Wednesday 25 May 2022 | 10:48 | SYDNEY


On the road in Pakistan (1): Adventure calls

Alicia Mollaun, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU, is based in Islamabad. In this three-part series she writes about a journey to a remote corner of Pakistan.   Tourism is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Pakistan, which is a pity given Pakistan has some of

Fiji is not China political football

Philippa Brant is a researcher working on China's foreign aid. Concern has arisen again over China’s relationship with Fiji after a senior government delegation visit last week. Wu Bangguo, China's second-ranked Communist Party leader, caused a stir in the Australian and New Zealand media last

The dangers of the Chinese media

Yesterday I saw myself misquoted by Xinhua, China's official news agency:  On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, China, as the host of the Six-Party Talks, has functioned as more than just a coordinator. Linda Jacobson, East Asia program director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy

Japan Inc talks security

One of the less commented upon elements of the present flare-up between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands is the public criticism of Prime Minister Noda's stance on the dispute by the head of Keidanren, Japan's most influential corporate association. Hiromasa Yonekura made his critical

Netanyahu: The PM who cried wolf

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the UN General Assembly last week, which set a red line for Iranian nuclear capability using a prop that appeared to be straight out of the Warner Brothers graphic design department, provided Israeli satirists with plenty of ammunition. The

What if China slows?

There is a vigorous debate on the prospects for China's growth. But there is little disagreement that the 'new normal' for China is significantly slower than the 10%- growth of the past decade and that there needs to be a rebalancing over time, reducing the role of investment in driving growth. How

Australian science in the Asian century

Professor Andrew Holmes is Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science. He is Melbourne Laureate Professor of the School of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne and a CSIRO Fellow. Australia is a competitive, collaborative top 20 country in science. But unless we take a strategic

Iran-US: Two 'exceptional' enemies

Jerry Nockles' excellent post on American exceptionalism gives an insight into the way the US perceives its role in the world. And in his selection of quotes from contemporary US politicians, the degree to which they pay homage to this concept shows that it remains a real issue. The inevitable

US rebalance losing its champions

I'm visiting the US this week as a guest of the State Department, exploring the US rebalance to Asia. Confidence that the pivot will endure abounds amongst those US experts engaged in thinking about Asia. But so it should. Consensus thus far has been that, regardless of who wins the election (

China BFFs: A string of shiny pearls

Can you name China's best regional friends in the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific? Here's a list that has just been expressed by Beijing: Iran, Sri Lanka, Burma and Fiji. The list is drawn from the hosts for the just-completed international lap-of-honour tour by

China carrier: Symbol of prestige

Back in November 2011 some observers argued that the deal Australia struck with Washington to allow US Marines to rotate through Darwin was not strategically significant in itself. But the way the decision was framed, in the context of Obama's visit to Australia and the announcement of the Asia

Sri Lanka: Time for action, not action plans

Alan Keenan is Sri Lanka Project Director at the International Crisis Group. Masters of prevarication, the Sri Lankan Government is once again stalling the UN's attempt to ensure an open assessment of the brutal final stages of the country's civil war. The regime is probably hoping interest will

Mekong pirates brought to trial

The complex story of murder and mayhem on the Mekong River in October last year was outlined in my 9 November 2011 post. In a brutal attack on two Chinese commercial vessels close to the tri-border region of Burma, Laos and Thailand, thirteen Chinese nationals were killed. Although suspicion

Another dam on the Mekong in China

While there are continuing uncertainties as to whether a dam is going to be built on the mainstream of the Mekong at Xayaburi in Laos, Chinese authorities have just announced that the major dam at Nuozhadu on the upper reaches of the Mekong in Yunnan province has started generating electricity

McKinsey on Indonesia

The Chinese economy attracts all the attention in the Asian Century, but Indonesia is right next to us, providing opportunities that are often more accessible and less crowded out by other foreigners. Thus a new McKinsey Report on Indonesia's economy provides a counterweight to the China obsession

Don't mention ANZUS: NZ Panetta test

Robert Ayson is Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University, Wellington. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's arrival in New Zealand this morning is the surest sign of how far things have come, and how far they might go, in the strategic relationship between the two

Unleashing Indonesia potential

Arief Budiman is a principal at McKinsey & Company and Raoul Oberman is a Director. Modern Indonesia is potentially a highly attractive business proposition — and not for the reasons most people assume. The conventional wisdom is that Indonesia is the 16th largest economy in the world because

Where are the Arab statesmen?

A little over three years ago, President Obama gave a much anticipated speech in the hall of Cairo University that was titled 'A New Beginning'. It was designed to signal a break from the confrontational approach to the region adopted by the Bush Administration, and followed on from a Persian New

Arab anger not just about a film

We are told that the murder of American diplomats in Libya, attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Yemen and protests outside other American missions in the region, including in Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, was sparked by a cheap film made in America attacking Islam. No film, however idiotic

3 questions about China growth (1)

Q1. What\'s the story with Chinese growth? A. Something interesting does seem to be happening. Back in March, Wen Jiabao said China\'s growth target for 2012 was just 7.5%. That implied a sizeable change for an economy that had averaged roughly 10% growth for the past three decades and 11

Xi Jinping: A debacle, not a crisis

The Chinese Government continues to keep its citizens and the rest of the world in the dark about the health and whereabouts of China\'s leader-in-waiting, Xi Jinping, who has not been seen in public since 1 September. Yet, wild rumours about Xi\'s possible fate seem to be overblown. If Xi

Reader ripostes: The G20 and the Papuan flag

Below, Edwin Crump on Papua\'s Morning Star flag. But first, Michael Gaskin writes: Stephen Grenville has raised a really interesting point. Certainly one of the problems facing the G20 since its establishment in 1999 has been the loss of intimacy that characterises the former iterations of

US v China: Trade recipes for Asia

Asia\'s free trade future has become a contest between Chinese noodles and a US steak dinner. The chief chefs are facing off, but some of the other cooks appear in both kitchens. In the last few days, it has become possible to point to an explicit competition between US and Chinese recipes

Papua incendiary influence

Recent events have again underlined the incendiary influence of the Papua conflict in Australia-Indonesia relations. A report on the ABC\'s 7:30 program last week focused on claims that Indonesia\'s anti-terror squad, Detachment 88, was involved in the killing of Papuan independence leader

India linkage: Economic growth, McDonald, Narendra Modi and more

Danielle Rajendram is a Research Associate in the Lowy Institute\'s International Security Program whose work focuses on India and China-India relations. Is China\'s growing assertiveness pushing New Delhi and Washington closer together? If so, why has there been so little discussion of

Pacific islands: It about the women

The statistics reflecting the depth of gender inequality across the Pacific are tragic, deplorable and breathtaking. Amnesty International has described the level and frequency of violence against women in the Pacific as one of the gravest human rights violations in the region. According to UN

China hype is giving way to realism

Michael Pettis is finance professor at Peking University and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment. Stephen Grenville calls me the leading pessimist among China watchers but I would much rather be described as a sceptic. For many years, China bulls have made a series of excited

Afghanistan: The grisly waiting game

No sooner had the tragic news broken yesterday of five more Australians killed in Afghanistan than Canberra\'s propaganda machine coughed and spluttered to life, all set to churn out its trademark combination of myth, platitude, euphemism, selective half-truth and straight-out lie. The

Australia Pacific strategy (part 2)

Earlier this week I used the opportunity of the 2012 Pacific Islands Forum, now taking place in the Cook Islands, to start a blog series on Australia\'s Pacific Islands strategy. I outlined two elements that characterise Australia\'s Pacific policy. First is Australia\'s tendency to project our

China growth is still sustainable

With the  European economy deeply mired and America facing both the \'fiscal cliff\' and the need to correct its budget deficit, the world has come to depend on China continuing to grow at a reasonable pace. China\'s own forecasts are for 7.5% growth, and the IMF agrees. Overshadowing these

Is the Hong Kong tail wagging the China dog?

Edward Kus is a Research Associate in the East Asia Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Beijing\'s political influence over Hong Kong is growing, but the cultural and ideological flow between Hong Kong and the mainland is not one-sided. Hong Kong ideals are slowly drifting into

America engaging China? Not always

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell is quoted as saying that... ...\'no country has taken more trouble to engage with China\' than the US. If anything, the US had been giving China more responsibility in global affairs than it was comfortable with

Movie trailer: Return to Base

Call Kenny Loggins, because South Korea just entered the Danger Zone. This ever-so-slightly-familiar synopsis for R2B: Return to Base is courtesy of IMDB: After he performs a dangerous dare-devil stunt at an air show, South Korean Air Force pilot Tae-hun is kicked out of the elite Black Eagles

PIF week: Australia Pacific strategy (I)

Government officials, diplomats, aid officials, multilateral bankers and a handful of private sector representatives will come together with a host of non-member country representatives (including from China, Indonesia, Japan and the US) who have been hopping on and off connecting flights to

North Korea in slow-motion

The Guardian produced this video of what are, for foreign policy wonks, familiar scenes of a North Korean military parade. But the slow-mo treatment, combined with some unusual angles and audio, combine to make this a new glimpse into the Hermit kingdom, one in which a small trace of humanity

Kurt Campbell on Oz China debate

America\'s senior Asia diplomat, Kurt Campbell, made an intervention yesterday in the debate generated by Hugh White\'s The China Choice and the speech former Prime Minister Paul Keating made at the book launch. Campbell deployed a familiar straw man, saying that he wanted to \'

Fiji’s fear and favour

In seeking fresh engagement with Fiji, the aim of Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the Pacific Islands Forum is to push for the best achievable political bargain between Fiji's people and the Bainimarama New Order regime.  That means outsiders will have to eat a bit of crow, as the

As the crow flies to Fiji

Having flown with the hawks in the cyber-debate on dealing with Fiji\'s military regime, this column confronts the task of eating crow in the wake of some clear wins for the doves. The dove perspective has always been that isolating Fiji was never going to have much impact on the military

Niall Ferguson and his critics (again)

I did worry that my response to the now infamous Niall Ferguson Newsweek cover story could be read as a defence of Ferguson. Dan Nexon at Duck of Minerva (a blog you should definitely bookmark) has read my piece in just that way, which gives me a chance to explain my argument a little

US and China meet in South Pacific

The Cook Islands, a tiny Pacific nation of 10,000 and recipient of significant Chinese aid, is the host of this year's annual Pacific Islands Forum, which starts on Monday 27 August. The meeting's official theme is Large Ocean Island States – the Pacific Challenge. But the real challenge for the

China: Niall Ferguson and his critics

The debate aroused in the US about Niall Ferguson\'s cover story for Newsweek (Hit the Road, Barack: Why We Need a New President) is revealing about the American debate on the rise of China. The graph Ferguson includes in his piece, tellingly titled \'America losing ground\', is reproduced here:&

Movie trailer: The Impossible

The Impossible is a new feature film about the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and I think I can predict one line of criticism already: this was an Asian tragedy which killed an estimated 230,000 people, only a tiny portion of them Western tourists. Yet the movie recounts events from their

Reader riposte: The good guys in Syria

Ghassan Salem writes: I read with interest the blog by Mr Roger Shanahan about the good guys in Syria\'s mess, and I have some comments about it. Let me first say that I\'m a Lebanese who lived and fought the war between 1975 and 1990 (I stopped fighting in 1979), so I have some \'experience\'