Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 23:22 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Kazakh-China Diary: Never stay at the Ili on a wedding night

Anthony Bubalo and Konrad Muller are undertaking fieldwork for a new project examining Kazakh-China relations. Earlier posts in this series here, here, here and here. Last Friday we left Almaty for Urumqi. The plan was to drive down to Zharkent, near the Chinese border, overnight

China calls me 'incompetent or stupid'

I have a few nicknames, but one of my more irregular ones, used by some Lowy colleagues, is \'totally pointless and unacceptable\'. I can thank a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman for that. Qin Gang used the expression to describe a paper I wrote on China\'s aid program (a paper which has

Kazakh-China Diary: How do you say 'oil' in Klingon?

Anthony Bubalo and Konrad Muller are undertaking fieldwork for a new project examining Kazakh-China relations. Earlier posts in this series here, here and here. Last week Kazakhstan held its two major annual energy conferences: Kazenergy in Astana and the Kazakhstan International Oil and Gas

Australia Asia strategy emerges

Does Australia have a strategy for dealing with the new Asia, especially the rise of China and India? This question is central to the Australian Government\'s recently-announced Asia policy review. Either we have a plan, in which the case the review can test, inform and refine it, or we don\'t

Your questions for Zhu Feng

Peter Martin is a political consultant based in Beijing. Along with David Cohen, he is conducting a series of interviews on behalf of The Interpreter with Chinese academics and journalists. In the next part of our interview series, we\'ll be speaking on 15

World best diplomatic entrepreneurs

It\'s hard not to be impressed by the diplomatic entrepreneurship of some Pacific Islands countries. Just when the China-Taiwan diplomatic truce appeared to be closing off one income stream, the region has become a hotbed of competition over the recognition of Russian-backed breakaway states. 

For China, energy efficiency is the priority

Shen Dingli is Professor and Executive Dean of the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University. This is a response to Linda Jakobson\'s piece which asked whether President Putin\'s upcoming China visit would finally lead to a gas deal. China was not in a hurry to

Political football, the Australian way

To express the zeitgeist and schadenfreude of Oceania this week leads to only one topic – football. Australia didn\'t really engage with the tax summit in Canberra because its attentions and emotions had been spent on the two grand finals at the weekend. Concurrently, the rugby fest thunders

A China-Russia gas deal, at last?

With Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arriving in China for a working visit on 11 October, the big question will be whether gas price negotiations between Russia and China will finally end in a concrete agreement that allows work on even one of the two much talked-about gas pipelines from

Freedom of speech in Fiji

Commodore Frank Bainimarama once famously told an Australian journalist that he did not trust the Fiji people. Apparently the Australian government doesn\'t trust them either. The Fiji people currently have no forum in which to have their voice heard, but on the one occasion they have

Déjà vu in Taiwan?

History from 2000 may repeat itself in 2012, due to the political choice of one man, James Soong. In 2000, the \'pan-blue\' (rock the cross-Strait status quo boat less) side of Taiwan politics lost the presidency. Despite gaining a clear majority, its vote was split between two candidates, James

Our strangely normal neighbour

The Australian relationship with Indonesia is being changed and challenged by the wonderful reality that these two extraordinarily different nations now share some central values. Indonesia and Australia largely agree on the golden norms of the modern global system, ranging from democracy and human

Tremble before China space power

Congratulations to AFP for pointing out that, in its latest \'great leap forward\' into space (that\'s the inevitable but historically tone-deaf pun on the ABC News homepage just now) China is merely emulating the Gemini program, commemorated above in a 1967 US postage stamp: China

Saying 'no' to the Nike doctrine

Prime Minister Gillard has announced an Asia White Paper, but Greg Sheridan and Crikey, in its daily editorial, are impatient. The PM doesn\'t need a White Paper to tell her that there are some obvious shortcomings in our approach to Asia, says Sheridan: At school and university

Reader riposte: Australia in World War II

Anton Kuruc writes: It is difficult to know what to make of Raoul Heinrichs\' latest post on Australia\'s long-term strategic culture of alliances. Whilst it is true that \'dependence\' is a choice, he should have at least considered what the other choice implies. Heinrichs asserts: \'If

'Asian Century' vs 'Asia Pacific'

If there is a conceptual shift on display in yesterday\'s White Paper launch, it is from Australia\'s firm attachment to the construct of the Asia Pacific toward the \'Asian Century\'. The country that invented APEC (well, co-invented with Japan) is readjusting the settings. It was Treasury that&

Reader riposte: SBY on religious liberty

Aaron Connelly, who has previously blogged a series of posts on Aceh for The Interpreter, writes: In his post, Peter McCawley praises Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) for his swift response to the bombing of a church in Solo on Sunday, writing: \'The rapid response from the

Kazakh-China Diary: Hip-hop, punching bags, and a wooden cathedral

I am in Almaty with Konrad Muller, where we are beginning a three-week journey examining Kazakhstan\'s relations with China. This is part of a new project looking at how key states in West Asia perceive their rapidly expanding economic ties to China. Initially, we are focusing on Saudi Arabia and

Taiwan arms: Less rancour this time

It is refreshing to encounter some mildly positive news on US-China security relations. After a long cycle of pessimism about prospects for improved trust and dialogue between the two powers, it appears Washington and Beijing are quietly coordinating to ensure that the latest

SBY responds quickly to Solo bombing

Peter McCawley, currently based in Jakarta, is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. The response of the Indonesian Government to the explosion of a bomb outside a Christian church in Solo on Sunday has been swift.&

Politics never stops at the border

I\'ve been waiting a while for the local press to note the international dimension of Australia\'s current asylum seeker squabbles. Finally George Megalogenis of The Australian has: Gillard and Abbott are the self-absorbed bogan couple arguing over which neighbour should look after their pet

China and India: What is rivalry?

It is becoming popular to use the word \'rivalry\' when describing relations between China and India. Recent spats between the two powers over Indian oil exploration and an alleged maritime encounter in the South China Sea certainly highlight the potential for dangerous clashes of interests

Unlocking our links with Indonesia

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo. The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, provided a useful overview of the Opposition\'s views on Australian-Indonesian relations at the ANU last week. The

AUSMIN puts icing on the alliance cake

The big annual AUSMIN meeting, where Australia\'s defence and foreign ministers get together with their US counterparts, has just concluded in San Francisco. This year\'s talks marked the 60th anniversary of the Australia-US alliance, and the communiqué is rich birthday fare. The

Another voice from Fiji

Paul Cotton, a regular Interpreter correspondent on Pacific issues, forwarded our Fiji opinion poll to a family member, Dr Subramanian Pillai, who lives in New Zealand but visits family in Fiji every year. Dr Pillai happened to be in Fiji in August 2011, around the time the poll

Reader riposte: Beyond 'genderisation' of IR

Nina Markovic, a PhD candidate in Political Science, Centre for European Studies, Australian National University writes: A month before the Women in Political Science Caucus meeting at the Australian Political Science Association conference in Canberra, Roger Shanahan\'s piece on the Lowy

Burma and ASEAN seat of yearning

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. As The Interpreter noted last week, there has been a spate of articles in recent months looking at the apparently more open-minded and conciliatory approach being taken by Burma\'s President Thein Sein. Inevitably, given the

Don't ignore the voice of Fiji people

Politicians and political parties the world over dismiss opinion polls when the results are inconvenient and embrace them when the results show support for their policies. So I wasn\'t surprised to see some of the reactions to the results of the Lowy Institute\'s Fiji Poll. I was personally

The US military embraces Australia

Australia\'s Defence Minister says the military basing deal with the US to be unveiled next week will be the biggest step in the alliance in 30 years. Given that the AUSMIN (Australia-US Ministerial) meeting is being held in San Francisco to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing there of

The F-35 is more than enough

A piece by The Diplomat\'s Washington correspondent Eddie Walsh appeared online today quoting me on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It says that I think the F-35 is probably more capability than we need against Southeast Asian air forces. However... ...\"if the adversary is

Sport and supra-nationalism

Many thanks to those who emailed in response to my query about Pacific rugby, though they don\'t quite address the mystery at the heart of my post. I\'ve now learnt that there has been an attempt to field a supra-national Pacific rugby team, but this may not even be a permanent team, and

Talib or Taliban?

Today we are launching Talib or Taliban? Indonesian students in Pakistan and Yemen, which looks at whether Indonesian students studying at Islamic institutions in Pakistan and Yemen pose a risk in terms of future patterns of extremism in Indonesia. The report is based on fieldwork in

Reader ripostes: Pacific rugby

Yesterday Sam Roggeveen asked whether anyone had ever proposed that Pacific Island countries copy the West Indies cricket team model to create a supra-national rugby team. Three responses, beginning with Ben Davis: Hey Sam, I think you would call the supra-national rugby team you are

Pacific development: Tyranny of scale

There\'s a good chance you have never heard of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Below, in another of my interviews from Tuesday\'s Lowy Institute Pacific Islands and the World Conference is the SPC\'s Director-General, Jimmie Rodgers to explain all about its work, and the challenges

Fiji poll: Challenges and opportunities

The Lowy Institute launches its first ever Fiji Poll, Fiji at Home and in the World, today in Auckland, New Zealand. We commissioned the poll to give a voice to the Fiji people, whose thinking about their own government and their relations with the world are not properly understood by either the

Interview: Repression in Fiji

One of the most impressive speakers at yesterday\'s Lowy Institute Pacific Islands and the World Conference was Shamima Ali, Executive Director of the Fiji Women\'s Crisis Centre (here\'s the NZ Herald\'s coverage of her speech). Conditions for political and human rights activists in Fiji are

Through Chinese eyes: Tang Qifang (part 1)

Interview with Tang Qifang, Southeast Asia specialist at the foreign ministry-affiliated China Institute of International Studies by Peter Martin and David Cohen. Peter and David are conducting a series of interviews with Chinese academics and journalists, using reader-submitted questions. Part

Interview: NZ Foreign Minister McCully

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully opened proceedings at the Lowy Institute\'s Pacific Islands and the World conference here in Auckland this morning. We conducted this short interview after his speech. McCully seems to have lost patience with Fiji: \'too much time has been

Movie trailer: Seediq Bale

Reader David has responded to my call for tips about the latest Asian cinema, directing me to a trailer for a new Taiwanese war epic, Seediq Bale. Here\'s part of the synopsis from the official website. And, a warning: the trailer is not for the squeamish. Wei Te-Sheng’s epic film WARRIORS

Connecting the Pacific

Danielle Romanes is an intern with the Lowy Institute\'s Myer Foundation Melanesia Program.Information and Communications Technology (ICT) connectivity and labour migration will be hot topics at the Lowy Institute\'s forthcoming \'Pacific Islands and the World\' conference in Auckland. Few

Asian cinema: Two new trailers

The Interpreter likes to alert you to new films with a political, strategic or economic bent. But we\'ve had a lamentable record on cinema from and about the region the Lowy Institute knows best. Herewith, trailers for two new films on Southeast Asian themes, the first a biopic on

Singapore: No revolution today, thank you

Dr Michael Barr is Senior Lecturer at Flinders University. His most recent book, written with Zlatko Skrbiš, is Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project. Dr Tony Tan\'s election as President of Singapore on 29 August is a welcome relief, but no

Eyes wide open on corruption in India

Vinod Daniel is a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute and CEO of IndHeritage. Now that Anna Hazare has ended his twelve day fast, and his version of the Jan Lokpal bill has been agreed to as the basis by both houses of the Indian Parliament, we all should be delighted. Any one promoting anti&

Call for questions: Tang Qifang

A quick reminder, we\'re still taking questions for next week\'s interview between David Cohen, Peter Martin and Tang Qifang, on behalf of The Interpreter. This is the third interview they\'ve conducted for us, after talking to Gui Yongtao and Pan Wei. Tang 

Singapore presidential poll

At the Lowy Institute New Voices conference last Friday, Hamish McDonald, of the 6.30 with George Negus program, made an uncomfortable comparison. While England\'s press covers French, German and wider European politics, very few in the Australian press do the same for Indonesia, Malaysia,

The agony and ecstasy of Steve Jobs

News that Steve Jobs is retiring as CEO of Apple takes my mind back to April in Washington, DC, where I caught a performance of a monologue called The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. The description of the show — a man sits at a table and talks to the audience for 90

What an Indian naval shipyard looks like

This photo, courtesy of Indian milblog Broadsword, shows three sleek and modern destroyers in various stages of completion. Perhaps this appearance is deceiving, but when you look at the wider scene, you do ask yourself how they ever build such advanced vessels among the

Reader riposte: Asian cinema

Evan Rees writes (warning, some links are NSFW): I just saw your post calling for blogs/resources on Asian cinema. I would suggest reading Wise Kwai\'s Thai Film Journal. Thai cinema received international attention this year for \'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives\', a magical

A call to Asian cinema buffs

On Andrew Sullivan\'s blog today, I found a link to a Korean movie trailer that made me realise something unflattering about my editing of this site. When I post trailers or write the odd review of a film with a political, strategic or economic theme, my focus is on Hollywood

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