caine:  True – the US has made a significant contribution to China. But past facts does not change present reality. \'No

Cambodia pays its China dues

The fact that Prime Minister Hun Sen led the Cambodian participants in the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held in Phnom Penh last week in resisting the release of a post-meeting communiqué dealing with tensions in the South China Sea, and the fact that no agreed position was achieved, should

PNG: The counting continues

With counting underway to determine who will be the 111 winners in PNG's national elections, what was predicted to be an excessively violent poll has so far turned out to be relatively smooth. There have been exceptions, notably in the highlands where there were early reports of gunfights at polling

China business of green greens

Nicole Sy is a Masters candidate in Global Business Journalism at Tsinghua University, Beijing. Mr Yan is Party Secretary of the township where Jinnong Organic Agricultural Development Limited Company is located, in northern Hebei province. This makes him the most important man in town, more

Mekong threats growing?

With a sense that the story is becoming something like \'The Perils of Pauline\', the Xayaburi dam story rolls on. The fact that the issue has become tortuously prolonged should not detract from the very serious issues involved: environmental threats to the Mekong leading to the major loss of fish

PNG elections: Meet the candidates II

Last week we began a series of posts introducing candidates in the 2012 PNG elections, kicking off with my conversation with the Hon Bart Philemon, PNG\'s Minister for Public Service and standing for an impressive fifth term of parliament. The next candidate in our series is Sir Kina Bona KBE,

Women locked out of Asia boardrooms

John Larkin reported from Asia for more than a decade for the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, and is now based in Australia. Western economies can learn from Asia\'s resilience against financial crisis. But Asia\'s male-dominated corporate sectors could take a cue from more egalitarian

Friday funny: Those nasty foreigners

If you\'ve been following the ABC\'s Dumb, Drunk & Racist and are feeling a little low about Australian multiculturalism, console yourself with the fact that at least a major Australian TV network would never put to air a news report like this one from South Korea\'s biggest network,

China digital spying: Smith precautions

John Garnaut reveals today that Defence Minister Stephen Smith and his entourage are taking no chances during their visit to China: The Herald has learnt Mr Smith and his entourage left mobile phones and laptops in Hong Kong before proceeding to mainland China, after such devices were

Shangri-La Dialogue snapshots

[youtube:BvWmL8qKoRo#!] Things are shifting in Asia when a performance by Burma\'s Defence Minister is a highlight of the Shangri-La Dialogue. That is highlight in a good way. Over the past couple of decades, Burma\'s public performances have tended to the dry and the deadpan, reflecting the

MFAT survives NZ 'zero budget'

The New Zealand Government released its budget last Thursday. Given the general gloom and the somewhat hyperbolic media reporting on the major change program going on at New Zealand\'s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), what was widely publicised as the \'zero\' budget appears to be

PNG elections: Violence looms

You've got to hand it to PNG's politicians. They don't disappoint in their ongoing effort to live by the country's unofficial motto: the land of the unexpected. The political process has at times descended into farce and confusion, and the nastiness of this ongoing battle has come at a

South Korea new missiles

A few weeks ago the South Korean Government unveiled a new short-range ballistic missile (300km) and longer-range cruise missile (500-1500km). More recently it announced plans to build 500-600 of them, combined. In its public statements, South Korea has linked these new systems 

New bipolarity: What the numbers say

I’m delighted my thoughts on a new bipolarity provoked several people to respond. I found the responses really helpful, and have been deep in research and thought as a result. I guess I\'d class all of the responses in the \'nice idea, but I’m not convinced\' category. Some people,

Is Laos building a dam at Xayaburi?

Over the past several weeks there have been conflicting reports about the Lao Government\'s controversial plans to build a dam on the Mekong River\'s mainstream at Xayaburi, with The Economist\'s \'Banyan\' column of 5 May noting that the Thai construction firm, CH Karnchong, had notified the&

Kurt Campbell on US-Burma relations

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. On 25 April, the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs examined US policy toward Burma. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held similar hearings the following day. Both heard testimony

Reader riposte: China Changing Lecture

Giovana Arrarte attended the Lowy Institute\'s third China Changing Lecture last Thursday evening (recording now available here), and writes: Last night after listening to the thought-provoking presentation of Dr David Daokui Li, \'Is China Ready for Global Economic Leadership?\', several