Sunday 15 Dec 2019 | 11:53 | SYDNEY
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China

Belt and Road: colonialism with Chinese characteristics

Although China’s top-ranking diplomat Yang Jiechi has repeatedly assured the world that his country’s supreme foreign policy project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), “does not play little geopolitical games”, many governments believe this is exactly what it does. The second BRI

Huawei reaches into Britain

Whatever the true situation behind the sacking of Gavin Williamson as British defence secretary over claims (which he strenuously denies) that he leaked information to the Daily Telegraph from a meeting of the National Security Committee on Chinese telecom company Huawei, one thing is crystal clear

Seeing what you want in Belt and Road

China’s Xi Jinping recently completed a high-profile trip to Europe. In Italy, Xi and his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte last month signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding linking the struggling Italian economy to Belt and Road Initiative, the sprawling infrastructure

The souring mood towards Beijing from Berlin

Until recently, Germany was one of the few major Western countries that China had consistently amicable relations with in an increasingly hostile international environment for Beijing’s export-oriented industries and foreign investments. Germany, China’s fourth-largest trade partner, did not

Responding to China’s not-so-secret influence campaign

Sam Roggeveen wrote recently on the need for the government to be more forthcoming about its security assessments on China, specifically, allegations of influence and interference activities conducted within Australia. The trigger was Andrew Robb’s interview for the ABC, in which the ex-

What might a US-China trade deal look like?

Perhaps they will, perhaps they won’t, but if China and the US do reach a trade agreement in coming weeks it will likely be very long. Meeting to seal the deal, President Donald Trump and China’s leader Xi Jinping will be able to display to the cameras a document of at least a hundred pages

China cabinet: Two Sessions, W-We’ve got Two Sessions

In Beijing, the Two Sessions has begun: a fortnight of meetings involving thousands of delegates of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. China wants to tell the world about itself, which is this: we’re all-conquering, globe-striding, dark

The Huawei indictments: allegations and politics

Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is reportedly suing the Canadian government, its border agency, and the national police force for false imprisonment in relation to her arrest as she transited through the country in December. Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder and

Four reasons why China supports North Korea

Of all the countries on the sidelines of the Hanoi summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, few were watching more intently than China. Chinese financial and trade support effectively facilitated North Korea’s nuclear program by keeping its economy afloat and thus fractured the chances of a

A rising China and the future of the “Blue Pacific”

The focus of the Pacific Islands Forum and its Secretariat is securing the future prosperity and wellbeing of the “Blue Pacific”. The Forum seeks genuine partnerships with all actors who are willing to join us along the pathway towards that vision. Therefore, I reject the terms of the dilemma in

The fight to preserve the Khon Pi Luang rapids

In 2000, China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand concluded an agreement to begin clearing the Mekong River of obstacles so that cargo vessels could travel from southern Yunnan to the old royal capital of Laos, Luang Prabang. Neither Cambodia nor Vietnam, the other two riverine countries, were

Is Australia wise to pick sides in US-China trade war?

The US-China trade war is viewed by many as a dark cloud over the global economy. So why is Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, seemingly urging Trump to go harder, and not settle for a “pyrrhic victory” that fails to resolve long-term differences between the US and China? In

Malaysia and China: breaking up is hard to do

Breaking up is hard to do, judging by the Malaysian government’s latest contortions over how to handle a US $20 billion Chinese-backed rail project of questionable economic value. The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is one of several high-profile Chinese infrastructure deals signed by previous prime

Pacific collateral from the INF Treaty collapse

Washington intends to begin withdrawing from the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty early next month. President Trump indicated late last year that the US is pulling out because “they’ve (Russia) been violating it for many years.” The concern for Australia is that

The dark harvest of Chinese “black ships”

A US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies report (Illuminating the South China Sea’s Dark Fishing Fleets) sheds new light on the size and behaviour of fishing fleets in the Spratly Islands. It is critical to prevent the ‘maritime militia narrative’ from dominating the policy

Just how green is the Belt and Road?

China is frequently hailed as a leader in international efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, playing a pivotal role in negotiating the Paris Agreement, and pledging that carbon emissions will peak by 2030 and decline rapidly thereafter. The country has quickly become one of the

2019: a rough road ahead for Xi

In 2018, Xi Jinping seemed to be in an almost unassailable position in Chinese politics. China’s president started the year with the sort of political power that few since Mao have enjoyed, with what was seen as an emphatic victory for him at the 2018 National People’s Congress for his proposal

Why China’s financial system remains closed

While China still uses the rhetoric of “reform and opening up” its financial system remains relatively closed and is set to get even more unfriendly for foreign investors despite some recent announcements on liberalisation. The recent news that China continues to delay access by Visa and

Religious freedom in China: better than before?

Speaking at New York’s Asia Society Policy on 5 December, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd contended that religious freedom in China is “much better now than it was before.” A storm of indignant posts spread on social media, voicing displeasure and disagreement. If, as Rudd argued

Best of The Interpreter 2018: The US-China trade war

In recent months, the US-China relationship has accelerated from rivalry toward adversarial antagonism. In the US, a policy shift on China has been propelled by a sense that China is winning and America is losing in a competition for global hegemony.  “I want tariffs,” Donald Trump&

Kovrig case casts pall over China research ties

Just as the Trump-Xi meeting at the G20 produced a glimmer of hope for mutual de-escalation, the US-China trade war has taken its ugliest turn yet. Last week, Beijing detained two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial

What I missed this year: America pushes back

A series where Lowy Institute experts look back on what surprised them in 2018. For some years now I have believed that the United States is on the losing end of a long struggle with China for strategic hegemony in Asia. My position is summarised in a long article I wrote for the Financial Review

Russian gas will not stop China’s air pollution

As Beijing clamps down on air pollution, it is seeking to replace coal power plants with cleaner natural gas, especially for heating during winter. Consequently, China has intensified relations with Russia, one of the world’s leading gas exporters, to expand energy ties. But although upping gas

Xi Jinping in 2018: Any closer to the truth?

In 2016, I published a study of Xi Jinping, CEO China: The Rise of Xi Jinping (I B Tauris). This book has subsequently been reissued in paperback, and in 2018 I did a shorter overview, The World According to Xi with the same publisher. For one reason or the other, other the last few years I have had

China takes off for the Moon, tethered by politics at home

Early on Saturday morning, China launched the Chang’e 4 robot spacecraft on course for the Moon. If all goes well, it will become the first spacecraft in history to soft-land on the far side of the Moon, probably in early January. This would be a tremendous achievement for China and for the

US-China competition is all about us

We are not entering a new Cold War, despite both Chinese President Xi and US Vice-President Pence finding the term a useful rhetorical tool. The Americans have decided to compete against China because they think the last two decades of cooperation has failed. The Trump Administration,

How the US can prevent a China-dominated Asia

The US military is dangerously under-funded and could lose the next big war it wages. That is the key message from a new report by the influential National Defense Strategy Commission. Established by Congress to provide an independent, non-partisan assessment of the 2018 US National Defense

Xi and Trump at G20: A tariff truce

This truce is by no means the end of trade tensions between China and the US. Over what was undoubtedly a delicious dinner last Saturday night on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to extend the deadline for the

China, where not all media are created equal

Journalists in China are routinely harassed by police and even imprisoned for trying to cover stories that local officials do not want to get in the news. In 2018, the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, which ranks the performance of 180 countries according to media and

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