Make or break
Trade matters haven’t made much of an impact in Australia’s election campaign, not surprisingly overshadowed by Solomon Islands in the foreign affairs debate and now interest rate rises in the domestic debate.
The Labor Opposition stepped up the rhetoric at its campaign launch
The sun baked the concrete and tarmac as mourners walked behind a hearse carrying Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, wailing and crying out for the life that had been lost. Over 200 people attended his funeral, sending him off on the final leg of a horrific journey that had begun 13 years ago, when
The results of Timor-Leste’s 19 April presidential run-off were unsurprising, with challenger Jose Ramos-Horta besting the incumbent, Francisco “Lú-Olo” Guterres, by a 24 per cent margin. As the dust settles in advance of Horta’s inauguration on 20 May, the key takeaways from the election
A military parade in the streets of Pyongyang last month gave North Korea another chance to show off its new Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile while marking the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Revolution Army. Kim Jong-un, lauding the country’s nuclear
The Shanghai lockdown following a Covid-19 outbreak last month saw the most stringent restrictions placed upon a Chinese city since the pandemic began. Although Chinese civil society may be heavily circumscribed, a stituation exacerbated by Covid, civic action and protests have continued to occur
Solomon Islands has signed a security pact with China and set off a flurry of foreign policy chatter in Australia and the region. Understandably, the focus of the discussion is on why this has happened, what this means, what to do next, and of course, because Australia is in the midst of an election
In the last fortnight, Pakistan has launched a drone campaign in Afghanistan against the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – the Pakistani Taliban. The campaign is a result of the Afghan Taliban’s reluctance to crack down on the TTP on Afghan soil. Islamabad’s expectation that the
On 12 April, the Indonesian parliament announced plans to establish three new provinces in West Papua. Currently, the western part of the island of New Guinea consists of two provinces: West Papua Province and Papua Province. The plan is to break down these two administrative regions into five, with
Following Timor-Leste’s presidential run-off election on 19 April, José Ramos-Horta has been confirmed as the country’s next president in a landslide victory over Francisco “Lú-Olo” Guterres. The outcome reveals a political scene still dominated by the old guard – the heroes of
Following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February, there has been ongoing controversy over the response by the Vietnamese government, which has refrained from naming Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war an “invasion”, abstained from the United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s
Maritime disputes in Southeast Asia should be viewed less as a single big basket of problems, and more as smaller individual problems with their own corresponding solutions. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. And three inter-related policy contexts can help explain why some troubles persist
Australia’s election campaign has been consumed by the Solomon-China security pact in recent days. Labor has cried “Pacific stuff up”, mocking the Coalition government’s Pacific Step-up policy to strengthen neighbourhood ties. In turn, the Coalition has seized on past comments about foreign
Two factors – military materiel and energy opportunities – have been used to explain India’s muted criticisms of Russia and its equivocal support for Ukraine. Both positions, to non-Indians’ chagrin, are in India’s national interests. As India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently
Labor has described Solomon Islands’ security pact with China as Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the Pacific since the Second World War, but this is hyperbole. Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the region – ever – is its failure to address (at both a national and
The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AIECTA) signed on 2 April marks a first for India in terms of liberalisation of “substantially all” trade and timeline of negotiations.
India has often been blamed for prolonging trade negotiations with its rigid stance on tariff
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a food shortage – or crisis for some – in unexpected places across the world. For wheat, maize, barley and sunflower oil, Russia and Ukraine are among the biggest global producers. Russia is also the world’s top exporter of fertiliser and
Australia’s relationships with countries in Southeast Asia are not bad. The prime minister or foreign minister could happily turn up in any regional country and receive a warm welcome. Last year, Australia signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Timorese voters head to the polls again on Tuesday 19 April for the second round of the country’s presidential election. The campaign, following a first round of voting last month, pits two long-standing political figures against each other – incumbent president Francisco “Lú-Olo” Guterres
While regional countries respond to Covid-19 and the many social and economic consequences, ensuring peace and stability in the South China Sea has become even more important due to its role in connecting continents, fostering international trade and ensuring supply chains are not broken. This will
Myanmar is fortunate to have extraordinary travel destinations within its borders. But these tourist jewels have been denied to most foreigners since the pandemic began and then the coup in February 2021. But, after years of closed borders, Myanmar is once again opening up to foreign tourists from
When in 2016 the Arbitral Tribunal issued its watershed ruling in the case between the Philippines and China, responses from the international community were lacklustre. The Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative’s “arbitration support tracker” suggests that eight governments have publicly
Do South Koreans view North Korea’s nuclear weapons as a threat? In addition to North Korea ratcheting up missile tests this year, including the first by an intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017, there has also been an increase in aggressive rhetoric from Kim Yo-jong, sister to North
Among the many “days” celebrated by the international community, one entrant seems especially incongruous. “Mekong Day” was proclaimed by the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) headquarters in Vientiane to celebrate the signature of the “Agreement on the Cooperation and Sustainable
Vietnam recently banned the film Uncharted from domestic distribution due to a scene depicting an “illegal image” of China’s infamous “nine-dash line”.
This is not the first time popular culture has become embroiled in the politics of the South China Sea.
In 2021, the Philippines’
The Southeast Asian maritime domain continues to be fraught. The Covid-19 pandemic brought about an observable increase in transnational crimes such as smuggling – at first, pandemic-related medical material, then later food – as well as illegal drug trading and human trafficking. Piracy and
Of all the findings about how Indonesians view the world revealed by the Lowy Institute Indonesia Poll, it was notable that India fared rather unfavourably. The poll revealed that only 41 per cent of Indonesians report trust in India, a 17-point fall since a previous Lowy Poll in 2006. In the
The United Kingdom became ASEAN’s newest dialogue partner in 2021 soon after launching its Indo-Pacific tilt. In the new diplomatic life after Brexit, the UK’s renewed attention to the broader two oceans, and ASEAN in particular, needed reframing. The dialogue partner status presents a
Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio visited India last month ahead of a G7 summit. With India hesitant to criticise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Japanese media speculated Kishida’s visit was aimed at persuading fellow Quad leader Narendra Modi to change India’s position. The US
Back to the future
The Morrison government gave the development aid sector an unexpected surprise with a budget spending increase mostly in the Pacific, just as the latest crisis in Solomon Islands was occurring. There is still plenty of grumbling that this – perhaps parting gift given the
Delivering an annual report to the United Nations Human Rights Council last month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet announced she would undertake an official visit to China, including Xinjiang, in May. Bachelet has been trying to gain meaningful access to Xinjiang for
In recent years, the rise of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities, transnational organised crime at sea, expansion of terrorist networks and activities by sea, and increasingly belligerent assertions of unilateral maritime claims have prompted coastal states in the East Asian
A video clip dating from 2019 featuring Indonesia’s former president Megawati Sukarnoputri has caused a stir on Indonesian social media in recent weeks. The video shows Megawati, now chair of the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P ), the largest political party in the country’s ruling coalition
Maritime scholars and practitioners often wrestle with the question of what a “desirable” architecture for maritime security should be, and how must it be properly implemented? The issue is complex, because although security is best delivered in collective and cooperative settings, there is
Despite the divisive legacy of his family, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is seen as the top choice for president in the May elections. According to a Pulse Asia survey conducted in February, 60 per cent of Filipinos will vote for Bongbong, notwithstanding several petitions to disqualify him.
Anxieties about the fate of liberalism are everywhere rising, as Francis Fukuyama makes clear in his latest defence of ideals he once described as “the endpoint of mankind’s ideological evolution”. Discontent with liberalism’s double standards and political resistance to the wealth
The Indo-Pacific maritime security order consists of international treaties, multilateral diplomatic forums and, increasingly, minilateral security initiatives. The first two are under stress due to China’s assertive behaviour in the maritime domain and have led to the formation of the latter.
Someone famous once reputedly quipped “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” So there is a certain echo to the AUKUS arrangement, which brings together Australia, United Kingdom and United States to share vital defence technologies in an effort to stabilise the Indo Pacific
The term “lawfare”, and its etymology in the term warfare, has traditionally been perceived as negative, based on the notion that it meant the misuse of law or legal institutions to achieve a military or operational objective. Law as a “weapon of war” inevitably conjured up images of the law
From the “Milk Tea Alliance”, an online pan-Asian solidarity movement of anti-authoritarian activists, to young politicians pushing progressive causes, youth politics in East and Southeast Asia has been on the upswing in recent years. While they operate in very different national contexts, what
It was a surprise to see Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya attending a meeting of the Security Council on 29 March holding up a copy of a small book I published while living in Australia in 2015. What’s Wrong with Diplomacy? may well have had the right title on its
News of an impending security agreement between Solomon Islands and China has alarmed Western nations concerned about China’s assertive influence in the region. But the reaction has underscored the risk that geopolitical competition itself could undermine the sovereignty of Pacific Island
As a consequence of its actions, Russia faces potentially stifling isolation. Russia will want to show the limits of this isolation through regional frameworks that also enable the Russian military to act as the dominant power. The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) offers Russia this
More than two years after threatening to scrap a self-imposed nuclear and long-range missile testing moratorium, North Korea finally delivered this past week with Pyongyang’s state media announcing the launch of the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Some doubts linger over
The visit in recent days by Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Maldives is further demonstration of India’s intention to build long-term ties. Jaishankar’s visit to Addu Atoll, in the far south of the country, also highlights the particular importance of that atoll to India and
Ferdinand Marcos Jr, only son and namesake of the Philippines’ late kleptocratic dictator, looks set to win the country’s upcoming presidential election in May. Consecutive polls in January and February have the junior Marcos winning with a staggering 60 per cent of the national vote.
The revelation in the past 24 hours about a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Honiara and Beijing regarding security related issues has sparked international headlines and worried response from Canberra. Australia’s Defence Minister Peter Dutton has said “we would be concerned
“Coalition” is one of those politically loaded terms that the sovereignty-conscious member-states of ASEAN tend to avoid – especially in dealing with disputed claims in the South China Sea. Keeping the region away from direct conflict with its giant neighbour the People’s Republic of China
Trafficking in persons is a billion-dollar global industry that seeks anonymity in every aspect of its criminal execution. Yet data related to human trafficking is a rare resource and, until recently, not one that focused on the experience of victims and survivors of human trafficking.