Thursday 21 Feb 2019 | 23:33 | SYDNEY
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Asia

China: the web closes in

The era of easily exploitable internet loopholes in China appears to be ending. Starting on 31 March, Beijing will ban non-licensed Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) via which Chinese residents privately access blocked websites, such as Google, Facebook, and The New York Times. Chief Engineer of

ASEAN matters and deserves credit

Euan Graham has given a glass half-empty explanation of the significance of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in an attempt to explain Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s enthusiasm for the forthcoming ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in March. In fact, there is good cause for the

Is ASEAN still central to Australia?

In March, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will welcome the ten leaders of ASEAN to Sydney for a special summit focusing on business and security ties. This is the first time Australia has hosted ASEAN. By any definition, it is a significant event in Canberra's diplomatic calendar, with the

India’s intolerance is hurting the country

In January the ugly face of an intolerant India was again on display with protests and violence in several parts of the country against Indian film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s extravagant medieval epic Padmaavat. Caste groups, especially the Rajputs, predominantly from the northern

China’s economic gloom merchants

Markedly slower growth and imminent financial crisis have been the common dual predictions for China over the past decade. China’s growth has indeed slowed from its unsustainable breakneck pace in the two decades before the 2007–08 global crisis, but since then has settled down to a steady 6–7

The courage of youth on display in Hong Kong

Young people are the hope of a society’s future, but Hong Kong’s ruling class does not seem to agree. They don’t want young people to be smart, ask difficult questions, or challenge the status quo. Rather, they want young people to play by the rules, to do as they are told. In other words

The awkward case of the Australian “spy” in Phnom Penh

Cambodia’s Supreme Court has denied bail to Australian film-maker James Ricketson in an espionage case that is fast becoming an embarrassing headache for both countries involved. In laying espionage charges against Mr Ricketson – a messianic crusader of the poor – Cambodia has inadvertently

Off beat: China’s hip-hop ban

A crackdown on hip-hop culture has swept across China. It is an act of censorship for domestic ends, and an effort to define Chinese culture and project a controlled version of soft power on an international stage. Hip-hop’s explosion into mainstream Chinese culture came in the summer

China’s new network of Indian Ocean bases

According to recent reports, China may be about to construct a naval and air base near Gwadar, in west Pakistan. This would be China’s second base in the Indian Ocean and indicates that it may be moving fast to establish a network of military bases across the region. China’s first

Indonesia–US relations: sweating the small stuff

The US and Indonesia have declared an overarching “strategic partnership” to meet broader challenges, from regional architecture building to global governance. At least, this was the case under the Barack Obama (2008–16) and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004–14) presidencies. But under

Asia’s escalating missile race

If the Cold War was one long arms race, the modern era could be accurately described as an arms jog. Countries are defined less by how many nuclear warheads they have, and more by what they can do with them. This is particularly the case in Australia’s immediate region, where a

The Vietnamese Communist Party’s corruption hunt

On Monday, Vietnam’s former transport minister Dinh La Thang was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Another prominent figure, Trinh Xuan Thanh, received a life sentence for “deliberate violation of state regulations on economic management”. It is first time in Vietnam’s recent political

Joining the dots to Vancouver

Represented by Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson, Australia was one of 20 countries that participated in a conference last week on coordinating international approaches to North Korea. Co-hosted by Canada and the US, and held in Vancouver, the conference had

What a US–China trade war would look like

Sometime soon, US President Donald Trump will announce his plan to respond to what the administration calls China’s “economic aggression”. When he does, it is not only China that needs to be prepared to respond. Together accounting for well over a third of global output, the collateral damage

The China factor in India’s commitment to ASEAN

India will host ASEAN leaders as its chief guests during the commemoration of the country's 69th Republic Day on 26 January, reflecting the importance New Delhi places on relations with South East Asia. India's much-vaunted Look East policy, launched in the early 1990s as part of a concerted

Will Jakarta no longer be Indonesia’s capital?

'There’s no wind, no rain, but Minister for National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS) Bambang Brodjonegoro on Monday announced that the government plans to move the capital from Jakarta in 2018.' This was the lead paragraph of an article published by Indonesian newspaper 

Britain can be a power in Asia

Recently the Lowy Institute’s Aaron Connelly argued that there is not much Britain can do in Asia because British power is diminishing. This is unsurprising. One of the biggest challenges in international relations is ascertaining a given state’s place in the international system.

Japan: Shinzo Abe faces challenges across the board

As news outlets in Japan summed up the year that was and the year ahead, Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s most widely read (and notably pro-government) newspaper featured its top 10 stories for 2017, domestic and international, according to its readers. Domestically, the story was Sota Fujii, a 14-year-

Macron’s mission to China

During French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to China, which concluded last week, his choice to gift China's Xi Jinping with a horse was apparently prompted by Xi's words of admiration during a 2014 trip to Paris. On that visit, Xi was greeted by a guard of honour from the Garde Ré

Duterte unchecked

Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, is a quarter of the way through his single six-year term under the current constitution. So far, he is changing the office of the president and the Philippine political system much more than it is changing him. The checks and balances that are

What Rahul Gandhi’s rise means for Indian politics

Last month's long-awaited ascension of Rahul Gandhi, the scion of India's Nehru–Gandhi political dynasty, to the presidency of the Indian National Congress marks a new era for the party. Often derided for his lack of charisma and apparent reluctance to assume the mantle of leadership, Gandhi was

Babri Masjid – India’s flashpoint

On 6 December 1992 thousands of Hindu fanatics tore down a medieval mosque in the temple town of Ayodhya, in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid mosque, constructed under the rule of the first Mughal Emperor Babar, sparked violence across

China’s agenda behind inter-Korean talks

The first two weeks of 2018 have seen a significant thaw in inter-Korean tensions. In the highest-level talks between North and South Korea since December 2015, Pyongyang agreed to send a delegation to the 2018 South Korean Winter Olympics. China welcomed the developments, which it considers, in its

Pakistan: A reluctant ally

In one of his first tweets of the year, US President Donald Trump launched a tirade against Pakistan. ‘The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years’, Trump fumed, ‘and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit’. Washington

Don’t assume North Korea is happy with the status quo

In an earlier Interpreter article I argued the need for policy makers in the US and elsewhere to consider not only the now well-rehearsed and well-founded risks of attempting to compel Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons, but also the often overlooked but equally well-founded risks of

Understanding China’s approach to aid

International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells' remarks about China's aid to the Pacific are part of a long tradition of concern in Australia. Yet while some Chinese aid projects are less than perfect, as my colleague Jonathan Pryke notes, Fierravanti-Wells' sweeping

The bad – and good – of China’s aid in the Pacific

The Pacific region is making headlines across Australia after Pacific and International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells harshly criticised Chinese aid in the region. 'Useless' is how Fierravanti-Wells has described Chinese aid projects, leading countries to take on debt they can't

Time to worry about a Chinese-led global order?

The world seems to never run out of reasons to fear China, be they racial or ideological differences ('Yellow Peril' and 'Red Menace'), Chinese nationalism or Beijing's growing sharp power. The latest reason is the apparent arrival of a China-led world order, symbolised by everything ranging

North Korea probably does not seriously seek unification

After North Korea burnished its credentials last year as a nuclear-armed state, there's been much discussion about what Pyongyang aims to do with its nuclear missiles. The panic in the western media has been palpable. But so is the contrast with the South Korean media's more sanguine response. I

Calm the alarm on Antarctic krill fishery

There is periodic hyperbole surrounding the future use of the Southern Ocean krill fishery, often sensationally blaming a future threat from China. Yet krill are in no danger of being overfished. China’s krill take is currently a miniscule portion of catch limit under the present international

A turning point in US economic relations with China

The US appears to have reached a turning point in its economic relationship with China. During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump accused Chinese policy makers of perpetrating the ‘greatest theft in the history of the world’ and blamed their foolish and incompetent American

An emerging role for the UN in the North Korean crisis

Last month, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman visited North Korean officials to promote a political solution to heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program. Feltman's mission has not received the attention it should have. The visit was the first

China and North Korea: Following the paper trail

Bill Gertz, senior editor of The Washington Free Beacon, specialises in scoops. But even by his high standards, his 2 January story that states a ‘(s)ecret Chinese Communist Party document reveals covert support to North Korea, including missiles, increased aid’ was a major coup. If true,

Best of The Interpreter 2017: The Rohingya Crisis

In July, shortly before an escalation of clashes in Rakhine state intensified the exodus of Rohingya people from Myanmar, Elliot Brennan wrote of Myanmar: Naypyidaw has failed to enable moderates in Rakhine state and an emergent yet hitherto weak Muslim insurgency has emerged. The situation must

Best of The Interpreter 2017: China's influence

Former senator Sam Dastyari cetainly found that history repeats itself as farce. Or as Stephen Conroy, the former Labor defence spokesman that Dastyari infamously contradicted over the South China Sea, would later observe, it took a 'unique set of abilities to

The crackdown on free press in India

In June, India’s former president Pranab Mukherjee drove home the point to the Indian media that ‘discussion and dissension’ is crucial for a vibrant democracy and that public institutions must be held accountable. His words could not have been more timely. The independence of the mainstream

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