In this feature, we identify ten recurring propositions about the rules-based order and show it's evolution through national debate and government policy. Explore how the rules-based order has developed over time and in meaning with experts offering inside commentary along the way
On 26 June, the leaders of the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their 36th annual summit by video conference, after the in-person summit scheduled for April was postponed because of Covid-19. The pandemic was the main topic of discussions.
Also high on the
On 5 March the USS Carl Vinson made a port call to Danang, in central Vietnam. It was the first time since the War (the Vietnam War to Americans, and the American War to Vietnamese) that a US aircraft carrier anchored in Vietnamese waters – by invitation this time – for an official visit.
If the Cold War was one long arms race, the modern era could be accurately described as an arms jog. Countries are defined less by how many nuclear warheads they have, and more by what they can do with them. This is particularly the case in Australia’s immediate region, where a
During his tour of East Asia last month, US President Donald Trump visited five countries, but Americans could be forgiven for thinking that he only went to China, given the US media's coverage of the trip. Whereas journalists dissected Trump’s every move during his visit with Chinese President Xi
It was an Australian Defence Force (ADF) public relation officer’s dream. ABC news footage, delivered directly into the living rooms of Australian families, showed Australian troops and Australian armoured vehicles streaming across the beach and onwards into the hinterland of Queensland.
As the new US administration considers how to respond to China’s strategic challenge in the South China Sea, it must also grapple with the legal, political and operational complexities to the freedom of navigation issue. A strategic focus on China should not obscure significant differences among
Last Friday’s statement from Defence Minister Marise Payne that a squadron of US Air Force F-22 Raptors was arriving at RAAF Base Tindal to begin a rotation under the Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) agreement sparked surprisingly little media interest.
The announcement, made on the very day of
This week the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, supported by the Korea Foundation, is hosting the Australia-Republic of Korea (ROK) Emerging Leaders International Security Forum in Sydney and Canberra, bringing together scholars and future policymakers focused on the bilateral
As the year winds down, it's time to look back on the biggest stories in the always-tense northeast Asian region. End-of-year lists are a useful, if soft, methodological tool in that they force a ranking or prioritisation on events. Issues that may seem like a big deal at the time can blow over,
This is a disconcerting period for all those hoping to see more pushback against China's bid for supremacy in the South China Sea, and its pressure tactics towards that end. The US is in the throes of an epochal political convulsion masquerading as a presidential election campaign. Its ability to
China and India are fast emerging as major maritime powers in the Indo-Pacific as part of long-term shifts in the regional balance of power. As their wealth, interests, and power expand, the two countries are also increasingly coming into contact with each other in the maritime domain. How India and
In this Lowy Institute Analysis, Anna Powles and Jose Sousa-Santos argue that Russia’s sale of arms to Fiji underlines how the security orthodoxy in the Pacific Islands region is changing. Unless Australia and New Zealand adapt to these changing strategic circumstances they will lose influence in
There are clear signs that policy circles now consider migration to be an emerging security issue. For the first time this year’s Shangri-la Dialogue had a session on migration, during which Chinese and Indonesian delegations presented their respective policies on the security challenges of
In January 2016, North Korea tested a fourth nuclear device. In the scramble to respond, analysts once again debated the nature of the North Korean regime. Much of the heat of this discussion comes from varying perceptions of the 'real' North Korea.
Is it the last relic of the Cold War? A national
By Alastair Davis, an intern in the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program.
The shipment of Russian arms received by Fiji continues to intrigue analysts. This piece by Anna Powles and Jose Sousa-Santos explains the implications for Fiji-Russia relations and Russia's growing interest in the region.
North Korea's nuclear test on 6 January was not a surprise. Over the past year the single cause for speculation was about how long Pyongyang would postpone the test.
At first sight the event may look like a setback for anyone who hoped that the minor diplomatic progress made over the course of
Media attention since North Korea's nuclear test yesterday has been focused on the veracity of its claims to have exploded a thermonuclear device or 'hydrogen bomb'. This is understandable given that a thermonuclear weapon has a destructive power many orders of magnitude greater than a purely
China has at last formally acknowledged that it has a new aircraft carrier under construction, the first to be built in China and the second in the People's Liberation Army-Navy's order of battle.
The PLA Navy appears to have embarked on a substantial carrier program, probably with the intention
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
Several posts on The Interpreter have argued recently that Australia should join the US in conducting freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea. This is not a good idea for several reasons, not least of all is how our involvement would be perceived in the region.
Tomorrow's meeting between President Ma of Taiwan (pictured) and President Xi of China in Singapore truly will be historic, and good history at that.
It is also a rare case in which the dual roles of national leaders as both statesmen and leading figures in their political parties (Ma Ying-jeou
The difference between freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) and warships transiting under 'innocent passage' sounds arcane and legalistic. But this wonkish distinction is now central to understanding the nature of the US Navy’s activities in the South China Sea last week and going
Australia and its Navy are in an awkward spot, caught between China and the US in the full glare of a global media spotlight shone on the South China Sea.
Two Royal Australian Navy ANZAC frigates are due to arrive tomorrow in China's naval base Zhanjiang for a port visit, ahead of live-fire
After many months of intense debate inside the Obama Administration, the US conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea on 26 October. The destroyer USS Lassen sailed for over an hour within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, a low tide elevation (LTE; a feature that was
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
Fergus Hanson is author of Internet Wars: The Struggle for Power in the 21st Century. This post is part of a series that will also examine citizen activism and control of economic chokepoints.
It was only mid-2009 when the US Secretary of Defense ordered the establishment of a dedicated Cyber
By Cheng Lim and Jack Maher. Cheng Lim leads the cyber security initiative at King & Wood Mallesons. Last year Jack Maher completed a Master of Chinese Law at Tsinghua University while working in the firm's Bejing office.
China's internet czar Lu Wei, President Xi Jinping and Facebook Chief
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
I'm only too ready to leave it up to strategic experts such as Rear Admiral Peter Briggs to sort out how many submarines we need. I'll stick to the economics. We shouldn't let the number be determined by a perceived need to provide work-continuity for ASC in South Australia. And we should
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
The pace of decision-making on Australian submarines is quickening, with the core of the current debate driven exclusively by South Australian politics. But the insistent voices of regional and industry lobbyist need to be balanced by reminders of the price the rest of Australia will pay for make-
Thanks to advances in digital technologies, open-source intelligence (OSINT) is playing an increasingly important role in the mix of intelligence collected by state and non-state actors. Now and then The Interpreter will publish OSINT links instead of the weekly Digital Asia links to capture the
One week ago – a long time in politics – the South Korean and Australian foreign and defence ministers held a '2-2' meeting in Sydney. This high-level biennial conclave for the first time included a detailed Blueprint for progressing the bilateral defence and security partnership.
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
Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) presented its report on the Australia India nuclear cooperation Agreement on 8 September after ten of months deliberation. JSCOT's advice must be 'taken into account' though not necessarily acted upon.
The Kudankulam nuclear power plant in
Last week, South Korean President Park Geun Hye attended the military parade for China's 70th anniversary commemoration of the end of World War Two. Officially billed as a celebration of fascism's defeat, it looked like anything but.
More than one analyst noted the obvious incongruence of
Delivering the 2015 Lowy Lecture in Sydney yesterday, General David Petraeus outlined a thought-provoking grand strategy for 'Greater Asia'.
Geographically, Petraeus defines Greater Asia along a maritime axis from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Japan, but also overland 'from Western Russia to
There were huge protests over the weekend in Japan against legislation, approved in principle by the Abe cabinet in July, which will reinterpret the Japanese Constitution to permit the very limited exercise of collective self-defence. This fierce public opposition to the normalisation of Japan's
By Yanmei Xie, International Crisis Group’s Senior China Analyst, and Rachel Vandenbrink, graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University.
China’s unsuccessful invitation to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations of the
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 '
By Marie-Alice McLean-Dreyfus, an intern with the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program.
According to Chinese media outlets, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech on 14 August commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender at the end of World War II did not go far enough in
The recent confirmation of the death of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the symbolic leader of the Taliban, has added fresh uncertainty to Afghanistan's fledgling peace process.
There were already signs that Taliban unity was under stress, and the internal disagreements that have emerged since the