Thursday 21 Oct 2021 | 03:50 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Rich, hot and popular: the taming of Chinese celebrities

Chinese celebrities are in trouble with the Chinese Communist Party. The Party has cracked down on a number of Chinese celebrities, including the billionaire actor and filmmaker Zhao Wei (also known as Vicky Zhao). Zhao has drawn the ire of the Party and as a result, her online presence has been

Did 9/11 change our world?

We asked six experts, “Did 9/11 define our world? If so, how? If not, what did?” After each of their responses to these questions, editor Lydia Khalil challenges the experts with questions that delve deeper into their rationales and reasons

Europe and the South China Sea 

In the 16th century the Portuguese were the first Europeans to navigate the South China Sea and lay eyes upon the thousands of islands and reefs that lay in these waters. Long years have passed since the days in which European navies played a major role in the seas of Asia. However, in recent years

Thai lives matter, too

Last week, Thailand had its own moment akin to the death of George Floyd in the United States. Although it lacked the racial overtones of Floyd’s murder, the helplessness of the victim, the public reaction, and the following demands for police reform all resonate. On 22 August, a video went

Sharpening deterrence

“If you want peace, prepare for war.” The idea that states can avoid war by strengthening their military is attractively simple, and the advice, attributed to Roman author Vegetius, has proved enduringly popular. In modern strategic lingo, it’s embodied in the buzz word “deterrence”.

Will Jokowi pull off a three-peat?

On 13 August, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, granted an audience to Bambang Soesatyo, Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), to discuss how to advance some “limited” constitutional amendments. The country’s press was immediately abuzz with interest

Australia’s seaborne trade: Essential but undefendable

Thomas Shugart’s excellent Lowy analysis Australia and the growing reach of China’s military is by far the best thing I’ve read on the specific defence implications for Australia of China’s swift emergence as a maritime power. It not only explains how China’s maritime forces have developed

Economic diplomacy: After Kabul, Australia looks to India

Suitcase intelligence Bob Carr recalls in his Diary of a Foreign Minister how a senior Australian intelligence official told him bluntly in 2013 that the war against the Taliban was failing. “We spent a billion dollars in Uruzgan province … We could have achieved the same result if I had been

Afghanistan holds lessons for American power in Asia

Has America’s ignominious withdrawal from Afghanistan damaged its credibility? The scenes of chaos and panic at Kabul International Airport have certainly reinforced the sense that the United States had lost control of the situation in Afghanistan. The events of the 10 days since the Taliban

China puts its golden goose on notice

In recent years, China’s digital economy has seemed like a house undergoing full-scale renovation. At this moment, it appears to be in the demolition stage. In a series of regulatory smackdowns, the magnitude ranging from sledgehammers to wrecking balls, Beijing has appeared willing to lay waste

India fears a poison harvest from Afghanistan

The takeover of the Afghan government by the hard-line Islamist Taliban was swift and bloodless – at least on the day the group marched into the capital, Kabul. It means a u-turn for the country domestically, away from progressive policies and relatively liberal climate, and a return to the

Duterte’s back-down on US forces in Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has finally put an end to uncertainty regarding the fate of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States. This 1999 agreement provides the rules, guidelines and legal status of US soldiers during military exercises in the

The world must evacuate women police in Afghanistan

Women police have been among the victims of targeted killings as the Taliban expanded their territorial gains over the last year, along with women judges, journalists and human rights defenders. In recent months, some women who served in the Ministry of Interior Affairs or Afghan National Police

Can the US and China cooperate on climate?

Outlining the Biden administration’s approach to China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in March that the United States would be “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be”. Climate change looked like an obvious vector for bilateral

North Korea calling

Despite protests from North Korea, this week the United States and South Korea kicked off their annual joint military exercise. Korea watchers are worried that the decision to carry on with the drill spells trouble for the inter-Korean détente, which was only revived in July with the

Decoding intelligence on Afghanistan

Did the US intelligence community fail by not accurately predicting the speed and scale of the Taliban’s victory? A familiar blame game is now underway in Washington with administration officials and intelligence sources each backgrounding the media with their respective sides of the story. An

The double challenge for Suga

The flame has just been extinguished for the Tokyo Olympics, a postponed games held under trying circumstances. Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his team managed the task well given the pandemic odds stacked against them. Suga now faces two additional high hurdles. First, his caretaker

China debate not just a matter of hawks and doves

Book Reviews  Peter Hartcher Red Zone: China’s Challenge and Australia’s Future (Black Inc., 2021)David Brophy China Panic: Australia’s Alternative to Paranoia and Pandering (La Trobe University Press, 2021) If you wanted to give a political outsider a sense of

What to do after the Taliban take-over

I am not an emotionally detached observer of Afghanistan. The country was once my second home, and I still have friends and colleagues there. Frankly, I am gutted – it is hard to erase the kind of images that emerged from Kabul airport on Monday. Nor should we, this is what desperation looks like

UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt – not just for the good times

The United Kingdom’s proposed “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific was met with plenty of scepticism, including from this author, when it was unveiled in March as part of a broader Integrated Review of defence and foreign policy. Politicians and foreign policy analysts tend to obsess about

Kabul has fallen and so have we

In September of 1996, I along with a group of journalists based in New Delhi, followed the Taliban into Kabul. It was a cold day all round. There were munitions piled high on the side of roads, bloated bodies and destroyed buildings. The corpse of President Mohammad Najibullah had just been cut down

Afghanistan: the right time to leave

Joe Biden is right to get the United States out of Afghanistan. Even as Kabul has been taken over by the Taliban, the case remains strong that after 20 years, the United States has fought its war in the country. It is sometimes easy to forget that the president is also commander-in-chief of the US

Economic diplomacy: Burning down the house

Follow the money Forget Extinction Rebellion, carbon border adjustment mechanisms and doctors’ wives in inner city Liberal seats. When Prime Minister Scott Morrison locked onto the existential message in this week’s United Nations climate change report it seems to have been about how foreign

How can Australia reset relations with China?

Australia-China relations appear caught in a well-charted downward spiral. In the past year alone both countries have lodged complaints against the other with the World Trade Organisation and a freeze on high-level diplomatic relations remains in place. China has slapped tariffs on key Australian

Afghanistan: Russia faces its own risks and uncertainty

The American withdrawal from Afghanistan offers some opportunities to Russia – but exposes it to greater uncertainty and risk. Russia has long been ambivalent about the US/NATO force presence in Afghanistan. On the one hand, Moscow recognised, and valued, the stabilising role they played in the

Australia and India: A time to refocus on trade talks

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has just completed a packed visit to India from 2–6 August as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s special trade envoy. Abbott should have reason to be encouraged by his interactions and his meetings with a cross section of decision-makers in India,

Life in a host city, at home, live-streaming the Olympics

One of the unexpected benefits of studying abroad for an extended period is the new perspective it brings to understanding your own country. Certainly, my first two years of study abroad in Tokyo the 1980s, in pre-internet times, taught me things about Australia that I didn’t know, like just how

Is Pakistan fuelling a Taliban takeover?

As districts fall to the Taliban one after another without resistance, the government in Afghanistan has squarely put the blame on Pakistan for the mayhem in the country. This is because the Afghan officials believe that without help from Pakistan, the Taliban could not possibly takeover

Man on a mission: Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan

President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan in a short space of time aligns with the priorities of the Democratic party, but it would be a mistake to view the decision as ideological and impetuous. Since Biden’s opinion on American involvement in Afghanistan has

India-US ties: Work in progress

Diplomatese papered over the political turbulence in India during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s two-day official visit to the country on 27 and 28 July. Narendra Modi’s government has been stigmatised not only by the Indian public and the opposition parties for its excesses against

Russia and Vietnam: An alliance of convenience

Russia is one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Southeast Asia, with Vietnam alone a major customer for Russia’s arms. While it is estimated that throughout the 1980s Moscow had provided Vietnam with an average of US$1 billion annually in military assistance and another US$1 billion annually

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