Sunday 31 May 2020 | 14:58 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 31 May 2020 13:30

    A G7+?

    Donald Trump’s offer to bring Australia into the G7 isn’t nearly so simple as pulling up a chair to the top table.

  • 31 May 2020 08:00

    Playing Monopoly in space

    Privatising astronaut launches was only one objective of the latest venture beyond the atmosphere.

  • 29 May 2020 16:30

    The Trump card in the Sino-Indian rivalry?

    The US President’s offer to mediate a “big conflict” at Ladakh is a little more public than India is used to.

China

In Africa, the US plays catch-up with China

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced his first trip to Africa, 15–19 February, with stops in Senegal, Ethiopia, and Angola. The choice of these three countries demonstrates that the US remains focused on security and economic investment issues in Africa, and, in the case of Angola, is

Chart of the week: Trust in China

Almost 30,000 cases of coronavirus have been officially confirmed, amid reports of Chinese authorities increasingly cracking down on information at the epicentre of the crisis. With governments around the world imposing travel bans, as well as local Chinese communities being unfairly stigmatised,

Afghan transit a game changer for Gwadar port

On a sunny Tuesday in the third week of January, a cargo ship named Diyala docked at Gwadar seaport, in south-west Pakistan. The enthusiastic port staff quickly unloaded the cargo. When the unloading was finished, Chinese officials operating the port, along with their Pakistani counterparts, posed

Forging consensus in the South China Sea

Analysis as to how Hanoi might resolve its South China Sea disputes with other claimants has been overshadowed by a near exclusive depiction of its competition with Beijing. Hanoi’s current maritime disputes with Beijing have presented few opportunities for strategic progress. Comparatively, the

Wuhan coronavirus: How upfront has Beijing been?

It is too early to make a definitive judgement about how Beijing has handled the outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China. But it is already clear that any assessment will have to take into account not just the medical side of the virus’s

Deng’s pragmatism is China’s poison pill

China’s contemporary economic renaissance, measured across the past 40 years, is largely an orchestration of the expansion of capitalism, and the repression of communist ideology. The economic divergence brought forth by the Global Financial Crisis, between China and the West gave China the

Economic diplomacy: Two big-C issues

Change of pace If Australia’s bushfire crisis has done one thing to inadvertently calm the national zeitgeist during the holiday season, it is in the way climate change has suddenly returned to supplant China as the country’s biggest wicked problem. But in reality, these two big-C issues

What Xi wants in Myanmar may not be what he gets

If there were any doubts around China’s thinking about where to direct its money and influence in Southeast Asia, they were dispelled by the recent announcement that Xi Jinping would visit Myanmar on 17 and 18 January, the first state visit by a Chinese leader to its southern neighbour in 19 years

Another dam on the Mekong

Since the announcement in July last year that the Lao government was notifying the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its intention to proceed with the construction of a dam due to be completed by 2027, not far from the old royal capital of Luang Prabang, there has been a steady increase in the

Beijing’s Hong Kong appointment sends a clear message

Messaging, as anyone knows, is a big part of politics. In Zhongnanhai, the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing, messaging is a form of gospel. A strong storyline, no matter how twisted the truth becomes (e.g., Uighurs and “education camps”), is central to much of what goes on there, and

Book review: Betraying Big Brother

Book review: Leta Hong Fincher, Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (Verso, 2018) In China, a country of contradictions, a feminist movement emerged when women connected with each other using technology and social media. Through interviews with young women, and in

US-China trade deal, phase one done: Now what?

It may go awry between now and the promised finalisation in January, but both the US and China now agree that phase one of the most difficult bilateral economic negotiation in recent decades is over. Unusually for this negotiation, the two sides also seem to agree on what they have agreed – at

Favourites of 2019: Yangyang Cheng

As 2019 winds up, Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Or in this instance... For me, this year will be remembered as one where the world could no longer ignore the realities of the Chinese party-state. I realised

Pacifying Australia-China relations

Australia and China cooperating in the Pacific Islands? At first glance it seems absurd. Australia-China relations are hardly warm and glowing right now. Just in the last few weeks, there’s been a focus on alleged espionage courtesy of Wang Liqiang, claims of attempted political

The Wang Liqiang case in Cold War perspective

The recent publication of Peter Hartcher’s Quarterly Essay Red Flag: Waking Up to China’s Challenge coincided with fast-breaking stories about Chinese espionage and influence operations in Australia, the leaking of the Xinjiang Papers from inside China, and the overwhelming victory by Hong Kong

Reconsidering Australia’s China debate

The recent allegations of Chinese espionage and election interference – and the subsequent doubts cast upon them – have reignited the China debate in the Australian public consciousness. The debate has become increasingly polarised, with a shortage of goodwill. Some have had their integrity and

China-US trade war: For all the bark, not much bite

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

Book review: China, the US, and the big break

Book review: Paul Blustein: Schism: China, America, and the Fracturing of the Global Trading System (CIGI Press, 2019) Paul Blustein has produced an enviable bookshelf of behind-the-scenes reportage on international economic institutions, both as a journalist (for The Washington Post and The

Shifting alliances in the Gulf a boon to China

In the wake of escalating US-Iran tensions in the Persian Gulf, the geopolitical realities of the Asian region are rapidly changing. New strategic alliances are being formed as old partnerships give way. A good example is the trouble surrounding a three-way transit agreement between Iran, India,

Trade war: From a phase one deal to perpetual peace

After a roller-coaster ride spanning 18 months, the trade war between the United States and China is finally showing signs of abatement, with the two sides confirming that they are close to the conclusion of a phase-one deal. While the signing of the deal, which was originally scheduled to take

SCO-style economic cooperation: Treading slowly

Over its 18-year existence, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has mostly been in the spotlight as a forum for security cooperation, starting with the 2001 Convention that branded crimes of extremism, separatism, and terrorism as extraditable offences. The region is still facing significant security

Signs of a deal between US and China, and a rethink

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

Beijing’s cryptic blockchain gambit

China is going berserk for blockchain these days, and doing so with oh-so-very Chinese characteristics. The recent hype is certainly not without cause. After years of cautious support for the game-changing digital ledger technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Beijing has been

India’s clever alliances with island states

As India struggles to manage China’s economic and diplomatic influence in its immediate neighbourhood, it has recently made progress in building more robust ties with four crucial island states in the Indian Ocean: Mauritius, the Maldives, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka. What has been done – and what

China’s slam dunk of the NBA is a game changer

The US trade war against China launched by President Donald Trump has hitherto lacked a clear moral dimension. There are economic arguments – that China insists on tilting the playing field by blocking certain foreign companies, forced local partnerships for foreign firms, or intellectual property

In search of clarity on Hong Kong’s future

Under the constitutional principle of “One Country, Two Systems”, as stated in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong’s capitalist system and way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years after the 1997 handover from British to Chinese rule. As a reassurance, Deng Xiaoping, the

China, a low-productivity superpower

In the space of just a few decades, China has risen to the rank of a world power, and certainly an Asian regional power. And now China and the US have locked horns in a great-power struggle over trade, foreign investment, intellectual property, technology-transfer policies, industrial policy, cyber

Towards a peaceful and inclusive Asia

Small states are states too. They have their own agency, their own interests, and their own preferences, and it is important they do not see the world through the perspectives offered by the US-China binary. This was the main point of the speech I gave this month in Beijing as Malaysia’s Deputy

How Africa is breaking China’s neo-colonial shackles

If there’s any indication of how Africa is moving up on everyone’s agenda, look no further than the first edition of the Russia-Africa Summit, which saw 43 African heads of state converging last week on Sochi. Beyond the fact that the summit reflects the brisk trade Moscow does with the

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