Monday 25 Oct 2021 | 18:04 | SYDNEY
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Asia

Crushing dissent in a new paranoid India

The signs were always there. With a thumping majority in parliament, a nonexistent opposition and diminishing institutions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had the potential to proceed down the dangerous and desperate path of intolerance. Two months of sustained pressure from a

India and Australia: Beyond the three Cs

India often breezes through the window of Australia’s national consciousness, but rarely lingers. Will India once again disappear from our collective awareness, following a short summer in which we were captivated by a sublime test series in Australia? Cricket has been a common denominator

Myanmar: Calling a coup a coup

The military takeover in Myanmar on 1 February was clearly unconstitutional, although there has been little detailed investigation of why. The US State Department announced that it regarded the takeover as a coup d'état but failed to provide a legal rationale. When is a coup not a coup

Pacific development outlook for 2021

Pacific nations have mostly escaped the heavy death toll and hospital bed shortages faced by Western countries battling Covid-19, but the pandemic has dealt a disproportionately severe blow to the region’s economic ambitions. But with the rollout of vaccines and economic recovery in sight in China

What APEC has to offer in 2021

It’s almost a year since the world changed. We now know that we are in for the long haul with the pandemic and that 2021 too is going to be difficult. The unseemly scramble over vaccination supplies and policy which have played out in recent weeks, particularly in Europe, is not encouraging. As

Messages from China’s third white paper on foreign aid

In January, the Chinese government released its third white paper on foreign aid, entitled “China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era”. It is worth taking a closer look at the Chinese-language original, which is more detailed in content than the English-language version

What does America think the rules-based order is for?

This week we launched the latest project to emerge from the Lowy’s Institute’s Australia’s Security and the Rules-Based Order project, a debate feature on America and the Rules-Based Order. It’s a textbook example of constructive public debate. Each of the six expert participants

History haunts Japan–South Korea ties

The Seoul Central District Court last month delivered a verdict requiring the Japanese government to pay $US91,000 to 12 former “comfort women” who endured sexual slavery during the Second World War. The court’s ruling follows off the back of a similar decision by the South Korean Supreme

Myanmar’s empty promise of constitutional reform

Myanmar’s political transition in 2011 was only ever a partial one. After all, the country moved from direct military rule without a constitution to a constitutional system in which the military reserved for itself unelected seats in parliament. The National League for Democracy (NLD) was

The coup in Myanmar: What do we know?

On 1 February, Myanmar’s armed forces (or Tatmadaw) declared a one-year state of emergency, arrested State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and detained more than 50 politicians and activists. It had been just ten years since the former military regime permitted the transition to a “disciplined

International relations video of the year – by February

We’ll feature more analysis of the coup in Myanmar on The Interpreter in the coming days. Yet major political events such as this regularly become associated with a searing image – think the last stand of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko’s

Helping Indonesia’s children in a time of pandemic

While the Indonesian government is taking important steps to improve pandemic management – appointing a new Health Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and preparing to provide a free vaccine for all – its attention is mostly focused on adults, people with underlying health conditions

China and the Australian far right

Since the start of the pandemic, China and the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have become a key rallying point for a diverse array of political groups. This includes the Australian far right, which has seized on new opportunities related to China to radicalise and recruit throughout 2020. In

How to China, from your friends in New Zealand

It was probably only a matter of time before Damien O’Connor, not one of the leading lights in Jacinda Ardern’s second-term Cabinet, stepped into some diplomatic doo-doo. But in an interview with CNBC, New Zealand’s Trade Minister has done so in spectacular style. He gets douze points for

Using the Australian Open as a Tokyo test run

Focus on the upcoming Australian Open tennis tournament these last few weeks in the local media has been intense. Still, it’s possible that Olympics officials in Japan are monitoring the first tennis Grand Slam event of the year even closer than we are in Australia. As tournament organisers

Beijing’s “Wolf Warriors” score own goals

When China came for their kimchi, South Koreans knew they had had enough. Over the past several weeks, China’s state-backed Global Times has turned its crosshairs on Korea’s beloved fermented cabbage dish, running a provocative series of pieces asserting a version of the dish from China’s

Where in the world is Jack Ma?

Earlier this month, rumours began to swirl on both Chinese and international social media regarding the “disappearance” of Jack Ma, China’s most prominent businessman. Absent from a television episode on which he was scheduled to appear, the notable no-show has not been seen publicly since

Japan under Suga: The delicate balancing act

The calm but staunch assertion by China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe last month that the Japan-administered islands in the East China Sea belong to China is revealing of the challenges Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide will face in balancing Japan’s great power relationships. The “

Australia’s Pacific Step-up and the Quad

The growing synergy among the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue powers of Australia, Japan, the United States and India has provided a crucial impetus to the security architecture of the Indo-Pacific. Bilateral ties between these four states have also seen positive growth, largely a result of “like-

Resisting uncertainty, Malaysia is finding itself

Malaysia is in a quandary, desperately trying to figure out how to resolve political and economic questions. The fragmentation of the Malaysian market for votes is at a point it has never before experienced. In a country where ethnic politics have long dominated, there are the Malays, who are

Boys’ love brings edgy drama to China, and a backlash

For years, Chinese television dramas were the poor cousins of Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese soap operas. A 2018 Chinese remake of the Taiwanese show Meteor Garden is a good example. Following the tensions between a poor girl and four rich boys, the mainland version was unwatchable. A drama about

India launches its mammoth vaccine drive

India officially launches its Covid vaccination program tomorrow (16 January) in a major logistical exercise aiming to inoculate hundreds of millions of people. And with it, the hustle begins. India, just like China, will be looking to leverage the diplomatic benefit of its ability to manufacture

The cleric shell game in Indonesia

When Indonesian authorities recently banned well-known extremist group the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) – having first arrested its leader, Rizieq Shihab – many lauded the move as a bold pushback against radicalism. But, weeks later, the world was equally stunned to learn that

America’s troubles ahead in the Asia-Pacific

Donald Trump has now become the first US president in history to be impeached twice, this time for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in last week’s violence in Washington. Yet as the US reels from the storming of the US Capitol building – civil strife which some analysts had warned

Can Modi calm the farm?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always been coated in Teflon: the kinds of policies and actions that would have brought down other leaders have barely left a dent in his impeccably tailored vests. But as it turns out, there is a chink in his armour: farmers. Specifically, 250 million of

Washington’s warped Asia policy debate

US President-elect Joe Biden’s decision to select retired Army General Lloyd Austin to be his Secretary of Defense triggered a somewhat predictable set of hot takes among US academics and commentators. Aside from questions about what his appointment would mean for civil-military relations, a major

When China lashed out

On the wintry night of 27 November 1950, Chinese troops suddenly descended upon the US 1st Marine Division and the 31st Regimental Combat Team around the frozen Chosin Reservoir, less than 100 kilometres away from the China-Korea border. Having failed to dissuade the United States with words from

Russia and China team up on the Indian Ocean

Two recent naval exercises demonstrate the potential for Russia-China cooperation in the Indian Ocean, and how the two present a much greater threat to a continued US role and influence in the region than either would individually. Last year, South Africa hosted a maritime exercise with

Australia-Indonesia relations need to talk the talk

This year has been one of great tumult at Australian universities. Not least are the nonsensical proposals to axe Indonesian language programs by several universities, such as La Trobe, Western Sydney University and Murdoch. Australian universities are closing the door of opportunity to the

A dilemma for Pakistan as UAE cuts off work visas

For the struggling economy of Pakistan, foreign remittances from expatriates are lifesavers, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is country’s second-largest source of remittances. In the last five years, 1.3 million Pakistanis have found jobs in the UAE. In 2019 alone, Pakistani expatriates in

Bangladesh: Sculptures, statues and hard-liners

The High Court of Bangladesh has directed that action be taken against those involved in causing damage in recent weeks to sculptures, statues and murals in the country. At the same time, an influential minister in the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked individuals and

Favourites of 2020: Minister of Finance Incorporated

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. There are few occasions in life when my “2020 books read” spreadsheet

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