Thursday 17 Sep 2020 | 08:08 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Through Chinese eyes: He Wenping (Part 1)

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 2 here, Part 3 here. Angelica: Aid from China to African countries has been generous and forthcoming ever since the founding of

Reader riposte: Obama historical howler

Andrew Butcher from the Asia New Zealand Foundation comments on President Obama\'s speech to the Australian parliament last week: I think I heard correctly an error in Obama\'s speech, where he congratulated Australia on being the first country in the world to give woman the vote. Now, New

Parsing the 'pivot': Beijing view of US bases

Amy King is a PhD student at Oxford University. Much has been made of China\'s response to President Obama\'s decision to rotate 2500 American troops through bases in the Northern Territory. But was there more to the Chinese response than was reported in the Western press? Australian and US

Aung San Suu Kyi choice

Andrew Selth is a research fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. In some ways, it is easier and safer to be a critic on the sidelines than to become an active participant in the formal political process. Yet, not to do so when an opportunity presents itself risks continuing powerlessness, a loss

Indonesia, but not as we know it

I just did a short interview with ABC Radio Brisbane\'s Terri Begley, who asked me about the Gillard Government\'s gift of four ex-RAAF C-130 transport planes to Indonesia. It was a good opportunity to make a couple of larger points about Indonesia, both illustrated by recent developments in

Last chance for PNG women?

Danielle Romanes is an intern with the Lowy Institute\'s Myer Foundation Melanesia Program. Unresolved constitutional crises in PNG threaten to overshadow a vital parliamentary session this week. Having just graduated from an otherwise relatively successful first 100 days in office, Prime

Reader query: US base implications

A query from a reader that I\'m hopeful some of the many expert readers of this blog can help answer. Matt Zurstrassen writes: The media reaction to the announcement by the US president on an increased security emphasis on the region seems somewhat misguided, being focused purely on China\'

Two further notes on Obama speech

First, an observation from a colleague concerning the paragraph dealing with North Korea: Indeed, we also reiterate our resolve to act firmly against any proliferation activities by North Korea. The transfer of nuclear materials or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would

Cambodia: And then there were three

Throughout the long, drawn-out course of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC) detailed in various Interpreter posts, observers have repeatedly expressed concern that the age of the four defendants before the court in Case 002 could mean that

Plus ça change in Pacific politics

Just when the Pacific was looking relatively stable — a new and confident government in Papua New Guinea; Solomon Islands hoping a positive rating by the World Bank would improve investor confidence; Vanuatu\'s Prime Minister managing to hold on to his job continuously since May this

Reminder: Submit your China questions

A quick reminder of a post we ran last Friday from our two Beijing-based interviewers, Peter Martin and David Cohen. Peter and David have done a series of interviews for The Interpreter with Chinese thinkers, using your questions. You have until Thursday to submit questions for the

Call for questions: China in Africa

Peter Martin and David Cohen are conducting a series of interviews, using reader-submitted questions, with Chinese academics and journalists. Previous installments in this series here. Next week, we will be talking to He Wenping at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences about Sino-

Fiji: Engagement is the only way

Iris Wielders is a freelance conflict prevention and peace building specialist. She lived in Fiji in 2007 and 2008. The Lowy Institute\'s work on Fiji has sparked some interesting debates in recent times. Reactions to the policy brief by Jenny Hayward-Jones have been polarised. The results of

The polite revolution in Southeast Asia

The Economist\'s Banyan columnist makes an astute point: Another part of the world can also boast a year of transformative change: South-East Asia. Certainly, this has not been a full-blown spring as in the Middle East; the gains have been more modest, the shifts less obvious. But the forces

Asia literacy: The national security dimension

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia’s foreign policy. There is a critical issue that has so far escaped much attention in the Interpreter debate about declining Asia literacy in Australia – the

Murder and mayhem on the Mekong

On 6 and 7 October the bodies of 13 Chinese were found floating in the Mekong where it flows past Chiang Rai province in Thailand\'s north. The bodies, blindfolded with hands bound and showing bullet wounds, were identified as the crews from two Chinese cargo boats making the journey down the

Taiwan: Splitting the pan-blue vote?

Last month, I wrote a post about concerns on the pan-blue side of Taiwan politics (more inclined toward the cross-Strait status quo) about James Soong\'s plan to run in next year\'s presidential election and split the pan-blue vote, as happened in 2000. Rumours are rife of attempts on the

India, US, Australia: Stronger together

The term \'Indo-Pacific\' has crept into the international relations vocabulary of late. Lowy Institute scholars have started adopting this term, and it appeared in Hillary Clinton\'s recent Foreign Policy essay on \'America\'s Pacific Century\'. It\'s also a conceptual building-block for a

Reader riposte: The limits of machine translators

Aidan Dullard: Cameron\'s point about the increasing sophistication of technology like Google Translate is often seen as the death-knell for professional translators and interpreters; as machine translation gets more accurate and more widely available, the need for human translators will

China hasn't yet grown into its role

Raffaello Pantucci is a Visiting Scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Alexandros Petersen was a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council\'s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center. It was a grim, grey Beijing morning as we fought with our taxi driver and traffic to make it to a

Fixing the international architecture of aid

Peter Baxter is Director General of AusAID. Hear his recent Lowy Institute speech here. What we do at AusAID is hard work. If there was a simple template for development we would have been using it already. We allocate our funds and efforts based on need, our capacity to make a difference,

Reader riposte: Digital interpreters

Cameron Crouch writes: A quick thought in relation to The Interpreter\'s ongoing debate about Australia\'s Asia literacy: do advances in machine translation reduce the need for Australians to learn Asian languages? The notion that Google Translate can already speak \'57 languages as well as a 10

Australia Asia literacy wipe-out

Tim Lindsey is an ARC Federation Fellow and Director of the Asian Law Centre at the University of Melbourne. It\'s been coming for years, but it looks Australia\'s Asia literacy wipe-out may now have arrived. In October, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that NSW has just reported its

East Timor and me: A response to Noam Chomsky

Gareth Evans (pictured) was Australian foreign minister from 1988 to 1996. Noam Chomsky, in Sydney on 2 November, repeated his familiar attack on my handling, as Australia\'s foreign minister from 1988-96, of relations with Indonesia over East Timor. It is one that he, along with his

Smashing the people smugglers' business model

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. The \'business model of migrant smuggling\' was developed by me and a few colleagues at the Migration Research Unit at University College

Singapore should get credit for the G-20

Michael Gaskin is a Lowy Institute intern and PhD candidate in international relations at the University of Sydney. The University of Toronto\'s history of the G20, which Sam refers to in his post, was commissioned by the South African Chair in 2007 and was presented at the G20 meeting that year;

Do Australian schools teach our kids anything about Southeast Asia?

The point Andrew makes about building demand for Asian language study first is absolutely crucial. The Gillard Government\'s discontinuation of funding for Asian language teaching in Australian schools last budget laid to rest a 20-year experiment with top-down, government-led Asia literacy.

Burma-China: Another dam puzzle (part 2)

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Part one of this post here. If past practice is any guide, Burmese President Thein Sein is probably trying to satisfy a number of aims, and send signals to several different targets, in announcing his decision to

Reader riposte: A business case for Asia literacy

Kathleen Kirby, Executive Director of Asialink and Asia Education Foundation writes: Geoff Miller asks if there is a jobs pay-off for Asia literacy? The Australian Industry Group and Asialink undertook a survey this year to better understand Australian business preparedness for doing

Burma-China: Another dam puzzle (part 1)

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Over the past 20 years, Burma has developed a close relationship with China. It thus came as a shock when President Thein Sein announced in late September that he had suspended construction of the massive Myitsone dam

Sihanouk: The great survivor turns 89

There surely is no greater survivor among international political figures of the past and present centuries than Norodom Sihanouk, now titled the King Father of Cambodia, who turns 89 today, or 90 by Cambodian reckoning. He returned to Phnom Penh last week after three months of

Asia literacy: Is there a jobs pay-off?

Geoff Miller is the former Director-General of the Office of National Assessments. Andrew Carr\'s article on the need to stimulate demand for Asian languages in Australian schools seems to me correct in raising the issue of supply and demand. But perhaps it doesn\'t raise the issue at a

5-minute Lowy Lunch: Indonesia rising

Indonesia\'s democratisation and economic development have been tremendously beneficial developments for Australia. But Josh Frydenberg, former senior adviser to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Prime Minister John Howard and now the Liberal Party member for the federal seat of

Asia literacy: Boost supply or demand?

One policy guaranteed to feature in the \'Australia in the Asian Century\' White Paper is the take-up of Asian languages by Australians. Yet, as my colleague Mark Thirlwell noted to me the other day, we need to think about whether this problem is one of supply or demand. Most reports argue

Through Chinese eyes: Zhu Feng (part 2)

Part 2 of an interview with Zhu Feng, an internationally renowned expert on North Korea and nuclear disarmament, byPeter Martin and David Cohen, using reader-submitted questions. Part I can be found here. (NB: An earlier post incorrectly implied that there would be no part 2; apologies for

Bali, our Asian dream and nightmare

It hasn\'t been a good month for those wondering how Australia will adjust to the Asian Century. The mere fact our foreign minister is active and busy at his job is treated, by default, as a bad thing. Meanwhile, the arrest of a 14 year-old Australian on drug charges in Indonesia set off a series

Lost and found in Java

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. In the midst of the worrying reports coming out of Indonesia — such as deaths in Papua and the 14-year old boy arrested in Bali — here is an amazing

Thai floods reveal message for Australian business

Mark Carroll is the Executive Director of the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce. The views expressed are his alone and do not necessarily represent those of the Chamber or its members.    As the muddy flood waters in Thailand recede, they will reveal just how important the Thai

5-minute Lowy Lunch: The ASEAN way

Last Wednesday the Lowy Institute hosted distinguished historian Professor Nicholas Tarling, who spoke on the history of ASEAN. As you will hear from his full remarks, Professor Tarling takes his research all the way back to the pre-colonial period, though in our interview, we talked firstly

Cambodia sinking, and so is its tribunal

In keeping with the less than glacial pace at which the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has functioned (officially the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC) since its formal establishment in 2006, it now seems probable that no verdict will be reached in relation to the four defendants in

Mahathir agrees he was a 'recalcitrant'

The word \'recalcitrant\' has been woven through the Australia-Malaysia relationship for two decades — denoting opposing views of Asia, middle power competition and clashing personalities. The shift beyond the recalcitrant era is illustrated by the Gillard Government\'s vain quest for

Diplomatic symbols: The Lodge

In preparing Australia for the Asian century, how Australia presents itself to the world — especially to visiting national leaders and diplomats — will be crucial. Symbols and diplomatic procedures will have to be considered and challenged. One change I\'d like to see to this end

New Zealand: Better with Australia

Dr Andrew Butcher is Director of Policy and Research at the Asia New Zealand Foundation. There\'s one common thread in the recent series of reports commissioned by the Asia New Zealand Foundation about the views of New Zealand\'s regional neighbours on its place in Asia: New Zealand is

PNG Prime Minister breakthrough visit

The visit of new Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O\'Neill to Canberra last week represented something of a breakthrough in bilateral relations. O\'Neill brought nine cabinet ministers with him, who met with Australian counterparts in the 20th bilateral Ministerial Forum (pictured

Rudd raises the China rhetoric

Apologies for being a few days late to this, but since nobody else seems to have picked up on it, I wanted to point to Foreign Minister Rudd\'s speech to the Oxford Business Alumni on 13 October. He used what struck me as surprisingly strong language in listing China\'s ten ambitions for the

Through Chinese eyes: Zhu Feng

Interview with Zhu Feng, an internationally renowned expert on North Korea and nuclear disarmament, byPeter Martin and David Cohen. Peter and David are conducting a series of interviews with Chinese academics and journalists, using reader-submitted questions. Part II will come later this week

Australia and South Korea have a free trade deal

Australia has achieved something with South Korea that it can\'t get with China or Japan –  a Free Trade Agreement. Marking the Australia-Korea dialogue in Canberra, the Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, told a dinner that the deal is just about done. Or in Rudd\'s words, the

Kazakh-China Diary: Two roads

Konrad Muller is a former Australian diplomat and journalist. He and Anthony Bubalo are undertaking fieldwork for a new project examining Kazakh-China relations. Earlier posts in this series: post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4, post 5, post 6. As the two sides of the border-crossing had

Indonesia: Frustration and fantasies

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia\'s foreign policy. I visited Indonesia recently, buoyed by its success. After all, Indonesia was experiencing impressive economic growth rates, spreading its diplomatic wings and

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