Category Archives: Asia

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’ 

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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

Thailand’s political fault lines grow

The Bangkok student demonstrations over the past few weeks represent another of the manifestations of discontent about Thai governance, which, over the past couple of generations, have burst through the fault lines of the Thai polity.

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Trump pressures South Korea over China

When most around the world had battened down the hatches for a rough ride through the last days of the US Presidential election campaign, the Republic of Korea (ROK) has become seriously preoccupied again with the Trump administration.

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Japan’s New Leader, Suga Yoshihide, Will Maintain the Old Regime (Jacobin Sep 27, 2020)

Suga Yoshihide, longtime aide to Abe Shinzo, has now replaced him as Japan’s prime minister. Suga will preserve the main features of Abe’s long stint in power: creeping militarism, subordination to the US, and a high-handed approach to political opposition.

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Asian voice: Wang Gungwu (East Asia Forum Oct 9, 2020)

Against the backdrop of the current tension between China and the United States, Wang Gungwu’s contribution to mutual understanding between East and West is more essential now than ever.

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The comeback kid heads to Washington

Champions of Donald Trump’s style of politics will warm to Prabowo Subianto. They’ll understand why Washington is forgetting Indonesia’s Defence Minister was once banned from the US and Australia for alleged human rights abuses, and get onside with another tough.

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Indonesia: keeping the communist myths flying

It’s that time of the year again when Indonesians look sideways at the neighbours, whisper about family histories, question loyalties.

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Oh dear, what will the neighbours say?

Widodo’s lacklustre leadership – compounded by going soft on corruption and nuzzling up to the army – is opening space to big business, the military and faith fanatics with no interest in reform. This is worrying indeed and should be … Continue reading

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War crimes in Afghanistan: where will justice fall?

One year out from the 20th anniversary of the start of the Australian occupation of Afghanistan, a report is about to explode like a cluster bomb, showering shrapnel of guilt, denial, blame and even deep sorrow.

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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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