Tuesday 21 May 2019 | 09:39 | SYDNEY
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Mekong: Laos makes an empty concession

The possibility, indeed probability, that Laos will build its controversial 32m-high dam at Don Sahong on the Mekong River just above the Lao-Cambodia border has strengthened following the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Council meeting in Bangkok on 26-27 June. This is despite an apparent

Will Aung San Suu Kyi be president? Odds are lengthening

A year ago, a Lowy Institute panel was asked whether Aung San Suu Kyi would become president of Burma (Myanmar). The question was also raised on The Interpreter. The answer on both occasions was that such an outcome was far from certain. Powerful forces in Burma were working hard to prevent it. Few

Melanesian leaders meet on West Papua

There is a lot going on in Port Moresby just now. People are protesting on the streets (or trying to), court cases are being adjourned, anti-corruption task forces are being disbanded and formed, final preparations are being made for the fifth Melanesian Festival of Arts & Culture. And in between

Indonesian election: More on the Prabowo surge

The Interpreter has been flooded with traffic since we published Aaron Connelly's analysis of the Indonesian presidential race on Tuesday afternoon. Aaron said Prabowo Subianto was now favourite to win the Indonesian presidential election, an unthinkable prospect just a month ago in the race

Egypt: Peter Greste (and don't forget the rest)

In passing comment on the seven-year jail sentence handed down to Australian journalist Peter Greste, it would be all too easy just to join the swollen ranks of the indignant. You would certainly be in good company. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has described the verdict as 'appalling'. US

PIF: New Secretary-General will have a full agenda

At their forthcoming meeting in Palau, the leaders of the Pacific Island Forum will appoint a successor to Tuiloma Neroni Slade, the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). This is the most senior and high profile regional bureaucratic office, and strictly speaking it is

PNG: O'Neill survives, rule-of-law suffers

A remarkable 72 hours in Port Moresby has seen an arrest warrant issued for Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, the Attorney-General and Deputy Police Commissioner sacked, and PNG's anti-corruption agency, Taskforce Sweep, disbanded. Respect for the rule of law and good governance from the highest

When should the IMF apologise?

If you make a mistake, common courtesy says you should apologise. The IMF made a mistake in its forecasts for the UK economy — a high profile mistake. It admitted it got it wrong. But should the IMF have apologised? In 2013, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard publicly said that UK

Iraq and Syria: ISIS's internet insurgency

Al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist and insurgent groups have cultivated an advanced social media presence. It serves a much more important purpose than do traditional information operations campaigns that Western militaries have been developing for the last few decades. For Islamist groups, their

Iraq crisis: What do Americans want?

By this point in his presidency, Barack Obama had hoped to be firmly focused on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, one of two wars he inherited from the Bush Administration. Instead he faces the task of reintroducing several hundred of them to the other battlefield, of which he had seemingly

Why the US (and Australia) should go back to Iraq

ISIS's dramatic seizure of Mosul last week has caused much geo-strategic hyperventilation. Commentators are variously predicting the collapse of Iraq and eulogising (once again) Middle Eastern borders as defined by Sykes and Picot. The prospect of the US – and perhaps allies such as Australia

China: Why Pu Zhiqiang's arrest matters for all of us

It took me about a month in Beijing, and my first investigative story in the adjacent hills, to realise that the question of 'human rights in China' was not a concern only for trouble-making dissidents and well-meaning Western NGOs. Rather, it was a core concern to every single one of China's 1.3

Iranian and US interests in Iraq: Strange bedfellows

One of the more unusual byproducts of the advance of ISIS has been the realisation that Iran and the US share an interest in blocking ISIS advances and re-asserting government control over areas seized by the group. It is a classic Middle Eastern 'enemy of my enemy' scenario, which makes for strange

G7 in Brussels: Mood matches sombre setting

The G7 leaders' meeting in Brussels concluded yesterday, the first such summit for fifteen years. It was to have been a G8 summit hosted by President Putin at an idyllic golf resort in Sochi, the home of the last Winter Olympics. But G7 members boycotted the G8 summit following Russia's

Don Sahong Dam: A dim ray of hope

In a Bloomberg story published yesterday, the chief executive officer of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Hans Guttman, is quoted as saying that 'there is still an opportunity for coming to an agreement' over issues connected to mitigating the impact on fisheries of the projected Don Sahong dam

Abbott has stopped the boats, now he can reap the benefits

Although I profoundly disagree with the Government's policy on asylum seekers, the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll indicates that it has been successful in at least three ways beyond the bald statistic that no boats have arrived in Australia for over 150 days. First, by and large Australians support the

Foreign-investment anxiety revealed in Lowy Poll

I've just written on the widespread antipathy in Indonesia to foreign investment, and how it is colouring the presidential election campaign. I attributed this hostility to the historical experience of colonialism. Now the Lowy Institute's annual poll reminds us that a similar (if less pronounced

China links: Tiananmen special

One PLA general refused orders to take Tiananmen Square by force, saying:  'I'd rather be beheaded than be a criminal in the eyes of history'. Stephen Mcdonell writes that Beijing deals with Tiananmen differently to other sensitive issues:   So now unlike Tibet, unlike Xinjiang, unlike Taiwan,

A parallel Chinese financial order

The Financial Times ran a front page piece last Monday claiming that China has ordered a ban on state-owned companies using Western management consulting companies. It is alleged by senior Chinese sources that 'foreigners use their consulting companies to find out everything they want about our

Lopsided economic growth in the Philippines

As one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, the Philippines formalised its new status as the toast of the town among global investors by hosting (on  21-23 May) the prestigious World Economic Forum on East Asia, which brought together leading businessmen, policy makers, and scholars from

PNG's youth speak out

The Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program convened its second PNG New Voices conference in Port Moresby yesterday. We assembled a group of interesting and passionate young people with strong views about the future of their country. They spoke on a range of topics across three key themes: Papua New

West Point speech neglects East Asian security

Amid tensions in the South China Sea and new alarm about a China-Russia alignment, President Obama's speech at West Point sends some confusing signals to the countries of Indo-Pacific Asia.   To be fair, the speech was not meant to be principally about Asia. It was intended to draw a final line

Pacific island links: PNG special

This week, the Melanesia Program team is in Port Moresby for the 'PNG New Voices' event. So this week's links are focused on PNG. The Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, in partnership with the PNG National Research Institute, has launched its Australia-PNG network, aimed at fostering people-to-

China to America: Not in our backyard

Last week was a heckuva week for China's rising power: tussling with Vietnam in the South China Sea (all about America, supposedly), signing a US$400 billion gas deal with Russia (all about America, too), and sparring with the US over cyber-espionage. But less noticed was the curious forum 

How competitive is China's civil aviation industry?

Reports have surfaced that the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) C919 airliner program is struggling, with first deliveries pushed back to 2018, two years later than scheduled. Local newspapers have run positive stories about progress, but the tone is defensive. Aviation Week has

Egypt's opposition: Three scenes from Cairo

 Below are photos taken by journalist Lisa Main in Cairo over recent days of the opposition to presumptive new president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. We published Lisa's post on the Egyptian elections earlier today.   Ahmed Harara, a former dentist who was blinded by gunfire in the 2011 uprising. His

False choices in Egypt's presidential election

It goes something like this: over the next two days, Egyptians will elect the former head of the military, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, as Egypt's new president. His sole challenger, Hamdeen Sabahi, may do a little better than expected, perhaps denying Sisi his landslide. But by hook or by crook, Sisi will

Weekend catch-up: Thailand special

Bringing together the best Thailand coverage from The Interpreter. A change of format this week. Usually we feature a range of our best writing from the previous week, but in light of the military coup in Bangkok, I thought I would highlight some of The Interpreter's best Thailand coverage, not

RAMSI: How to blow $2.6 billion in a decade

A pointed joke used to do the rounds in Honiara: if you needed to call on the Australian police you could usually find them in the Lime Lounge, a swanky cafe at the west end of the main street that serves silky flat whites and a range of delights including the 'RAMSI breakfast'.  The cappuccino

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