Monday 27 Jun 2022 | 06:03 | SYDNEY
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Contingency plans: South Korea and cross-Strait security

The importance of “peace and stability” across the Taiwan Strait featured in joint statements issued after US President Joe Biden’s meetings in May with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. This was the second time in consecutive years that Taiwan

Years of living statelessly: refugees in Indonesia

Nazanin Ali walked stylishly in the Westin Hotel Jakarta lounge. Wearing a black hat and collared shirt, she exhibited the “Makaila Haifa” brand of clothing to the invited guests this week at the World Refugee Day gala. Alongside another nine refugees, Ali also spoke, sharing her experiences as

Unpacking the China/Timor-Leste bilateral agreements …

China and Australia’s duelling Pacific tours make final stops. East Timor deals cap Chinese foreign minister’s 10-day Pacific blitz. Anthony Albanese talks with Timor-Leste leadership as he flies to Indonesia. These are just a sampling of the headlines stemming from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang

Economic diplomacy: New supply chains to Jakarta and beyond

Sixth time luckyPrime Minister Anthony Albanese made a textbook start to re-engagement with Indonesia taking a substantial delegation of ministers and businesspeople on his first bilateral visit – and then getting out of Jakarta to the broader country in Makassar. But as the sixth prime minister

Insights from Africa as China stumbles in the Pacific

Earlier this month, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi concluded a 10-day tour of the Pacific, touching down in Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, as well as Timor-Leste (skipping Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, and the Marshall Islands, which maintain relations with

Stemming the tide of piracy in Southeast Asia

In April, the International Chamber of Commerce published a new report on piracy and armed robbery against ships. Among 37 incidents recorded worldwide in the first three months of 2022, 41 per cent of them occurred in Southeast Asian waters. Despite the fact that the majority of media coverage

Thailand seeking to profit from a global food crisis

In response to worldwide supply chain issues caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – who between them previously accounted for nearly one-third of global wheat supplies – the Thai government, headed by 2014 coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, is seeking to profit from the 45 per cent increase

China-Solomon Islands pact: Reading between the lines

What we know so far about the content of the China-Solomon Islands security pact, announced in April, points to Beijing’s preoccupation with the internal protection of its “interests” in Solomon Islands. This begs closer scrutiny, particularly following Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s whirlwind

The Pyongyang problem for the Quad

North Korea at least waited until US President Joe Biden had left Asia before launching another volley of missiles to splash into the sea. American officials had braced for a potential show of force by Pyongyang as Biden toured the region last month for meetings culminating with the “Quad”

Wong’s Bahasa pitch to Indonesia

Many years back while a journalist with The Age in Melbourne, I interviewed Marty Natalegawa, then Indonesia’s foreign minister. Natalegawa had studied at university in Canberra, and he told me about his student days and working across town to deliver newspapers, including The Age. We spoke at the

A flare up in China’s deliberate pattern of aggression

It’s time to be alarmed not just alert. On Sunday, Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles revealed a “very dangerous” intercept by a People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) fighter of an Australian P-8 maritime patrol aircraft took place on 26 May over the South China Sea. The P-8

Knowledge is power: A small investment for a big return

Amid regular expressions of concern about the growing influence of autocratic nations in Asia and strategic competition in the Pacific, Australia should look at investing more in democracy and human rights initiatives. The best way to bolster democratic systems is to provide more support to the

Competing with China in the Pacific will backfire

Australia, Pacific Island countries, and their partners, are each considering how to respond to China’s push for a Pacific economic and security pact. Australia, for its part, should avoid temptation to match, or exceed, China’s commitments. Instead, building genuine partnerships that address

Japan-Australia: building a hydrogen supply chain

Of the many issues canvassed at the Quad leaders’ meeting in Tokyo last week, the four partners stressed the importance of common energy supply chains. The leaders agreed in particular on the significance of “clean energy cooperation” in “clean hydrogen”. With a new Australian

“Black ships”, the Quad and space

At the first in-person leaders’ summit of the Quad in Washington in September last year, the four member countries came forward with an ambitious space agenda. A working group was giving the task of advancing a number of key strategic areas, including the exchange of satellite data with the

Albanese steps cautiously through the Quad wrangle

The staff at the neighbourhood convenience store here in Tokyo are always amused when I drop by to pick up four or five papers in the morning. That I have done it twice this week has led to some laughs at the cash register. Monday was to look at the reporting of the Australian election result,

Engaging with Southeast Asia: more than aid

During the Australian election campaign, Labor pledged $470 million aid to Southeast Asia over four years, marking it as an attempt to re-engage the region. Labor also promised to appoint a high-level roving envoy to Southeast Asia. Now that Labor is in power, these promises are set to become policy

PNG and the Solomon Islands-China security agreement

Reactions to the security agreement between Solomon Islands and China were swift and relentless. Much of the rhetoric is creating needless anxieties. It demonstrates that an unwritten rule exists in the practice of Pacific diplomacy. Supposedly sovereign Pacific states must choose wisely who they do

Lies, damn lies, and North Korea’s Covid statistics

More than two years since North Korea locked down its border in January 2020 and went on to record zero Covid-19 cases and deaths across all the months since, the country last week admitted to a coronavirus outbreak that it claims began in late April. The latest figures from North Korea’s state

Timor-Leste: Building towards the next 20 years

This week, Timor-Leste will celebrate its 20th anniversary as an independent nation and inaugurate Jose Ramos-Horta as its new president. Since re-gaining independence in 2002, the world’s third-youngest nation has built a functioning state and vibrant democracy from near-scratch amid trials and

Getting the most from Australia’s regional engagements

Depending who wins the election this Saturday, either Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese will attend the Quad Summit in Tokyo on 24 May as Australia’s Prime Minister. Prior to last year, Quad Leaders’ meetings weren’t on the calendar – now they’re happening virtually or in-person twice

Philippines: justice and accountability, post elections

The Philippine election verdict is in. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr – the son of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was deposed in the peaceful 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution – is the next President of the Philippines. Sara Duterte, the daughter of the current President Rodrigo

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

Scoring Biden’s ASEAN summit

US President Joe Biden hosted ASEAN leaders in Washington last week for a special summit to commemorate 45 years of US-ASEAN ties. Such a meeting was long in the making, having been mooted under the Trump administration but deferred due to the Covid pandemic, and then delayed in 2022 due to

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,

Diplomacy is indispensable to manage the Mekong

Milton Osborne mischaracterises the Mekong River Commission when writing last month in The Interpreter that the regional organisation “ignores reality”. To say we were “celebrating” the health of the river at our Mekong Day event on 5 April overlooks the fact that on that day I continued to