Wednesday 25 May 2022 | 23:28 | SYDNEY


Wesley: Rudd neglected region

The Australia Network\'s Jim Middleton interviews Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Wesley. The interview begins with an assessment of Kevin Rudd\'s performance as foreign minister, and then goes much broader

History echoes in new Defence review

The US is hastening out of two wars and rethinking its defence interests in Asia, while Australia realigns the alliance and moves more military might to the north and west of the continent. With all that in flux, two ex-Defence Secretaries, Ric Smith and Allan Hawke, are well placed to produce one

Movie trailer: Let the Bullets Fly

Asian Movie Pulse alerts me to Let the Bullets Fly, a Chinese-produced action-comedy released in China in 2010 which became the highest grossing Chinese release ever. When you see the trailer and read the synopsis (\'...notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing

The two reckonings of Maternus Bere

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, ANU. He is writing a book entitled \'Beloved Land: Stories from Timor-Leste\'. Maternus Bere remembers well when he was forgiven for being a pro-Indonesian Timorese militia leader. The trial did not

India: The weakest link?

While no economic sanctions regime can ever be watertight, the ones enacted against Iran have been well targeted and undoubtedly have caused pain. But the problem with unilateral action, or multilateral action without UN agreement, is that the impact of sanctions dissipates as states assert

Understanding Asia: A job for spies?

In the Fairfax press today, Hugh White criticises the recently released Cornall-Black Independent Review of the Australian Intelligence Community for its \'breathless endorsement of the status quo\'. But although Hugh takes on a few debatable assumptions that seem to underpin the

From Jaipur to Karachi: Two literature festivals

Alicia Mollaun, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU, is based in Islamabad. As opposed to the discussion of atheism at the Jaipur Literature Festival, which I described in my earlier post, discussion of religion is unthinkable at a literature festival in Pakistan. Speaking

From Jaipur to Karachi: Two literature festivals

Alicia Mollaun, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU, is based in Islamabad. When one talks about India and Pakistan, comparisons are inevitable: of nuclear arsenals, development indicators, political systems, cricket teams. But what about the arts?  In January I hopped across

Timor-Leste: Australia unpaid WW2 debt?

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, ANU. He is writing a book entitled \'Beloved Land: Stories from Timor-Leste\'. Domingos Soares (pictured) is a spry 93 year-old from the district of Viqueque on East Timor\'s southern coast who says he

The XXXX summit?

A few readers have alerted me to this Timothy Garton Ash column in The Guardian lauding Kevin Rudd\'s performance at the recent Munich Security Conference. The punchline to the column: So Xi and Barack Obama should now plan to take a joint summer retreat on the coast of

Good posture: A new Defence blueprint

On the top tier of Defence Department reports, where White Papers reside, there are also a few reviews that reshape the way Defence thinks, plans and builds. Defence does reviews by the dozens. Those that rise to the level of lasting blueprint are rare. The canny pair of warhorses, Ric Smith and

Rogerio Lobato: From inmate to president?

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Australian National University. He is in Timor-Leste doing research for a book. Two men stare down from the sepia-tinged election posters of Rogerio Tiago de Fatima Lobato, former Minister of Interior

Yes, China really is catching up

I\'m sympathetic to the distinction Michael Beckley raises between GDP and GDP per capita in his post on defining decline; it\'s a point I also focused on in my original post. Each gives us different readings about national capabilities. But the other question I raised concerned comparisons over

Timor-Leste: Everybody needs good neighbours

Jim Della-Giacoma is South East Asia Project Director for the International Crisis Group. Early in 2010, Afghan President Hamid Karzai was sitting in Kabul with some diplomats who had served in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. \'Is it true\', he asked, \'that Indonesia just walked away from

My little Beijing

The use of the \'tilt-shift\' technique in video and photography, which makes real scenes look like elaborate miniatures, has become so ubiquitous online that it is fast losing its power to delight. Yet this short video about Beijing exploits the technique well,

Ratings agencies too slow on Indonesia

For the decade following the 1997-8 Asian crisis, Indonesia struggled to lift its growth rates back to the pace recorded during the Soeharto era: an average of 6-7%. Now two achievements have triggered a spate of favourable stories in the foreign press: maintaining positive growth during the 2008

Social media activism emerges in Pacific

Today in PNG is \'White Friday\', with Papua New Guineans being encouraged to wear white to protest against the current political impasse. This peaceful political statement is organised by bloggers using text messages, Twitter and Facebook discussion groups. It\'s a small example of the

Syria: United we stand, divided they fall

The Assad survival strategy has always been to hang tough and hope that circumstances change around you. While this has worked in the past, the world in which Bashar operates is much changed from that of his father, and the unprecedented opposition the Syrian Government now faces is

China long game in Afghanistan

With the headlines out of Afghanistan dominated by America\'s revised exit strategy, it has been easy to miss the news of China\'s enhanced engagement, both commercially and diplomatically. On 27 December, a date in the calendar when Western journalists are hardly at their most vigilant, the China

Global Times: On the record

Last week I blogged about how I had been misrepresented by China\'s Global Times newspaper. So it was fascinating and pleasing to see this follow-up article yesterday, written by the junior Global Times editor who had handled the original story. One observer suggests this apology is quite a

America has asymmetries too

This passage in Hugh\'s latest post sparked two questions in my mind: There are three key asymmetries in the US-China relationship which all break China\'s way. China\'s objectives are focused in Asia, while America\'s are globally dispersed. Isn\'t it the case that one asymmetry

Dili is booming, but can it last?

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Australian National University. He is inTimor-Leste doing research for a book. With a presidential election due on 17 March, Dili seems a much safer, happier, more content city than when Timor-Leste went

China-US: Power in perspective

As Michael Beckley acknowledges in his reply to Mark Thirlwell, it is hard to say definitively whether America is declining economically relative to China, because it depends what you measure. On some measures it is, and on others it\'s not. So the next question is: which measures

Friday funny: Apple dirty secret

Evan Osnos writes that there is \'a dawning American sense of ickiness about what goes into the electronics we love\'.   Have a good weekend

Global Times: What I really said

Never trust what you read in the papers: that was one of my first lessons as a trainee journalist on an Australian bush newspaper many years ago. It held true yesterday when I discovered an article in The Global Times, China\'s Communist Party tabloid. It appeared to be an opinion piece under my

Australia MIA in PNG

Like Alexander Downer, I think the Australian Government should pay more attention to the political crisis in Papua New Guinea. I\'ve been uncertain about what Canberra can practically do, but here\'s a suggestion: it\'s time for Australia to play its strongest card. So far, we have played a weak

What Somare and O'Neill hath wrought

Papua New Guinea has just paid an economic price for its political instability, with Standard and Poor\'s downgrading its credit rating from B- to B-. The short-lived military mutiny created headlines around the world. It was enough to convince the ratings agency that there was now increased

Through Chinese eyes: Jia Xijin (part 2)

Armed with your questions, Peter Martin and Nathan Beauchamp speak to Jia Xijin (pictured), an expert on Chinese civil society and citizen participation. Part 1 here. Mitch Lowenthall: What is Chinese civil society doing to demand environmental protection? Environmental protection, along with

Riyadh Syria policy: It personal

Saudi Arabia, taken by surprise by the early casualties of the Arab Spring, has now adapted and become convinced that regime change can be a good thing, so long as it removes your enemies and not your friends. Saudi Arabia has adopted the most hawkish of stances against the Assad regime during

What happened in PNG yesterday?

Yesterday\'s military mutiny in Papua New Guinea ended peacefully, with no civil unrest or loss of life. The mutiny, carried out by retired Colonel Yaura Sasa, was instigated by Sir Michael Somare\'s camp in an attempt to have Somare re-installed as Prime Minister. The

China v US: An economic rematch

Andrew Shearer\'s recent post on US-China comparisons prompted me to take a look at the paper by Michael Beckley he recommended. While I don\'t have anything useful to contribute on the specific subject of the US military/security edge over China, a couple of things did

Cambodia: China pervasive, US welcome

Even a short visit to Cambodia earlier this month is sufficient to underline why Prime Minister Hun Sen has been so ready over many years to describe China as his country\'s best friend. Discussion of China\'s aid to the country is a constant in almost every conversation. In December 2011 Hun Sen

Three questions on the Asian Century

Since some of my colleagues have been  setting out their thoughts on the Asian Century White Paper, I thought I might chip in with my two cents. I have three opening questions. 1. Shouldn\'t we try to go beyond old-school geography? Granted, we know that there\'s lots of

The Egyptian uprising, one year on

As Egyptians observe the first anniversary of their uprising, spare a thought for Tunisia. It was the uprising there which sparked off a year of political turmoil in much of the Arab world, yet Tunisia hardly seems to rate a mention anymore. It\'s a shame, not least since Tunisia\'s transition to

Through Chinese eyes: Jia Xijin (part 1)

Armed with your questions, Peter Martin and Nathan Beauchamp speak to Jia Xijin (pictured), an expert on Chinese civil society and citizen participation. Previous instalments in this series here and here. Lei Gong: What is the current state of development of Chinese civil society? How is

India embattled Dr Singh

Try conjuring a mental picture, if you can, of Ben Bernanke appearing before a Tea Party rally in South Carolina, or of Glenn Stevens struggling to be heard above the mêlée of Question Time in Canberra, and you are some way towards appreciating the predicament of the Indian Prime

'Asia' White Paper makes no sense

Stephen Grenville seems to have misunderstood the purpose of my post on American and Chinese power and the Gillard Government\'s \'Asian Century\' White Paper. I certainly did not intend to downplay Asia\'s importance. Even further from my mind was reopening what John Howard aptly calls

Putting Australia on Asia dance card

Rawdon Dalrymple is a former Australian ambassador to Indonesia, the US and Japan. Stephen Grenville has had more than forty years of engagement with Asia starting with his embassy posting in Jakarta in 1968. He has also been a Deputy Governor of the RBA and has more recently advised

The chutzpah of the Fiji Supremo

The classic definition of chutzpah is the story of the young man who murders his parents and then asks the court for leniency because he\'s an orphan. Fiji\'s Supremo has chutzpah by the bucket-load. Brazen and bombastic, Frank Bainimarama has done it again with his bravura performance

Oz still a wallflower at Asia party

Andrew Shearer represents a long tradition in Australian diplomacy, of viewing Asia through the prism of our relationship with the US. No serious commentator is suggesting that Australia should focus on Asia to the exclusion (or even downgrading) of our US relationship; everyone agrees that keeping

Whose century?

Dr Ken Henry and his team are busy preparing the Government\'s White Paper on \'Australia in the Asian Century\', due to be released in the middle of this year. In Australian academic, business and media circles there is breathless excitement about the rise of China (and the US decline they

Rudd Asia Society speech

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd\'s recent speech to the Asia Society is a lucid and bracingly matter-of-fact treatment of the challenges presented by the rise of China. Plain English is not the Foreign Minister\'s strong suit, so when he does deliver a speech that is direct, easily

India Iran dilemma

India Today recently reported that a high-level Indian delegation quietly signed a series of new infrastructure deals in Tehran in late November 2011. The big ticket item was a new railway from Iran's Chah Bahar port, which India also promised to help upgrade, to the Hajigak region of eastern

'Team Success' bids for Timorese presidency

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Australian National University. He is inTimor-Leste doing research for a book. The weathered \'Timor-Leste Nippon Cultural Centre\' sign outside the whitewashed compound in Dili is a poor indication of

Rudd weighs in on the Taiwan poll

Kevin Rudd in an interview with CNN (my emphasis): JOURNALIST: A man familiar to most of our viewers — Kevin Rudd, the former Australian Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister, joins us from New York. Great to have you with us, because you have such a background in Taiwanese

Rudd mixed messages on Indonesia

Of course it\'s good to see the Foreign Minister deliver his \'wake up to Indonesia\' call to Australian businesses to seize the opportunities in Southeast Asia\'s fastest growing economy. But while the Minister is urging businesses to act, his Department\'s Travel Advisory is telling them not to

Taiwan-China: The eroding status quo

Saturday marks the first of many crucial elections in 2012. Taiwan\'s presidential race is viewed as extremely tight between President Ma Ying-jeou (pictured; Kuomintang Party) and Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party. Presumably, the majority of swing voters will opt for the incumbent


In an opinion piece in The South China Morning Post, Linda Jakobson, Program Director East Asia, argues that tensions may have eased across the Taiwan Strait in the first term of the island’s president Ma Ying-jeou, but that doesn’t mean the issues in the way of reunification have been resolved.

Reader riposte: Correction on Saudi oil

Greg Woods, formerly with Saudi Aramco, comments on this Rodger Shanahan piece from July 2011:  I knew the numbers quoted by the author could not be correct. He obviously looked at this website with this info: ‘The total Saudi domestic energy demand is expected to rise from