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Shinzo Abe’s decisive win at the weekend’s Japanese election has given his LDP a mandate for sweeping reform. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

Abe’s early election gambit pays off

As widely expected, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to a landslide victory in the country’s snap election. The LDP holds a 291-seat majority in…
Australia is now the most China-dependent economy in the world – does this pose a problem for our future? AAP/Alan Porritt

Australia’s China dependence: do we need a Plan B?

If something can’t go on for ever, it won’t. – Herb Stein, chief economic adviser to former US president Richard Nixon. China’s economic rise has been a good news story for Australia. According to most…
Amid clouds of teargas, the Hong Kong ‘Umbrella Man’ defies police attempts to end the protest. Wikimedia Commons/Pasu Au Yeung

Umbrella Man: a unique threat to China or symbol of wider change?

The haunting image of a masked protester defiantly hoisting two black umbrellas amid a cloud of tear gas flickered across global social media platforms in the seconds and minutes after the Umbrella uprising…
Police move in on protesters who marched on the Hong Kong Chief Executive’s office in some of the worst clashes in the two-month pro-democracy demonstrations. EPA/Jerome Favre

Splits emerge in protest ranks as Hong Kong stand-off continues

The umbrellas were out in full force on Monday night in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong – but mainly because it was actually raining. A few hundred people, myself included, had shown up to listen to…
Supporters celebrate after Ko Wen-je, an independent candidate, won the Taipiei mayor’s seat in local elections in which the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party suffered heavy losses across the nation. EPA/Henry Lin

Voters assert themselves as Taiwanese in a warning to KMT

Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has won an unprecedented landslide victory in the country’s local elections. The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) won only one of Taiwan’s six largest “special…
President Xi Jinping has a PhD in Marxism and recently directed more resources to the study of the works of Marx and Mao Zedong. AAP/Jason Reed

To make sense of modern China, you simply can’t ignore Marxism

How does one come to understand China? Many wish to do so, especially in light of China’s growing global influence. For some, language is the key that opens the door. With Chinese language, one is able…
Thai coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha is consolidating power but playing his cards close to his chest, giving few if any signs of a return to democratic rule. EPA/Azhar Rahim

Thai army’s firm hold on levers of power won’t win it legitimacy

Thailand is an increasingly edgy place six months after a coup removed its elected government. Protagonists on the side of the curtailment of democracy fear the elaborated military regime will stuff up…
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is presenting a snap election as a referendum on his once-lauded policy of ‘Abenomics’. EPA/Franck Robichon

Abe takes a high-stakes gamble in calling an early election in Japan

It may seem politically counter-intuitive for a prime minister to seek an early election just when the economy has gone into recession. But following his return to Japan from the G20 Leaders' Summit in…
In his first visit to Australia as prime minister, Narendra Modi emphasised the opportunities in improving ties with India. AAP/Lukas Coch

Shared values, common interests: Modi’s mantra in Australia

For the roughly 450,000 people of Indian origin in Australia, the highlight of Narendra Modi’s first visit as Prime Minister of India to Australia was his address at an Indian community reception in Sydney…
Chinese president Xi Jinping said Australia and China should be harmonious neighbours who stick together through good and bad. AAP/Lukas Coch

Xi gives reassuring message about China’s benign intentions

Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared that “big guy” China is dedicated to pursuing peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific…
Golden handshake. Abe and Xi meet on the sidelines of the APEC meeting on Beijing. Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool/EPA

APEC summit shows how hard it is to define the Asian ‘region’

With considerable pomp and circumstance – and at considerable expense – it fell to China to host the annual APEC summit this year. If it lives long in the memory at all, the meeting will probably be remembered…
China’s President Xi Jinping, pictured gesturing at center, last month launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a project the US hopes to stymie. Reuters

China’s development bank plans test rising power’s strategic shift

In an influential speech in 2005, then-US deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick called on China to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international community. To optimists, China’s recent efforts…
To see off challenges to its dominance, Malaysia’s government exploits Muslim sentiment at every turn. This has been a factor in sodomy charges against opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim. EPA/Azhar Rahim

Malaysia reaches a critical crossroad over state Islamisation

Fuelled by the rise of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, debate about Islam and violence has flared again in Australia. In a predictable cycle of provocation and reaction, governments launch a wide-ranging…
Diplomatic smiles and handshakes are in order when Chinese and US representatives meet, but separate trade talks driven by Beijing and Washington represent a high-stakes contest for influence. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Who calls the tune? Asia has to dance to duelling trade agendas

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Thailand’s military coup in May is a sign of political malaise without an obvious cure in the absence of a new social contract. EPA/Pongmanat Tasiri

Asian states in crisis can choose more democracy or more conflict

Rather than a new dawn for democracy, political and social reform in the region has led to less representation and more contestation. This has potentially far-reaching consequences. What does the May coup…
Australia’s approach to trade policy is more thoughtful and calculating than it is given credit for by sections of the media, academia and the public who object to current negotiations. AAP/Newzulu/Jeff Tan

Staying engaged on every front: Australia’s trade policy strategy

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is the first article in the…
Tony Abbott’s visit to India will focus on the sale of uranium more so than a shared love of cricket. AAP

Abbott’s visit to take Australia-India relations beyond cricket

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott will visit India this week, his first trip to the country since Narendra Modi took office. On the agenda will be a range of issues important to India and Australia…
Power broker. Vladimir Putin. Fernando Bizerra Jr/EPA

MH17 was a victim of the new cold war’s first proxy conflict

It remains to be seen precisely how and why the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed over the territory of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. But whatever…
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…

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