Tuesday 20 Oct 2020 | 17:50 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

China long game

This line from an Economist article on China's aviation industry caught my eye: Many foreign analysts doubt that Western airlines will ever be prepared to buy Chinese aircraft. But, as in other fields, China is playing a long game. That's a point I didn't convey in

More hints about China aircraft carrier

Coming on top of recent reports that China is close to reaching a deal with Russia for carrier-based fighters, the Financial Times writes that a Chinese Major General, while not commenting on China's carrier ambitions specifically, has made  'the defence ministry’s most forthright

Gulf funds in the Pacific: Less than meets the eye

After the revelation last week about Iran's diplomatic intervention in the Pacific, I was interested to find out a little more Middle Eastern financial links to the South Pacific and environs. East Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s recent visit to Kuwait, for example, has highlighted

APEC sidelined

The main storyline coming out of the first G20 leaders meeting was that it marks the end of the G7 (or G8) era and replaces it with a new inter-regional, North-South body, and one that includes Australia. APEC also made this claim to inclusive novelty when it was set up 19 years ago.  Yet

Pyongyang petulance

Awhile ago, there was a debate on The Interpreter and the ANU’s East Asia Forum about the pros and cons of the latest deal struck between Washington and Pyongyang and then presented to the other members of the Six-Party Talks. I focussed on the potential strategic cons, while East Asia Forum

Another look at Bush China record

Dominic Meagher at East Asia Forum is far less kind to the Bush Administration's record on China than I was yesterday. Dominic's critique puts me in mind of this James Fallows anecdote, the moral of which is that, had it not been for 9/11, the same neoconservative faction that created the

Is the US-China relationship Bush 'greatest legacy'?

That's what Thomas Barnett argues in this op-ed: This sort of effort at grooming a great power for a greater role in international affairs is a careful balancing act, and the Bush team sounded most of the right notes, from reassuring nervous allies in Asia, to avoiding the

Key points on New Zealand new political landscape

Guest blogger: Robert Ayson is Director of Studies, Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence, ANU. The centre-right National Party’s unambiguous triumph in New Zealand’s general election leaves Prime Minister-elect John Key (pictured) with a strong political hand. Like all governments

Reader riposte: More on Indonesia and corruption

Ben Davis writes about our ongoing discussion about Indonesia's anti-corruption drive. What started this thread was a claim by Gerry van Klinken in a conference presentation that this drive had been imposed on Indonesia by foreign actors (a claim he has since retreated from a little). Gerry

How many guns are there in Timor-Leste?

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. Two weeks ago I asked, somewhat rhetorically, 'how many weapons are there in Timor-Leste?' To start to find an answer, you

Reader riposte: Indonesians tolerated graft until 1998

Rod Brazier from the Asia Foundation comments on the motivating forces behind Indonesia's anti-corruption drive, a debate we revived recently on The Interpreter: Corruption became a tide-changing issue in Indonesia only in 1998, when the Asian financial crisis swamped Indonesia

Reader riposte: Arms to Taiwan

Jo Gilbert, a PhD candidate at the Griffith Asia Institute, writes in response to my post on US-Taiwan relations:  I am just wondering where the United States' $6.5 billion arms sale to Taiwan fits into your analysis?  Thanks for your question, Jo. Three points come to

Win-win for Taiwan and the United States

Following on from Sam’s earlier post, it looks like President Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT’s plan of improving its relations with China — and through this, Taiwan’s relations with its main guarantor, the US — has just taken a major step forward. Not only have Taiwan and China just

Sheridan wrong about PPP

The Greg Sheridan essay that Sam blogged about earlier today contains this paragraph about the use of purchasing power parity (PPP) to measure China's wealth against other countries: PPP is basically a con. It rests on the proposition that a man in Peru gets fed, so does a man in

Good stuff from Sheridan (mostly)

Greg Sheridan's cover article on Prime Minister Rudd's Asia policy for the November issue of the Australian Literary Review is definitely worth your time. I'll say why in a moment, but first, I want to get one whinge out of the way: the massive chip Sheridan has on his shoulder

Win-win for China and Taiwan

This seems like very encouraging news: Taiwan and China Tuesday signed a range of deals aimed at bringing the two sides closer economically, after almost 60 years of hostilities that often took them to the brink of war. Officials from the two sides were shown live on television signing

China shows technological prowess

China's big aerospace exhibition, the Zhuhai Airshow, starts tomorrow, and below is some Chinese state television news footage of the air display rehearsal. (H/t Nosint.)  Of particular interest is the J-10 fighter, the first really advanced indigenous Chinese fighter (though China did

Death penalty diplomacy and hypocrisy

Sometimes, with a rueful shrug, a nation must spell 'diplomacy', h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y. Hypocrisy is far from the worst sin in pursuit of national interest, but there is usually a price to pay. The history of Australia’s relations in Southeast Asia hints at the diplomatic dynamic that will flow from

Reader riposte: Indonesia anti-corruption drive

In September we published three critiques of a presentation on Indonesia corruption by Gerry van Klinken of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Carribean Studies.  Specifically, Ross McLeod, Stephen Grenville and  Peter McCawley all argued that van Klinken overemphasised

Japan expanding

On the back of a 25-year study by the Japanese Coast Guard, the Japanese Government is planning to submit to the UN a claim for a continental shelf of 740,000 sq km, or about twice the size of Japan today. This ambitious move is tied up with the UN May 2009 deadline for claims to expanded

Guns versus gold in Southeast Asia

Earlier this week, the assembled minds of the Institute got together to discuss the geo-political consequences of the ongoing global financial turmoil. One of the suggestions was that it might crimp regional arms spending and related fears of arms races (or as Graeme Dobell nicely calls them, arms

Leaky plumbing in Timor-Leste

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. Reporting on Timor from Jakarta in the pre-internet mid-90s was a complex process involving many long-distance calls to excavate

We need an Asia Pacific Council

Guest blogger: Brendan Taylor is a lecturer in the Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence program, ANU. Claims the G20 could become the basis for a 21st century concert of powers are fanciful. I worry about such suggestions because similar thinking already appears to underlie the PM’s

Post-Olympic China

Guest blogger: Alistair Thornton is a Beijing-based economic analyst. The re-emergence of swarms of elderly couples ballroom dancing to europop in public squares signals that, two months on, normalcy has pretty much returned to Beijing. So, have the Olympics been the force for positive change in

China wants a say, not just a seat

Lowy Institute Executive Director Allan Gyngell has an op-ed in the Financial Review today. My attention was drawn to one particular paragraph, questioning how the world can govern itself more effectively: Despite the end of the Cold War, despite the rise of Asia, the world's

Australians and Americans not quite eye to eye

The esteemed Chicago Council on Global Affairs recently published its poll results on American views of Asia, particularly Japan and China. These show some interesting parallels and differences from our own Lowy Poll. Also, both polls were carried out in July 2007, strengthening their

The 21st century concert of powers

What an irony it is that George W Bush might, at the death of his presidency, identify the shape of the 21st century concert of powers. Bush has convened a crisis summit of the G20 at the White House on 15 November. By then, the world will know the result of the US election and George W. will be a

Guns in Timor-Leste

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. After finalizing the budget, Timor-Leste's National Parliament is expected in the near future to reconsider a draft firearms law

NZ: National likely winners, but status quo will remain

Guest blogger: Derek Quigley is a visiting fellow with the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. He is a former New Zealand Cabinet Minister and co-founder of the ACT New Zealand Political Party. Helen Clark – New Zealand’s Prime Minister since 1999 – and her coalition Labour

How 'generous' is foreign aid?

Guest blogger: Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. References are often made in western media reports to the 'generous' amounts of foreign aid provided by rich nations. Australian ministers from both

Bribery as a tool of statecraft

Tobias Harris at Observing Japan is bracingly honest about America's North Korea policy: Bowing to the reality of the situation in which the US has few alternatives to committing to negotiations, bilateral and multilateral, the Bush administration has made clear that bribery is now

Is the NZ election almost irrelevant for Canberra?

Guest blogger: Robert Ayson (pictured) is Director of Studies, Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence, ANU. Just a decade ago it would have been foolish to argue that New Zealand’s general election results held little consequence for Australian policy. In the blue corner sat the

North Korea and the Six-Party Talks: Final thoughts

My original post noting my concerns about the latest bilateral agreement between Pyongyang and Washington and the health of the Six-Party Talks has sparked a healthy debate. It has even hit the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald and led Peter Drysdale to castigate me for being 'unreal'.

Reader riposte: US-Japan alliance far from certain

Professor Robyn Lim from the University of Queensland has more on our North Korea debate (And Peter Drysdale at East Asia Forum has also joined the discussion): I agree with Malcolm Cook that a new trilateral arrangement for Northeast Asia (US, DPRK, China) would be a very silly idea

China coal fires will keep burning

Last Friday, Professor Xu from Griffith University, an expert in the Chinese electricity sector and the author of the Lowy-Griffith publication China’s Struggle for Power, emailed me questioning local news stories about a looming drop off in China’s demand for coal. The China demand

North Korea: A trilateral mechanism can work

Guest blogger: Brendan Taylor is a lecturer in the Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence program, ANU. I’m feeling a little like Japan following the latest US-North Korea nuclear deal – isolated and excluded — after my proposal for a China-North Korea-US mechanism touched so many

ROK and Japan should not have to take these lumps

Thanks Brendan for your proposal for a new trilateral arrangement for Northeast Asia featuring the US, DPRK and China as an alternative to the Six-Party Talks. It has kept my mind turning over ever since. While you present it, in the interests of intellectual speculation, as a better

Reader ripostes: Tokyo place in the Six-Party Talks

Below, two reader responses to Brendan Taylor's guest post about the Six-Party Talks, in which he suggested 'a trilateral China-North Korea-US mechanism as an alternative to the Six-Party Talks...Tokyo will not be fond of this idea. But peace in Asia is ultimately contingent upon the

Bush blots his fine Asia record

For all the fashionable criticism of George Bush’s foreign policy, he has managed relations with China well at a challenging time, putting in place an effective conceptual and practical framework (Zoellick’s ‘responsible stakeholder’ and the accompanying myriad of bilateral dialogues),

Asia Pacific Community: An idea, an envoy and ASEAN

The Rudd Government is re-living an old Australian experience: you can’t do much with ASEAN, but without ASEAN you can do even less. The ASEAN factor is centre stage in the early efforts to flesh out Kevin Rudd’s big idea – the creation of an Asia Pacific Community. But as well as 

Six-Party Talks: Japan may have to lump it

Guest blogger: Brendan Taylor is a lecturer in the Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence program, ANU. It’s not often I disagree with my good friend Malcolm Cook. But his latest post oversells the Six-Party Talks, in my view. Malcolm argues that the talks were well placed to achieve

US alienating friends over North Korea

Times are bad for East Asian security when Christopher Hill, the US envoy to the Six-Party Talks, is more welcome in Pyongyang – the outpost of tyranny and source of nuclear proliferation — than he is in Tokyo, the most important US ally in the region, a country that has the best record in

US-China: Missile envy

I've been remiss in not commenting earlier on the recently announced US arms package to Taiwan. Of particular interest to me is the heavy emphasis on ballistic missile defence. As Danger Room explains, more than half of the US$6 billion package is made up of missile defence equipment,

The 5-minute Lowy Lunch: How has China changed?

Yesterday the Lowy Institute hosted Dr Geoff Raby, Australia's Ambassador to  China. You can listen to his speech here, or to get a taste, here's a short interview I conducted with Dr Raby about how China has (and has not) changed. [sound: 081008 geoff raby edited.mp3

Rudd big idea: Still not clear if he fair dinkum

As someone who has been cautiously supportive of Prime Minister Rudd's Asia Pacific Community initiative but who is increasingly concerned about what looks like a lack of political and diplomatic momentum behind the idea, I'm inclined to grasp at any piece of vaguely encouraging news. But

More on that State Department China report

Maybe my news sense is wrong, but I am surprised that, other than a couple of Asian newspapers, no media outlets outlets have yet picked up on the leaked State Department draft report on China's military growth that I linked to yesterday. Granted, it has been written by an advisory board so

What does China want with Taiwan?

Via Drudge, I see the Washington Times (not to be confused with the better known Post) has a scoop: their veteran China military watcher, Bill Gertz, has gotten hold of a draft report on China's military modernisation by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's International Security Advisory

Lowy poll: Interpreting the China results

Guest blogger: Brendan Taylor is a lecturer in the Graduate Studies in Strategy and Defence program, ANU. There’s been a bit of hype about the sudden shift in Australian public attitudes vis-à-vis China revealed in this week’s Lowy poll. But I wouldn’t be reading too much into these

2008 Lowy Poll: Australians wary over China rise

The 2008 Lowy Institute Poll, which was released yesterday (some highlights here) contained a number of new questions that offer a more nuanced view of Australian attitudes towards China. On the positive side, a majority of Australians (52%) said relations with China are improving and as you can

Three faces of anti-corruption

Guest blogger: Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. Graeme Dobell's summary of the annual ANU Indonesia Update reported on discussions about corruption at the conference.  Ross McLeod and Stephen Grenville