Thursday 19 Sep 2019 | 09:50 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Asia

Still debating inequality, 40 years on

Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-first Century put inequality centre-stage in the economic debate. But the topic has been around for a long while. Brookings has recently republished Arthur Okun's 40 year-old Equality and Efficiency: The Big Trade-off, The launch was an opportunity to bring

Asian economies still growing

Despite gloomy talk about slowing economic growth, Asia has continued to grow strongly, and the IMF has forecast this will continue this year and next. Asia is still by far the most dynamic region in the world, accounting for 40% of world GDP but nearly two-thirds of global growth. Look, too,

China-Russia: An uneasy friendship

The China-Russia relationship is the world's most important, and the best between any two great powers, Xi Jinping told Vladimir Putin a couple of years ago. Last week, at the Kremlin's V-Day celebration, their ties were reaffirmed in grand style. Some observers dismiss the partnership as an '

China's dangerous cyberwar strategy

There's an 'Uber for X', goes the little ditty, celebrating the ubiquitous infiltration of the online 'sharing economy.' It seems Uber's business model can be turned to virtually all our needs, and a global ecosystem of app buttons has popped up on our smartphones. As in so many things, however,

Australia's Pacific aid budget spared from serious cuts

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, and Phillipa Brant, Research Associate. The Pacific Islands region has been spared any serious impact from cuts to the Australian aid program revealed in budget documents released yesterday. Australia's bilateral program

Jokowi hoping for good news from Papua

President Jokowi lifted an effective ban on foreign journalists reporting from Papua during his visit to the province over the weekend. Aside from being a positive step for press freedom, the move has been interpreted as an effort by Jokowi to boost his own image as a human rights defender and to

What the G20 can do about infrastructure

Infrastructure is now a standard item on the G20 agenda. Serious infrastructure shortages are ubiquitous. With global economic growth slow, ample construction capacity and interest rates at historic lows, there seems to be an opportunity to address the infrastructure gap. But many governments see

Digital Asia links: Nepal earthquake special

Those monitoring the earthquake response will already be well acquainted with the #NepalEarthquake hashtag, but they should also subscribe to this Twitter list. How Facebook (via Safety Check) and Google (via Person Finder) helped connect people immediately following the 25 April earthquake.

Are peace talks in Afghanistan slowly taking shape?

In a positive sign for political reconciliation in Afghanistan, an Afghan Government delegation recently met with Taliban representatives in Qatar – ostensibly for a research conference, but most likely to discuss the commencement of formal peace talks. Representatives from Pakistan also attended

The secretive TPP: Never again

One aspect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that has come under criticism is the lack of transparency in the negotiating process. Could a more transparent model be used for these kinds of negotiations? In other areas of official decision-making, recent decades have seen a big shift towards

Unquestioned beliefs on both sides of US-China divide

China and the US have both been described as countries that consider themselves to be exceptional. China, so much so, that some analysts argue it sees itself as 'uniquely unique'. What this means in China is that most Chinese understand themselves to be part of a culture that no-one else can truly

New Defence Guidelines re-brand US-Japan alliance

The US-Japan Defence Cooperation Guidelines are best thought of as an occasional re-branding exercise for the US-Japan alliance in response to changing strategic conditions. Following a review, a revised version of the Guidelines was announced on 27 April. The 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation

Australia's unsustainable approach to asylum-seekers

At a time when international cooperation on refugees is most sorely needed, countries are instead resorting to increasing unilateralism. Australia is at the forefront. Retreating inwards by trying to seal off borders to people in search of protection is both unrealistic and unsustainable. The

Burma: Police reforms expand women's roles

There was a time when there were very few women in Burma’s national police force, and they were practically invisible. Under an ambitious plan to enlarge, modernise and reform the Myanmar Police Force (MPF), however, that situation is rapidly changing. Not only are there now many more female

Nepal aid response reflects regional rivalries

In recent years, strategic rivalry between India and China has been evident across the Indo-Pacific, with Beijing progressively growing its diplomatic, economic and military influence on India's land and maritime periphery, and India belatedly pushing back to preserve its once privileged position in

North Korea's new diplomacy

Russian state-run news agency Tass confirmed on 22 April that Kim Jong-un will be in Moscow for the 9 May Victory Day celebrations. The North Korean leader will be among 26 other heads of state who have so far confirmed their attendance. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong (Flickr/UN Geneva)

China's economic march into Pakistan

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is nothing short of a 'fate changer', said Pakistani Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the man behind the historic project. The excitement appears to be mutual, as China has shown equal enthusiasm for the project throughout a two-day visit by Chinese President

What to do about weak world growth

Forecasts prepared for the IMF's 'Spring Meeting' in Washington last week predict global growth of around 3.5% this year, about the same as in the last few years. This is not the 'slowing' discussed so often in earlier Fund documents, but nor is it the normal robust recovery that might be expected

Burma: The return of the 'vigilantes'

In 2011, Burma's hybrid civilian-military government launched an ambitious reform program that, among other things, envisaged the transfer of responsibility for Burma's internal security from the armed forces to the national police. Given Naypyidaw's firm and public commitment to this policy, it

China's dream scenario for Asia

'Who lost China?' is perhaps the most dreaded question of modern American foreign policy. It reveals the historical dilemma that haunts Washington today: The rise of China will inevitably challenge America's longstanding presence in Asia; it doesn't matter whether American interests actively help or

Countering ISIS online

When you look at the global response to the threat of ISIS, a glaring gap is the cyber domain. The internet has been critical to the terrorist group's success. It allows it to communicate unfiltered to the rest of the world, for onward mass dissemination by the media. It helps the group radicalise

America's China consensus slowly unravels

For a long time American (and Australian) thinking about China has been dominated by a broad consensus that, despite many signs of growing assertiveness, Beijing does not pose a fundamental challenge to US leadership in Asia. The argument goes that, whatever they might say, China's leaders know

Does Australia do digital diplomacy?

After a decade of swimming against the tide, the Australian Government is slowly engaging in the world of digital diplomacy. The term 'DFAT the Dinosaur' no longer applies, a label slapped onto our foreign affairs department in 2010 after a series of public refusals to incorporate the internet

Is capital globally mobile?

The Australian Treasury has been busy. On top of its usual output, the last 18 months have included the Financial System Inquiry, hosting the G20, the 2015 Intergenerational Report and the tax white paper. All this while eliminating one-third of its workforce! But today I'd like to focus on the

Ashton Carter's Northeast Asia visit looks south

Ashton Carter's inaugural trip to Asia as US Secretary of Defense went about as smoothly as he could have hoped. The logic of visiting Tokyo and Seoul ahead of other capitals in the region is straightforward. Between them, Japan and South Korea host over 80,000 US military personnel and the bulk

Why Australia needs Austrade

Bruno Mascitelli is editor of the newly released The Austrade Story: Export and Investment Facilitation Under the Microscope. The Australian Trade Commission, or Austrade as it is commonly known, turns 30 in 2016. It came into existence in 1986 as a statutory government agency for export promotion

French elections reverberate in New Caledonia

    You might wonder whether the result of the recent second round of French departmental elections – with Nicolas Sarkozy taking credit for the UMP's win of 67 departments, trouncing Francois Hollande's Socialists, who got 34 – has anything to do with Australian

The TPP and intellectual property rights

Earlier posts have discussed how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – if it comes into force – will be part of the process of setting global rules across a wide range of issues, including intellectual property rights. The just-released Harper Competition Policy Review notes the importance

The coming nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean

While the world focuses on the dangers that a nuclear-armed Iran could present in the Middle East, a potentially more dangerous and unstable nuclear proliferation is occurring in the Indian Ocean. In the coming years India, Pakistan, and perhaps China will likely deploy a significant number of

China's reserve-currency ambition

In mid-2009, with American finance reeling from the Lehman Brothers collapse, the nation's Treasury Secretary addressed his prestigious alma mater Peking University. 'How safe are China's investments in US Government debt?', challenged one student. 'Very safe', the Secretary answered to derisive

One belt, one road? China's community of common destiny

More details emerged over the weekend about two Chinese big-ticket initiatives, 'One Belt, One Road' and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia, President Xi Jinping outlined his vision for the region in a keynote address titled 'Towards a Community of

Are the Khmer Rouge and ISIS similar?

Elliot Brennan's comparison between the Khmer Rouge and ISIS raises a number of questions. No one is more aware than I of the terrible cost of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. It was a period that devastated a country I knew well, and which led to the death, as Elliot rightly

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