The Covid-19 pandemic is a great leveller – a fearsome test of governments and governing philosophies the world over. Democracies and autocracies alike have been exposed and found ill-prepared, under-equipped, and too slow to respond.
The United States, for all its power, wealth, and
It is now nearly 17 months since the Trump administration began collecting 25% tariffs on the first tranche of Chinese imports to the US – time enough to evaluate the economic impact the trade war so far.
That impact? Surprisingly little.
It is certainly true that comparing the first nine
It is not yet agreed, may yet fail, and is anyway unlikely to settle matters, but the impending “phase one” trade deal could be a useful ceasefire in the US economic war with China. Two years on from the US initiation of penalty tariffs on China, it is also a convenient moment to point to a few
Today the Lowy Institute is launching a new half-hour podcast, Rules Based Audio. Each fortnight, I’ll be talking to experts and leading thinkers from Australia and around the world, going deep into the complex forces shaping global politics.
In our first episode, out today, I discuss the future
The 10th East Asia Summit this weekend promises to be one of the most interesting bits of summitry in some time. This, the last stop on Malcolm Turnbull’s five-nation tour which has included one-on-one meetings with the top three on Forbes' Most Powerful List, is also likely to prove the most
After much internal debate and soul searching, the US has conducted its first 'Freedom of Navigation' operation in the South China Sea for several years. It will not be the last and we are fast approaching the point at which Australia needs to decide whether it will assert, with more than
Is the TPP an effort to contain China? If you've been reading the papers or glancing at social media recently, you could be forgiven for thinking so. The New York Times didn't quite use the word containment, but argued that the agreement was a 'win for the United States in its contest with China
US-India relations are in good shape. The personal relationship between Modi and Obama appears excellent, there are big, ambitious ideas in the pipeline – like US assistance to Indian carrier development – and the strategic dialogue is getting deeper in several ways.
But things are falling
Having a Catholic Pope and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China descend on Washington at almost exactly the same time helped illustrate something important about diplomacy. When staging a high-level state visit, there is a simple choice: emphasise either the head or the heart. This
Just one day after China's V-Day parade was held under auspiciously azure skies, smog rolled back over Beijing, as if a reminder of the evanescence of great power. George Orwell wrote that 'he who controls the past controls the future.' China's parade was not only about a remembered past; it is
Hegemon is a wickedly interactive multi-player/multi-round geostrategic game devised by the Potomac Foundation. Each player represents a country, fielding certain economic and military resources and possessing (secret) objectives.
Ranged across a gods-eye planetary gameboard, Hegemon is the '
It's increasingly clear that China intends to use its artificial islands in the South China Sea for military purposes.
Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, delivered this assessment on a panel that I was privileged to be part of at the Aspen Security Forum last week. Harris
Over the last two months, there has been noticeable progress on three separate fronts in Japan's 30-year process of 'renormalising' its' approach to external defence:
Last week, the Abe cabinet approved the 2015 Japanese Defence White Paper after revisions were made to make it focus more
Is China ready for a larger global role and should the outside world, in particular a regional partner like Australia, embrace this possibility? Evidently not, judging by remarks made by the Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, Michael Thawley. 'China wasn't ready to take on the
Last month on The Diplomat, Van Jackson made an important argument about South Korea's increasingly notable silence on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea (South China Sea).
Jackson, like many analysts, recognises growing Chinese misbehaviour there, most obviously the destabilising
By Jackson Kwok, an intern with the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree with specialisations in Chinese language, history, and foreign policy from the University of Sydney.
Reading through the Chinese media coverage of last week's US-China Strategic
President Barack Obama finally has authority from the US Congress for advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a signature foreign policy of his final term in office. The TPP aims to establish a free trade zone around the Pacific Rim covering 40% of the global economy, while excluding China
China and the US have both been described as countries that consider themselves to be exceptional. China, so much so, that some analysts argue it sees itself as 'uniquely unique'. What this means in China is that most Chinese understand themselves to be part of a culture that no-one else can truly
'Who lost China?' is perhaps the most dreaded question of modern American foreign policy. It reveals the historical dilemma that haunts Washington today: The rise of China will inevitably challenge America's longstanding presence in Asia; it doesn't matter whether American interests actively help or
For a long time American (and Australian) thinking about China has been dominated by a broad consensus that, despite many signs of growing assertiveness, Beijing does not pose a fundamental challenge to US leadership in Asia. The argument goes that, whatever they might say, China's leaders know
Australia's likely decision to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) marks the loosening of America's 70 year command over global governance.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the African Growth and Opportunity Act
In the continuing debate between Hugh White and Shaskank Joshi regarding US-India strategic cooperation, I would associate myself closely with the views of White and what he sees as the eventual limits of the relationship.
But I would take it one step further. In the long-term, an anti-US
Should Australia join the Chinese-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)? As often happens in international affairs, the answer is not found in the technical pros and cons of the proposal, but in the politics.
America seems to have strongly encouraged its close Asian friends (Japan
Over the past month, Hugh White and I have exchanged opposing views on the meaning of the US-India relationship on The Interpreter.
Hugh first argued that President Barack Obama's January trip to New Delhi failed, 'because India is not willing to make the preservation of US primacy its principal
One of the most important aspects of the recent dramatic shift in US-India relations has been the convergence in the two states' narratives about Asia. It's easy to forget that this change is palpable not just over a four-decade period, but even in the past six years alone.
In 2009, early in his
Eurasia's arc of instability is ablaze. Robert Kagan rails against America's impotence. A cartoon depicts Uncle Sam as a hapless fireman, impotent in eastern Europe and the Middle East; others see America itself as the arsonist. Henry Kissinger launches yet another book warning of chaos amid
The rapidly escalating situation in Iraq is a major test for US foreign policy. President Obama, who outlined in his West Point address a policy of selective US engagement and sharply circumscribed US military power, now faces unpalatable decisions about reengaging in Iraq.
But there is a
Last week saw the publishing of Robert Kagan's latest essay for New Republic magazine: 'Allure of Normalcy: what America still owes the world'. It is a magisterial contribution that will enter the realm of 'classic' US foreign policy essays.
There have been a number of such essays since the end
Amid tensions in the South China Sea and new alarm about a China-Russia alignment, President Obama's speech at West Point sends some confusing signals to the countries of Indo-Pacific Asia.
To be fair, the speech was not meant to be principally about Asia. It was intended to draw a final line
Barack Obama has declared a new foreign policy doctrine: the limits of American power. The US, he argues, 'must always lead on the world stage,' but 'US military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.'
Addressing future US Army
Last week, Brad Glosserman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies made the smart observation that China has recently chosen a surprisingly hard course in its foreign policy. It has lately picked a series of fights with its neighbours which threaten to derail the 'peaceful rise'
Last week was a heckuva week for China's rising power: tussling with Vietnam in the South China Sea (all about America, supposedly), signing a US$400 billion gas deal with Russia (all about America, too), and sparring with the US over cyber-espionage.
But less noticed was the curious forum
The University of Chicago's famed international relations theorist John Mearsheimer has generously updated, and posted free of charge, the epilogue to his legendary realist book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.
The original book, published in 2001, is frankly hard reading for any young IR or
This two-part series examines the frequent comparison between contemporary China and pre-1914 Wilhelmine Germany. A host of commentators have made this comparison in the past few years: Walter Russell Mead, Martin Wolf, Edward Luttwak, and Joseph Nye, and a little further afield, Gideon Rachman
Western attempts at managing Russia's intervention in Ukraine are increasingly revealing the painful tensions between competing strategic interests and brought into vivid relief Russia's continued central role in the calculus of Eurasian geopolitics.
Moscow's Crimea motivations: an 'offensive
Daniel (Danny) Russel is US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which means he is the State Department's senior Asia diplomat (he succeeded Kurt Campbell in the role).
Russel traveled with his boss John Kerry to Jakarta early this week and then made a quick visit to