Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 03:47 | SYDNEY


'Asian century' email digest

You can now subscribe to a weekly email service that will alert you to every post published in our \'Australia in the Asian Century\' blog feature. Just look for this small banner in the right-hand column of the blog, and you\'ll see a space where you can enter your email address. You\'ll get a

Reader riposte: Does 'Asia' exist?

Martin O'Donnell responds to this Michael Wesley post: Regarding Michael Wesley's keynote address to the University Australia Conference — which I found a very enlightening read — I was reminded of two other pieces I had come across earlier this month. One was a radio interview with

Asian Century linkage

Why China can\'t avoid oil addiction, and why that spells trouble. Tim Southphommasane: \'...we\'ve fallen into the habit of making a monetary fetish out of our relationships with Asia\'. A nice list of English-language blogs about Vietnam. Young scholars from around Southeast Asia reflect

Votes and guns in PNG

Scott Flower is a McKenzie Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He is regularly engaged by multinational companies as a risk management consultant to major resource projects in PNG. Over the last month, rarely a day has passed without some drama in Papua New Guinea\'s political landscape.

Are Chinese soft loans always a bad thing?

Graeme Smith is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the China Studies Centre, University of Sydney and a Visiting Fellow with the State, Society and Governance Program in Melanesia Program, ANU. When the nationwide anti-Asian riots of May 2009 reached the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, the targets were

Does 'Asia' exist?

In a really interesting response to my keynote to the Universities Australia conference this month, Melbourne University Professor Antonia Finnane asked an important question: does \'Asia\' really exist? She writes: \'Historically, Asia has served as a catch-all phrase for societies that

Burma and WMD: Nothing to report?

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of Burma and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Not If, But Why, How and What. For nearly four years, activists, journalists and sundry other Burma-watchers have been waiting with keen anticipation for the US State Department to

Indonesia: The Bali factor

Rawdon Dalrymple\'s intervention on Australia\'s relationship with Indonesia dampens any expectation that Australia alone can effect a major change in the bilateral relationship. Indonesia, according to his argument, is simply not ready for closer ties. The terms of reference for the \'

Watching our Cambodian aid dollars

There are indeed good reasons for asking, as James did yesterday in reply to my piece, how the Angkor Archaeological Park (above) spends the entrance fees it charges foreign visitors. Eric Campbell\'s investigation of this issue for ABC TV raised many still-unanswered

Indonesia: Canberra unlikely to make inroads

Rawdon Dalrymple is a former Australian ambassador to Israel, Indonesia, the US and Japan. Fergus Hanson is surely right to be pleased about the results of the latest Lowy poll on Indonesian attitudes to Australia and to contrast that favourable shift with the way the present

Reader riposte: Angkor why?

James writes: The piece on Angkor Wat and Bob Carr\'s recent donation of taxpayer money raised my interest, as someone with many years experience in this country. The Angkor temples ticket operation is run by a private businessman with close links to the ruling party. Over 2 million visitors

Explaining Australia Indonesia caution

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia\'s foreign policy. There is a perceptual factor in the Lowy Institute\'s 2012 Indonesia Poll which may explain Australia\'s apparent policy inertia on Indonesia. The first

Cambodian miscellany

It\'s unusual enough to have a single item about Cambodia in the Australian media, and yesterday there were two. First, an allegation that one of Prime Minister Hun\'s nephews is linked to drug trafficking and money laundering (the man in question has issued a denial). And, secondly, the

Our 'Asian Century' feature

Yesterday Michael Wesley launched our new feature on the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper. A few things to note before we begin that discussion in earnest. First, as Michael said, we\'re grateful for the Australian Government\'s financial support for this initiative, but

Introducing a new Interpreter feature: 'Australia in the Asian Century'

If Australia has a narrative thread that runs through its post-colonial history, it must be the unfolding story of how it relates to the vast continent to its northwest. Almost from the time of the arrival of the First Fleet, Asia has tugged at the connections and self-images that Australia has

North Korea missile: Take off your hard hat

Dr Morris Jones, who has written previously for The Interpreter, is an Australian space analyst. The announcement of an imminent satellite launch by North Korea has sent the international community into a frenzy. There is no need to reiterate most of the debate that has since appeared

Reader riposte: Our regional reticence

Dr Daniel Woker, former Swiss Ambassador to Australia (2008-12), writes: Malcolm Cook\'s \'five sound principles...prominent in Rudd\'s approach to the Asia Pacific\' are spot-on. But, the fifth as formulated is way too modest and defensive. Australia is not just a \'non-major power

The indelible stain of Gujarat

What with the hoopla surrounding the elections in Uttar Pradesh, this year\'s second-biggest exercise in democracy, and Sachin Tendulkar reaching his one-hundredth hundred, it has been easier than it should have been to overlook the tenth anniversary of the Gujarat riots. In 2002, the state

A Separation: Artistry for peace

Geraldine Doogue is host of ABC Radio National\'s Saturday Extra program. In 2010 I suggested in this space that a good way of forging better understanding between Australians and other citizens of our region was to report common dilemmas facing all our societies, rather than emphasising

Richard Bitzinger on China military rise

This morning one of the region\'s foremost experts on China\'s military, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies Senior Fellow Richard Bitzinger, dropped by the Lowy Institute to meet with some of our experts. He was kind enough to give me a few minutes for an interview, and we began by

DFAT: A small step into western China

In only his third media release as Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr has today announced (together with the Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Competitiveness) that Australia will open \'as soon as possible\' a new Consulate-General in Chengdu, western China. As Mr Carr explains,

Kevin Rudd Asia Pacific legacy (so far)

Ed. note: This post follows on from Fergus Hanson\'s assessment of Rudd\'s China legacy. \'Good principles, mixed execution\' summarises Kevin Rudd\'s approach to the Asia Pacific region, and Australia\'s place within it, during his tenure as prime minister and then foreign minister. \'So far

The renminbi as reserve currency II

Even if China was prepared to abolish capital controls and accelerate the creation of deep capital markets in order for the renminbi to become a reserve currency (see part 1 of my post here), the renminbi would probably remain a small part of official reserve holdings. The Japanese yen, for

Indonesia: Our biggest blind spot

Today the Lowy Institute launches what I think is one of the most compelling and challenging polls we\'ve ever conducted. It was a survey carried out across Indonesia following up on a poll we did there in 2006. The changes the poll records are remarkable, and responses to a series of new questions

The Renminbi as reserve currency

The idea that the renminbi will become an important reserve currency, perhaps displacing the \'exorbitant privilege\' enjoyed by the US dollar, has been given added impetus by a blueprint for China\'s international capital reforms just published by the Chinese central bank, the People\'s

Voting the 'Australian way' in Myanmar

Jim Della-Giacoma is South East Asia Project Director for the International Crisis Group, based in Jakarta. The photo in this post, of The Nay Pyi Taw copy of the Shwedagon temple, is by the author. In some parts of the world, the secret ballot is still known as the Australian ballot. It was

Kevin Rudd China legacy

Whatever you might think of Kevin Rudd, he was certainly active internationally, both as Foreign Minister and as Prime Minister. But what were his achievements and what will his legacy be? This post is intended to kick-start a discussion of what Rudd achieved in foreign affairs and begins with his

Indonesia: Speed dial is not enough

Everything was very friendly today in the joint press conference between Australia\'s and Indonesia\'s foreign and defence ministers in Canberra. This was a chance for new Foreign Minister Bob Carr to meet his counterpart Marty Natalegawa, and Carr held his phone aloft to reporters to show that

A new role for Australia on Myanmar?

Jim Della-Giacoma is South East Asia Project Director for the International Crisis Group, based in Jakarta. Photos in this post are by the author. Recent changes in Myanmar are too numerous to list, but they are remarkable to anyone who knows the country. The National League for

Al Jazeera doco on Iran bomb

Occasionally, the production of this documentary verges on the melodramatic, but that\'s the price you pay for trying to tell a complex story on television, which needs a lot of movement and music to keep the viewer\'s attention. That said, this film tells the story of Iran\'s nuclear

Nothing new under the PNG sun

PNG is once again going through a governance-sapping exercise of self-interested politics. Since February last year, when then Prime Minister Somare was suspended from office for two weeks following a decision by the country's Leadership Tribunal, Papua New Guineans have witnessed an increasingly

Hillary on China: A Nixon moment?

The speech Hillary Clinton gave in Washington last week to mark the 40th anniversary of Nixon\'s visit to China didn\'t get much attention. Other than Linda Jakobson\'s short post, on which more below, I\'ve seen no reference to it here in Australia or in US media. But the speech

Clinton speech: What about Australia?

The Australia-US alliance is at the forefront in any discussion by Australian policy-makers and specialists about regional security issues. The announcement during President Barack Obama\'s visit to Australia in November 2011 of an agreement to rotate US Marines in and out of Darwin was viewed by

Stars align for Fiji policy shift

The Fiji Government has a history of making poor decisions whenever there appeared to be a slight willingness in Australia or New Zealand to re-assess approaches to Fiji. The deportation of diplomats or Fiji Times publishers at inopportune moments made it impossible for foreign ministers in

Syria: If not Bashar, then whom?

For all the talk of replacing the Ba\'thist regime, there is only so much that can be done to force a change of leadership when that very regime has ensured that no opposition of any consequence has been allowed to develop. The result has been plain: a rather amorphous, lightly-armed opposition

PNG: An interview with Ian Kemish

Papua New Guinea is Australia\'s nearest neighbour, our second-largest recipient of development assistance and our 15th-largest trading partner. Experiencing a similar resources boom to Australia, PNG\'s economy has grown at over 5% annually since 2007. The resources boom and, in particular LNG

A strategy for India: Nonalignment 2.0?

India has been searching for a strategy since the end of the Cold War. The three big changes in its foreign and security policy after 1991 – the partial opening up of the economy in the early 1990s, the nuclear tests in 1998, and establishment of better relations with the US in the 2000s

How to succeed in business in Indonesia

Over the past year or so, the success of the Indonesian economy has been applauded by foreign commentators and business-people (and, belatedly, by the credit rating agencies). Foreign investment has doubled over the past couple of years and Vice-President Boediono has a good story to tell. But it\'s

World Bank China report a warning to Australia

John Edwards is a Lowy Institute Visiting Fellow, an Adjunct Professor with the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy at Curtin University and a member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia. As this week\'s business investment survey reminded us, the mining boom is the biggest

PNG keeps on surprising us

Excellent piece here from the ABC\'s Sean Dorney summarising the political situation in PNG, including interviews with the major players and some dramatic footage from parliament. It\'s also worth noting here a piece that our Melanesia expert Jenny Hayward-Jones tweeted the other day

Sleepers, Wake! What happens at China National People Congress

OK, one more round in the \'What people think I do\' meme (I posted the Rudd and Gillard versions last Friday). This one comes from a friend in Beijing, who writes that it\'s \'about the upcoming National People\'s Congress. Happy to translate if you like, but I\'m sure you get the gist!\'&

Iran at the Oscars

I only saw bits of the telecast, so it\'s via Slate that I learn of this moving acceptance speech from Asghar Farhadi, director of \'A Separation\', which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film: At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to

Australia booms despite septic politics

Journalists the world over have turned these past few years to WikiLeaks and its Australian founder, Julian Assange, to shine a light on the murky, inner workings of government. In Canberra these past few days, however, all reporters have had to do is put a microphone in front of an Australian

An update on Domingos Soares

Domingos Soares with Mark Cooper (photo courtesy of Fundasaun Mahein). On 17 February Gordon Peake told Interpreter readers the story of Domingos Soares, an elderly Timorese man who claimed to have fought alongside Australian soldiers in World War II. At the time, Mr Soares\' case had received

New Zealand shrinks its diplomatic service

Dr Richard Grant is Executive Director of the Asia:NZ Foundation. He was previously New Zealand\'s Ambassador to Germany and to France, and High Commissioner to the UK and to Singapore. Readers of The Economist of 18 February would have seen the reference to the similar size

Suppose Iran held an election and nobody came?

The problem with the Middle East is not a lack of voting; even Saudi Arabia had a vote for (some) municipal council seats in 2005. The problem is that the votes rarely mean anything.  Amid the fighting in Syria, voters are going to the polls to vote in a referendum that President