Wednesday 25 May 2022 | 11:00 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Social media activism emerges in Pacific

Today in PNG is \'White Friday\', with Papua New Guineans being encouraged to wear white to protest against the current political impasse. This peaceful political statement is organised by bloggers using text messages, Twitter and Facebook discussion groups. It\'s a small example of the

Global Times: On the record

Last week I blogged about how I had been misrepresented by China\'s Global Times newspaper. So it was fascinating and pleasing to see this follow-up article yesterday, written by the junior Global Times editor who had handled the original story. One observer suggests this apology is quite a

America has asymmetries too

This passage in Hugh\'s latest post sparked two questions in my mind: There are three key asymmetries in the US-China relationship which all break China\'s way. China\'s objectives are focused in Asia, while America\'s are globally dispersed. Isn\'t it the case that one asymmetry

Dili is booming, but can it last?

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Australian National University. He is inTimor-Leste doing research for a book. With a presidential election due on 17 March, Dili seems a much safer, happier, more content city than when Timor-Leste went

China-US: Power in perspective

As Michael Beckley acknowledges in his reply to Mark Thirlwell, it is hard to say definitively whether America is declining economically relative to China, because it depends what you measure. On some measures it is, and on others it\'s not. So the next question is: which measures

Friday funny: Apple dirty secret

Evan Osnos writes that there is \'a dawning American sense of ickiness about what goes into the electronics we love\'.   Have a good weekend

Global Times: What I really said

Never trust what you read in the papers: that was one of my first lessons as a trainee journalist on an Australian bush newspaper many years ago. It held true yesterday when I discovered an article in The Global Times, China\'s Communist Party tabloid. It appeared to be an opinion piece under my

Australia MIA in PNG

Like Alexander Downer, I think the Australian Government should pay more attention to the political crisis in Papua New Guinea. I\'ve been uncertain about what Canberra can practically do, but here\'s a suggestion: it\'s time for Australia to play its strongest card. So far, we have played a weak

What Somare and O'Neill hath wrought

Papua New Guinea has just paid an economic price for its political instability, with Standard and Poor\'s downgrading its credit rating from B- to B-. The short-lived military mutiny created headlines around the world. It was enough to convince the ratings agency that there was now increased

Through Chinese eyes: Jia Xijin (part 2)

Armed with your questions, Peter Martin and Nathan Beauchamp speak to Jia Xijin (pictured), an expert on Chinese civil society and citizen participation. Part 1 here. Mitch Lowenthall: What is Chinese civil society doing to demand environmental protection? Environmental protection, along with

What happened in PNG yesterday?

Yesterday\'s military mutiny in Papua New Guinea ended peacefully, with no civil unrest or loss of life. The mutiny, carried out by retired Colonel Yaura Sasa, was instigated by Sir Michael Somare\'s camp in an attempt to have Somare re-installed as Prime Minister. The

China v US: An economic rematch

Andrew Shearer\'s recent post on US-China comparisons prompted me to take a look at the paper by Michael Beckley he recommended. While I don\'t have anything useful to contribute on the specific subject of the US military/security edge over China, a couple of things did

Cambodia: China pervasive, US welcome

Even a short visit to Cambodia earlier this month is sufficient to underline why Prime Minister Hun Sen has been so ready over many years to describe China as his country\'s best friend. Discussion of China\'s aid to the country is a constant in almost every conversation. In December 2011 Hun Sen

Three questions on the Asian Century

Since some of my colleagues have been  setting out their thoughts on the Asian Century White Paper, I thought I might chip in with my two cents. I have three opening questions. 1. Shouldn\'t we try to go beyond old-school geography? Granted, we know that there\'s lots of

Through Chinese eyes: Jia Xijin (part 1)

Armed with your questions, Peter Martin and Nathan Beauchamp speak to Jia Xijin (pictured), an expert on Chinese civil society and citizen participation. Previous instalments in this series here and here. Lei Gong: What is the current state of development of Chinese civil society? How is

'Asia' White Paper makes no sense

Stephen Grenville seems to have misunderstood the purpose of my post on American and Chinese power and the Gillard Government\'s \'Asian Century\' White Paper. I certainly did not intend to downplay Asia\'s importance. Even further from my mind was reopening what John Howard aptly calls

Putting Australia on Asia dance card

Rawdon Dalrymple is a former Australian ambassador to Indonesia, the US and Japan. Stephen Grenville has had more than forty years of engagement with Asia starting with his embassy posting in Jakarta in 1968. He has also been a Deputy Governor of the RBA and has more recently advised

The chutzpah of the Fiji Supremo

The classic definition of chutzpah is the story of the young man who murders his parents and then asks the court for leniency because he\'s an orphan. Fiji\'s Supremo has chutzpah by the bucket-load. Brazen and bombastic, Frank Bainimarama has done it again with his bravura performance

Oz still a wallflower at Asia party

Andrew Shearer represents a long tradition in Australian diplomacy, of viewing Asia through the prism of our relationship with the US. No serious commentator is suggesting that Australia should focus on Asia to the exclusion (or even downgrading) of our US relationship; everyone agrees that keeping

Whose century?

Dr Ken Henry and his team are busy preparing the Government\'s White Paper on \'Australia in the Asian Century\', due to be released in the middle of this year. In Australian academic, business and media circles there is breathless excitement about the rise of China (and the US decline they

Rudd Asia Society speech

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd\'s recent speech to the Asia Society is a lucid and bracingly matter-of-fact treatment of the challenges presented by the rise of China. Plain English is not the Foreign Minister\'s strong suit, so when he does deliver a speech that is direct, easily

'Team Success' bids for Timorese presidency

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Australian National University. He is inTimor-Leste doing research for a book. The weathered \'Timor-Leste Nippon Cultural Centre\' sign outside the whitewashed compound in Dili is a poor indication of

Rudd weighs in on the Taiwan poll

Kevin Rudd in an interview with CNN (my emphasis): JOURNALIST: A man familiar to most of our viewers — Kevin Rudd, the former Australian Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister, joins us from New York. Great to have you with us, because you have such a background in Taiwanese

Rudd mixed messages on Indonesia

Of course it\'s good to see the Foreign Minister deliver his \'wake up to Indonesia\' call to Australian businesses to seize the opportunities in Southeast Asia\'s fastest growing economy. But while the Minister is urging businesses to act, his Department\'s Travel Advisory is telling them not to

Taiwan-China: The eroding status quo

Saturday marks the first of many crucial elections in 2012. Taiwan\'s presidential race is viewed as extremely tight between President Ma Ying-jeou (pictured; Kuomintang Party) and Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party. Presumably, the majority of swing voters will opt for the incumbent


In an opinion piece in The South China Morning Post, Linda Jakobson, Program Director East Asia, argues that tensions may have eased across the Taiwan Strait in the first term of the island’s president Ma Ying-jeou, but that doesn’t mean the issues in the way of reunification have been resolved.

YouTube explains US grand strategy

Earlier this week Dan Drezner ran a very entertaining series of YouTube videos purporting to explain US grand strategy. As an addition to that series, I offer \'Sofia the Lion Tamer at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand\', which nicely captures the frustration America (the lion) feels in trying to

Northeast Asia glass ceiling

If Tsai Ing-wen (left) wins the presidential election in Taiwan this week, she will become Northeast Asia\'s first elected female leader. If, as expected, Tsai loses a close election, South Korea\'s Park Geun-hye could take this mantle in December 2012. A Tsai win would be significant for

Chinese modern art in Canberra

\'Chicken feast\' (2005), by Wang Yan. Oil on canvas. (Image courtesy of the NMA.) While visiting Canberra during the Christmas-New Year break, I got an all-too-brief look at the National Museum of Australia\'s contemporary Chinese art exhibition, A New Horizon. Featuring works dating from 1949

Through Chinese eyes: Pang Zhongying (part 1)

Interview with Professor Pang Zhongying of People\'s University about China and global governance by Peter Martin and David Cohen. Peter and David are conducting a series of interviews with Chinese academics and journalists, using reader-submitted questions. Anna: China\'s lack of

Too many are drowning in search of sanctuary

Dr Khalid Koser is Head of the New Issues in Security Program at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, and a non-resident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. While I\'m pleased that the lunchtime talk I delivered last week at the Lowy Institute has been cited in the past few days, I deeply

A trade deal without China

Much thought has been devoted to the choices and chances confronting Australia because of potential tensions between the US alliance and the trade bonanza with China. How diabolical would it be, however, if Australia manages to align itself against China both in its traditional alliance stance but

Reader riposte: PNG home-grown constitution

John Ballard, a Visiting Fellow at ANU, writes: Andrew Farran isn\'t aware of the fact that PNG, unlike almost all other post-colonial regimes, produced a home-grown constitution. The Constitutional Planning Committee and first Somare Government worked on this over a period of two-and-

Lowy Institute writings on North Korea

To help busy readers, I\'ve pulled together a list of Lowy\'s best North Korea-related publications. Rory Medcalf in today\'s Australian on the chances of a peaceful succession. Fiona Cunningham yesterday argued that Kim\'s death won\'t reduce North Korea\'s attachment to nuclear

Defence cooperation: What does Beijing want?

Wilson Chau is a Lowy Institute intern. His Security Challenges essay on this topic recently won the Australian Defence Business Review Young Strategic Writers prize. The deepening of the Australia-US alliance during President Obama\'s visit last month was widely seen as directed at China,

Reader riposte: Australia and the PNG crisis

Andrew Farran writes: RE: PNG deadlock: it is strange, is it not, that a parliamentary majority does not suffice to gain and hold government? What became of the Westminster system in PNG? I concede that the constitution is very confusing — a colonial legacy (we did not trust them to

PNG still in deadlock

Today marks day five of Papua New Guinea\'s constitutional crisis. The country has two prime ministers, two cabinets, two governors-general and two police commissioners. Both Michael Somare and Peter O\'Neill have fair claims to the prime ministership. PNG\'s Supreme Court

PNG: Land of the unexpected

The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea yesterday ruled in a 3-2 decision that the election of Peter O\'Neill in August was unconstitutional as there was no vacancy in the office of Prime Minister at the time of his election. The court also ruled that Sir Michael Somare, who had been out

Great moments in cultural diplomacy

Australian faces (though not always our accents) are prominent in American film and television. But when they show up in our own region, it\'s worth noting, particularly if the face in question belongs to the Third Secretary of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Here\'s Adelle Neary performing on

Mekong dam reprieve

At a meeting of the Council of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Siem Reap, Cambodia, yesterday the issue of whether or not Laos should be able to go ahead with its plan to build a major dam on the Mekong at Xayaburi was fudged, with the council members concluding that \'there is a need for

Doco trailer: Moresby Modern

This trailer was posted online some 11 months ago, but I see via Twitter that the film is being screened at the PNG Human Rights Film Festival this week, so it\'s worth highlighting now. Regular readers may recognise Emmanuel Narokobi as one of the interview subjects in the

Clinton in Burma: The WMD dimension

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. As expected, Hillary Clinton\'s historic visit to Burma last week prompted a flurry of reports and op-eds in the news media and on activist websites

What happening in Vietnam?

Above, a gorgeous time-lapse video of Ho Chi Minh City (h/t TDW), which didn\'t look much like this when we were still calling it Saigon (the name change happened in 1976, although \'Saigon\' is still commonly used). The video is an indicator of how much is changing in Vietnam, and a reminder

India: Let not just give the nod

One of Australia\'s finest cricket writers observes that the combined talents of Bradman, Bismarck and Warren Buffett could hardly solve the governance headaches created by India\'s domination of world cricket administration. Gideon Haigh writes that India\'s cricketing power exemplifies

Reluctant realists

In a post on Cogitasia, a leading blog hosted by the US think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Dr Malcolm Cook (Dean of International Studies at Flinders University) and the Institute’s Director of Studies Andrew Shearer highlight how and why the progressive Asia policy

The euro crisis: Lessons for East Asia

Only a few years ago, the European common-currency arrangements were held up as a possible model for Asia. With the euro under serious threat, we don\'t hear much about this now, but there may be some lessons for Asia from the current mess in Europe. Lesson one might be surprising at first sight.

Fiji: Should we believe in promises?

Fiji\'s government delivered its 2012 budget last week. In his budget address, Commodore Frank Bainimarama promised that his government would start work on a new constitution no later than September 2012. He also announced $5.9 million in the budget for electronic voter registration— \'as a

South Pacific: A change is gonna come

For some detailed tasks in the South Pacific, Australia has to do the job. Working out what climate change will mean for individual island states falls into the category of tasks Australia is best placed to perform. So anyone doing work in or with East Timor and the Islands —

Through Chinese eyes: He Wenping (Part 2)

Armed with your questions, Peter Martin and David Cohen from Sinocentric speak to the Director of African Studies at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, He Wenping. Part 1 here; part 3 here. Junni: Whilst the scale and nature of Chinese and Indian involvement in Sub-Saharan Africa remain quite

'Taim blong ol meri': Time for women in PNG

Danielle Romanes is an intern with the Lowy Institute\'s Myer Foundation Melanesia Program. Yesterday PNG did away with the dubious distinction of holding one of the worst records in the world for female representation in parliament. Seizing what may have been the last chance for PNG\'s women