Wednesday 17 Jul 2019 | 23:08 | SYDNEY
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Asia

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

Xi saves sea slugs on the sea floor

This post is based on Episode 16 of The Little Red Podcast, featuring Kate Barclay and Michael Fabinyi of the University of Technology, Sydney. My first culinary meeting with a sea cucumber - bêche-de-mer or BDM in its processed form - came out of curiosity. After nearly two decades travelling

Clear messages required in Twitter-age of diplomacy

Robert Ayson is quite right to pick me up on the distinction between pre-emptive and preventative military strikes. My post on Australia’s policy towards a US attack on North Korea argued Australia should make clear that it would not support a pre-emptive US strike at the North’s nuclear and

What should Australia rule out on North Korea?

In place of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's ambiguous commitment to support US military action against North Korea, Hugh White wants a clear statement ruling out Australia's participation in a 'pre-emptive' attack. But in turn there are two points of ambiguity in White's argument that may get in

Saying the unsayable in Australia’s relations with China

The issue of influence by the government of the People’s Republic of China in Australian public and political life reached a turning point with the resignation of senator Sam Dastyari. It concluded a year of forceful reporting and vitriolic debate about China in Australia, fuelling a steady flow

South Korea’s search for autonomy

'When caught in a fight between whales, a shrimp gets his back broken.' This old Korean proverb has been used to describe Korea being stuck between great power rivalries. As Chinese-US competition intensifies, Seoul is now struggling not to have its back broken, navigating between two whales. As

How Australia can help avoid a disastrous Korean war

Pyongyang’s latest long-range missile test raises the probability that Washington will decide to launch a pre-emptive military campaign against North Korea, simply because it will come to see this as the only alternative to accepting that North Korea will soon be

Searching for sustainable energy in the Mekong

Southeast Asian governments are starting to wake up to the vast potential of solar energy, under pressure from civil society groups that insist it is time to get on board with a global revolution in renewable energy. Cambodia's former Energy Minister Pou Sothirak, now head of the Cambodian

China: Contradictions in climate leadership

This article is part of a series for the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Xi Jinping had a good year in 2017. It began on the international

Taiwan and its South Pacific allies

With fleeting news coverage, President Tsai Ing-wen of the Republic of China last month concluded official visits to Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, three diplomatic allies of Taiwan in the South Pacific. No surprises occurred during her South Pacific trip, which was based on

Japan: Shinzo Abe wrestles with constitutional change

Wednesday 29 November in Tokyo, and the morning's breaking news was not Kim Jong-Un firing another missile but that sumo grand champion Haruma Fuji had announced his retirement following a week of scandal surrounding an alleged attack on a junior wrestler. As the two stories played

How America can build a durable military balance in Asia

During his tour of East Asia last month, US President Donald Trump visited five countries, but Americans could be forgiven for thinking that he only went to China, given the US media's coverage of the trip. Whereas journalists dissected Trump’s every move during his visit with Chinese President Xi

The symbolic politics of the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute

In recent years, maritime disputes have become highly visible microcosms of broader contests in the Indo-Pacific region. While much attention has been paid to disputes in the South China and East China Sea, a lower profile dispute has bubbled away for years between South Korea and Japan over a

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