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Analysis and Comment (44)

With coups in Thailand and troubles elsewhere, Australia exists in a fragile regional environment where it is expected to play a leading role in peacemaking. With coups in Thailand and troubles elsewhere, Australia exists in a fragile regional environment where it is expected to play a leading role in peacemaking. EPA/Narong Sangnak

Peacemaking should be at the core of Australian foreign policy

Australia’s neighbourhood is currently a hotbed of fragility and conflict, with tensions in the South China Sea, a military coup in Thailand and civil rights abuses against Rohingya in Myanmar. But to…
The Australian government has unquestioningly embraced Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s nationalistic defence policies. The Australian government has unquestioningly embraced Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s nationalistic defence policies. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

Abe’s Australia visit comes in the wake of constitutional controversy

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will today address a joint sitting of the Australian parliament as part of his tour of Oceania. This rare honour comes in the wake of his cabinet’s controversial decision…
Shinzo Abo’s visit to Australia this week, three months after Tony Abbott visited Tokyo, comes at a time of alarm in Asia about a shift in Japan’s defence policy. Shinzo Abo’s visit to Australia this week, three months after Tony Abbott visited Tokyo, comes at a time of alarm in Asia about a shift in Japan’s defence policy. EPA/Franck Robichon

Japan and Australia join forces in Asia’s Brave New World

In his second stint as Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe seems in a hurry. His sudden fall from power in 2007 has left him with a strong sense of the need to get things done quickly. He has embarked on…
A woman protests in Britain against the stoning of people for sexual ‘crimes’. Brunei is moving to apply the Sharia law penalty to gay people. A woman protests in Britain against the stoning of people for sexual ‘crimes’. Brunei is moving to apply the Sharia law penalty to gay people. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

As region’s homophobia turns deadly, let’s stand up for rights

Although Australia does not yet allow same-sex couples to marry, it is not a country that is generally described as homophobic. The days of it being a crime to be gay here are, thankfully, a relic of a…
Nauru is too small to be able to cope with a significant number of resettled asylum seekers – hence the mooted proposals to resettle genuine refugees in Cambodia. Nauru is too small to be able to cope with a significant number of resettled asylum seekers – hence the mooted proposals to resettle genuine refugees in Cambodia. AAP/Department of Immigration

Price of resettling refugees should not be our silence on Cambodia

In recent weeks, Abbott government ministers have been spruiking a plan for Cambodia to resettle some or all asylum seekers on Nauru who are found to be genuine refugees. While the Australian and Cambodian…
Who’s going to wage war with China over a rock in the ocean? That is why Beijing feels confident in claiming and building on this disputed reef in the South China Sea. Who’s going to wage war with China over a rock in the ocean? That is why Beijing feels confident in claiming and building on this disputed reef in the South China Sea. EPA

Ukraine crisis offers lessons in how to handle China’s ambitions

Since the end of the Cold War it has become accepted knowledge that economic ties between the major powers prevent conflict. In a world of globalised production chains and capital flows the general argument…
There is a raw interaction of politics, media and the people in Pacific nations such as Vanuatu, scene of this public rally. There is a raw interaction of politics, media and the people in Pacific nations such as Vanuatu, scene of this public rally. David Robie

E-libel laws the new front line in Pacific battle for press freedom

Today, while the world marks Press Freedom Day, draconian cyber defamation laws, journalist killings and legal gags are growing threats to the media across the Asia-Pacific. Media intersects with the raw…
Chinese anger at Malaysia’s handling of the search for flight MH370 has had a damaging impact on the bilateral relationship. Chinese anger at Malaysia’s handling of the search for flight MH370 has had a damaging impact on the bilateral relationship. EPA/Kamal Sellehuddin

The diplomatic fallout from flight MH370 reveals a region on edge

When Malaysian Airlines flight 370 failed to arrive, authorities at first concluded it had crashed in a relatively shallow part of the Gulf of Thailand. As the days passed more countries dispatched ships…
Nearly 60% of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis' global burden occurs in the Asia-Pacific region. Nearly 60% of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis' global burden occurs in the Asia-Pacific region. DFAT Photo Library/ Flickr

Time to turn back the tide of drug-resistant tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, or consumption as it used to be known, sounds like a disease that we’ve managed to fight off for good. But a drug-resistant strain of the bacteria that causes it is making a comeback, and…
The US is desperate to revitalise its Asia-Pacific hegemony, trying to weave together a web of military and political alliances and relationships. The US is desperate to revitalise its Asia-Pacific hegemony, trying to weave together a web of military and political alliances and relationships. EPA/Jeon Heon-Kyun

Asia-Pacific focus will revitalise US hegemony, but at what price?

When introducing the Pentagon’s US$496 billion budget last week – $31 billion below what President Barack Obama requested – US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said: We are repositioning to focus on the strategic…
Foreign minister Julie Bishop has reportedly asked the Cambodian government if it would resettle some of the asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat. Foreign minister Julie Bishop has reportedly asked the Cambodian government if it would resettle some of the asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat. EPA/Mak Remissa

Why resettling asylum seekers in Cambodia is fraught with risk

Amid the ongoing bad news about Manus Island has come the revelation that the Australian government has approached Cambodia with a view to resettling some asylum seekers in the impoverished nation. So…
Rather than axing the Australia Network, the government should rethink our soft diplomacy strategy in spreading Australia’s message to countries such as Indonesia. Rather than axing the Australia Network, the government should rethink our soft diplomacy strategy in spreading Australia’s message to countries such as Indonesia. EPA/Adi Weda

Lost in transmission: the Australia Network, soft power and diplomacy

According to reports, the Abbott government is considering scrapping the ABC’s Australia Network in the May budget to save money, ending its role in “soft diplomacy” efforts in the Asia-Pacific region…
What has the international response been to China establishing an Air Defence Identification Zone over the East China Sea? What has the international response been to China establishing an Air Defence Identification Zone over the East China Sea? EPA/Hiroya Shimoji

China’s ADIZ and Australia’s commitment to America’s Asian order

Last week, China announced the creation of a new Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, encompassing the disputed Senkaku Islands. The move has significantly escalated tensions…
Path of destruction: Haiyan makes landfall. Path of destruction: Haiyan makes landfall. AP Photo/Nelson Salting

Eyewitness: Typhoon Haiyan strikes the Philippines

The rain is ricocheting off the roads here in Manila. Early on Friday, our car’s tyres dragged in the deep puddles. Basketball courts - remnants of bygone American rule, and a staple of every district…
Australia has now been caught up in the web of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks about spying. How might it affect relations with countries in our region? Australia has now been caught up in the web of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks about spying. How might it affect relations with countries in our region? EPA/Ole Spata

Spies like us: Australia, America and the Asia-Pacific

Who would have thought it? Governments, it seems, have been spying on each other. As revelations go, this may be slightly less surprising than the news that the British tabloids are entirely without scruples…
ANZ chief Mike Smith was recruited to help ANZ succeed in Asia. ANZ chief Mike Smith was recruited to help ANZ succeed in Asia. Julian Smith/AAP

Australian banks in Asia a high stakes gamble

ANZ Bank has delivered another record profit, promising shareholders a bigger dividend than expected on the back of cash earnings of A$6.49 billion. But despite the bank’s continued Australian and international…
Tony Abbott described Shinzo Abe’s Japan as Australia’s ‘closest friend in Asia’. But how might Abbott’s bold declaration affect our relationship in the region? Tony Abbott described Shinzo Abe’s Japan as Australia’s ‘closest friend in Asia’. But how might Abbott’s bold declaration affect our relationship in the region? AAP/Karlis Salna

Politics of the ‘closest friend’: Abbott, Japan and the Asia-Pacific

At the joint Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-East Asia summit just held in Brunei, prime minister Tony Abbott hailed Japan as Australia’s “closest friend in Asia”. Abbott invited Japanese…
Kevin Rudd’s agreement with PNG on asylum seekers binds Australia to Peter O'Neill’s government, rather than being a true regional solution. Kevin Rudd’s agreement with PNG on asylum seekers binds Australia to Peter O'Neill’s government, rather than being a true regional solution. AAP/Dan Peled

Rudd’s PNG deal is a co-dependency, not a ‘regional solution’

The precise details of the refugee resettlement deal struck between Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and his Papua New Guinean counterpart Peter O'Neill are yet to be revealed. But what we do know…
The Pacific Islands may be well-known as an idyllic tourist destination, but gendered violence remains a chronic issue for Island women. The Pacific Islands may be well-known as an idyllic tourist destination, but gendered violence remains a chronic issue for Island women. AAP/Diana Plater

Pacific Islands: beset by gender violence, but why?

Allegations of sorcery-related abuse in Papua New Guinea have had increased prominence in recent days. They involve the alleged torture of six women and one man with hot irons as part of an Easter “sacrifice…
US President Barack Obama meets with his soon to be Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this year. US President Barack Obama meets with his soon to be Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this year. EPA/Martin H. Simon

Heeding the echoes of history as global leadership shifts

CHINA IN TRANSITION: As China goes through its secretive but widely anticipated leadership transition, the rest of the world is watching. This week, The Conversation takes an in depth look at the National…
Commodore Frank Bainimarama could learn a lot from China about quashing human rights. Commodore Frank Bainimarama could learn a lot from China about quashing human rights. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Fiji looks north to China as human rights head south at home

Yesterday’s rapprochement between Fiji, Australia and New Zealand, with the re-establishment of diplomatic ties at High Commissioner level, needs to be seen in the context of other recent events in Fiji’s…
As many as one in four girls in the Pacific aged between 15 and 19 years are already mothers. As many as one in four girls in the Pacific aged between 15 and 19 years are already mothers. Graham Crumb

Life saver: why Pacific women deserve contraceptive choice

World leaders, international donors, government officials from developing countries and civil society organisations gathered at the London Summit on Family Planning overnight to support the right of women…
At the Senat Coutumier in Noumea both the tricolour and the Kanak flags are still floating. At the Senat Coutumier in Noumea both the tricolour and the Kanak flags are still floating. Photo: Marie M'Balla-Ndi

Anarchy in Kanaky? What the French elections mean for New Caledonia … and Australia

There’s no doubt that French President Nicolas Sarkozy needs the votes of the far right in the second round run off of the French elections this weekend. In the first round, right wing Front National candidate…
Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest in November last year was a very significant step towards reform in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest in November last year was a very significant step towards reform in Burma. EPA/Mizzima News

The world can do much more to help Burma change

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is cautious, but says we are seeing the first signs of change in Burma, but the government there still needs to do more for its people. He is correct in saying “It is in our…
The less Australia reaches outwards, the less it will reap the rewards. The less Australia reaches outwards, the less it will reap the rewards. Sean MacEntee

Shrinking piece of the pie chart – Australian science and the world

Have you used your mobile phone, taken medicine or banked online today? As consumers, we benefit directly from the increasing pace of innovation. But ten years into the Asian century, the source of innovation…
Indonesian police chief Timur Pradopo has dismissed payments from Freeport McMoran as “pocket money”. Indonesian police chief Timur Pradopo has dismissed payments from Freeport McMoran as “pocket money”. AFP/Bay Ismoyo

Bribes and bullets: Police corruption linked to violence at the world’s biggest mine

President Barack Obama is being urged to raise human rights abuses with the Indonesian President during his visit to Bali. Indonesia is a key ally of the US, now America’s security focus has shifted to…
A warm welcome for the President from Julia Gillard and the Governor General, but Australia should take care not to give too much away to the Americans. AAP/Stuart McEvoy. A warm welcome for the President from Julia Gillard and the Governor General, but Australia should take care not to give too much away to the Americans. AAP/Stuart McEvoy.

Special relationship? Why Gillard needs to talk tough with Obama about US military base

It’s third time lucky for President Obama. He’s cancelled his trip to Australia twice before, but now he has finally made it to Canberra. Julia Gillard has struck up a friendship with the US President…
China’s government has made a massive investment in research, and student funding. Australia can learn a lot. China’s government has made a massive investment in research, and student funding. Australia can learn a lot. AFP/Information Services Department

Keeping up with the Joneses: Why Australia is falling behind the neighbours on higher education

In recent weeks two commentary strands have intertwined and are extremely important to Australia’s future, and with special resonance for the higher education sector. Beginning with the announcement of…
Australia would do better to shed light on Indian affairs. Media coverage of the country is dominated by corruption scandals, terrorism or cultural festivals like Diwali. Australia would do better to shed light on Indian affairs. Media coverage of the country is dominated by corruption scandals, terrorism or cultural festivals like Diwali. EPA/Sanjeev Gupta

Connection with India vital to Australia’s future

CHOGM As Julia Gillard chairs the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Perth, she would do well to pay special attention to her Indian colleague at the table, Vice-President Hamid Ansari. Brian Stoddart…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. AAP

Learning to live in the Asian century

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the fifth part of our series, Kathe Kirby of the University of Melbourne examines whether our education system is preparing children for the future. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has…
The Australian Ambassador is doing everything he can for the Australian boy detained in Bali, but Indonesian children aren’t so lucky. The Australian Ambassador is doing everything he can for the Australian boy detained in Bali, but Indonesian children aren’t so lucky. AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Hypocrisy over Bali teenager as Indonesian children remain in jail

This week the nation has been in an uproar over the arrest of a 14 year old Australian boy in Indonesia, accused of buying drugs. TV news reports discussed the terrible conditions of the prison, where…
Julia Gillard has to strike a balance between forging meaningful links with Asian countries, and managing relationships with older allies. Julia Gillard has to strike a balance between forging meaningful links with Asian countries, and managing relationships with older allies. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

The ‘lucky, lazy country’ shows how not to win friends in Asia

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the third part of our series, former diplomat Alison Broinowski of the Australian National University examines our rocky relationship with our Asian neighbours. “Australia hasn’t…
Julia Gillard could play a pivotal role in ensuring Asia’s security, and improve Australia’s economy in the process. Julia Gillard could play a pivotal role in ensuring Asia’s security, and improve Australia’s economy in the process. AFP/Minoru Iwasaki

Australia in Asia: How to keep the peace and ensure regional security

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the second of our series Nick Bisley of La Trobe University examines the responsibilities Australia must take on to ensure security in Asia. Asia’s economic powerhouses are booming…
Australia will have to try something new, and align itself more closely to Asia. Australia will have to try something new, and align itself more closely to Asia. AAP Image/Adam Gartrell

Is Australia ready for the ‘Asian century?’

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the first of The Conversation’s series on Australia’s relations with Asia, Professor Tony Milner of the Australian National University examines whether we are prepared for the “Asian…
What is Australia’s responsibility for low-lying neighbours like Palau? What is Australia’s responsibility for low-lying neighbours like Palau? CasaDeQueso

See you in court: the rising tide of international climate litigation

The Pacific Island State of Palau recently announced it will seek an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), asking whether countries have a responsibility to avoid their emissions…
New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda faces major challanges. New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda faces major challanges. AAP

Japanese PM: is Yoshihiko Noda a new beginning or just more of the same?

Former Finance minister Yoshihiko Noda has become Japan’s sixth prime minister in five years after winning a leadership vote in the parliamentary wing of his Democratic Party of Japan. Noda replaces Naoto…
Australian veterans of the Pacific theatre in WWII attend a VJ Day memorial. Australian veterans of the Pacific theatre in WWII attend a VJ Day memorial. AAP

The war in the Pacific: fighting the good fight, or something else

Sometimes an historian will challenge one of the key ideological myths of Australian capitalism. Henry Reynolds does it in his work on the colonial treatment of Aborigines, a treatment some go so far as…
Pacific nations participated enthusiastically in the Shanghai Expo last year. Pacific nations participated enthusiastically in the Shanghai Expo last year. Flickr/thoth188

China’s power in the Pacific

China’s relations with its Pacific neighbours are nothing if not complex. Its trade in the region quadrupled between 1999 and 2006. And if it delivers all of the promised resources, it will become second…
Designer shopping in China can lead to an experience like no other. Designer shopping in China can lead to an experience like no other. Flickr/Gadgetdan

Middle classes and the Party: changing faces of power in China

China’s phenomenal economic growth during the last three decades has significantly altered its pattern of social stratification. One of the most equal countries in the world has become one of the most…
India will need to look after its own slum areas, now Australia is starting to withdraw aid. India will need to look after its own slum areas, now Australia is starting to withdraw aid. Flickr/lecercle

Putting money where it matters: why Australian aid needs to be in urban areas

The Australian aid program is a multi-million dollar enterprise. It has doubled in size over the past five years to $4,836 million in the current budget, and it’s still growing. A comprehensive look at…
The hospitality of the Pacific people is well-known, but they need help to lift themselves out of poverty. The hospitality of the Pacific people is well-known, but they need help to lift themselves out of poverty. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

Australian aid isn’t getting to where it needs to be

It’s easy for the tourists thrilled by the beauty of the Pacific Islands to miss the flourishing squatter settlements just away from their resorts and buzzing nightlife. Many of the friendly islanders…

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