Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 22:06 | SYDNEY

Asia and Pacific

Australia Fiji policy needs an overhaul

I\'ve been struck by two separate statements by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd this year. In a television interview in New Zealand in March, he denied the need for a new approach to bring about democracy in Fiji. Rudd argued there was: \'a tendency in parts of the region for the question to

A trip to the Cold War’s last border

Raffaello Pantucci is a Visiting Scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Stepping into North Korean territory was not quite as dramatic as I thought it would be. The small huts straddling the demarcation line between North and South Korea in the Joint Security Area are small plots of

Burma and North Korea: Reality Checks

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Earlier this month, a conference was held in Washington to examine Burma\'s relationships with the two Koreas. Inevitably, the issue which attracted most attention was Pyongyang\'s purported assistance to Naypyidaw in the nuclear

PM in Asia: The meeting is the message

In a careful but considered way, Julia Gillard\'s travels are an expression of foreign policy priorities. See the symbolism in visits to the US last month and now to Asia. The hierarchy of choices expressed by the trips may offer as much substance as all the speeches and press conferences

Indonesia: Unpeturbed by China

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at Griffith's Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia's foreign policy. The Wikileaks release of US diplomatic cables has presented some interesting insights into Indonesia's foreign relations. Last month, corruption allegations against

Taiwan and Japan: Friends in need...

Six and a bit years ago, the Boxing Day tsunami and its aftermath showed that Australia and Indonesia, despite the problems that bedevil the bilateral relationship, are true neighbours. As a relatively new Australian at that time, I was quite taken aback by the speed and size of both the

China\ food insecurity

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. Meeting the food demands of 1.3 billion people is a primary issues faced by the Chinese Government. An increasingly affluent population, with a growing appetite for agriculturally intensive food products like meat and

Inside the Kiwi mind: Poll results

Dr Andrew Butcher is the Director, Policy and Research at the Asia New Zealand Foundation. Australia is more important to New Zealand than any other region or country in the world. In the Asia New Zealand Foundation's latest annual survey of New Zealanders perceptions of Asians and Asian people,

SGX-ASX: A no brainer

The SGX take-over of ASX has been rejected on 'national interest' grounds. It was, as the Treasurer said, a 'no brainer'. The great puzzle is that the ASX Board ever thought that it would get a tick. It would have required special legislation to change the normal 15 per cent limit on a

Timor-Leste: A need for accountability not force

Dr Gordon Peake worked on police reform in Timor-Leste from 2008 to 2011. He will soon take up a position at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at ANU. These are his private views. As Timorese police take over responsibility from the UN, their role and function

NZ Foreign Minister asks China a favour

I was lucky enough to be in Wellington yesterday for a China symposium. The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, gave the opening address in which he made a few points on China's engagement in the Pacific, emphasising some of the themes and recommendations in the Lowy Institute Policy

Reader riposte: A white NZ policy

James Cotton writes: Michael Wesley maintains, in his recent piece on Australia and New Zealand, that the kiwis were never burdened with a White New Zealand Policy! As a New Zealander observed in 1929: ‘In the minds of most people in New Zealand Asiatic immigration presents no problem.

NZ: Better as a friend than family

Before the financial crisis skewed things even further, New Zealand's per capita wealth was 87 percent less than that of Western Australia. But what really caused angst across the ditch was that New Zealanders' average wealth was 13 percent lower than Tasmania's. You can explain

China: The Pacific\ new banker

The Lowy Institute today launched the fourth in a series of reports on China's secretive aid program in the Pacific. China still refuses to report the details of its aid program, so we went to Pacific governments who provided us with the figures. The reports now cover the five year period from 2005

Australia-Malaysia relations: Mahathir\ ghost

Natalie Sambhi is a graduate of the Asia–Pacific College of Diplomacy and Graduate Studies in International Affairs at the Australian National University. Just to be clear, Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not dead. In fact, the infamously direct style and strident anti-Westernism of the former

Damming the Mekong

For the past six months, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) has been seeking submissions about the proposal by Laos to build a dam on the Mekong at Xayaburi, a location some 150 kilometres downstream from Luang Prabang. Projected to be over 800 metres wide and with a height of 32 metres, it would

PNG disciplines The Chief

No Australian Prime Minister will be forced to emulate Michael Somare and step down for failing to comply with the leadership code. Or be suspended for two weeks for failing to lodge returns on his financial dealings. But the only reason Australia will be spared this drama is because the

Singapore is not a model for Australia

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. Australians looking at Singapore as a model for pulling the poor up

Fateful choices, then and now

I've just finished reading Ian Kershaw's Fateful Choices. It's a compelling analysis of ten decisions by war leaders in Britain, the US, the Soviet Union, Germany, Italy and Japan during 1940 and 1941 (a comprehensive review here). It should be compulsory reading for statesmen, diplomats

Japan: Prepared and resilient

We're not hearing enough about this from the mainstream media (h/t Browser): Japan is exceptionally well-prepared to deal with natural disasters: it has spent more on the problem than any other nation, largely as a result of frequently experiencing them... ...The overwhelming response

China\ new silk road (part 3)

Roger Irvine is writing a PhD on China's future at the University of Adelaide. He spent most of 2010 conducting research at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Part one of this series here; part two here. China's emphasis on rail development is understandable given the huge demands placed

Japan and the future of nuclear power

Japan's post-earthquake nuclear problems have escalated, with major accidents at two or more nuclear reactors, which are the most serious since the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979 and the Chernobyl accident in 1986. While the consequences and implications from these accidents will take weeks,

CSCE/OSCE: A European model for Asia?

Dr Daniel Woker, Swiss Ambassador to Australia, was a junior member of the Swiss delegations to the CSCE meetings in Belgrade (1977/78) and Paris (1990). The EU is the European structure under most scrutiny by governments and academia in the Asia Pacific. It is undoubtedly the most

Reader riposte: NZ the ghost at Gillard\ party

Paul Cotton writes: Since Julia Gillard arrived in Washington to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty I've been waiting for one of your correspondents (or anyone else for that matter) to ask what the NZ stands for. And if the visit is to mark the signing, where

China\ new silk road (part 2)

Roger Irvine is writing a PhD on China's future at the University of Adelaide. He spent most of 2010 conducting research at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Part one of this series here. High-speed trains require track that is as straight as feasible and highly stable. A high proportion of that

High speed rail: China\ new silk road?

Roger Irvine is writing a PhD on China's future at the University of Adelaide. He spent most of 2010 conducting research at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Part two of this series here; part three here. Few things demonstrate better that something very big is happening in China than its

Boat arrivals: The answer is offshore

While it will take time for Julia Gillard's foreign policy approach to reveal itself, one area of clear difference between her and Rudd is people smuggling. Gillard has rejected the popular approach of high-visibility domestic solutions. Deploying the navy to stop the boats, changing visa

Malaysia\ domestic dilemma

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. This is part two of a three-part series arising from her recent visit to Malaysia; part one here. Malaysia's reliance on cheap foreign labour is reaching a quiet crisis point. In a country of 28 million, foreign workers

Russia\ power ambitions in the Pacific

Dr. Alexey Muraviev is a senior lecturer and Director of the Strategic Flashlight forum on National Security and Strategy at Curtin University of Technology, Perth.  On 9 February 2011, Russia's Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced plans to deploy a pair of French built Mistral-

Reader riposte: Innocents abroad

Vanessa Newby (who is contributing a series on Iran to The Interpreter) writes: As a student of niche diplomacy I found your comments particularly interesting. I just wanted to draw your attention to the work of Qatar in the past decade. Despite being a microstate, Qatar’s

Malaysia\ shining city

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. She recently visited Malaysia. In uptight Singapore, the Malaysian city of Johor Bahru had a reputation as a seedy escape of fast cars, cheap golf and sex tourism. It is a stereotype that holds less truth

Indonesia-China: Relaxed and comfortable

Beni Sukadis is Program Coordinator at the Indonesian Institute for Strategic and Defense Studies; Henwira Halim is a security analyst based in Jakarta; Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia’s foreign policy. One might

Vietnam breaks Mekong dam silence

Until now, there has been very little indication of the Vietnamese Government's view of plans to build dams on the mainstream of the Mekong River in Laos and Cambodia. As reported in my November 2009 Lowy Paper, 'The Mekong: River Under Threat', officials I interviewed in Hanoi were reluctant to

Islam in Cambodia

Cambodia's small but growing Islamic community — perhaps 500,000 in a total population approaching 15 million — receives very little attention, even within Cambodia itself. Following the arrest of Jemaah Islamiyah leader Hambali in 2003 and the revelation that he had spent months

The Kiwi as puny predator

The Australia-New Zealand relationship is set by history and geography, but fueled by the edgy animosity of eternal neighbours. In taking the temper across the Tasman, consider these two jests that also contain truths. Here is an Australian Army compliment for the quality of their Kiwi

Reader riposte: Japan\ deficits

Kien Choong asks: Could you clarify the 'cold turkey' approach' I thought the problem (as Richard Koo describes it) is that liabilities far exceed debt (ed. note: we assume 'debt' should actually be 'assets'), causing debtors to save. Wouldn't making companies bankrupt cause asset values to

Does Egypt offer any lessons for Fiji?

Watching events in Egypt unfold over the last few weeks, I have wondered whether a similar popular protest could take place in Fiji.  The two countries have little in common beyond the fact that the militaries of each occupy a dominant and somewhat sacred role in political life, and both

Deficits: The special case of Japan

Sam is right in finding Richard Koo's arguments on government deficits compelling. As usual, however, there are two sides to every argument. For Japan, it's only just over a month ago that The Interpreter linked us to a warning that, with government debt issue equal to tax

Thailand-Cambodia: Temple of gloom

For the past week, Thai and Cambodian forces have been exchanging fire near the Preah Vihear temple and other nearby locations along their common border, resulting in five deaths. This is far fewer than occurred in clashes in 2009, but the rising rhetoric from both sides suggests

US taking regional architecture seriously

The US has often been criticised in Asia for not taking regional architecture seriously enough — strangely, some even argue that this implies the US does not take Asia seriously. Comments yesterday by a top Pentagon official suggest that, when it comes to the ADMM-8 (ASEAN

Defence: Bad news and worse news

Listening to Defence Minister Stephen Smith and his colleague Jason Clare at their press conference today, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Government was taking decisive action by killing off several sick defence projects. They announced the end of a problematic watercraft project 

Good news about Papua New Guinea

Here are some reasons to be optimistic about Papua New Guinea: PNG is reaching for a golden era of economic growth, fueled by gas, copper, gold and nickel. After 35 years as a nation, PNG has the chance for economic maturity. Having completed seven post-independence national elections, PNG has

Consume! China\ luxury boom

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. The Chinese have an age-old reputation as great savers, but China's youth is making up for generations past. Compared to the austere youth of China's older generations, who went through the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution and

More on China\ choices

Above, Shanghai 1990 vs Shanghai 2010. (H/t TDW.) Thanks to Kien Choong for his intervention. We've debated industry policy previously on The Interpreter (as Kien knows), and as a result, I have come around a little. But that's not the argument I intended to

Father of modern Chinese navy dies

General Liu Huaqing has died, aged 94. Liu Huaqing, in the guise of an Admiral, is considered the father of the modern PLA Navy. The impressive Chinese naval build up we are observing today (the blogosphere is abuzz with commentary regarding the Chinese J-20 stealth aircraft, but here is

Reader riposte: China\ industrial policy

Kien Choong responds to Sam's post, which questioned whether China is making smart infrastructure choices: The debate about industrial policy often seem stuck at the level of countering specific instances of allegedly good decisions with other examples of allegedly questionable decisions. 

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