Wednesday 01 Apr 2020 | 14:15 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Australia getting F-22s? Not so fast

Herald Sun defence reporter Ian McPhedran has overcooked his lead paragraph a little. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon clearly wants to consider the purchase of F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, but that's not the same as saying the Government 'wants to include' the fighter in its line-

Southeast Asian labour migration: Falling off the ladder

Kerry Howley’s ReasonOnline article, Guests in the Machine, is quite correct to argue that labour migrants to Singapore from its poorer neighbours, though badly treated, often fare better than if they stayed at home. Labour migration from the much poorer Indonesia and the Philippines to the

The politics of missile defence in the Pacific

So Japan has conducted its first successful ballistic missile defence test, shooting down a target missile with an interceptor fired from one of its destroyers. Development of Japan's missile defence system is leading to unprecedented levels of integration with the US military, bringing the

The sovereign wealth fund debate continues

Reader Paul Dickie has this to add to the debate, which started with my post here, and continued with responses from Kerry Duce and Peter McCawley: Investors and policy makers are now up at night worrying about sovereign wealth funds, those in-the-news investment funds controlled by

A 'Brisbane Commission' on Asia strategic order

FROM: Hugh White, Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute and Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University TO: Hon. Kevin Rudd,  Prime Minister At your campaign launch you listed the rise of China and India among the biggest challenges Australia faces over

North Korea 'abducting' the US-Japan alliance

This week, I am in Japan as a guest of the Japanese Prime Minister's Office to learn more about Japan's concerns with North Korea, which politically centre around the abduction issue. According to Japan, at least 17 Japanese citizens (including some who were residing in Europe) and likely

Avian flu: First human-to-human infection?

Guest blogger: Alistair Thornton is a Beijing-based economic analyst. Alistair has a Masters in International Relations at the University of Sydney. His interests lie in public health, terrorism and the role of religion in public life.  Little noticed late last week was news that a 52-year old

Trans-Tasman: Mates take tea on the verandah

As the 2007 Lowy Poll suggested, Australia looms much larger for New Zealand than the other way around. While Australia is New Zealand’s largest export destination, New Zealand is only Australia’s sixth most important trading relationship, with the New Zealand economy less that 14 per cent

Sovereign wealth funds: Another reader response

 Reader Peter McCawley responds to my post on sovereign wealth funds in Australia: In his article about sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), Stephen Grenville suggests that it is important for Australian policy-makers and commentators to participate in the growing international debate

More pot-shots at Super Hornet

As an international policy blog, we will pass over the domestic subtext to Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen's weekend intervention in the debate over the purchase of Super Hornets to replace our F-111s, though it is tempting to ask why Jensen didn't speak up when then-Defence minister

Linking regionalism and globalism

A post-script to Malcolm Cook’s Incoming Government Brief on East Asian regionalism: for Australia, there are some important issues in the way the international economic architecture is evolving. In the region, it is clearly in our interests that more of the action goes to the East Asia Summit (

East Asian regionalism

FROM: Malcolm Cook, Asia and the Pacific Program Director, Lowy Institute TO: Hon. Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs Congratulations on becoming Australia’s new Foreign Minister, especially during such an exciting and challenging period when the contours and power

Solomon Islands: One step forward…

This Solomon Star report suggests the Australian-led intervention to Solomon Islands (aka RAMSI) still has a lot of work to do before it can leave the country. After a recent soccer match, rioters overwhelmed local Solomon Islands police, forcing them to retreat to their Chinatown base, where they

China expands in Africa: A sign of things to come

Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, Yang Guang, Director of the Institute for West Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said: ...actually it is very hard to see whether a regime is a dictatorship or not. You have to find a commonly acceptable

Consumerism: The universal value

Coming back from a two-week trip to China and Japan to discuss East Asian regionalism has left me with two strong, counterveiling feelings. On the one hand, the formal process of inter-state regionalism in East Asia is in trouble because of Japan’s unresolved relations with South Korea and China

China: Thinking global, but not acting local

The tagline of this Asia Sentinel story ('Beijing backs down on a property ownership reform law') doesn't quite match the content. What you read is a story not of policy reversal but of poor policy implementation — local officials have an interest in keeping the old system in place,

Welcome to Pyongyang

Peter Hitchens is not my cup of tea as a political commentator, but this essay on North Korea in The American Conservative makes him a pretty good travel guide. And he makes an important point at the end of the piece, reminding us that although we may justifiably fear North Korea's nuclear

Australia election: What do the neighbours think?

The Rudd election has received a relatively subdued reception in the Pacific press; odd given their strong dependence on Australia. The Solomon Star reported some hopeful words from the embattled and troublesome PM Sogavare, who appears somewhat ungrateful for the Australian-funded, billion

Economic tough love at home and abroad

Consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but it certainly doesn’t constrain great ones. Larry Summers is former US Treasury Secretary, former Harvard President, one of the smartest economists of his generation, and was a member of Time Magazine’s 'committee to save the world'

Rethinking travel advisories

While the new government is thinking about the big things it might do on foreign policy, what about a little change that would be a good signal to our near-neighbour Indonesia: what about relaxing the travel advice that you should 'reconsider your need to travel' to Indonesia? This has not

Rudd less muscular?

In a recent CFR analysis on Changing the Aussie Guard, Jayshree Bajoria writes: ...within its Asia-Pacific neighborhood, a Rudd Government might bring a change in tone. This could include a move away from the muscular diplomacy that led to an Australia-India defense agreement last

Yurt off, Australia

There seem to be many people in Australia keen to see the 6-party talks on North Korea develop into a permanent regional security body; one that is more targetted, coherent and effective than the oft-dismissed ASEAN Regional Forum. On top of this, they promote the idea that Australia should be

Downer last sling?

In what could well be his swansong abroad as Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer is sacrificing some of his fast-diminishing electioneering time to represent Prime Minister John Howard at the East Asia Summit (EAS), being held today in Singapore.  This is welcome news. Putting

More on China intentions

In response to my post about China's motives for conducting its January anti-satellite (ASAT) test, reader Raoul Heinrichs writes: ...it would appear that Pike and Kulacki may be talking at cross purposes. It is entirely conceivable that the PLA's development of ASAT

The future of Aceh

Mixed signals from this AsiaSource interview with former GAM separatist and now governor of Aceh, Irwandi Yusuf. On the one hand, his focus on economic development, foreign investment and eradication of corruption is encouraging. But the Governor clearly has a high degree of mistrust of the

Closer to home

Last week, the Asia New Zealand Foundation released its biennial report on New Zealanders' views of Asia and by extension their view of New Zealand’s place in the world. Three things struck me as different to our own polling on Australia’s views of the world. First, New Zealanders rated

Fighting HIV and TB in China (part 3)

After Xi’an, I arrived in Kunming to attend to the 16th Board meeting of the Global Fund, and the first ever Global Fund board meeting to be held in China. The meeting took place only after a serious negotiation between the Fund and the Chinese government over travel restrictions the

More on China rise

Sam Roggeveen's short post on China, arguing it is no longer rising but is risen, brought this response from reader Julian Rowberry: China have risen a great deal.  They still have a great deal further to rise.  But the only conclusion I can gather from Petrochina is that their

Interview with Dr Meryl Williams

Last week the Lowy Institute hosted Dr Meryl Williams, who gave a presentation on her Lowy Institute Paper, 'Enmeshed: Australia and South East Asia's fisheries'. We took the opportunity to record this short interview

China: Not as big as we thought?

Sam Roggeveen suggested yesterday that China's rise is no longer just a prospect: it's already happened.  In an interesting Financial Times article earlier this week, Albert Keidel cites some work suggesting that China's economy might in fact be a fair bit smaller and poorer than

Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear

The Financial Times' Gideon Rachman is right: it's time to stop talking about China's rise as a prospect and face the fact that it has already arrived. Maybe this will enter popular consciousness when Beijing hosts the Olympics

Fighting HIV and TB in China (part 2)

After our visit to rural Shaanxi province, the Global Fund delegation visited the largest gay bar in Xi’an, Shaanxi's capital. The fact that we visited the bar at all, and as part of a program organized by the provincial and national governments, demonstrates how far China has come in

Pacific development: Whose solution?

In response to my Solomons post, a reader writes: One lesson from past development experience should surely be that sustainable solutions neither come unilaterally from Canberra (or the Lowy Institute for that matter) nor expeditiously. Hence, whilst these debates are important, and

Fighting HIV and TB in China

I’ve been invited to China as a guest of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to observe the first Global Fund board meeting, to be held in Kunming. Over the coming days, I'll provide some observations and photos of my visit. On the way to Kunming, the Fund invited

Protests in Malaysia

Weekend political protests in Malaysia - the biggest in about a decade - are more than just the latest installment in the ongoing arm-wrestle between the government and opposition groups. The Asia Sentinel provides useful context here on the many players involved. The monarchy, the courts,

Solomons needs more ideas, not more money

The Solomon Islands floundered into another crisis yesterday with the resignation of nine ministers and three backbenchers. Prime Minister Sogavare now looks in trouble; Attorney General Julian Moti could soon find himself on a plane to Australia after escaping justice last year when he was

Australia election: The defence debate

Next Friday, The Interpreter will cover the federal election debate between Defence Minister Brendon Nelson and the Labor Party Defence spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon.  They're sure to discuss Australia's future fighter aircraft requirements, particularly since the ABC's marquee

Slouching towards greatness

Walter Russell Mead has a charming and insightful article on American foreign policy in the 22 October edition of The New Republic. Mead compares the US to the cartoon character Mr Magoo, wandering ‘nearsightedly but relatively unscathed past one hazard after another’. ‘For two

A view of Beijing hills

Back in Beijing for the first time in twelve months, I was greeted by a remarkable sight from my hotel bedroom – the western hills under a clear blue sky. By today the familiar acrid haze has closed in again and you realise what a big job the ‘Bureau of Weather Modification’ (the Chinese

More on China military transparency

Sam Roggeveen is right to put a spotlight on the US fixation with the ‘transparency’ of China’s military build-up. China’s military rise unsettles many countries. With new missiles, aircraft and ships conspicuously entering service, Beijing surely expects nobody to buy its line that budget

US-China: Why focus on transparency?

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates repeated a consistent Bush Administration talking point in his recent remarks about China's military rise: no, we don't see China as a threat, and yes, we have much-improved relations. But, said Gates, 'I have concerns with a variety of the military

The paramount power

In a Lowy Institute Paper entitled The Paramount Power: China and the Countries of Southeast Asia, Dr Milton Osborne examines how China's relations with Southeast Asia have dramatically changed for the better in the last ten years

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