Foreign Affairs

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A Chinese government image of soldiers on one of the built-up Spratly islands. mod.gov.cn

Exposing US hypocrisy on South China Sea island reclamation

The US is considering using warships and helicopters to pressure China into scaling back construction in the Spratly islands. But why is there one rule for China, and another for other nations?
One of four koalas on loan to Singapore Zoo, where they were unveiled to the public on Wednesday May 20. Qantas Airways

Koalas, platypuses and pandas and the power of soft diplomacy

Four female koalas have just made their debut in front of an adoring public at Singapore Zoo – the latest in a long line of animals used for diplomatic purposes, going back to Winston the platypus.
Australian aid can make a difference to the lives of millions – but there are few votes and little media interest in it, so it’s an easy target for budget cuts. John Bransby/Department of Foreign Affairs

A fair budget? Not for the poor losing Australian aid in record cuts

Foreign aid will fall to close to 90 cents in every A$100 of federal government spending in the 2015 budget -- its lowest level ever.
Iranians, who celebrated in the streets of Tehran following this month’s nuclear agreement, are keen to rebuild relations with the West. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

Julie Bishop can reach out to Iran now that confrontation has failed

By reaching out to Iran, Australia can help end a long stand-off with the West that prevented solutions to many of the world's most dangerous problems, including Syria's civil war and Islamic State.
Australian has moved swiftly to fly relief aid and personnel to Vanuatu but has been less responsive to Pacific Islanders' pleas to act on climate change. AAP/Dave Hunt

Vanuatu disaster exposes limits of Australian internationalism

While Australia’s leaders express concern for the people of Vanuatu, the welfare of poor states is a commitment from which Australia is walking away.
Australia’s ability to influence China will largely depend on how it engages with China’s complex and growing diplomatic machinery. Shutterstock

Speaking with: Kerry Brown on China, Australia and diplomacy

Speaking with: Kerry Brown on China, Australia and diplomacy.
The emergence of China as a 21st-century superpower has already had profound impacts on Australia. As China reshapes the balance of power, not only in the Asia-Pacific region but globally, its influence…
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…
Media reporting on the costs of Australia’s Security Council bid has overlooked several significant issues. EPA/Andrew Gombert

Did aid ‘buy’ African votes for Australia’s Security Council seat?

In the lead-up to Australia’s election to the United Nations Security Council in 2012, much of the media focused on the costs and value of the campaign. In particular, it was claimed Australia “bought…
Australia’s new foreign aid priorities and level of funding suggests we are now failing in our moral obligation to help the most vulnerable overseas. AAP/Department of Defence

Budget exploits our indifference to the suffering of foreigners

While the Abbott government’s first budget has been widely criticised for its aggressive cost-cutting measures, the largest single reduction – a A$7.6 billion cut to Australia’s Official Development Assistance…
Treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Mathias Cormann face a difficult sell for the Abbott government’s tough first budget. AAP/Alan Porritt

Federal budget 2014: political experts react

The Abbott government is hoping an A$11.6 billion infrastructure spending package, combined with a $20 billion medical research fund, will help soften the blow of widespread tightening of health and welfare…
Australia under the Abbott government has so far been treated to a succession of foreign policy gaffes, including with Indonesia. EPA/Adi Weda

The state of Australia: our international standing

In the lead-up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers…
The comments from right-wing Zionist organisations in response to claims by Bob Carr that they exercise undue political influence actually tell us a great deal about their lobbying work. EPA/Abir Sultan

Broadening the context of Australia’s ‘Zionist lobby’

Former foreign minister Bob Carr’s recently released memoir, Diary of a Foreign Minister, discussed in-depth the influence of Melbourne branches of the so-called “Zionist lobby” over policymaking. Late…
Bob Carr ‘obviously revelled being back in the middle of the action’ in his 18 months as foreign minister, says former Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gareth Evans: ‘Bob learned early self-deprecation is for dummies’

Bob Carr took on the job of Australian foreign minister believing, as he doesn’t hesitate to tell us in his Diary of a Foreign Minister, that it was highly unlikely that he would be there for very long…
Signing a Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan was the highlight of Tony Abbott’s whirlwind northeast Asia trip, which also took in China and South Korea. EPA/Kimmasa Mayama

Abbott’s Asia trip comes off – for now

Prime minister Tony Abbott’s diplomatic and trade mission to northeast Asia can be hailed as a success. Overall, it met its main objectives. The trip has strengthened the already deepening relationship…
Bob Carr, pictured at the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, has set off a debate with his criticism of the pro-Israel lobby’s influence. EPA/Abir Sultan

Pro-Israel lobby stronger than it admits, weaker than Carr claims

Former foreign minister Bob Carr’s stunning claims about the pro-Israel lobby influence raise timely questions about its advocacy in Australian politics. What is the lobby Carr refers to? And how significant…
Achieving a free trade agreement with China would be a major achievement for the Abbott government given the obstacles currently in the way. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Japan and free trade create twin challenges for Abbott in China

Despite the misgivings of the sceptics, prime minister Tony Abbott’s high-profile, potentially high-risk trade mission to northeast Asia could be a triumph. The free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan is…
Tony Abbott will ink a free trade agreement with South Korea on his upcoming visit there as bilateral ties between the two nations continue to expand. AAP/Alan Porritt

Meeting in the middle: Australia and Korea in the Asia-Pacific

Australia and South Korea are separated by geography, history and culture, but have much in common. They are democracies; their economies are open to the world; and they are allies of the United States…
Tony Abbott has declared Japan, under prime minister Shinzo Abe, as Australia’s ‘best friend in Asia’. But this might come at a cost as Abbott seeks to close a FTA with China. EPA/Mast Irham

Abbott’s pursuit of Japan risks a free trade agreement with China

Prime minister Tony Abbott will be hoping the Japanese leg of his ambitious trade trip to northeast Asia can replicate the success of securing a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea. The close relations…

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