Monday 22 Apr 2019 | 22:30 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Seeing what you want in Belt and Road

China’s Xi Jinping recently completed a high-profile trip to Europe. In Italy, Xi and his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte last month signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding linking the struggling Italian economy to Belt and Road Initiative, the sprawling infrastructure

Coal comfort: Australia-India ties after the elections

In an odd quirk of timing, this year Australia and India’s elections will run in parallel. On 11 April, Scott Morrison made the trip to Canberra’s Government House and the official campaign finally began. On the same day, Indian voters began to go to the polls in the first of seven phases of

The souring mood towards Beijing from Berlin

Until recently, Germany was one of the few major Western countries that China had consistently amicable relations with in an increasingly hostile international environment for Beijing’s export-oriented industries and foreign investments. Germany, China’s fourth-largest trade partner, did not

Myanmar’s intelligence apparatus under Aung San Suu Kyi

When Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) took office in 2016, a wave of euphoria swept over Myanmar, shared by many people in other parts of the world. At the time, there was a rather naive belief that everything would suddenly be transformed. It was widely assumed, for

Making a murderer: the assassination of Kim Jong-nam

Two years of James Bond-esque intrigue following Kim Jong-nam’s assassination in Malaysia have fizzled out, with backroom negotiations seeing murder charges dropped against the two women previously alleged to have killed the North Korean. Ultimately, Malaysia didn’t allow detail to get in the

US bipartisanship on Asia

Two recently passed laws pertaining to US policy to Asia challenge a well-entrenched negative narrative about the Trump administration, and serve as reassuring reminders about how the US government and legislative process actually works. The Trump administration is not as isolationist and Congress

Singapore: a fake news law which is actually very bad news

It’s been on the cards in Singapore for some time, but when the People’s Action Party (PAP) government tabled the “Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill” in Parliament on 1 April 2019 – funnily enough, a day on which it’s traditional to spread “fake news” as a prank

Modi’s drive for Brand India

In 2014, the average Indian voter was restless for change. Regular revelations about corruption scandals, frustrating policy paralysis, incessant price hikes and widespread unemployment all coalesced in a virtually stalled economy. In polls that year, the Indian electorate delivered the Bharatiya

The limits of Moon Jae‑in’s shuttle diplomacy

Six weeks after the Hanoi summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is about to visit Washington in an effort to keep up the dialogue between the United States and North Korea. Moon’s 11 April trip will take place against a troubled backdrop, of North Korea’s threat to walk away from the

Japan’s very busy fighter force

By international standards, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force is very busy. It scrambles fighters daily to intercept multiple aircraft penetrating Japan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) – the block of airspace established over, and usually somewhat beyond, a nation’s territory in which

The frustrated wait for Thailand’s election outcome

As the dust settles in Thailand’s first election since a military coup in 2014, it appears that far from resolving the country’s perpetual political crisis, the election will only further contribute to instability. The military, which contested the 24 March election under the newly formed

ASEAN Regional Forum: less might be more

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) – with its unwieldy number of member states (27) and preoccupation with dialogue (a “talk shop”) – has been declared a failure time and again. Some criticism is justified. But it can also be argued that the earliest expectations regarding this regional

Economic diplomacy: trade and infrastructure battles in Asia

Each way bet Australian businesses are simultaneously becoming more dependent on China and traditional Anglo markets just when the country’s foreign policy thrust is to diversify links to major emerging nations such as India and Indonesia. This at a time a new survey of business attitudes to

Taking transitional justice to Cambodia’s youth

Like young people the world over, the youth of Cambodia are glued to their mobile phones. They sit in cafes and bars, order food from street vendors, and weave their motor scooters through Phnom Penh’s frenetic traffic, all the while their thumbs tapping away, texting, gaming, connecting. In the

The “satellite clause” for North Korea’s rockets

Numerous reports give weight to the theory that North Korea will soon stage another satellite launch, the first since February 2016. North Korea has only ever placed two satellites into orbit, and neither of them worked. But North Korea did chalk up one achievement. It beat South Korea in the race

Indonesia: look beyond quotas for gender representation

How can we address the profound gender disparity that afflicts the vast majority of the world’s parliaments? Fewer than 10 countries are close to parity between men and women in their main national legislative chamber and only 3 – Bolivia, Cuba, and Rwanda – have more women parliamentarians

The K-Pop sex and drugs scandal sweeping South Korea

What started as a police investigation into a South Korean nightclub has since erupted into a national scandal, sweeping aside in the public mind at least all the international talk of North Korean denuclearisation and instead shining a light into the shady private lives of K-pop celebrities. The

Responding to China’s not-so-secret influence campaign

Sam Roggeveen wrote recently on the need for the government to be more forthcoming about its security assessments on China, specifically, allegations of influence and interference activities conducted within Australia. The trigger was Andrew Robb’s interview for the ABC, in which the ex-

Peace in Afghanistan: the tumultuous road ahead

The US and Taliban have agreed to a draft agreement after 16 difficult and lengthy days of what is the latest round of negotiations. The talks began on 25 February and ended on 13 March, and although no final agreement has been reached, the two parties have come to terms on the question of a US

India: never quite in focus

Last month, Financial Times columnist Edward Luce asked, what would it take for India to get America’s attention? His question was rather aptly answered a couple of weeks later with a spot of brinkmanship in Kashmir (Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure), meaning India hit the

Singapore’s careful F-35 fighter aircraft purchase

Singapore has finally decided to acquire four F-35 aircraft with options for eight more, initially for evaluation purposes. The purchase appears cautious, well-timed, and cost-effective. Cautious, in that development remains ongoing with a full rate production decision not likely until late 2019.

Economic diplomacy: trade and traps in ASEAN

Middle aged spread Southeast Asian countries are about to become the primary focus of Australia’s public diplomacy this year as the “Australia now” program stretches its budget from the usual single country approach to all ten countries of the ASEAN group. This stepped-up

What might a US-China trade deal look like?

Perhaps they will, perhaps they won’t, but if China and the US do reach a trade agreement in coming weeks it will likely be very long. Meeting to seal the deal, President Donald Trump and China’s leader Xi Jinping will be able to display to the cameras a document of at least a hundred pages

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