Wednesday 25 May 2022 | 11:12 | SYDNEY


Historical echoes in China rise

Robert Ayson is Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University, Wellington. There is a strong consensus today that, to focus on its number one priority, continued economic development, China needs a secure and stable environment. A book published last year on Asian

Syria: Who are the good guys again?

The air is thick with the stench of hypocrisy over Syria. For a country whose own politicians often refer to it as \'The City Upon a Hill\' for its role as a moral exemplar, the US risks losing what remains of its moral authority in the Middle East through its hypocritical policy in Syria. Perhaps

Indo-Pacific: What in a name?

It was refreshing to hear Australia\'s Defence Minister Stephen Smith declare plainly that this country\'s region is the Indo-Pacific when he spoke at the Lowy Institute last week. This is not just some faddish, interchangeable alternative to those long used and abused expressions \'Asia\' or

Asylum seekers: What is our moral responsibility?

Rawdon Dalrymple is a former Australian ambassador to Israel, Indonesia, the US and Japan. The Expert Panel\'s report on \'asylum seeker\' policy was prepared in less than seven weeks, a remarkable achievement to produce a succinct but comprehensive and compelling document covering all

Laos in denial about dam impacts?

In an earlier update regarding the possibility that the Lao Government might go ahead with plans to build a dam on the mainstream of the Mekong I drew attention to the manner in which the Vientiane authorities continued to equivocate on their intentions. The Lao equivocation continues but

Crowdsourcing and diplomacy in the Pacific

Charles Martin-Shields is Director of Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at TechChange, Washington DC. Gerard McCarthy is TechChange’s Project Manager (Asia-Pacific), based in Sydney. Since 2006 the private sector has been using social media and SMS text messaging to crowdsource consumer

Ken Henry crafts his White Paper (III)

Part 1 of this article is here and part 2 is here.  Consider a single political-diplomatic start date for the idea of the Asian Century. It is 1988 and Deng Xiaoping is meeting Rajiv Gandhi. China\'s leader tells India\'s Prime Minister: \'The 21st century can only be the Asian

Does the US have regional primacy?

Hugh White is characteristically generous in responding to a blog post of mine about his use of the term 'primacy' in The China Choice. I hope he'll forgive a response and a widening of the discussion. I agree with Hugh (and with Hedley Bull) that 'primacy' means 'preponderance in

Egypt: What will the Muslim Brotherhood do with its new power?

Before the events of the last weekend, the main issue facing Egypt\'s President Mohammed Morsi (pictured) was his lack of real power. Now he may have too much. The key question is how he and the Muslim Brotherhood will use this power. Will it be to cement Egypt\'s transition to

What is primacy, exactly?

Many thanks to my ANU colleague Ian Hall for his post over on his own blog about my new book, The China Choice. Ian raises two concerns about the way I use the concept of primacy to characterise the place in Asia that America has enjoyed for the last forty years and at present seems

Reader riposte: Trade with the UAE

Alison Broinowski writes: Sam and Rodger would remember when we happily traded for years with a China whose existence we did not recognise. Unless we had a trade embargo in place against the UAE, the obnoxiousness of their regime gives Australia no right nor reason selectively to

Ken Henry crafts his White Paper (II)

Part 1 of this article here. The Asian Century White Paper has to be broad enough to touch the conceptual edges of the Defence White Paper that will come out in the middle of next year. Notice the key word here is \'touch\' rather than \'enmesh\' or \'integrate\'. The two White Papers will

Lieven: New insights into Taliban

Yesterday the noted expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Anatol Lieven, spoke at the Lowy Institute. In this interview, he shared with me some extraordinary insights into some of the streams of Taliban thinking about the prospects for peace in Afghanistan, including surprising speculations on whether

Ken Henry crafts his White Paper (I)

Matching the message to the audience is one of the defining choices in any attempt at communication. The problem for the White Paper on the Asian Century is the myriad of messages and the multiplicity of audiences — in Australia and beyond. Ken Henry is near the finish in his

Australia uses China policy on UAE

If our relations with China have taught us one thing, it is that politics is politics and business is business. This means that the economic benefits of a close relationship with a rich partner might necessitate skipping over such unpleasantness as autocratic rule and the odd human rights abuse

Stakes in uncertainty: Australia future with China, India and the United States

Australia’s choices in the Indo-Pacific Asian century will not simply involve China and the United States. India, too, needs to be in the picture. In this lecture delivered at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi in mid-2012, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf outlines the impact of a

Hot and slow: Ramadan in Pakistan

Alicia Mollaun, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU, is based in Islamabad. It\'s hot, it\'s humid and it\'s Ramadan. When I moved from Australia to Pakistan two years ago, I had limited knowledge of Ramadan and it certainly didn\'t affect my everyday life. Now, even as a non-

Launch of Hugh White book

Sometimes book launches can be memorable for what the invited talent says about the book and the writer. Back in 2006 Paul Keating launched George Megalogenis\' The Longest Decade with this: Would I write a better book? Well, of course I would. I write better than George and I know more. But

Reader riposte: What ASEAN is good for

James Wallar writes: I would agree with Hugh White\'s point that ASEAN will not help the US Government very much with managing China. ASEAN does offer, however, a framework within which the US Government can constructively engage China in a regional context. Context, I would submit, is important

ASEAN won't help US to manage China

We all agree that something rather important happened in Phnom Penh last month, but differ about what it portends for ASEAN, and for Asia.  Let me start by agreeing with Ernie Bower that pessimism about ASEAN is easy to overdo. ASEAN has been remarkably successful for over four

PNG politics: Social media & Carol Kidu

Part 1 of this post was published yesterday. Newly-elected female PNG MPs Loujaya Toni and Delilah Gore should be enormously proud of what they have achieved – they have run the election gauntlet and won. They triumphed despite being up against a culture that has a tendency to

Politics in PNG: It a man world

Hordes of newly elected Papua New Guinean MPs are now engaged in post-election horse-trading (or as one blogger puts it, the \'PNG shuffle\'). As those with power stitch together a coalition government, one side story is attracting some deserved attention. Two women have achieved the

Lies, damn lies and Syria

You know your credibility is seriously in doubt when you have to rely on the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) for accurate information. When French cameraman Gilles Jacquier was killed in Homs in January, SANA was quick to blame rebel mortar fire while the Syrian National Council blamed the

Reader riposte: South China Sea and ASEAN

Carl Thayer writes: Michael Wesley\'s Snapshot, What\'s at stake in the South China Sea, contains three major assertions and one policy recommendation that I take issue with. Wesley\'s first assertion is that China claims the South China Sea as its territorial waters and this would

WR Mead on Asia future order

Below is part 3 of my interview with renowned US foreign policy analyst Walter Russell Mead; part 1 here and part 2 here. Q. Walter, you again make an intriguing comment near the close of your previous answer, so I\'d like to ask you about \'the emergence of an Asian society of

Why ASEAN can't unite

Hugh White says it is difficult to imagine Indonesia putting its relations with China at risk by supporting Vietnam over its claims in the South China Sea. This focuses attention firmly on an issue that used to be debated frequently but now seems to have been forgotten (or is it just that to do

South China Sea: Our diplomatic timidity

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has rejected the suggestion I made in a Lowy Institute Snapshot yesterday, that the South China Sea is the most unpredictable and dangerous dispute in our region and that Australia should be more active in helping work towards a solution. Here\'s what Senator Carr told

China haunts ASEAN dreams

China said boo and ASEAN flinched, jumped and momentarily fell silent. By failing to release any communiqué to mark its annual meeting, ASEAN\'s foreign ministers ensured everyone would note their failure. This is a signal with multiple meanings. Or, to turn that thought around, no single

Reader riposte: ASEAN stumbles

Linda Quayle writes: Much as I admire Hugh White’s work, I have to take issue with his piece on ASEAN and the infamous non-communiqué (and, indirectly, with the piece by Ernest Bower that he endorses). I\'m not sure what is to be gained by taking a \'blame China\' approach.

What at stake in the South China Sea?

As tensions rise in the South China Sea, I argue in a new Lowy Institute Snapshots paper that finding solutions should be given the highest priority, with Australia well placed to play a brokering role. in \'What\'s at Stake in the South China Sea\', I liken the South China Sea to a \'geopolitical

As power shifts, ASEAN stumbles

Thanks to Sam for linking to Ernie Bower\'s excellent piece on China and ASEAN in light of the Phnom Penh contretemps. He and others are right to see this as an important event, because it chillingly shows China\'s determination to get its own way over its smaller neighbours, and to be

Indonesia, emerging aid donor

David Hatch is Indonesia Deputy Program Director for USAID. Since rising powers like Indonesia will one day run the world, argues the American political scientist George Friedman, they can save trouble later by reducing poverty in other developing countries now. To this end, Indonesia is

Tony Abbott China speech

Here\'s a transcript of the speech, and below is a short video we recorded yesterday with my first impressions

Interview: WR Mead on Asia 3D chess

Below is part 2 of my interview with renowned US foreign policy analyst Walter Russell Mead; part 1 here. This interview series will mark the close of our Australia in the Asian Century feature, though you\'ll note from Walter\'s answer below how easily this discussion flows into the

The costs of Indonesia democracy

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the Asia Development Bank Institute, Tokyo. Stephen Grenville (\'Democracy and Indonesia\'s economy\') notes that government decision-making has become much more difficult in Indonesia since

Say g'day: Tourism in the Asian century

Just as the American journalist James Fallows believes modern China can be viewed through the prism of its aviation industry, I have long thought that a pretty good study of modern-day Australia could be written by examining its tourism sector. Like shrimp on a barbeque, there are so many

What must Asma al-Assad be thinking?

While looking for a shot to illlustrate Rodger Shanahan\'s post this morning, I came across some photos of the very glamorous Syrian first lady, Asma al-Assad. I couldn\'t help thinking of this

Reader ripostes: Containing China

Check our Facebook page for discussions about ediplomacy, and also for responses to Abe Denmark\'s piece on China containment. A selection, beginning with Sugar Caine:  True – the US has made a significant contribution to China. But past facts does not change present reality. \'No

Syria: Can Assad suppress the panic?

This week\'s events in Damascus have struck at the heart of the regime, both mentally and physically. The deaths of the security officials overnight are raising some questions: why hasn\'t President Assad appeared on state TV to speak to the people? Did last night\'s assassinations occur as was

Cambodia pays its China dues

The fact that Prime Minister Hun Sen led the Cambodian participants in the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held in Phnom Penh last week in resisting the release of a post-meeting communiqué dealing with tensions in the South China Sea, and the fact that no agreed position was achieved, should

Interview: Walter Russell Mead on Asia game of thrones

Below is the first instalment of my interview series with renowned US foreign policy analyst Walter Russell Mead, Editor-at-Large for The American Interest and author of Special Providence and God and Gold. He also runs the lively Via Meadia blog. Walter has been kind to the Lowy

Syria: Bob Carr rush to judgment

It would be nice to believe that the entirely abhorrent Assad regime in Syria is being opposed by a group of morally upright freedom fighters rigorously observing the rules of war. The reality is otherwise. While Syria has been a ruthless mukhabarat state for decades, the fact that the regime has

Democracy and Indonesia economy

Indonesia is getting good press, with fulsome praise for both the post-Soeharto democracy and the performance of the economy. There are some links between the two. Democratic performance is usually judged in terms of whether the elections went smoothly, whether the diversity of the

India pile-on misses soft-power gains

\'It\'s open season for criticising India\'s leaders\', notes veteran Delhi-watcher John Elliot in his blog at The Independent. He\'s right, of course. Pack-like creatures that we are, the past week or so has seen a global media pile-on. Time\'s cover portrait across much of Asia this week

Life of a Japanese salaryman

In my search for images to accompany blog posts, I often find photos that are amazing but just not quite right for that particular post. For John Larkin\'s recent piece about Asia\'s male-dominated corporate sector, I was looking for a crowd shot of Asian white collar workers, preferably all male