Category Archives: Asia

US-India plot wrong course in Indian Ocean

The  militarization of the Indian Ocean is in direct violation of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2832, which designated the Indian Ocean as a “zone of peace” and called on the great powers to halt any further escalation of military … Continue reading

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Japanese Ambassador rapped over the knuckles by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

But did he get the message?

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | Tagged | 45 Comments

Indonesia still waiting for legislation to penalise sexual violence

Five years ago a Bill was put before Indonesia’s lower house (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat) to penalise sexual violence. Activists stressed the need for urgency as the scourge was increasing. They’re still waiting.

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China does not like the coup in Myanmar

Since the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021, there have been reports and allegations that China approves of or is able to spin the military takeover to its advantage. This is unlikely to be true.

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Asian language learning in Australia was a disgrace 40 years ago. It is now much worse.

An important issue we worked on in the Department (of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs) was foreign language learning. We set the pace in the early 1980s, with not many supporters. I felt quite lonely.

Posted in Asia, Education, Politics | 10 Comments

NARA Treaty debacle

Today our intelligence agencies and bureaucrats tell us that China is the enemy. But less than 50 years ago the same agencies and bureaucrats (or their predecessors) were warning us that the enemy against which we had to prepare was … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Politics | 3 Comments

The failure of Australian companies in Asia

Australian corporates are reluctant to enter into commercial relationships in foreign countries, particularly those in Asia, and this is at odds with our geographic location and our rhetoric.

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We pay lip service to our relationship with Indonesia

If a relationship just concentrates on STDs it’ll never mature. That goes for countries as well as couples.

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“To Catch Crabs on a Hill”: Hong Kong in Review 2020

“To catch crabs on a hill” is a Cantonese expression meaning something almost impossible. Hong Kong’s prospects are as bleak as that, but it would be a mistake to write the territory off completely. There is a dynamism in local … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 5 Comments

What is meant by ‘democracy’ in Hong Kong.

Seeing the theatrics going on in the USA leads me to muse on “Democracy” and what it means in Hong Kong terms. Is there a template into which every model must fit, or is it a broad concept which encompasses … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, China | 6 Comments

A Revolutionary Change in Thailand: Protests Against the Monarchy Signal a Break With the Past (Foreign Affairs Dec 7, 2020)

Since February, protesters have taken to the streets of Thailand to demand reform of the country’s political system. Demonstrations swelled in recent months as activists grew more forthright in criticizing the government and the monarchy—an institution traditionally held sacrosanct.

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Corruption in Indonesia: Ants after sugar

Corruption is heavy stuff so let’s lighten with an old Indonesian joke:  A farmer’s goat is stolen so he reports to the police.  They’ll investigate if he pays.  The fee is a cow.  The theft is neither solved nor the bovines returned. 

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Let them all speak English

Did university administrators know of federal government policies to boost learning about Indonesia before they rushed to slash and burn? Or maybe they knew but are too blinkered to care.

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Biden and South East Asia (Asialink Nov 24, 2020

Three weeks after the election, there is plenty of evidence that Biden and the emerging Democrat foreign policy team -in-waiting appreciate the strategic challenges facing President Elect Biden both in Europe and the Indo-Pacific.

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 1 Comment

An early test of strength in Indonesia

Just a year into its second five-year term, Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s government is under threat. Opposition is being powered by a hate group led by an incendiary preacher demanding the nation abandons democracy for a sharia state. How serious … Continue reading

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Media in the Asian Century. The past week’s regional diplomacy passed through the media in a blur.

Drop-catching in Canberra China’s embassy in Canberra has belatedly woken up to the way things are done in our capital, it seems, and got into the business of “dropping” newsworthy material into the laps of selected press gallery members.

Posted in Asia, China | 2 Comments

A grog ban in Indonesia!

Hard hit by the pandemic, Indonesia is in recession. The government is desperate to revive the economy and draw overseas investors, particularly into the tourist industry which earned almost AUD 20 billion a year before Covid-19. So not the ideal … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Politics | 2 Comments

Ignoring diplomatic advice with disastrous consequences

Remembering Harold David Anderson OBE AO David Anderson was a meritorious Australian who brought great distinction and much honour to his country. Anderson displayed strong ethical and moral courage in his realistic pessimism over Vietnam at a time when his … Continue reading

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Where to now for Myanmar?

Two dysfunctional semi-democracies held national elections in the first week of November. The USA and Myanmar.

Posted in Asia, Politics | 1 Comment

Australian charity in Indonesia can be a problem.

Until recently Indonesia presented itself to the West not as a Muslim country but through Bali, a land of smiling faces, exotic dancers, paradisiacal landscapes.

Posted in Asia | 3 Comments

Asia-Pacific Nations Set to Sign Massive Regional Trade Deal (The Diplomat Nov 12, 2020)

The creation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will leave the U.S. sitting on the outside of Asia’s two major free trade blocs.This  mega -pact includes China but not the USA.

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 5 Comments

Japan, Australia, and the Rejigging of Asia-Pacific Alliances

The frame of relationships that exist in East Asia today was  set around 70-years ago. It needs review.

Posted in Asia | 3 Comments

While the US flounders, China plants ideas and friendship in Indonesia

Of all the corroded clichés used in reporting the US election, the rustiest claimed ‘the whole world was watching.’ 

Posted in Asia | 2 Comments

Papua New Guinea’s Marape Government – a new approach to foreign investment?

The Marape government’s approach to foreign investment – and to governance generally – marks a significant, and welcome, shift away from the sometimes dubious deal-making that marked his predecessor’s approach.

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Pompeo came to Indonesia, he saw, he scurried

Does anyone in Washington know anything about Indonesia? Clearly not, or White House staff would have urged State Secretary Mike Pompeo to enjoy fall in Washington. So there must be another reason for a 32,000 km round trip other than … Continue reading

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Indonesia Can Lead the Way for ASEAN on US and China – Just say ‘No’ to both.

The U.S. has been pressing many Southeast Asian states to join it in its efforts to politically and militarily contain China.  Indonesia – the de facto leader of ASEAN – can show the way for ASEAN members by just saying “no” … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, China | 1 Comment

The dangers of excessive foreign policy zeal in dealing with China.

We have displayed excessive zeal in embarking on wholesale policing of university agreements with foreign institutions, in the highly publicised raids on a third-tier Labor politician in Sydney who has no access to issues relevant to our national security, in … Continue reading

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Securing an ‘Asian NATO’ or destabilising Korea relations? (EAF Oct 15, 2020)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intended to meet his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha on 7 October. But the visit was cancelled after US President Donald Trump contracted Covid-19.

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Protests against Indonesian economic reform: stability and a minimum wage have gone

Indonesian President Joko Widodo wants to snare foreign investors. They’re a wary lot. Though excited by big markets and the chance of bigger returns, they’re fearful of losing fortunes, and with good reason: Risk.

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Forgotten East Timor: Island, principles, people

Did Gough Whitlam greenlight Indonesia’s violent seizure of East Timor in 1975? The invasion and 24-year occupation took the lives of up to 300,000 people in a population of 650,000 living on a wretchedly poor leftover from European colonisation.

Posted in Asia, Politics | 3 Comments