Category Archives: Asia

Widodo, a man of contradictions; a book review (Inside Indonesia Sep 9, 2020)

The complex research that Bland is demanding has existed for decades, and it is not too difficult to find…

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The South China Sea: Grasping at Straws and Whistling Past the Graveyard 

As their struggle for dominance in the region heats up, China and the U.S. are cranking up pressure on Southeast Asian countries to choose between them.    As they become ever more desperate, officials and pundits are now ‘grasping at … Continue reading

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Brave Thai students put government in a quandary

Student-led protesters in Bangkok are publicly demanding a fundamental change that was once merely thinkable – reform of the monarchy

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So much potential, so much let go

PM Scott Morrison wants the right to cancel agreements (there are reported to be 130) between foreign governments and authorities outside Canberra if deemed ‘contrary to Australia’s national interests’.The prime target is said to be Victoria jogging down China’s One … Continue reading

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Australia’s policies towards China have little support in the region.

The Southeast Asian states see themselves as being in a region where China and Japan have the most influence, and where the US’s influence is declining. The foundations of Australia’s strategic logic are very shaky.

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Japan’s Shinzo Abe Quits in Bid to ‘Escape’ Potential Prosecution (The Daily Beast Aug 28, 2020)

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, decided to resign Friday ostensibly because of his health, but also because he fears the unpleasant and unhealthy conditions of a Japanese prison.

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The confusing and wasteful role of the States in our foreign relations

The role of the States in relations with foreign countries has been raised by Scott Morrison. It has an unfortunate anti-China ring about it but he is correct to assert the primacy of the Commonwealth in foreign relations. In Japan, … Continue reading

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Making the paranormal the new normal

Last Monday was going to be the most spectacular splash of all, a grand semi sesquicentennial commemoration of Indonesia’s independence. Then came Covid19. While the Jakarta government promised a vaccine, others were relying on ritual.

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Thailand’s students revive their tradition of protest

Thailand’s authorities so far are responding relatively calmly to the latest political protests. They need to: like all nations, Thailand has had enough shocks in 2020.

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Rodrigo Duterte’s war on many fronts (East Asia Forum 9 August, 2020)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his penultimate State of the Nation Address as the onslaught of COVID-19 pandemic continues. Instead of providing a concrete plan to address the rise and spread of the virus, he used the opportunity to attack … Continue reading

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Why America shouldn’t have nuked Japan (Asia Times 6 August, 2020)

US belief that atomic bombings were necessary to obviate even deadlier invasion of Japan is as false 75 years later as it was at the time….The idea of a Soviet occupation of Japan was their worst nightmare.

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Is Indonesia’s ‘dreamy idealist’ losing the plot?

Akhirnya! At last! Just in time for the 75th anniversary of the declaration of Indonesia’s independence next week (17 August) we’re starting to examine our big neighbour with some honesty.

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Killing slowly to show love

WARNING: This article contains observations which some may find disturbing.

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After AUSMIN: How to Ensure Strong Ties to the US and Asia

Following the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) on 28 July, former ambassador to Washington, John McCarthy, argues our strengthening alliance with the US does not preclude building closer relations with Asia, including a potential modus vivendi with China.

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Malaysia: What’s Next with conviction of Najib Razak

After years of investigative exposés and legal wrangling, former Prime Minister Najib Razak was found guilty last Tuesday 28 July of serious crimes related to the 1MDB financial scandal.

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US, China, Australia: what are we getting into?

Next week our Foreign and Defence Ministers will visit the US to meet their US counterparts, at the latters’ invitation. Is the aim to recruit us to the United States’ anti-China campaign?

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Asia is more than the US and China but we don’t understand Asia.

Our Asia expertise is not strengthening but in decline.  A decrease in research funding for Asia-related topics, a fall in Asian language learning by English-speaking students, a growing neglect of Asian histories and cultures and a serious threat to our … Continue reading

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Range of options for Kim Jong-un in the lead up to US elections

As the weeks tick over towards the US elections in November and doubts grow about President Trump’s prospects, the main stakeholders in the North Korean denuclearisation problem are having to reassess their options. All of which is making for a … Continue reading

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Double standards are a feature of Australian foreign policy.  We condemn China for doing what we and other countries do.

Australia should not assume that democracy is the one true political faith that everyone in the world wants. We have the right to uphold our beliefs but others have the same right.

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Let the flag follow the trade

It’s a curious cluster – Jamaica, Luxemburg, Costa Rica and Jordan. Squashed in the middle at 73 is Indonesia. It’s a lousy rank on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Register because it shouts at potential investors: Beware! Yet … Continue reading

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‘Haunted’ Morrison adds more fuel to the Asia-Pacific fire

We now know a little more about the prime minister’s fleeting, but significant references to the 1930s in his speech launching the defence update last week.

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A smart Indian response to China (East Asia Forum 5.7.20)

The Indian government is under massive pressure to retaliate for the deaths of Indian soldiers in a border clash with China. While some bilateral measures may be unavoidable, India’s broader interest is not to reduce its engagement with China.

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Defence Strategic Outlook lacks a civilian perspective.

The Defence Department’s Strategic Update is somewhat servant to the past rather than the future. It’s just one way to see the world and should be subordinated to a civilian perspective in less adversarial terms. The government’s endorsement of the … Continue reading

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Scared of the same bogeyman? Let’s cooperate.

Was Indonesia alerted ahead of the PM’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan announcement? The presumption is that key people were tipped off, largely because there’s been no blow-back.

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Indonesia’s President Widodo finally takes a firm stand, but will it matter?

Indonesia’s founding president Soekarno was a dazzling demagogue, feared and loathed by the West and admired by the East. Apart from Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), his successors’ performances at the podium have been pedestrian, but suddenly Joko Widodo, the epitome … Continue reading

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The mainstream media fails on Australia’s foreign policy

Our media avoids any discussion or analysis of the literally hundreds of United States military bases that are situated in proximity to China, and similarly the hundreds of military bases aimed at “containing” Russia.

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ABC sending a strange message to the region.

The slashing and burning of ABC workers, their goodies and services seems to have missed the overseas TV service ABC Australia. That’s no reason to whoop. Further cuts will kill.

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Australian Soaps to the Pacific – Good Diplomacy?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched an initiative to send commercial (soaps) Australian television programs to stations in the South Pacific. This will do little to enhance vigorous and discerning projection of Australian news and values in the … Continue reading

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In the Australia-China relationship, name calling won’t help.

It is easy for governments to disguise their inability to manage the complex Australia-China relationship by resorting to finger-pointing and name-calling. Continue reading

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The inevitability of fundamental change in the world and what China wants

“The coronavirus pandemic will change the world order forever. When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, institutions in many countries will look as if they have failed. It is not a question of whether this judgment is correct from an objective … Continue reading

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