Sunday 18 Aug 2019 | 21:44 | SYDNEY
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Asia

The 'win-win' New Zealand-Taiwan FTA

On the measure of FTAs signed, New Zealand's 'Asian Century' project is doing better than that of its larger, louder neighbour. Last week, New Zealand became the first OECD member to sign an FTA with Taiwan. In 2008 New Zealand was the first OECD member to sign an FTA with Taiwan's larger, louder

Background for Rudd's PNG visit

With Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Papua New Guinea this Sunday and Monday to meet with his counterpart Peter O'Neill, it's useful to recall that the PNG PM gave an address to the Lowy Institute on 29 November last year. Post event, in an interview with the Lowy Institute's Jenny Hayward

Interview: 'How Asia Works' part II

Below is the second part of my exchange with Joe Studwell, whose book, as I said in the intro to part 1, has tested some assumptions about economic development I've been carrying around with me for a long time. SR: Asia is home to some of the great cautionary tales of industry policy: Malaysia’s

Gulf states: The money or the vote?

As political unrest and violence hits much of the Arab world, the Gulf states (with the exception of Bahrain) have been able to sit back more or less serenely and use their immense wealth to stave off any serious calls for political reform. This week it was reported that the Saudi Government

Freelancing in Syria

Thanks to reader Olivia for steering me towards this breathtaking piece of writing from Italian journalist Francesca Borri on the front line in Syria. The Italian editors she describes are clearly fools for dismissing Borri's opinions; we need to hear more from her: People have this romantic image

Asylum seekers and Konfrontasi

The Piping Shrike is an anonymous Australian blog with some of the sharpest (if not always most readable) political analysis you will see. This post from 1 July is the first analysis I've read that finds a plausible reason behind Kevin Rudd's extraordinary claim, in his first media conference

Burma and North Korea: Again? Still?

Andrew Selth is a research fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. The US Treasury's 'designation' of Lieutenant General Thein Htay, Chief of Burma's Directorate of Defence Industries (DDI), for purchasing military goods from North Korea, surprised many. After Barack Obama's visit to Burma in

Egypt: An Islamist insurrection?

Bob Bowker is a former Australian ambassador to Jordan and Egypt. The events of the past week in Egypt raise serious questions about the capacity of the political system in that country and elsewhere in the Arab world to contain, through constitutional means, the struggle between Islamists and

Islamists and modernity in the Arab world

Bob Bowker is a former Australian ambassador to Jordan and Egypt. Antipathy between those Arabs who engage in politics and adopt lifestyles framed within an Islamic discourse ('Islamists') and those who do not underlies much of the current political contest in Egypt. It has a fundamental impact on

China's incomplete financial evolution

The spike in China's short-term interest rates over the past month sent a shiver through world financial markets, in the same way that Fed Chairman Bernanke's statements on quantitative easing startled financial markets a month earlier. In both cases the market over-reacted, reflecting a

Cambodia: After Hun Sen wins election

When Cambodians go to the polls on 28 July it's odds-on that Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) will be returned to office. This result will continue the CPP's political dominance, maintained since 1997, and will extend Hun Sen's position as the world's longest-serving prime minister. He took

Protecting Australian businesspeople abroad

Nick Alexander, a former UN and Lowy Institute intern, is a University of Sydney Juris Doctor candidate. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made it an essential theme of his trip to Indonesia to refocus the Australian people on tapping into Indonesia’s extraordinary business potential rather than

Reader riposte: Rudd, SBY and those boats

Christopher Lethbridge writes: The joint communiqué from Friday's discussions between Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd marks a new maturity in both the Australian-Indonesian relationship and the asylum seeker debate. Epitomised by the

Egypt: Coup de-fault

Overnight in Egypt the military suspended the country's constitution and removed President Mohammed Morsi from power, following massive popular protests. It is clearly a coup, even if the military has, I suspect, mounted it reluctantly: on the one hand not wanting to run the country again, on the

John Garnaut on being a foreign correspondent

Three days after John Garnaut, Fairfax Media's award winning China correspondent, left Beijing, I was fortunate enough to catch up with him before he gave a keynote address to the Lowy Institute's New Voices conference. John describes the momentous changes he witnessed on both a professional

Australia's South China Sea chance

All those countries (including Australia) that so solemnly call for a 'rules-based order' in Indo-Pacific Asia have a chance today to show they mean it. At a major gathering in Brunei, the annual ASEAN Regional Forum, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and his counterparts have an opportunity to

What to do about climate migration

Professor Jane McAdam is a member of the Consultative Committee of the Nansen Initiative and the author of Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law.  Last month, the Norwegian Refugee Council released a report revealing that 32.4 million people were forced to flee their homes in

Has Gen Y really gone off democracy?

In Kevin Rudd's victory speech last night, he went out of his way to address young Australians: Mr Rudd said many young people had not liked or respected much of what they had seen. "As I rock around the place talking to kids, they see it as huge national turn-off," he said. "I understand

Hugh White's Middle East doesn't exist

I really enjoy reading Hugh White's work on regional security, but as a Middle East analyst, he makes a good China pundit. While I agree with Hugh that these are troubled times, the Middle East is hardly in the process of disintegrating. Hugh's view that modern state structures are collapsing

Warming up to Indonesia

Most of us Indonesia groupies have long been nonplussed at how Australians are so luke-warm (and so ill-informed) about Indonesia, as confirmed by the latest Lowy poll. I agree with Dave McRae that we need more person-to-person links. But there are already quite a few. What about all those

Syria: West takes sides in sectarian war

In 1968 a US Army major said of the attack on Ben Tre that 'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it'. Whatever the accuracy of the quote, it summed up well the popular perception that the US in Vietnam had lost sight of the value of human life, and thought only in terms of short-term

Why don't Australians trust Indonesia?

This year's Lowy Institute poll reveals Australians' lack knowledge of Indonesia and a pronounced mistrust of our northern neighbour. Only 33% of Australians agree that Indonesia is a democracy, fifteen years and three rounds of democratic elections after the fall of Suharto's authoritarian regime.

Somaliland: Where sovereignty means something

Sarah Phillips, a Senior Lecturer at Sydney University, is in Somaliland conducting research. She is grateful to the Developmental Leadership Program for funding. All photos by Sarah. Even as a political scientist, sovereignty is not something that captures a lot of my attention in the course of a

Trailer: The Impossible Image

Above, some footage from a new documentary called The Impossible Image, interspersed with commentary from photographer Richard Mosse, who took the unusual step of traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo to photograph the civil war on infrared film. I loved this quote from Mosse: Of

Syria: It's the ground war, stupid

The Syrian civil war is a land battle. Comparisons with Libya and talk of no-fly zones (NFZ) as some kind of low-risk game changer ignore this fact. As the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff noted recently, 90% of the casualties inflicted by the regime (and 100% of those killed by the

NZ-China: Is integration becoming dependence?

Katherine Ellena is a Research Associate with the US Naval Postgraduate School and a former New Zealand diplomat. The views expressed here are hers alone. Two milestones occurred in New Zealand in the last two months with little fanfare, but with interesting implications. Firstly, in April, China

Indonesia's police: The problem of deadly force

Jim Della-Giacoma is the Asia Program Director for International Crisis Group. My four year-old daughter recently came home from her Jakarta kindergarten with a story about a visit to the school from the head of our local police station. 'If there is a robber and he's running away, the policeman

Afghanistan's women: Patchy gains under threat

Susanne Schmeidl is co-founder of the Afghan NGO, The Liaison Office. In 2009 Afghan President Hamid Karzai enacted, by presidential decree, a law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW). The law, which provided broad protections for for women and girls from a range of violent actions

Rouhani: The style/substance divide

Hassan Rouhani's first-round success in the Iranian elections has sent an strong message to the regime. On the face of it, the process went well. Having ensured that the list of candidates was not going to offer any existential threat to the system, Ayatollah Khamenei needed to ensure that this

Reader riposte: Why tax Aussies abroad?

Paul Harper from Phnom Penh writes: Further to Janet Magnin's comments and Nick Alexander's article Taxing Australians Abroad, it is unclear to me what services I am receiving from the Australian Government. I pay for my own medical and evacuation services. The only consular service I have used

Nauruan democracy works in a Nauruan way

Cait Storr is a lawyer, writer and academic at University of Melbourne researching Nauru and other Pacific small island states. On Saturday 8 June, Nauru held a peaceful, indeed almost cheerful, election. Votes were cast and counted and 19 members elected to form the 21st parliament of the

China's agenda in Switzerland (and Europe)

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. For his first trip abroad as Chinese premier last month, Li Keqiang went to India and Pakistan and then continued to Switzerland and Germany before heading back home. Germany

Is China already a responsible economic stakeholder?

The meeting between Presidents Obama and Xi in Palm Springs over the weekend presented another opportunity to berate China for its international economic imbalances, but the two presidents sensibly found more fruitful things to talk about. It's getting harder to find fault in China's interaction

Reader riposte: China-US surprises

Cecelia O'Brien responds to last Friday's Defence in Depth video: When I was a young grad student I had a professor who told us that if we had ten data sets and nine of those sets all had the same result, we should then devote our utmost attention to the one data set that did not get the same

Obama-Xi: Good tone, but challenges ahead

Michael Green served on the US National Security Council staff from 2001-2005 and is now Senior Vice President for Asia at CSIS and a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. The pundits gave a variety of bad advice to President Obama going into the Sunnylands Summit with Xi Jinping. One

Obama-Xi: Not too hot, not too cold

Many readers know the lines from the 19th century fable about Goldilocks and the three bears: 'not too hot, not too cold, just right.' Those lines come to mind when reading the mostly positive initial reports of the informal summit between presidents Obama and Xi. These two leaders needed to get

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