Thursday 26 May 2022 | 00:09 | SYDNEY


PNG: The counting continues

With counting underway to determine who will be the 111 winners in PNG's national elections, what was predicted to be an excessively violent poll has so far turned out to be relatively smooth. There have been exceptions, notably in the highlands where there were early reports of gunfights at polling

China business of green greens

Nicole Sy is a Masters candidate in Global Business Journalism at Tsinghua University, Beijing. Mr Yan is Party Secretary of the township where Jinnong Organic Agricultural Development Limited Company is located, in northern Hebei province. This makes him the most important man in town, more

Mekong threats growing?

With a sense that the story is becoming something like \'The Perils of Pauline\', the Xayaburi dam story rolls on. The fact that the issue has become tortuously prolonged should not detract from the very serious issues involved: environmental threats to the Mekong leading to the major loss of fish

PNG elections: Meet the candidates II

Last week we began a series of posts introducing candidates in the 2012 PNG elections, kicking off with my conversation with the Hon Bart Philemon, PNG\'s Minister for Public Service and standing for an impressive fifth term of parliament. The next candidate in our series is Sir Kina Bona KBE,

All change for Asia

Australia is being told of \'dramatic\' shifts to its society and institutions because of the Asian Century. Being changed by Asia is not new; but the fact that this is being openly discussed, even embraced, does mark a departure from previous habits. Often in Australia, the big shifts start

Women locked out of Asia boardrooms

John Larkin reported from Asia for more than a decade for the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, and is now based in Australia. Western economies can learn from Asia\'s resilience against financial crisis. But Asia\'s male-dominated corporate sectors could take a cue from more egalitarian

Asian echoes in Horne masterpiece

Not long after arriving in Sydney, I ran into a young Australian architect who outlined what seemed like an astonishingly heretical theory: that the best way to improve the quality of local architecture was to demolish the Sydney Opera House. Jorn Utzon\'s unfinished masterpiece, he reckoned, had

Reader riposte: Understanding China Party

Geoff Miller, a former Director-General of the Office of National Assessments, writes: In his comment of 4 July, Hugh White roundly criticises Australia\'s efforts to understand and form a relationship of trust with China, and wonders whether we can grasp the notion of such a relationship with

Asian Century linkage: Corruption, Cambodia, China banks and more

Indonesia dialing back its openness to foreign investment. \'The first question we should ask ourselves is: what kind of future does China want for itself?\' George W Bush\'s National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, on China\'s rise. Another side of Japan: a tour through some of Tokyo\'s

Syria opposition: Death and squabbles

If the US has learnt one thing from its experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is that putting a country back together is much harder than tearing the it apart. Which is why Washington is much less keen to tear down Syria\'s Ba\'thist regime until there is at least some semblance of a plan

The 2011 Census and the Asian Century

Danielle Rajendram is a Research Associate in the Lowy Institute\'s International Security Program whose work focuses on India and China-India relations. Graeme Dobell cites recent census figures about languages spoken in Australian homes to argue that Australia has come a long way in its

Lucky in the Asian Century

A key submission to the Asian Century inquiry – perhaps a foundational text – is a work that is fast nearing its 50th birthday. In contemplating the grand task of an Asian future for Australia, Ken Henry would well understand the many layers of thought in Donald Horne\'s The Lucky

China: Our failure of imagination

The fresh perspective in Linda Jakobson\'s excellent Policy Brief on managing our relations with China brings out all kinds of things that have escaped my attention but now seem clear, and very important.  Our relationship with China is now arguably more important to us than any

Reader riposte: Jakobson Australia-China paper

Dennis Argall writes: Linda Jakobson\'s analysis and recommendations for Australia-China relations are timely and sound. The history of the degradation of Australian government approaches to the relationship is disappointing. Recent trends reflect elements that have worked on the relationship for

Doco trailer: Last Train Home

A synopsis from the official website: Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos, as all at once, a tidal wave of humanity attempts to return home by train. It is the Chinese New Year. The wave is made up of millions of migrant factory workers. The homes they seek are the rural

Syria: It all in the wording

One could be forgiven for thinking that an agreement had been hammered out and that international unity had triumphed over regional rivalries in the wake of the recent Geneva conference on Syria. Our own ABC announced that \'an international deal had been reached on peace for Syria\', while The

Friday funny: Those nasty foreigners

If you\'ve been following the ABC\'s Dumb, Drunk & Racist and are feeling a little low about Australian multiculturalism, console yourself with the fact that at least a major Australian TV network would never put to air a news report like this one from South Korea\'s biggest network,

China: The 'uneasiness of the unknown'

Soon after I began delving into the study of Australia-China relations upon moving to Sydney 14 months ago, a senior Australian official told me: \'Our top leaders find China too hard; just too hard.\' It isn\'t just the lack of English-speaking counterparts in China, nor the cultural

China quickening pace in space

Dr Morris Jones, who has written previously for The Interpreter, is an Australian space analyst. There is a condescending tone to much of the international reportage on China\'s recent space docking and expedition to its first space laboratory, Tiangong 1. Commentators applaud China\'s

India no longer shining

Just as Washington\'s bookstores were piled high at the turn of the century with works celebrating America\'s global primacy, Delhi\'s were awash with titles proclaiming the rise of India. Almost each month, it seemed, a new book would appear with cover artwork depicting a tiger squaring up to a

Time to deepen Australia-China ties

I notice Linda Jakobson\'s new paper (Australia-China ties: In search of political trust) is already getting a lot of attention on Twitter. Here\'s her video summary

Reader riposte: Ediplomacy detour in Indonesia

Dr Shannon Smith, a Jakarta-based public relations consultant who was Counselor (Education) at the Australian Embassy, Jakarta, from 2005-2010, writes: Thanks Fergus Hanson for a very thoughtful response to my riposte. Fergus brings the ediplomacy discussion usefully forward to

The currency of China prerogatives

Australia is being forced to become more sensitive to China\'s prerogatives in everything from currency flows to resource projects to the application of foreign investment rules. In meshing our economy with Japan, Australia was able to retain a US dollar frame of reference that happily cohabited

Iran: Shi'a Islam, Eagles and puffer fish

Contemplating the nature of Iranian religiosity as I visited the Iranian shrine cities of Mashad (top photo) and Qum (lower photo) this past week proved more difficult than I had imagined. Whether it was the pulse of the sub-woofer in my right ear as the taxi driver turned up the volume on \'

Inside a Palestinian camp in Lebanon

Vanessa Newby is a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland. All photos are hers. In Arabic, the word masdar stands for many things, but one of its most common meanings is \'source\', \'origin\' or \'root\'. This word always comes to my mind when news of an eruption among the Palestinians

Asian Century linkage: Thai censors, China in space, Asia haze and more

Southeast Asia\'s smoky haze is back. Whose fault is it? (Thanks Milton.) China-Japan: New public opinion survey suggests high levels of mutual mistrust. Mao\'s Great Leap Forward on film. Google is doing the bidding of government censors in Thailand. The Wall St Journal\'s Japan Real Time

Reordering Australia Asia preferences

Trade and economic interests are not always definitive, but they have obvious weight and, most importantly, they influence the hierarchy and slow re-ordering of national preferences. The shift of economic weight has cumulative effects on preferences which feed into judgments about national

Doco trailer: 'Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry'

I\'m late to this one, as the film actually screened at the Sydney Film Festival a couple of weeks ago. But if the trailer attracts you to this documentary about dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (\'I don\'t think I am a dissident artist; I see them as a dissident government.\'), then keep

Reader riposte: Win or lose in Afghanistan (3)

Dennis Argall writes: I don\'t understand Harry Gelber\'s assertion that our war in Afghanistan did not seek \'victory\'. War is a choice of an absolute, and the absolute word for success is \'victory\' — why else go to war? Not to play with words. We sought victory, we didn\'t

James Fallows on China take-off (4)

Below is the fourth in a series of email exchanges with James Fallows, author of China Airborne. You can find part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here. Q: One of the reasons your aviation case-study is so telling is that modern civil aviation can only truly flourish within a system

China, Japan, ROK go for FTA gold

John Larkin reported from Asia for more than a decade for the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, and is now an Australia-based writer. It looks a good idea on paper. Three huge Asian economies — China, Japan and South Korea — will start talks later this year on a free

What makes Iranians tick?

In grand debates about foreign policy, we concentrate on leaders but often lose sight of the people and of what constitutes the \'national psyche\'. Yet understanding the national psyche tells us a lot about the formulation of a state\'s policy and what impact certain actions may have. 

China and the middle-income trap

In today\'s Linkage, Sam sends us to this Free Exchange post on Greece, China and the Middle-income trap. It references this World Bank report on China 2030 and in particular the discussion set out in Box 1 on p.12, as summarised in this powerful chart:  The story of this picture

Australia no longer home alone

The Asian Century conversation chips away at one of the deep-seated sources of Australian insecurity: the sense of being home alone. The good news for Australia in the Asian Century is that we are all in this together. This is not just feel-good, team-building stuff; it reflects the hard numbers

James Fallows on China take-off (3)

Below is the third in a series of email exchanges with James Fallows, author of China Airborne. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here. Q. James, despite the depth and variety of US-China ties, which you described in your first answer, is it fair to say that America\'s policy elites

The bruised fingers of Egyptian voters

As I write, both the Muslim Brotherhood\'s candidate Muhammed Morsi (pictured) and old regime candidate Ahmed Shafiq are claiming victory in Egypt\'s presidential election. While it seems more likely that Morsi has won, expect recounts, challenges and other shenanigans before we get a final result

That 'great national project' again

I see that I have raised some libertarian hackles at the Centre for Independent Studies. This is perfectly understandable. When you lightly toss around phrases like \'great national project\' to describe Australia\'s embrace of Asia you are bound to get sceptical glances from those

Reader ripostes: Win or lose in Afghanistan

Two responses to Raoul Heinrichs\' post on the language of defeat in Afghanistan. Geoff Randal writes: UNSW historian Ian Bickerton grappled with the question of how to measure success in his book The Illusion of Victory: The True Costs of War. For starters, you might look at the war

Saudi money and Syrian frogs

Once again, in the space of a day, Lebanon has provided the glorious contrasts and inconsistencies that make it such a compelling and yet frustrating place to research, visit, or have any contact with.  During lunch at a lovely seaside restaurant in Beirut on a lazy summer Saturday

Reader riposte: The language of defeat

Gregory Collins, a PhD candidate at the Australian National University, writes: Raoul Heinrichs\' piece on Afghanistan poses some interesting questions about the very nature of success. I accept most of his argument that Western states are not being realistic with themselves and their publics

Korea chaebol in the firing line

John Larkin reported from Asia for more than a decade for the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, and is now a writer based in Australia. Korea\'s giant conglomerates, the chaebol, have dominated the economic landscape for decades. Nearly a third of Korea\'s GDP is produced by the top 30

Syria and the sectarian question

I\'m in Beirut on a research trip and, despite all of the turmoil surrounding it, Lebanon remains an island of relative calm. I was last here a year ago, when Syria was grappling with the emerging insurgency. And whereas much of the Lebanese Shi\'a community then saw the fall of the Assad

James Fallows on China take-off (2)

Below is the second in a series of email exchanges with James Fallows, author of China Airborne. You can find part 1 here. Q. James, my second question concerns what we might call China\'s \'status anxiety\'. In your book, you seem to find no economically rational explanation for

Afghanistan: The language of lost wars

Winston Churchill once described \'success\' as the ability to \'go from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm\'. By that standard, the Afghanistan war might have been considered a pretty successful venture, at least until recently, when everyone lost enthusiasm. By any other measure, it

James Fallows on China take-off (1)

Below is the first in a series of email exchanges between myself and James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic and a long-time China watcher. He\'s also a pilot and all-round aviation enthusiast. James\' new book, China Airborne, documents China\'s extraordinary aviation ambitions

Murder and intrigue at Kazakh border post

Katrina Senchuk is an intern in the Lowy Institute’s West Asia Program. All translations from Russian and Kazakh media are her own. A recent incident on the border of China and Kazakhstan brings to light the persistent complexities and latent phobias that shape the \'delicate dance of power