Friday 20 Sep 2019 | 11:24 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Is China fragile?

The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is a parable for unanticipated risk: the possibility of 'unknown unknown' events that no-one sees coming. In a new essay, The Calm Before the Storm, Taleb further posits that perceptions of risk are distorted by 'fragile stability.' Some countries (eg.

Cambodia's controversial dam seems set to go ahead

What is happening with Cambodia's Lower Se San 2 dam? Elliot Brennan's citation of a Bangkok Post report of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's speech at the opening of the Stung Russey Chrum Krom hydroelectric dam in Koh Kong province in Tuesday's Southeast Asia links is interesting for a number

South China Sea: Jakobson and Glaser are both right

There has recently been a touch of disagreement on this site between Linda Jakobson of the Lowy Institute and Bonnie Glaser of CSIS about the motivations for China's actions in the South China Sea. In short, Jakobson argues that China's decision-making can be explained by bureaucratic competition

What I got wrong in 2014, and what I got right

January should be called pundit accountability month. On websites such as this, we make all sorts of predictions and forecasts, or we identify structural trends or leadership changes as critical, and so on. The temptation to choose our ideologically-preferred independent variables, or to otherwise

Korea: The 5 most important foreign policy events of 2014

The end of the year is a nice time to reflect on big events and try to prioritise them. This is often seen as a fool's errand. There are so many events, and weighing their causal significance, in real time particularly, seems impossible. Still, assigning causal weight is what we are supposed to do

India's new Asia-Pacific strategy: 'Act East'

It has been a busy year for India in the Asia Pacific. From multilateral summits to bilateral diplomacy, the Modi Government has deliberately moved to step up engagement with its East and Southeast Asian partners. At this year's India-ASEAN Summit, Prime Minister Modi announced his intention to

The history of the new Chinese empire

An ambitious Chinese initiative to build a series of strategic maritime distribution centres, west to Africa and beyond, has been revealed. This is an extension of the Maritime Silk Road, which in turn complements a plan to revive the terrestrial Silk Road through central Asia. China's strategic

Abe's mandate: The strategic dimension

As discussed in part 1 of this post, Prime Minister Abe is likely to make the economy his first post-election priority. He wants to pull the economy out of recession and set the basis for long-term growth. But he cannot ignore national security. Abe's own deep interest, allied with that of a

Abe's mandate: The economic imperative

As predicted, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-Komeito coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored an easy victory in Japan's Lower House election on Sunday. For Abe it was a vital win on a shrewd, strategic gamble. The LDP under Abe's leadership was judged the only viable option by an

The propaganda war over maritime rights

'China will work with other countries to further promote a harmonious maritime order.' Even after years of studying the maritime tensions on China's periphery, I had to check that I had not misread the 9 December Xinhua dispatch quoting Liu Jieyi, China's Ambassador to the UN. These reassuring

Jerry Singirok on PNG violence

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Melanesia Program, and Mark Tamsitt, Research Associate at the Lowy Institute. Last weekend's clash between the PNDGF and police, which led to four soldiers being shot and sparked days of rioting and looting in Port Moresby, is a serious incident that needs

Stiglitz on the Chinese century: False reassurance

Given what is happening at the venerable The New Republic, events which so richly symbolise the tumult in serious journalism in the US (if you've missed this story, try Andrew Sullivan's coverage for a passionate and not-at-all balanced take), maybe it's passé to attach special significance to a

Stiglitz on the Chinese century: False reassurance

Given the recent turmoil at The New Republic, which so richly symbolises the tumult in serious journalism (if you've missed this story, try Andrew Sullivan's coverage for a passionate and not-at-all balanced take), maybe it's passé to attach special significance to a new essay by a senior figure in

Stiglitz on the Chinese century: False reassurance

Given the recent turmoil at The New Republic, which so richly symbolises the tumult in serious journalism (if you've missed this story, try Andrew Sullivan's coverage for a passionate and not-at-all balanced take), maybe it's passé to attach special significance to a new essay by a senior figure in

Peace on the horizon for Bangsamoro?

As part of the 'Sectarianism and Religiously Motivated Violence' Masters course which I run at ANU's National Security College, students were asked to write a post on a contemporary sectarian conflict. This piece by Sophie Wolfer was judged the best of those submitted. The end of a 40-year

Regional tensions on display at Fifth Xiangshan Forum

Last week's Fifth Xiangshan Forum in Beijing demonstrated just how difficult it will be to resolve disputes in the South China Sea as long as key parties believe history must arbitrate the veracity of claims to sovereignty over contested islands. Scholars, officials and military officers from all

Why economics doesn't explain China's FTA decision

Malcolm Cook and I have been debating why China has been willing to bless Tony Abbott with an FTA when Mr Abbott has so strongly opposed Beijing's political and strategic interests and aspirations in Asia. Why has President Xi met Mr Abbott's stick with such a juicy carrot, especially when

East Timor, Australia and the 'Timor Gap'

Tom Allard recently reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia and East Timor are ready to restart talks on the maritime boundary between the two countries, with all its complications of petroleum revenues and history. The tradition is to keep these talks under wraps, but Allard's article

Fiji grabs the limelight as leaders of China and India visit

Jenny Hayward-Jones is Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program and Philippa Brant is a Research Associate at the Lowy Institute. Pacific Island leaders have had the rare opportunity to meet the international leader of the moment, Narendra Modi, and the president of the world's

Why does China bother with coercion?

Hugh White's willingness to admit his mistakes and revisit his assumptions is admirable. His error in predicting that China would punish Australia by withholding final agreement on the FTA out of displeasure with the Abbott Government's pro-US and pro-Japan tilt is understandable. After all, Beijing

Adolescent Australia's road to adulthood

In his new Lowy Institute Paper, Peter Hartcher is correct when he writes that Australia is an adolescent country. However, I believe the roots of our adolescent behaviour lie deep in the lack of maturity of our national consciousness. The juvenile language of our leaders, our false bravado, and

Obama on Asia: Holding the Brisbane line

America's commitment to security, dignity and prosperity in Asia, facing up to global challenges, and some strong words on climate change – President Obama's just-concluded speech in Brisbane was a hybrid package. I imagine other contributors will add context to his applause-evoking remarks on

Russia is back in the Pacific

The Russian Navy is getting closer to Australia than we're used to, and beyond the bluster of 'shirtfronting' we don't seem to have a coherent policy response to a more active Russia in our 'near abroad'. Russian Navy officers and the Slava-class cruiser Varyag. As my colleague James Brown wrote

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