Thursday 20 Jan 2022 | 18:23 | SYDNEY
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South Korea’s embrace of Australia goes beyond China

The elevation of a “comprehensive strategic partnership” between South Korea and Australia during South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s state visit last month has left analysts torn about its impetus. Is South Korea simply seeking to expand economic ties? Or are we witnessing a “quiet

Novak Djokovic – a symbol for anti-vaxxers?

After the Czech doubles player Renata Voracova was deported from Australia last week following her visa cancellation for not meeting a requirement for non-citizens to be vaccinated against Covid-19, it became obvious that Novak Djokovic would soon be subject to the same fate. The Australian

Australia should build its green infrastructure presence

A group of former diplomats are among the many parties making a persuasive case for Australia to adopt a more climate-conscious foreign policy. One particularly beneficial endeavour in this respect would be to fully embrace the increasingly popular and strategically potent financing of regional

When no shots are heard around the world

Time may be linear, but history really can play tricks and throw up oddities of connection. Take the tennis. Just over a century ago – a Sunday, 28 June 1914, a 19-year-old named Gavrilo Princip shot dead Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and his wife Sophie in

Japan and Australia ties blossom

Japan and Australia this month formally signed a “landmark” Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), establishing a defence cooperation framework that will allow the stationing of troops in each other’s countries along with the staging of joint training exercises and disaster support. The long-

An AUKUS surprise – Best of The Interpreter 2021

The buzz about an impending big announcement started the night before. But when the leaders from Australia, the United Kingdom and United States stood in a virtual press conference on 16 September to reveal Australia would eventually acquire nuclear-powered submarines, Sam Roggeveen’s first

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

India remains divided about AUKUS

The jury in New Delhi is still out on AUKUS, the new trilateral security agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Three months after its announcement, the issue continues to split India’s security experts, with little consensus over whether it benefits New Delhi or is

Solomons strife demands a development re-think

As Australian personnel patrolled the streets of Honiara, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare this month successfully fended off an attempt to oust him. The failed vote of no confidence came after violent anti-government protests that followed two years of tensions between Sogavare and

Australia’s “China” blinders on South Korea

Moon Jae-in’s visit to Australia brought out a troubling fact – amid the China threat hullabaloo, the ability to objectively analyse other diplomatic relationships has declined. Reported in Australia, the visit predominantly concerned strategy. The purchase of Hanwha’s K-9 howitzer and

Why isn’t Australia putting diplomacy first?

Reading the coverage following the AUKUS nuclear submarine annoucement might have given the impression that diplomacy is not an Anglo-Saxon pastime. But, in fact, both the United States and United Kingdom have an explicit “diplomacy first” agenda. It is Australia that is out of step. What is

Changing my mind about AUKUS

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that AUKUS – the tripartite defence technology agreement which promises to deliver at least eight nuclear-powered submarines to the Royal Australian Navy – was one of the best-kept secrets in Australian political history. In the days and weeks after the 16

Taming the “grey zone”

Unease about so-called “grey zone” tactics is increasingly in vogue. From a position of relative obscurity, the term has surged onto the official agenda. There was no mention of “grey zone” in Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper, but it appears 11 times in the 2020 Defence Strategic

Economic diplomacy: Free trade vs economic resilience

Santa clauses The value of global goods trade during the biggest pandemic in a century last year dropped about a third less than it did during the biggest financial crisis in a generation in 2008. But internet searches about “economic resilience” are running more than twice as high these days

Economic diplomacy: Remaking the Pacific house

Under construction After Build Back Better World (B3W), the Blue Dot Network and the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), the latest entrant on the acronym-strewn path to a renovated region is disarmingly bland. Infrastructure ++ is the leitmotif from a quietly

A good idea gone nowhere? Diaspora policy in Australia

Over the past two decades, an array of organisations and individuals – including PwC, the Asia Society, the Business Council of Australia, academics and public intellectuals – have called on the Australian government to adopt a diaspora policy to help promote Australia’s economic and social

Is Australia relevant?

Last week, Singapore’s Education Minister Chan Chun Sing addressed the Fullerton lecture series on US-China relations and his own country’s foreign policy. Chan, a leading member of the so-called “4G” or fourth-generation of Singaporean politicians, echoed some familiar refrains about the

Australia and the American far-right conspiracy

It would be reasonable for Australians to feel some annoyance at being, once again, on the receiving end of an odd mixture of criticism and sympathy from America’s far-right personalities. In recent months the conspiracists have been theorising that America’s tough and free Anglosphere buddy

Australia-Indonesia: burn the boats

Last week, Australian Border Force released photographs of burning Indonesian fishing vessels allegedly caught fishing illegally in Australian waters. Border Force reported it had found 16 Indonesian vessels operating unlawfully near the Rowley Shoals Marine Park off the northern coast of Western

Do Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships matter?

When Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne landed in Kuala Lumpur at the weekend, she notably lauded the meeting with her Malaysian counterpart as “the first since our relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”. The last year has been particularly fruitful for

Sinking trust

Last week in Australia news headlines brimmed with emotive accusations about a betrayal of trust levied against Prime Minister Scott Morrison. French President Emmanuel Macron had already said Australia’s decision to scupper the $90 billion submarine deal “broke the relationship of trust between

What Australia needs to ask itself about the United States

The Australian and American debates about China’s rise have followed similar trajectories, but differ in at least one key way. Australia’s hinges, in part, on whether it can trust the United States to balance against Chinese power indefinitely, or whether US resolve will eventually wither and

Australia and Digicel: Hands-off no more?

The Australian government’s decision to finance Telstra’s takeover of the Pacific’s biggest telecommunications provider, Digicel, via a $1.33 billion loan from Export Finance Australia, is the clearest indication yet that competing with China is changing government-firm relations in Australia

China’s economic sanctions made Australia more confident

China has singled out several Australian industries with economic sanctions since May last year, imposing hefty tariffs on Australian barley and wine exports, while throwing up barriers to other products including timber, lobster and coal. Beijing’s action has largely been seen as a response to

Australia, Indonesia and climate change

In February 2020, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo made a state visit to Australia and addressed a joint sitting of the Australian parliament. This was a rare privilege granted to only a few world leaders, and Indonesia’s popular president – known as Jokowi – used the opportunity to

AUKUS: Why Beijing didn’t go ballistic

China was expected to be furious about the recently signed AUKUS security pact. After all, it is generally believed that the deal to provide Australia with technology to build nuclear submarines and the associated cooperation with the United States and United Kingdom amounts to a significant

An opening on the ICJ and an opportunity for renewal

In the early 20th century, the Peace Palace in The Hague – seat of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) since 1946 – was envisioned as “a sort of holy place”, “prized … by thinking men throughout the world … to which, in … danger of war between any two countries, the minds of men

Australia should donate surplus vaccine to Indonesia

In the middle of this pandemic, every vaccine is precious. Australia should give its spare locally-made AstraZeneca vaccines to friends in Indonesia. Indonesia has a vacuum of need for vaccines that is predominantly being filled by China, and yet Australia happens to have millions of spare doses

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