Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 20:11 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

The GFC hits Fiji public service

Fiji’s economic woes are fast becoming a much bigger story than its political impasse. The Fiji Times has reported a decision by Fiji’s Public Service Commission to make a 50% cut to the operating budgets of all government ministries. The Public Service Commission on 1 April clarified

Hun Sen draws a veil over Cambodia past

While attention is focused on the formal legal process that has now begun against Duch, the head of the Tuol Sleng Extermination Centre, far too little attention has been paid to concerns of the Cambodian Government, and in particular Prime Minister Hun Sen, to limit the scope of the Khmer Rouge

The 5-minute Lowy Lunch: Asia-Pacific outlook

This week, Dr Donghyun Park (Senior Economist at the Asian Development Bank) and Craig Sugden (ADB Country Economist) delivered the Wednesday Lowy Lunch on the occasion of the release of the ADB's Asian Development Outlook 2009. In my interview with Donghyun Park (below), he

Public opinion and China resources spending spree

Last night, Hunan Valin Iron and Steel (controlled by the Hunan provincial government in China) was given the Australian Government's go-ahead to buy a 17.55% stake in Fortescue Metals. With Chinese state-owned enterprises also seeking investments in Rio Tinto and Oz Minerals, some

Government leak exposes holes in APC

For almost a year now, diplomats and analysts have been scratching their heads about what Kevin Rudd’s Asia-Pacific Community actually means. Something to do with architecture, but the details have been fuzzy. Which is why I am thrilled to announce that what I can only conclude is a leaked

Malcolm factoid

Every week there is a staff meeting at the Lowy Institute and almost every meeting Malcolm Cook can be relied upon to relate a factoid of some description that he has come across. This week we learned that 'about 30 per cent of air traffic, rerouted to other airports in the region after the

El Salvador to lead the way in the Pacific?

There have been some remarkable developments in the China-Taiwan relationship following the election of the Ma Ying-jeou government. One area of rapprochement of importance to Australia is diplomatic competition. Last year I noted some of the signs of a possible diplomatic truce. Then in

GFC: Singapore slung (2)

A couple of weeks ago, while in Singapore, I wrote a post about how Singapore is getting 'slung' by the GFC. If a panel of economists is correct, Singapore’s responses to its greatest economic challenge as an independent state may extend to currency depreciation against the global

How does Rudd see China?

Tim Johnson, Beijing bureau chief for the American newspaper group McClatchy, writes on his blog: Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, is a man to watch when it comes to observing China’s relations with the world. As everyone probably knows by now, Rudd, a former diplomat,

North Korea 'rocket' test

I have an op-ed in today's SMH and The Age on the upcoming North Korean rocket launch (it's safest to use the generic term 'rocket', since we don't really know if it is a missile or a satellite launcher) and its implications for ballistic missile defence. Regular blog readers

Smith travels to major hub: No diplomats to be found

While Prime Minister Rudd has been talking GFC and Afghanistan in America, the Foreign Minister has been visiting our largest trading partner, China. He spent most of this trip in the west of the country, including Chongqing. That's interesting because this important economic area is

5-Minute Lowy Lunch: China in an inharmonious world

Professor Leong Liew from the Griffith Business School spoke at the Lowy Institute yesterday, looking behind the headlines about China and the financial crisis. In his interview with me, he talks about the impact of lower growth rates on China, what challenges China faces as a result of the

Ramos-Horta new security sector reform 'mechanism'

Jim Della-Giacoma is an Associate Director at the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council in New York City. After extensive travels abroad, President José Ramos-Horta addressed the Timor-Leste parliament last week in a speech titled 'Timor-Leste:

Indonesia coming elections

In just over two weeks, Indonesians will head to the voting booths (including a few in hospitals and prisons) for parliamentary elections, to be followed by presidential elections in July and a potential presidential run-off election in September. Recent polling data by LSI (in Bahasa)

Ohayo Obama

Late last year I wrote a post on some of the Obama loving that I noticed in Indonesia. I recently got back from Japan where the President also has some fans. In the Japanese case though, the portrayal seems much more like Obama-as-cultural-icon. Here are a few examples (the bottom one is 

Reader riposte: US defence spending in context

Alistair Maclean writes about my post from this morning: It is hard to see how Matthew Yglesias and his piece in the avowedly liberal ThinkProgress blog provides any 'perspective' on the points made by Andrew Shearer. One is about opposition to the level of defence

GFC: Singapore slung

Singapore, since I first visited over 17 years ago, has been a place  many certainties and routines. On the good side, clean roads, good service, and great food. On the bad side, a heavily controlled political system and regular reports of journalists facing court for stories that would not cause

Open source spying in China

Overnight there emerged some fuzzy new photos (see below, courtesy of Chinese Military Aviation) of what looks to be the prototype of a new Chinese fighter jet variant. The details of this new design are of interest mainly to aviation buffs, so I'll put that discussion over the fold. But the

Reader ripostes: A dog life in Indonesia

Two responses to my query yesterday about dog ownership in Indonesia: I notice that the picture in your post is selling Frontline tick treatment, a global product developed in 1994 by a French company and that we can buy here. It appears to me that with the rise of the disposable

Climate change and Southeast Asia

A recent report funded by Canadian and Swedish aid agencies has tried to map Southeast Asia’s vulnerability to climate change. Alas, it is not good news for central Jakarta, which is rated as the most vulnerable area out of 530 considered. The Philippines (yes, the whole country, including its

US-China: Naval gazing

In the modern media age, the strategic corporal is the soldier on a street corner whose decision or mistake is seen around the world. The image is of someone making a move at the tactical level that quickly has implications at the strategic level where generals and leaders debate policy. In the

A dog life in Indonesia

Via Andrew Sullivan, here's a clever advertisement found on the ground floor of a Jakarta shopping mall. (The people are the fleas — geddit?) I had no idea that owning pet dogs was so mainstream in Indonesia as to even warrant this kind of marketing. Can someone who knows Indonesia

APC: Dead duck or bird with a few important feathers?

Malcolm is right to argue that the Asia Pacific has long understood what options are on the table for evolving what little multilateral security architecture is now in place. But the running-on-the spot debate the region has conducted over the past decade is the reason it is now possible to

Asia Pacific Community: The duck that didn't quack

As always, I enjoyed reading Graeme’s latest post, especially as I myself am a supporter of the 'US into the EAS' school of thought on the future of regional architecture. However, I think Graeme may be too kind, even at a stretch, regarding progress of the Asia Pacific Community idea.

Architecture winner: The East Asia Summit

As the outsider, Australia’s unspoken role at meetings in the South Pacific has long been to ’throw the dead cat on the table’. This ’dead cat’ responsibility was described to me a couple of decades ago by a South Pacific thinker who had a high regard for Australia’s role in the

Obama displaying traditional Democrat vices

The Obama cheer squad seems a bit subdued lately. Maybe it is the chronic early fumbling by his economic team. Or an increasingly Keystone Cops nomination process (do any of the President’s friends pay tax?). More likely, it’s just reality starting to bite. Apparently this governing caper is

A bad moment for Chinese naval nationalism

The so-called EP-3 incident, the collision of a Chinese fighter jet and a US EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft, severely strained US-China relations in the early months of the first George W Bush Administration. Now it looks as if some in the People’s Liberation Army-Navy are keen on a reprise, this

The Downer legacy (part 3): The war on terror

The struggle against terrorism and its extremist ideology is one of our generation’s greatest political challenges. - Alexander Downer, December 2006 Alexander Downer’s thinking on Muslim extremism reflected a US starting point in 2001, but slowly broadened to accept Indonesian

Dengue: A sign of the times

Cairns is in the grip of the worst dengue outbreak in Australia in years. Late last year, the Lowy Institute released a report on the impact of climate change on mosquito-borne diseases in that predicts a growing dengue threat in northern Queensland and the gradual migration of this deadly threat

Lawyers raise ghosts from Cambodia past and present

As the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC) moves at glacial pace to bring the five defendants held in custody to trial, there has been a development that many commentators had envisaged as likely but which has only now become a reality.

NZ: Embracing and resisting Australia

The Australians are our best friends, whether we like them or not. - Former New Zealand Prime Minister, Mike Moore. The Oz-Kiwi relationship has slowly shifted beyond partnership to a form of marriage where large elements of integration are locked in place. Australia

Reader riposte: Sons and daughters and missiles

Anton Kuruc writes: You asked the question re. the air warfare destroyers (AWD): 'How do you sell a capability like that to the electorate?' How about on the basis of the primary purpose for buying the AWD. The AWD Alliance website overview describes its capabilities thus: '

DPRK missiles raise thorny questions for Canberra

In my previous post I said certain politicians and commentators might call on President Obama to order the shoot-down of a North Korean ballistic missile, should it be tested soon. The commentators and politicians I had in mind are those that, for various reasons, want to see missile defence

Interview: North Korea ballistic missile test

This morning I spoke with Victoria Samson, a missile expert from the Center for Defense Information, about rumours that North Korea is preparing to test-launch a Taepo-dong 2 ballistic missile. Actually, it's more than just a rumour now, with North Korea announcing they will conduct

Where in Asia will Obama go?

The President of the United States is likely the busiest and most in demand person in the world. When it comes to US participation in Asian regional bodies, this problem of minimal supply (one leader) and almost unlimited demand has led to the well-known scheduling limitation that US presidents

ASEAN-Australia: New deal and old arguments

For sheer complexity, look beyond the big bilateral relationships with China, Japan or India and consider Australia’s dealings with ASEAN. A lot of history will be standing in the hall when the Trade Ministers of Australia and New Zealand sit down with their ten ASEAN counterparts to sign the

Groundhog Day: UN police mentoring in Timor-Leste

Jim Della-Giacoma is an Associate Director at the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council in New York City. In the internet age, the braggadocio, exaggeration or inaccuracy of hometown news reports escapes no one. Two recent stories have got me thinking

Is there a Burma-North Korea-Iran nuclear conspiracy?

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. He has recently returned from Burma and Thailand. If the Obama Administration was looking for another foreign policy challenge, all it would have to do is take seriously the rumours circulating in Thailand that Burma is pursuing

Clinton in China: Climate change goes mainstream

Fergus Green is a lawyer and former Lowy Institute intern. He has worked on Sino-US relations at CSIS and as a research analyst at an energy and resources consultancy. During last year’s US presidential campaign, I argued that, based on the candidates’ respective policy statements

A conversation about China with James Fallows

Award-winning journalist and former presidential speechwriter James Fallows has been The Atlantic Monthly's China correspondent for the last three or so years. He recently released a collection of his Atlantic China essays in book form: Postcards from Tomorrow Square: Reports from China

Indonesia year of living electorally

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. Election fever is warming up in Indonesia. The change from the 'orderly' election arrangements during the Soeharto period is astonishing. The Indonesian election system has been

Hillary Asia trek: Symbols and substance

Hillary Clinton’s Asia trek offers some hints at how the Asia game is played, and at America’s ability to leverage the privilege of being a foreign white devil (a gweilo). More on that in a moment. But first, which Asian power puts the greatest effort into measuring and weighing the

Asia in 10 years

CSIS in Washington has just released a very interesting survey of 'strategic elite' views about Asia in 10 years. The release is particularly timely as it comes during Secretary of State Clinton’s first overseas trip covering Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China (in that order), and

Reader riposte: What is soft power?

Carl Ungerer writes: Mr Shearer has apparently found some evidence for his longstanding thesis that the Bush Administration ran a ‘good’ Asia policy. He cites a 2008 survey conducted for the Chicago Council on World Affairs suggesting that America’s ‘soft power’ outranks its

Clinton in Asia: Building on Bush strong foundation

Recently released results of polling by the authoritative Chicago Council on Global Affairs underline a couple of points I have made elsewhere: 1. despite the indiscriminate barrage of negative commentary that accompanied almost every aspect of his presidency, George Bush ran a very good Asia

The UN lame security review for Timor-Leste

Jim Della-Giacoma is an Associate Director at the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council in New York City. In February 2008, the UN Secretary-General said, in releasing a key report, that security sector reform in any country will not succeed unless there

Asia great decoupling disproven

The idea of Asia’s great economic decoupling from the US has gone from debatable to decisively disproven. Now the choice facing Asia is whether to try to decouple or push for leadership instead of mere linkage. Before considering those options, let’s consider what happened to decoupling

Exports: Japan by the numbers

Some statistics really do open the eye, especially those that counter what is the conventional wisdom and focus of the moment. A 3 February press release by Trade Minister Crean reports that for the 2008 calendar year, Australian exports to Japan rose by 58% to $50.3 billion (equal to about 5% of

Nationals feeling the Chinese burn

Well, this is just ugly (h/t Peter Martin): “I’m worried about when big chunks of money turn up in one fell swoop just before Christmas, because a couple of weeks later you see a lot of Australia’s $10 billion scattered around the floor with Made in China on the back,”

China by the numbers

In the last few months, one of the most watched, revised and hotly debated economic statistics has been China’s GDP growth rate, and forecasts for this number in 2009. The Chinese Government has committed itself to keeping 2009 growth at or above 8%, while the IMF’s latest 2009 World