Friday 13 Dec 2019 | 14:13 | SYDNEY
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Asia

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

Myanmar's big week: A backgrounder

With the ninth East Asia Summit and the the 25th ASEAN Summit being held back-to-back in Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw, this week has been widely seen as a 'coming out' for a country that has been slowly reforming, economically and politically, after years of international isolation that ended in

Defence challenges 2035: Securing Australia's lifelines

By Rory Medcalf, Director of the Lowy Institute's International Security Program and James Brown, Military Fellow Debates on Australia's defence policy have long oscillated between two schools: one focused on the physical defence of Australia's territory and its immediate maritime approaches, the

How the East Asia Summit can achieve its potential

Asia's summit season kicks off this week with the 20th APEC 'economic leaders' meeting in Beijing. The region's political jamborees have become very cluttered of late and leaders from all of Asia's key powers may become a little tired with one another's company. After APEC they will jet to Naypyidaw

Putin flexes muscle ahead of G20

What to do if you are the leader of a former superpower about to travel to a small-ish country whose leader has promised to shirtfront you? The answer seems to be to flex a little muscle. Russian leader Vladimir Putin is in Beijing today for the APEC meeting ahead of this week's G20 Summit in

US and allies outgunned in South China Sea

Three books published this year contemplate Asia's most vexing problem. Taken together, they provide a thorough understanding of the contest in the South China Sea. Still, they leave the reader with one large puzzle. Asia's Cauldron recounts, in Robert Kaplan's readable travelogue style, the

China's overseas basing strategy

'Will China's growing global economic interests lead it to expand its overseas military presence and capabilities?' This is a question that has been asked by policymakers, academics and strategists since China's economic growth became dependent on its ability to access energy through maritime sea

Australia's provincial reflex

'The provincial reflex', Peter Hartcher's coinage in The Adolescent Country, a Lowy Institute Paper released today, is a neat way of describing the chronic parochialism that has infected Australia public life for much of the past decade. It is a period, paradoxically, when the shift in global

Congress, midterms and the TPP

US mid-terms elections will take place on 4 November, with polls suggesting the Republicans will re-take control of the Senate. President Obama's next steps on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which his Administration says is the key economic plank of the rebalance to Asia, will be heavily

Whitlam's visionary leadership on Indonesia

As commentators rightly eulogise Gough Whitlam's foreign policy achievements, most of the attention has focused on his grand outreach to communist China and the independence of Papua New Guinea. These two acts were conspicuous hallmarks of Whitlam's game-changing diplomatic moments. A 1979 Peter

Chinese aid in Fiji coming under new pressures

I was in Fiji last week to get an update on Chinese assistance to the country, as part of a larger project I'm doing mapping Chinese aid activities in the Pacific islands, to be launched in early 2015. Navua Hospital, built with Chinese aid assistance, Fiji. (Author photo) Fiji is becoming

Four ways to look at Jokowi's new Cabinet

President Jokowi announced his first Cabinet on Sunday evening on the grounds of the State Palace, six days after his inauguration and four days after he scrubbed carefully orchestrated plans to unveil his selection of ministers at Jakarta's port. The initial announcement was delayed after Jokowi

Quick Comment: Jokowi should enjoy the party while he can

As Catriona Croft-Cusworth’s commentary and photos showed, there is a celebratory mood in Jakarta this week with the inauguration of Jokowi as Indonesia’s new president. In the spirit of reconciliation, Jokowi’s defeated opponent Prabowo Subianto even showed up for the ceremony. For this

Jokowi's maritime inaugural address

The inauguration speech of Indonesia's 7th President, Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, was powerful despite its brevity, or perhaps because of it. It contained a striking blend of personal humility, national pride and an ethos of unremitting work. But as an analyst of Asian geopolitics, I was most struck by

Political stability first, strategic stability second

The central purpose of deploying strategic nuclear weapons on SSBNs, rather than on other less expensive and technologically demanding platforms, is to assure the survival of these weapons in order for them to conduct a second strike. The rationale is that assured retaliation will dissuade a

Why do so many Chinese expect war?

A professor of classical music in Beijing startled me in 2010 when he said, 'when I look at my students, I fear we are headed for war within five years.' 'War with whom?', I enquired. 'With anyone.' His students don't seem like fenqing ('angry youth'). They are in a musical conservatory, after

Modi in the US: A truly strategic partnership?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much anticipated and greatly feted visit to Washington has divided opinion. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, New York, 26 September 2014 (Flickr/Narendra Modi) The writer C. Raja Mohan concluded in the Indian Express that Modi and Obama had 'restored

Chinese submarine's Sri Lanka visit prompts rescue questions

Chinese submarine support ship in Colombo Port, Sri Lanka. (PLA photo.) The visit of the Chinese Type 039 'Song' class submarine to Colombo, Sri Lanka, earlier this month passed with little notice, but it's the first time one of the People's Liberation Army-Navy's (PLA-N) diesel-powered submarines

Indonesia's economy at a crossroads

With the passing of the presidential baton from Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Joko Widodo just a month away, Indonesia is at a political crossroad, with the first clear break from the politicians who were part of the Soeharto years. Monday's Indonesia mini-update at the Lowy Institute, a half-day

Corruption in China: The cultural divide

Since Xi Jinping took over the multiple reins of leadership in China he has overseen an unprecedented crackdown on corruption. Government officials at heights or with connections generally considered to be safe have not been spared. A notorious example is Zhou Yongkang, former chief of China's

New Caledonia: Australia's benevolent disregard

Imagine that the most senior leader of one of Australia's neighbours resigns suddenly during a visit by a minister. And that this follows an election where the winners cannot agree on allocating a key economic portfolio, a street protest where two policemen are shot and a boozy lunch where a senior

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