Tuesday 18 Jun 2019 | 10:51 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Hope, despair and the new normal in Myanmar

Human rights advocates had a rare chance to celebrate on Tuesday as two local Reuters journalists in Myanmar were released from prison. Their situation is viewed by the international community as a test case of the political reform process in the country. For the international community, the

India: encouraging the rainbow vote

As the mammoth task of elections in India continue up to a 19 May deadline, the nation’s election commission is seeking a full turnout of the population – including the often marginalised LGBTQI community. For the first time, transgender people have been anointed ambassadors 

Myanmar: pariah status no bar to defence modernisation

It has been more than two years since military “clearance operations” against Myanmar’s Rohingyas began in October 2016. Since then, the international community has relied on public criticism, unilateral sanctions and a range of measures in the United Nations and International Criminal Court

After the Australian election: the China test

Governments in Australia are judged, in part, by their handling of the relationship with China. And while foreign policy has barely featured in Australia’s election campaign, the Chinese government is watching our election with interest and intent. An early release of this year’s Lowy

Strategic trends across the Indo-Pacific region

Much has been written in recent years about the reorientation of US policy to the Indo-Pacific region in response to China’s expanding economic and strategic footprint. What is less clear, however, is how the region itself is responding to the new era of strategic competition proclaimed by

Why North Korea will not return to outright provocations

Despite the hype that surrounded the April 2018 summit of leaders from South and North Korea, the first anniversary of the meeting did not attract much attention – and was ignored by North Korea. South Korea had sought to use the anniversary as a way to resuscitate the stalled denuclearisation

Belt and Road: colonialism with Chinese characteristics

Although China’s top-ranking diplomat Yang Jiechi has repeatedly assured the world that his country’s supreme foreign policy project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), “does not play little geopolitical games”, many governments believe this is exactly what it does. The second BRI

North Korea’s uranium and prospects of a stealthier bomb

Verifying North Korea’s nuclear stockpile will be a critical part of any future disarmament negotiations. As past experience with other nations demonstrates, it is also a tricky process. North Korea will be expected to supply an inventory of their weapons stockpile, its fissile material and the

Huawei reaches into Britain

Whatever the true situation behind the sacking of Gavin Williamson as British defence secretary over claims (which he strenuously denies) that he leaked information to the Daily Telegraph from a meeting of the National Security Committee on Chinese telecom company Huawei, one thing is crystal clear

The persistent status quo with North Korea

It is a commonplace in media treatments of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) to view the previous two years as remarkable. This is often premised on the notion that the heavy American and South Korean (ROK, or Republic of Korea) engagement with the North since 2017

Social media in India fans fake news

India’s election campaigning is in full swing and everything about the Indian general election is gigantic. This time, about 900 million people above the age of 18 will be eligible to cast their ballots spread over seven phases at a million polling stations, culminating on 19 May. The country’s

Japan: grasping for hope in a new imperial era

Japan has three New Year’s Days this year. 1 January, the calendar new year was the obvious beginning, then followed 1 April, the start of the financial and academic year that is famously symbolised by seasonal cherry blossoms – and now 1 May, the once-only celebration of the first day of what

Tsai wins US sympathy, but what about Taiwan’s voters?

With presidential elections set for January 2020, the race for Taiwan’s top job is getting under way, and incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen is feeling the heat. Confronted by low popularity and primary challengers from within her own Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Tsai has resorted to

Culture cringe: Laughter links Australia and Asia

The Lowy Institute collects valuable data on how Australians view Asia, but equally important is how Asians see Australia, even if at times it makes for uncomfortable reading. Australia’s future depends crucially on the decisions Asians make: for example, on where to study, visit, live, buy and

Economic diplomacy: ASEAN trade, BRI deals and ageing Asia

When the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry surveyed its members last year about their use of trade agreements, the ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement surprisingly emerged as the third best known and used of 14 available trade concession frameworks. So, it is appropriate

Sri Lanka attacks: Still many puzzles to solve

It is very early in the aftermath of the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks and like all such attacks, more information will emerge in the coming days and weeks.  But a few early observations: 1. This was a well planned and coordinated attack: seven suicide bombers attacking six targets on the west

Seeing what you want in Belt and Road

China’s Xi Jinping recently completed a high-profile trip to Europe. In Italy, Xi and his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte last month signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding linking the struggling Italian economy to Belt and Road Initiative, the sprawling infrastructure

Coal comfort: Australia-India ties after the elections

In an odd quirk of timing, this year Australia and India’s elections will run in parallel. On 11 April, Scott Morrison made the trip to Canberra’s Government House and the official campaign finally began. On the same day, Indian voters began to go to the polls in the first of seven phases of

The souring mood towards Beijing from Berlin

Until recently, Germany was one of the few major Western countries that China had consistently amicable relations with in an increasingly hostile international environment for Beijing’s export-oriented industries and foreign investments. Germany, China’s fourth-largest trade partner, did not

Myanmar’s intelligence apparatus under Aung San Suu Kyi

When Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) took office in 2016, a wave of euphoria swept over Myanmar, shared by many people in other parts of the world. At the time, there was a rather naive belief that everything would suddenly be transformed. It was widely assumed, for

Making a murderer: the assassination of Kim Jong-nam

Two years of James Bond-esque intrigue following Kim Jong-nam’s assassination in Malaysia have fizzled out, with backroom negotiations seeing murder charges dropped against the two women previously alleged to have killed the North Korean. Ultimately, Malaysia didn’t allow detail to get in the

US bipartisanship on Asia

Two recently passed laws pertaining to US policy to Asia challenge a well-entrenched negative narrative about the Trump administration, and serve as reassuring reminders about how the US government and legislative process actually works. The Trump administration is not as isolationist and Congress

Singapore: a fake news law which is actually very bad news

It’s been on the cards in Singapore for some time, but when the People’s Action Party (PAP) government tabled the “Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill” in Parliament on 1 April 2019 – funnily enough, a day on which it’s traditional to spread “fake news” as a prank

Modi’s drive for Brand India

In 2014, the average Indian voter was restless for change. Regular revelations about corruption scandals, frustrating policy paralysis, incessant price hikes and widespread unemployment all coalesced in a virtually stalled economy. In polls that year, the Indian electorate delivered the Bharatiya

The limits of Moon Jae‑in’s shuttle diplomacy

Six weeks after the Hanoi summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is about to visit Washington in an effort to keep up the dialogue between the United States and North Korea. Moon’s 11 April trip will take place against a troubled backdrop, of North Korea’s threat to walk away from the

Japan’s very busy fighter force

By international standards, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force is very busy. It scrambles fighters daily to intercept multiple aircraft penetrating Japan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) – the block of airspace established over, and usually somewhat beyond, a nation’s territory in which

The frustrated wait for Thailand’s election outcome

As the dust settles in Thailand’s first election since a military coup in 2014, it appears that far from resolving the country’s perpetual political crisis, the election will only further contribute to instability. The military, which contested the 24 March election under the newly formed

ASEAN Regional Forum: less might be more

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) – with its unwieldy number of member states (27) and preoccupation with dialogue (a “talk shop”) – has been declared a failure time and again. Some criticism is justified. But it can also be argued that the earliest expectations regarding this regional

Economic diplomacy: trade and infrastructure battles in Asia

Each way bet Australian businesses are simultaneously becoming more dependent on China and traditional Anglo markets just when the country’s foreign policy thrust is to diversify links to major emerging nations such as India and Indonesia. This at a time a new survey of business attitudes to

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