Saturday 21 May 2022 | 05:23 | SYDNEY
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AUKUS: More than meets the eye

The clear intention of AUKUS is to tip the military balance in the Indo-Pacific in favour of the United States. The various initiatives in the pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are headlined by cooperation to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia

Pakistani separatists turn their sights on China

In Pakistan’s southwest region of Balochistan – the country’s largest province by area but least populous and least developed despite having huge mineral and energy resources – there is a battle being waged for independence. The Baloch have grievances against the Pakistan government,

Saudi Arabia and China: a blossoming friendship

As the relationship between longtime allies Saudi Arabia and the United States becomes increasingly strained, China could cultivate a stronger bond with the Middle Eastern kingdom. In a recent phone call between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (colloquially known as MBS) and China’s

Chinese bases in the Pacific: A reality check

There was barely concealed panic in Australia when news broke that China had struck a security agreement with Solomon Islands. What if this is really a basing deal that allows China to station military aircraft or warships permanently? Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s emphatic denial on

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

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

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’

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

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

China’s women “hold up half the sky”

Advocacy for women’s rights is on the rise in China, whether the censors like it or not. And feminism is gathering more support, highlighted in recent weeks across China’s social media through debate on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an uncomfortable exposition of the country’s

Common enemies and instinctive friends

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Likewise, there may not be an instinctive alignment of my two adversaries. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s reference to “arc of autocracy” and the “instinctive” alignment between Russia and China in the address at the Lowy Institute was

What the Ukraine crisis means for the Indo-Pacific

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has overturned the post-1945 international system.  Attention has focused on the sea change in European attitudes to security threats, the defence spending that Russia’s aggression has produced, and the sobering challenge Russia’s invasion poses to accepted

Putin and Xi: Surviving Ukraine

Polling by Russian Field at the end of February indicated that a majority of Russians (59 per cent) supported Vladimir Putin’s “special military operations” in Ukraine. Yet, the longer the war goes on in Ukraine, and the more restrictive international economic sanctions become, factors from

Asia’s space race: China leads India on strategy

China and India are historical space nations having invested in space since the 1960s. Both countries have viewed investments in space as part of their national development goals, and a mechanism to establish autarky, help develop and sustain regime legitimacy, augment internal national pride and

China needs to rethink its Russia policy

When the Chinese embassy in Ukraine hastily began the evacuation of its citizens much later than those of other nations, it seemed a sign that Beijing either wasn’t given advance notice of the Russian invasion, or at least failed to grasp the immediacy. In a call with Russian President Vladimir

China and the Ukraine crisis

The 2008 financial crisis accelerated China’s emergence as a global power in ways that Beijing found unsettling. The economic mess in the North Atlantic world thrust the People’s Republic of China into a global position that it had thought would take a generation to reach. Suddenly China could

The election for the future of the internet

In September this year, UN member states will cast their votes for the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). While elections for bureaucratic positions in obscure, technical UN bodies normally pass unnoticed, the ITU has emerged as the major battleground in

Russia-Ukraine: Lessons for Australia’s defence

Lesson 1:  The era of state-on-state conflict is still with us The idea that war between nations has become an anachronism over the last 40 years has some statistical support, but evidence from the post-Cold War period of relative peace needs to be weighed against hundreds of years of

Handle with care: China’s economic engagement in Myanmar

As a resource-abundant country and a close neighbour, Myanmar has been a popular destination for Chinese investment. Although China has had a cosy time investing in Myanmar since 1988 when the military regime was internationally isolated, it is fair to argue that Chinese businesses in Myanmar faced

Delivering promises will show steel in Quad

The German naval chief, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, lost his job during a visit to Delhi last month. During an interaction where he went woefully off-script, he urged the West to offer “respect” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and keep the focus trained on China, a “not so nice

Olympics not the only games this year

In 1971, two table tennis players – American Glenn Cowan and Zhuang Zedong from China – met on the tournament bus on the way to the world championships in Nagoya, Japan. The chance meeting between two athletes at a time when their respective countries were enduring a distant and icy

China’s “common prosperity” is a Catch-22

The events of the latter half of 2021 show that Beijing is willing to tolerate significant economic pain to deleverage its property sector. For the Chinese Communist Party, the financial and social risks posed by the current state of the real estate sector are existential. At the end of the second

Living with a feared China and Russian-built chaos

To Western eyes, China’s wolf-warrior foreign affairs policy and Russia’s extravagant threats over Ukraine can appear cryptic. These seem designed not to make friends but rather to antagonise others. Moreover, Chinese and Russian actions don’t seem to be advancing their interests. Instead,

Solomon Islands: cops bearing gifts

The pre-Christmas announcement that Solomon Islands’ government was going to accept China’s offer of six police advisers and a swag of emergency riot equipment generated consternation in Canberra. The ABC’s Andrew Greene reported discomfit from his “defence and diplomatic” sources. The

China’s new reality

When it comes to the realm of soft power and cultural diplomacy, China’s efforts are often seen as either lacklustre or counterintuitive. Dwarfed by the cultural juggernauts of Japan and South Korea, Chinese cinema and music struggle to find Western audiences (video games are a very different

The D10 is dead, long live the … Network of Liberty?

After meeting Australian counterparts in the morning, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss delivered an address to the Lowy Institute on Friday which outlined how the United Kingdom will work with partners to build a global “Network of Liberty” to stand up for freedom and push back

Could minilateralism work in the South China Sea?

Tensions with China over the South China Sea have prompted Indonesia to invite maritime security officials from five ASEAN member states – Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam – to meet in February to discuss a possible joint response to Beijing’s growing assertiveness.

Mongolia suffers under China’s zero Covid policy

Food shortages, inflation, hundreds of thousands of people without an income, and thousands of shipping containers stuck on the border, not to mention rising Covid-19 cases, job losses, closed businesses, a crippled export sector, and a decimated tourism industry: this has been the situation in

Myths that stir trouble in the South China Sea

US officials regularly present China as an aggressive and expansionist military power while Chinese state sources criticise the United States in similar terms. The verbal sparring has only increased concern about the prospect of a future war between China and the United States, with Australia as a

China, Australia, and the Internet of Things

The world is being transformed by the Internet of Things (the IoT) as ever more devices and activities are linked through the internet and endowed with computing power. This transformation brings an exponential rise in the security challenges inherent in digital connections, especially connections

Common prosperity meets the Belt and Road

China’s President Xi Jinping’s concept of “common prosperity” is slowly being internationalised. The most obvious manifestation of this came last month when Xi framed the Belt and Road (BRI) as a vehicle for achieving global common prosperity. While it is far from clear at this stage how

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