Tuesday 20 Oct 2020 | 17:30 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

What are the lessons of Japanese stimulus spending?

Here's econo-blogger Megan McArdle on the historical antecedents for the Obama Administration's  massive stimulus package: Let's recall that the evidence for this kind of stimulus working in this kind of situation basically rests on a single instance (World War II)--the

The real Asian crisis

I lived through the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998 and watched my Philippine peso salary halve in dollar terms while I gazed at a row of unfinished buildings on the main drag in Makati financial centre. Yet 'Asian financial crisis' always struck me as a misnomer, as it was more a

String-of-pearls diving

Mysterious news reports – and hasty Indian Navy denials – have surfaced about a possible incident between an Indian submarine and the Chinese destroyers on anti-piracy duties in the Gulf of Aden. What to make of this? It is no surprise that an Indian submarine would be spying on the

Pyongyang petulance

North Korea has announced it is scrapping all political and military agreements with South Korea. Looks like another Pyongyang tactic to gain the attention of the world, particularly the new US Administration, and to test the coherence of the other five members of the Six-Party Talks

Peacebuilding and 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. This post builds on an earlier one about the UN's exit strategy from Timor-Leste. The UN's Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)  has often

Timor-Leste: Looking for a UN exit strategy?

Jim Della-Giacoma is an Associate Director at the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council in New York City. Citing continued stability in Timor-Leste, the Department of Defence announced last week that a Company-sized group of about 100 ADF soldiers would

Serf Emancipation Day

As millions of Americans celebrate their democratic transition and the rest of the world gushes in seemingly endless praise for the new President, the people of Tibet have a different kind of celebration to look forward to. Xinhua reports a legislative vote approving 'Serf Emancipation

What sort of Asia? What sort of rise?

A joke making the rounds in China: 1949: Only socialism could save China 1979: Only capitalism could save China 1989: Only China could save socialism 2009: Only China could save capitalism That joke, picked up by the Far Eastern Economic Review, is a gentle way of

China and Taiwan: The devil is in the detail

Since the convincing election of the Ma Ying-jeou as President of Taiwan, I have commented frequently on the rapid thawing of cross-strait relations based on the liberal principle that opening markets will benefit both sides and moderate their political differences. The most feted example of this

Barack Obama: Pacific man, not Pacific warrior

Amid all the imaginings about Obama's leadership, my favourite future symbolic moment will be his first visit to Jakarta. In this scenario, the US President begins his speech with a couple of well-rehearsed sentences in Bahasa, constructed on the rusty foundations of his childhood schooling in

Middle East food security: Buying the farm

Mark Thirlwell highlighted the move by Gulf nations to ensure food security by using their massive oil revenues to buy or lease arable land from developing countries. Despite the massive drop in the oil price, GCC countries are still engaged in the same quest for land, with the UAE doing a

ASEAN passing

Last week I wrote a post about how some in ASEAN circles did not welcome the Rudd Government’s Asia Pacific Community idea because they saw it as a threat to ASEAN's centrality. It seems ASEAN’s role as the 'driving force' of East Asian regionalism may be under threat from

Defence cooperation with Japan: More, please!

I was critical of the Rudd Government’s early handling of Australia’s most important relationship in Asia, that with Japan. Since then, two visits to Tokyo by Mr Rudd and no fewer than four by Stephen Smith have helped, as has a less confrontational Australian approach to Japanese whaling. But

Reader riposte: The China-Vietnam border

Carl Thayer responds to Malcolm Cook's statement that 'it appears China and Vietnam have reached agreement on their disputed land border (though not their disputed maritime border)': There is no 'appears' about it. China and Vietnam reached a land border agreement in

The implications of Chinese economic primacy

Sam accepts my arguments about US (long term) decline, but shies away from the conclusion. He is in good company. Kevin Rudd does the same, for example in his Townsville speech last year, where he predicted China would overtake America’s GDP in two decades, and then simply asserted that the US

Asia Pacific Community backlash

Singapore’s growing think tank community has not taken too well to Prime Minister Rudd’s Asia Pacific Community idea, even after he and Foreign Minister Smith have repeated that ASEAN will be at the centre of the Asia Pacific Community discussions. Soon after its announcement, Barry Desker,

Kurt Campbell would be good for Australia

If they turn out to be true, media reports that Kurt Campbell will be Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia are welcome news. Campbell is a longstanding friend and advocate of Australia in Washington. He is engaging, straightforward and – importantly – ‘gets’

Would you like 'frise' with that?

My colleague Malcolm has just sent me a link to an amusing article in the UK Mirror: China has confirmed itself as the 'king of counterfeiters' with the building of a new shopping centre dedicated to fake brands. Some of the brand impostors at the mall in Nanjing, east of

China borders

For the last few years, I have been keeping an eye on China’s border diplomacy as China seeks to resolve many of its long-standing border disputes. While I was away from my desk for the new year break, China’s border diplomacy took a step forward, as it appears China and Vietnam have

China-Taiwan: This is good news, right?

Among the many events I missed on my blissfully media-free holiday was Chinese President Hu Jintao's 31 December proposal for a formal armistice with Taiwan. When I read about it yesterday it struck me as pretty huge news, largely buried by new years celebrations. But it gets bigger, as Hu

2009 won't be the year of the Chinese fleet, but 2059...

Things have been pretty quiet on The Interpreter since Christmas Eve, but the Lowy Institute never rests, and some of you will have noticed that my colleague Rory Medcalf has been hard at work publishing op-eds in the International Herald Tribune and The Age on the larger significance of China'

Beijing aid package for Taiwan

2008 has certainly seen cross-strait relations become more cooperative and focussed on economics. The latest development is the announcement last Sunday of a US$19 billion package from Beijing for Taiwan firms operating in China

Indonesia has more to worry about than Australia

Sam is quite right that Indonesia’s own strategic circumstances might eventually lead it to acquire very powerful air and maritime forces and afford them greater relative prominence in its defence strategy, just as China has over the last two decades. If Jakarta can begin to utilise the

Things I have changed my mind about this year

Nuclear disarmament: A year ago I was unconvinced there was much room for action in advancing the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament agenda, and said so. Huge obstacles remain, including the worsening of US-Russia relations due to the Georgia conflict. But the influence of '

Is New Zealand a great land power?

Hold the ad campaign. It seems attacking New Zealand, like some Australian advertising executives suggested, might be an even dumber idea than it first appeared. (More on this in a moment.) Sam Roggeveen has categorised Australia as a ‘weak’ land power and Indonesia as a ‘strong

Somali pirates and China shores of Tripoli

China, it appears, is about to embark on its first operational naval deployment beyond the Western Pacific since the 15th century. It was only a matter of time before Beijing started projecting force beyond its immediate region to protect its global interests. The pirates of Somalia have hastened

Things I have changed my mind about this year

Australia’s Asia engagement under Rudd: At the beginning of 2008, I was worried that our new government was getting the balance of relationships between Japan and China seriously wrong, with too much focus on strengthening our relations with China and little or no attention on Japan.

Indonesia the right stage for Obama

In August 2007, President-elect Barack Obama promised that, in the first 100 days of his administration, he would ‘travel to a major Islamic forum’ and give a speech on Islam and terrorism. ‘I will make clear’, he promised, ‘that we are not at war with Islam, that we will stand with

The late Ali Alatas

Rawdon Dalrymple was Ambassador to Indonesia from 1981 to 1985. He is a Visiting Fellow in Government and International  Relations at the University of Sydney. Graeme Dobell’s post on Ali Alatas gives an account of the late Indonesian Foreign Minister’s methods and achievements which

Why an Asian Peace Research Institute might not work

Sam Bateman’s proposal for an Asian Peace Research Institute is worth an airing, but leaves some important questions unanswered. Given the existence of SIPRI and other research bodies, not to mention the CSCAP process, is there really a space and a need for an additional and specifically

New Zealand and China: The four firsts

I have just returned from my first ever trip to Wellington, NZ, where I was the guest of the Asia New Zealand Foundation. As with most trips to a new destination, it challenged many of my assumptions and allowed me to see the world from a different perspective. I had thought that Wellington

Ali Alatas

Former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, who died on 11 December, liked to talk about ‘modalities’. Used by a skilled diplomat like Alatas, modalities could mean anything or nothing. Or the word could encompass the intricate set of conflicting interests that wove through the Cambodia

Let have an Asian Peace Research Institute

Sam Bateman is a Senior Fellow with the Maritime Security Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd caused a stir when he suggested an arms race was emerging in Asia. Some commentators and regional

Japan axiomatic challenge

Being in Tokyo for the last week has reinforced just how different Japan and Australia are. Tokyo seems like a city of skyscrapers with no end and the population of greater Tokyo is roughly one and half time larger than our sunburnt continent. Australia is a new, multicultural society far away

The 5-minute Lowy Lunch: Malaysia transformation

Emeritus Professor Clive Kessler yesterday delivered a lively and rapid fire talk on recent political changes in Malaysia at our regular Wednesday Lowy Lunch. He also took the time to speak with The Interpreter, explaining why the media had misread the Malaysian election and was deluded about the

China-US trade: Why I'm not reassured

Recently, we in Australia have been reassured that the Obama Administration will likely not 'bash' China on trade and exchange rate issues, despite the severe economic pain the US is facing and Democrats’ protectionist demons. Our own Michael Fullilove argues this case, as does the US

Walter Russell Mead interview

One of America's most respected foreign policy writers, Walter Russell Mead, is in town courtesy of the Institute of Public Affairs. He visited the Lowy Institute briefly today, and I took the opportunity to record this short interview about US China policy and the prospects for building

Timor-Leste: New Asia or old Europe?

Guest blogger: Jim Della-Giacoma is an Associate Director at the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council in New York City. Having lunch in Singapore recently, an Asian acquaintance who had just visited Dili for the first time said he came home feeling the

Helping Indonesia to help ourselves

So Indonesia has requested budget assistance from Australia. Whatever we might provide will be relatively small compared with the magnitude of the problem, so we have a choice: to go bilaterally and put our own 'label' on what will inevitably be seen as a modest amount, or join a larger

Reader riposte: Obama-mania in Indonesia

Ben Davis writes:  Just read Fergus Hanson's piece on Indonesia's response to Obama's election, and I must say the print media also seems to be quite the Obama fan. Calling him the 'anak Menteng' ('Menteng kid'), his time in Indonesia has encouraged a sense

Timor-Leste: A tale of two documents

Guest blogger: Jim Della-Giacoma is an Associate Director at the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council in New York City. Last week, Dili was a busy place. While not changing at the speed of Jakarta, where a new shopping mall sprouts between my annual

The 5-minute Lowy Lunch: US China policy

Unfortunately, the Lowy Institute's recording technology failed us yesterday, so I cannot direct you to an mp3 of Professor Harry Harding's (George Washington University) excellent Wednesday Lowy Lunch address on America's China policy. But you can listen to the interview I

Slimming regional architecture

Guest blogger: Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. Stephen Grenville suggests that Australia should aim for an 'EAS plus G20' grouping to bolster Australia's role in regional diplomacy in the Asian

US in the EAS: Woolcott last hope?

After visiting 13 countries Richard Woolcott has discovered there is 'no appetite' for a new Asian regional body to discuss political and strategic issues at heads of government level. That seems to leave him with the option of tweaking an existing body. In a speech at the Lowy

East Asia discontented democracies

As we ponder the first year of the Rudd Government, it is worth reflecting on how much better Prime Minister Rudd and his government have performed than their democratic peers in East Asia. Today’s Australian reports that Rudd and the Labor Party are still very popular and would easily win an

Burma opposition movement: A house divided

Guest blogger: Andrew Selth, Research Fellow, Griffith Asia Institute, and author of  Burma and the Threat of Invasion: Regime Fantasy or Strategic Reality? Burma’s opposition movement has always been strong, but never united. After 20 years of struggle, with no sign that the military

The benefits of a diminished APEC

There is a view that the creation of the G20 leaders meeting will diminish the role of APEC. There will be some resistance to this idea among Canberra’s long-standing APEC aficionados, but it might not work out too badly for Australia. Let’s leave to another day the debate about whether APEC has

Friday funny: Dalai Lama

Courtesy of Newstopia, an interview with the Dalai Lama. Who knew he was such a Scorsese fan? Have a good weekend