Monday 08 Aug 2022 | 10:36 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Economic diplomacy: Trade shifts challenge a new government

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

Death penalty: Singapore’s growing abolition movement

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

Shanghai lockdown prompts collective action

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

What is at stake with new provinces in West Papua?

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

Timor-Leste: The new president needs to tune in

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

Not all maritime disputes are built the same

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

India-Russia: A friend in need

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

Solomons security pact: Sogavare, China, and Australia

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

A first for India and a chance to trade up with Australia

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

Russia-Ukraine: It always comes down to food

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

Taming troubled waters

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

The problem with postcards from Myanmar

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

Law of the sea: A contested watershed ruling

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

How the Mekong River Commission ignores reality

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

China’s nine-dash line proves stranger than fiction

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’

Can Shah Rukh Khan help India “Act East”?

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

How Japan can help nudge India away from Russia

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

Economic diplomacy: Priorities shift amid a budget aid boost

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

Democracy or dynasty? Megawati delivers Jokowi a clip

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

Of maritime security and a rules-based order

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

Why liberalism has few friends in Asia

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

AUKUS can be a good platform for cooperation with India

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

“Lawfare” in the South China Sea disputes

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

Youth politics in East and Southeast Asia

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

Russia’s effort to escape diplomatic isolation

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

Why now? The timing of North Korea’s ICBM test

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

India consolidates its role in southern Maldives

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

How the Marcos family could rule again in the Philippines

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. Bongbong

Stiffening the ASEAN spine in the South China Sea

“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

What counts for victims of trafficking?

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. A landmark

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