Sunday 21 Apr 2019 | 16:56 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Leslie – 15 years on

I first heard Leslie Cheung’s voice when I was five years old, sitting in the passenger seat of my parent’s car. A Cantonese song came on the radio: “Let me hide from the bustle of life / What is the mood like in heaven? / What new scenery will I get to enjoy?” I asked my dad who was singing

Indonesia: millennials’ party

The young in Indonesia are finding a voice. The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), formed to win over a generation of millennial voters, is a response to what is seen as an oligarchy – political parties led by “old” people, particularly figures related to the New Order regime of

Timor Trough: the rumpled carpet on the sea floor

John Carlson says Australia approached maritime boundary negotiations with Indonesia in 1972 by arguing the Timor Trough was the meeting point of two geologically distinct continental shelves at a subduction zone. But the trough does not constitute two separate shelves any more than a rumpled carpet

Trump, Kim, and the deal of the century

We still don’t know exactly when or where President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are going to meet, but Kim’s furtive visit to Beijing this week has heightened expectations that the summit will happen sometime in May. By the time the summit occurs, attention on this historic event

Hot take: what does Kim Jong-un’s trip to China mean?

So it’s now confirmed that Kim Jong-un went to China in the past few days to meet Xi Jinping. And apparently Xi will now go to Pyongyang. Breaking: Photos of secret talks between Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping emerge in the Chinese media https://t.co/kdnPKQixGq pic.twitter.com/G7tQh0Amd8 — Javier

US–North Korea summit: can Trump deliver?

An armoured train carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pulled into Beijing on Monday, with a summit with China’s Xi Jinping confirmed Wednesday morning by Xinhua. Perhaps Kim came to reassure China that he won’t upend regional geopolitics by making a dramatic deal with

Mekong: more dams, more damage

The great biodiversity and precious resources of the Mekong are increasingly endangered by the rush to dam one of the world’s great rivers. A total of 11 mainstream dams and 120 dams on tributaries are planned, which scientists warn will imperil the already fragile river system. Recent studies

Indonesia: countering a message of hate

After the Bali bombings of 2002, security forces within the Government of Indonesia, like their Western counterparts, worked towards incorporating “ideological” or “soft” approaches into counterterrorism portfolios. This approach later became commonly known as Countering Violent

South China Sea: the Philippine fissure

A new normal is evident in the South China Sea disputes. Last week, Philippine Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana revealed that China continues to exchange radio challenges and responses with Philippine aircraft patrols and resupply missions in the West Philippine Sea. With Manila keen to

Why are some Indian movies made tax-free?

Back in 2005, a crime-comedy movie about two nice thieves titled Banty Aur Babli was made tax-free by the state government of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India. Although the film ends with the heroes returning everything they’ve stolen, it is still a bad-guys-are-good

Myanmar: no country for young men

After two years in the job, Myanmar’s President U Htin Kyaw resigned last Wednesday. The 71-year-old has been in poor health for some time. A close confidante of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Htin Kyaw was a steady and stable hand. His resignation highlights the growing problem of ageing leadership

Happiness and the “China Dream”

In his report delivered at the 19th Party Congress, Xi Jinping declared that it was the Chinese Communist Party’s aspiration and mission to seek happiness for the Chinese people. Hu Angang, one of China’s leading economists, predicts that by 2030 China will be one of the happiest countries

Q&A: China’s mounting great wall of debt

In his new book, China’s Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle, Dinny McMahon, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, takes the reader on a grass-roots tour of the underworld of Chinese finance. Perhaps much more than the

What next for the anti-whale hunters?

Japan’s whale hunters are expected home any day, carrying up to 300 minke whales killed in the Southern Ocean. A harpoon ship, Yushin Maru No. 2, quietly slipped into Shiogama Port on Saturday, while the giant abattoir ship Nisshin Maru is still at sea (with its marine tracking monitor turned off

The urgent need for leadership on the Rohingya crisis

Jubaida is one of a million refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. When she thinks back six months, her memories of playing marbles with friends rest oddly alongside episodes of torture, death, and images of the burning home her family fled. She is 11. Jubaida, her parents, sister, and three

Silent Invasion: the question of race

Clive Hamilton’s new book Silent Invasion: Chinese Influence in Australia is coming in for considerable criticism. Some of it is warranted, including elements of this thoughtful review; some of it is not. I will discuss both kinds when I join Hamilton in conversation in Canberra next month

Najib makes electoral hay from ASEAN-Australia Summit

“Cak!” says the Malaysian meme circulating on Twitter since Monday. The Malay expression is often used with children, and means something like “Surprise!”, or, better, “Peekaboo!” In the background is a press photo from the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit which took place

Intellectual property: the big risk in US–China ties

It may be chaotic and confused, but the Trump administration is not entirely nuts. Expected to slam China with heavy penalties for appropriating the intellectual property of US businesses, the administration instead appears to be stopping short of a fundamental injury to the world’s biggest

China’s new aid agency

Last week, the Chinese Government announced its decision to establish China’s international development cooperation agency. As described by Beijing, the main purpose of the new agency is to give full attention to foreign aid, as a key means of major-country diplomacy. The goal is to

Sexual violence back to the fore in India

The brutalisation of women in India has increased alarmingly in recent times. Rape, molestation, and abuse have spiralled out of control, with the incidents  of violence becoming uglier and more frightening. Violence against women happens everywhere. While its causes vary in different

What DFAT really thinks of Australia joining ASEAN

Ahead of Malcolm Turnbull’s weekend confab for South East Asian leaders, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo reportedly thought it would be a “good idea” if Australia joined ASEAN. Lowy’s Aaron Connelly is dubious. Reality check: Australia has not been invited to join ASEAN, and will not

Australia, Asia, and the “Wealth of Nations”

How does Australia’s economy align with those of our Asian neighbours? What are the development challenges facing nearby South East Asian countries? And just how large is China’s economy? These questions are of particular interest this week as the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit is held in Sydney

Russian pragmatism on display in South East Asia

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Myanmar recently in a clear display of Moscow’s pragmatism. Many Western observers, especially from the US, present Vladimir Putin as either a Machiavellian mixer with almost superhuman abilities – he who put Donald Trump in the White House and

The patchy results of China’s soft power efforts

Chinese media has reported that the Chinese Ministry of Culture is set to be merged with the National Tourism Association. So what? Well, as Xinhua points out, this is no mere bureaucratic reshuffle. Rather, this is about trying to further build China’s soft power: [T]he move is aimed at

Australia–Indonesia: strangers next door

At the weekend, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will meet with President of Indonesia Joko Widodo (Jokowi) on the margins of the Australia-ASEAN Special Summit. Although Turnbull seems to have built the positive personal relationship with Jokowi that eluded Tony Abbott, managing the bilateral

ASEAN is not South East Asia

The upcoming ASEAN-Australia Special Summit has led to a surge in analysis of the Association of South East Asian Nations and Australia-ASEAN relations in Australia. In February, ASPI released a special report by Graeme Dobell recommending Australia seek ASEAN membership claiming that ASEAN

Countering youth radicalisation in Indonesia

A group of ten Muslim students gathered in the shady courtyard of central Jakarta’s Roman Catholic Cathedral are reluctant to pass through its neo-Gothic doorways. Some argue that entering the cathedral would contravene their devotion to Islam and equate to an abandonment of faith.

The myth of Chinese containment

The great debate on the meaning of China’s rise is coming to a close. Where academics once argued over whether the Asian power would be a status quo or systemic challenger, there is growing consensus that China intends to reshape the global system in its image. From its criticism of the US

Surmounting Indonesia’s education problems

Although the recent Lowy Institute report by Andrew Rosser, “Beyond Access: Making Indonesia’s Education System Work”, reveals an Indonesian education system buckling under its own deficiencies, it can be read largely optimistically. The weaknesses Rosser outlines are all redeemable 

Timor Gap: a boundary, yet disputes linger

The signing of a treaty between Australia and Timor-Leste marking maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea represents a huge step forward in resolving the two states’ long-standing disputes. The conciliation process that led to the agreement was groundbreaking for being the first time such an approach

Beijing’s welcome mat for overseas Chinese

China has opened new doors for overseas Chinese through changes to its visa program. Beijing’s latest policy announcement allows foreign citizens with Chinese heritage to apply for a special multiple-entry visa granting a residency period of up to five years. This extends the existing policy

The Timor Trough – two separate shelves

In her article “How Australia crossed a line in the Timor Sea”, Kim McGrath claims that Australia had evidence supporting Indonesia’s claim in maritime boundary negotiations – but buried it. This serious charge is not substantiated by the 1970 report from then Bureau of

Xi Jinping and the grip of the party

Xi Jinping’s leadership of China has been notable on numerous levels of foreign policy, domestic affairs, and economic management. Since taking over from Hu Jintao in late 2012, Xi has centralised decision-making in his personal office; purged a legion of once-powerful comrades

North Korea’s time-buying strategy

Now that the PyeongChang Winter Olympics is over, both South and North Korea can be satisfied with what they gained from the sporting event. South Korea’s Moon Jae-in administration scored a major diplomatic victory with the attendance of Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, at the&

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