Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 21:24 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

What it like to work at Foxconn

Foxconn is the electronics manufacturer that has become emblematic of China\'s economic rise and its export-led growth model. It produces cheap goods the world wants and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs for Chinese migrant workers, who send their earnings back home to needy relatives. But

The Papua New Guinean protester (II)

If yesterday\'s speech by Prime Minister O\'Neill, given to up to ten thousand protesters who packed out Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby, is anything to go by then protesters have achieved political change. O\'Neill was forced to address the stadium of protesters who

The Papua New Guinean protester (I)

Back in February I looked at social media activism in the Pacific and asked \'What\'s next?\'. Well, now we know. When TIME Magazine made \'The Protester\' its 2011 Person of the Year, few could imagine that months later, a little-known Pacific Island wedged between Australia and

Doco trailer: Japan arcade culture

Via Spoon & Tamago (a rather wonderful blog about Japanese design) comes this trailer for a documentary about Japan\'s video-game arcades: The independent film-makers are still trying to raise money to complete their movie. Learn more here

Votes and guns in PNG

Scott Flower is a McKenzie Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He is regularly engaged by multinational companies as a risk management consultant to major resource projects in PNG. Over the last month, rarely a day has passed without some drama in Papua New Guinea\'s political landscape.

Are Chinese soft loans always a bad thing?

Graeme Smith is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the China Studies Centre, University of Sydney and a Visiting Fellow with the State, Society and Governance Program in Melanesia Program, ANU. When the nationwide anti-Asian riots of May 2009 reached the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, the targets were

Burma and WMD: Nothing to report?

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of Burma and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Not If, But Why, How and What. For nearly four years, activists, journalists and sundry other Burma-watchers have been waiting with keen anticipation for the US State Department to

Watching our Cambodian aid dollars

There are indeed good reasons for asking, as James did yesterday in reply to my piece, how the Angkor Archaeological Park (above) spends the entrance fees it charges foreign visitors. Eric Campbell\'s investigation of this issue for ABC TV raised many still-unanswered

Reader riposte: Angkor why?

James writes: The piece on Angkor Wat and Bob Carr\'s recent donation of taxpayer money raised my interest, as someone with many years experience in this country. The Angkor temples ticket operation is run by a private businessman with close links to the ruling party. Over 2 million visitors

Cambodian miscellany

It\'s unusual enough to have a single item about Cambodia in the Australian media, and yesterday there were two. First, an allegation that one of Prime Minister Hun\'s nephews is linked to drug trafficking and money laundering (the man in question has issued a denial). And, secondly, the

North Korea missile: Take off your hard hat

Dr Morris Jones, who has written previously for The Interpreter, is an Australian space analyst. The announcement of an imminent satellite launch by North Korea has sent the international community into a frenzy. There is no need to reiterate most of the debate that has since appeared

Reader riposte: Our regional reticence

Dr Daniel Woker, former Swiss Ambassador to Australia (2008-12), writes: Malcolm Cook\'s \'five sound principles...prominent in Rudd\'s approach to the Asia Pacific\' are spot-on. But, the fifth as formulated is way too modest and defensive. Australia is not just a \'non-major power

A Separation: Artistry for peace

Geraldine Doogue is host of ABC Radio National\'s Saturday Extra program. In 2010 I suggested in this space that a good way of forging better understanding between Australians and other citizens of our region was to report common dilemmas facing all our societies, rather than emphasising

Richard Bitzinger on China military rise

This morning one of the region\'s foremost experts on China\'s military, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies Senior Fellow Richard Bitzinger, dropped by the Lowy Institute to meet with some of our experts. He was kind enough to give me a few minutes for an interview, and we began by

DFAT: A small step into western China

In only his third media release as Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr has today announced (together with the Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Competitiveness) that Australia will open \'as soon as possible\' a new Consulate-General in Chengdu, western China. As Mr Carr explains,

Kevin Rudd Asia Pacific legacy (so far)

Ed. note: This post follows on from Fergus Hanson\'s assessment of Rudd\'s China legacy. \'Good principles, mixed execution\' summarises Kevin Rudd\'s approach to the Asia Pacific region, and Australia\'s place within it, during his tenure as prime minister and then foreign minister. \'So far

The renminbi as reserve currency II

Even if China was prepared to abolish capital controls and accelerate the creation of deep capital markets in order for the renminbi to become a reserve currency (see part 1 of my post here), the renminbi would probably remain a small part of official reserve holdings. The Japanese yen, for

Indonesia: Our biggest blind spot

Today the Lowy Institute launches what I think is one of the most compelling and challenging polls we\'ve ever conducted. It was a survey carried out across Indonesia following up on a poll we did there in 2006. The changes the poll records are remarkable, and responses to a series of new questions

The Renminbi as reserve currency

The idea that the renminbi will become an important reserve currency, perhaps displacing the \'exorbitant privilege\' enjoyed by the US dollar, has been given added impetus by a blueprint for China\'s international capital reforms just published by the Chinese central bank, the People\'s

Voting the 'Australian way' in Myanmar

Jim Della-Giacoma is South East Asia Project Director for the International Crisis Group, based in Jakarta. The photo in this post, of The Nay Pyi Taw copy of the Shwedagon temple, is by the author. In some parts of the world, the secret ballot is still known as the Australian ballot. It was

Kevin Rudd China legacy

Whatever you might think of Kevin Rudd, he was certainly active internationally, both as Foreign Minister and as Prime Minister. But what were his achievements and what will his legacy be? This post is intended to kick-start a discussion of what Rudd achieved in foreign affairs and begins with his

Indonesia: Speed dial is not enough

Everything was very friendly today in the joint press conference between Australia\'s and Indonesia\'s foreign and defence ministers in Canberra. This was a chance for new Foreign Minister Bob Carr to meet his counterpart Marty Natalegawa, and Carr held his phone aloft to reporters to show that

A new role for Australia on Myanmar?

Jim Della-Giacoma is South East Asia Project Director for the International Crisis Group, based in Jakarta. Photos in this post are by the author. Recent changes in Myanmar are too numerous to list, but they are remarkable to anyone who knows the country. The National League for

Nothing new under the PNG sun

PNG is once again going through a governance-sapping exercise of self-interested politics. Since February last year, when then Prime Minister Somare was suspended from office for two weeks following a decision by the country's Leadership Tribunal, Papua New Guineans have witnessed an increasingly

Hillary on China: A Nixon moment?

The speech Hillary Clinton gave in Washington last week to mark the 40th anniversary of Nixon\'s visit to China didn\'t get much attention. Other than Linda Jakobson\'s short post, on which more below, I\'ve seen no reference to it here in Australia or in US media. But the speech

Clinton speech: What about Australia?

The Australia-US alliance is at the forefront in any discussion by Australian policy-makers and specialists about regional security issues. The announcement during President Barack Obama\'s visit to Australia in November 2011 of an agreement to rotate US Marines in and out of Darwin was viewed by

Stars align for Fiji policy shift

The Fiji Government has a history of making poor decisions whenever there appeared to be a slight willingness in Australia or New Zealand to re-assess approaches to Fiji. The deportation of diplomats or Fiji Times publishers at inopportune moments made it impossible for foreign ministers in

PNG: An interview with Ian Kemish

Papua New Guinea is Australia\'s nearest neighbour, our second-largest recipient of development assistance and our 15th-largest trading partner. Experiencing a similar resources boom to Australia, PNG\'s economy has grown at over 5% annually since 2007. The resources boom and, in particular LNG

How to succeed in business in Indonesia

Over the past year or so, the success of the Indonesian economy has been applauded by foreign commentators and business-people (and, belatedly, by the credit rating agencies). Foreign investment has doubled over the past couple of years and Vice-President Boediono has a good story to tell. But it\'s

World Bank China report a warning to Australia

John Edwards is a Lowy Institute Visiting Fellow, an Adjunct Professor with the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy at Curtin University and a member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia. As this week\'s business investment survey reminded us, the mining boom is the biggest

PNG keeps on surprising us

Excellent piece here from the ABC\'s Sean Dorney summarising the political situation in PNG, including interviews with the major players and some dramatic footage from parliament. It\'s also worth noting here a piece that our Melanesia expert Jenny Hayward-Jones tweeted the other day

Sleepers, Wake! What happens at China National People Congress

OK, one more round in the \'What people think I do\' meme (I posted the Rudd and Gillard versions last Friday). This one comes from a friend in Beijing, who writes that it\'s \'about the upcoming National People\'s Congress. Happy to translate if you like, but I\'m sure you get the gist!\'&

Australia booms despite septic politics

Journalists the world over have turned these past few years to WikiLeaks and its Australian founder, Julian Assange, to shine a light on the murky, inner workings of government. In Canberra these past few days, however, all reporters have had to do is put a microphone in front of an Australian

An update on Domingos Soares

Domingos Soares with Mark Cooper (photo courtesy of Fundasaun Mahein). On 17 February Gordon Peake told Interpreter readers the story of Domingos Soares, an elderly Timorese man who claimed to have fought alongside Australian soldiers in World War II. At the time, Mr Soares\' case had received

New Zealand shrinks its diplomatic service

Dr Richard Grant is Executive Director of the Asia:NZ Foundation. He was previously New Zealand\'s Ambassador to Germany and to France, and High Commissioner to the UK and to Singapore. Readers of The Economist of 18 February would have seen the reference to the similar size

Wesley: Rudd neglected region

The Australia Network\'s Jim Middleton interviews Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Wesley. The interview begins with an assessment of Kevin Rudd\'s performance as foreign minister, and then goes much broader

History echoes in new Defence review

The US is hastening out of two wars and rethinking its defence interests in Asia, while Australia realigns the alliance and moves more military might to the north and west of the continent. With all that in flux, two ex-Defence Secretaries, Ric Smith and Allan Hawke, are well placed to produce one

Movie trailer: Let the Bullets Fly

Asian Movie Pulse alerts me to Let the Bullets Fly, a Chinese-produced action-comedy released in China in 2010 which became the highest grossing Chinese release ever. When you see the trailer and read the synopsis (\'...notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing

The two reckonings of Maternus Bere

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, ANU. He is writing a book entitled \'Beloved Land: Stories from Timor-Leste\'. Maternus Bere remembers well when he was forgiven for being a pro-Indonesian Timorese militia leader. The trial did not

Understanding Asia: A job for spies?

In the Fairfax press today, Hugh White criticises the recently released Cornall-Black Independent Review of the Australian Intelligence Community for its \'breathless endorsement of the status quo\'. But although Hugh takes on a few debatable assumptions that seem to underpin the

Timor-Leste: Australia unpaid WW2 debt?

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, ANU. He is writing a book entitled \'Beloved Land: Stories from Timor-Leste\'. Domingos Soares (pictured) is a spry 93 year-old from the district of Viqueque on East Timor\'s southern coast who says he

The XXXX summit?

A few readers have alerted me to this Timothy Garton Ash column in The Guardian lauding Kevin Rudd\'s performance at the recent Munich Security Conference. The punchline to the column: So Xi and Barack Obama should now plan to take a joint summer retreat on the coast of

Good posture: A new Defence blueprint

On the top tier of Defence Department reports, where White Papers reside, there are also a few reviews that reshape the way Defence thinks, plans and builds. Defence does reviews by the dozens. Those that rise to the level of lasting blueprint are rare. The canny pair of warhorses, Ric Smith and

Rogerio Lobato: From inmate to president?

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Australian National University. He is in Timor-Leste doing research for a book. Two men stare down from the sepia-tinged election posters of Rogerio Tiago de Fatima Lobato, former Minister of Interior

Yes, China really is catching up

I\'m sympathetic to the distinction Michael Beckley raises between GDP and GDP per capita in his post on defining decline; it\'s a point I also focused on in my original post. Each gives us different readings about national capabilities. But the other question I raised concerned comparisons over

Timor-Leste: Everybody needs good neighbours

Jim Della-Giacoma is South East Asia Project Director for the International Crisis Group. Early in 2010, Afghan President Hamid Karzai was sitting in Kabul with some diplomats who had served in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. \'Is it true\', he asked, \'that Indonesia just walked away from

My little Beijing

The use of the \'tilt-shift\' technique in video and photography, which makes real scenes look like elaborate miniatures, has become so ubiquitous online that it is fast losing its power to delight. Yet this short video about Beijing exploits the technique well,

Ratings agencies too slow on Indonesia

For the decade following the 1997-8 Asian crisis, Indonesia struggled to lift its growth rates back to the pace recorded during the Soeharto era: an average of 6-7%. Now two achievements have triggered a spate of favourable stories in the foreign press: maintaining positive growth during the 2008

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