Monday 19 Aug 2019 | 06:25 | SYDNEY
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Turnbull's trip to China: A dereliction of duty?

Let's put Mr Turnbull's diplomacy last week into context. While he was in China, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was in the Philippines talking up America's commitment to support Manila militarily against Beijing. At the same time, a senior Chinese general toured Beijing's bases in the Spraltys

Papua New Guinea's new economic reality

There’s a problem with having your economy as one of the world’s most dependent on the natural resources sector; when global commodity prices come down you come down with them. Mongolia, Timor-Leste and Laos, to name a few in our region, have all faced a dramatic change of fortunes in 2015. But

The Middle East: Beyond the sectarian divide

Many Western observers of the conflict in the Middle East see current events through a sectarian prism which has become the default tool to make sense of the violence that plagues the region. Even President Obama thinks what is happening in the region is 'rooted in conflicts that date back millennia

Subs and ships: The merits of domestic builds

Yesterday the government announced the commissioning of dozens of naval vessels. In an effort to stave off the industry 'valley of death' between major projects, planned construction of 12 offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) in South Australia will begin in 2018. In 2020, previously scheduled

China's nuclear weapons: Still a last resort?

Among Western analysts who watch China's military and strategic development, a debate has been raging for some time over the gap between China's actual military capability and its ambitious strategic concepts. There is no doubt that China's military capabilities are both growing and improving

The race for secretary-general: Where's Kevin?

Kevin Rudd was at the center of attention at the UN this week, mainly because he wasn't there. Nine candidates to be the next UN secretary-general addressed the General Assembly between Tuesday and Thursday. Star attractions included two former prime ministers: Antonio Guterres of Portugal and Helen

Soryu-class submarine arrives in Sydney

My colleague Euan Graham snapped these grainy shots of the Japanese Soryu-class submarine SS-503 Hakuryu from the ferry as he made his way to the office earlier today. As Euan points out on Twitter, this is history in the making — the first Japanese submarine to pass through Sydney Heads since the

Middle East turmoil through Indonesian eyes

'Egyptians are very easy to provoke. Two people can be talking among themselves about Morsi, then others jump in and interrupt. It happens on the tram or the train. Even though they don’t know one another, when they’re standing next to each other and don’t have the same opinion, they just

With this ring...: Japan's sub bid is more than a first date

I'm usually cautious about extended metaphors, but Akira Igata's neat depiction of Japan and Australia as a young strategic couple on a first date is illuminating as well as charming. However I don't share his reassuring conclusion that there will be no harm done if the candle-lit dinner does not

Why robots are not coming for your job

Fascinating post about the economics of artificial intelligence (AI) from economist Tyler Cowen: The Artificial in AI can sometimes mislead so let’s start by getting rid of the A and asking instead whether more NI, Natural Intelligence, will decimate the middle class. For example, will

The desperate plight of fleeing Afghans

The EU recently reached an agreement with Turkey to send asylum seekers back to Turkey if they come to Europe illegally. The deal will mostly affect Afghan citizens who make up the second-largest group of asylum seekers. The Telegraph reported a few days ago that EU has a secret plan to deport 80,

Post-Brussels, does Europe need a new intelligence agency?

Three weeks on from the terrorist attacks in Brussels, and the Belgian investigation has made welcome progress – including the weekend arrest of the 'man in the hat', Mohamed Abrini. But there are few signs that the attacks will prompt a wholesale change in Europe's approach to counter-terrorism

Note to Washington: Enjoy Abe while you have him

Shinzo Abe will not be Japan's Prime Minister forever, and once he leaves office he might just be missed. Abe is the first Japanese Prime Minister in decades with a strategic vision of Japan's role in the world. He recognised that Japan could no longer sit quietly, writing the occasional check,

Papua New Guinea: Every day a field day for lawyers

The senior courts in Papua New Guinea have a rather impressive record of not doing the bidding of the government of the day. There was another example of this just a matter of days ago when three judges sitting as a Supreme Court bench dismissed all orders preventing anti-corruption officers from

The global financial safety net needs fixing

How much attention do we need to pay to the global economic 'Plan B'? This question was the subject of a G20 high-level seminar on the international financial architecture in Paris last week and is sure to occupy the attention of policymakers at the 2016 IMF and World Bank Group Spring meetings —

His Excellency is dead, long live the ambassador

Jason Murphy comes to some breathtakingly wrong conclusions in his 22 March post demanding the closure of Australian missions abroad ('DFAT Come Home! Why Foreign Posts no Longer Make Sense'), with 'diplomats based in Canberra and deployed to foreign nations as needed on a shorter-term basis'. As

The Middle East in 2016 (part 7): Australian policy

This is the final entry in this seven-part series. Part 1 is here; part 2 here; part 3 here: part 4 here; part 5 here; and part 6 here. In the last decade and a half there has been a subtle evolution in Australian policy toward the Middle East. At the start of this century, the region was

The China crackdown: Shaping opinion at home and abroad

In the New York Review of Books, Orville Schell describes a disturbing trend towards tighter suppression of opinion by Chinese authorities, who are not stopping at the border: ...what has been perhaps most unexpected about this trend is the way that Beijing has begun to extend its claim to

Tech giants' powers rival those of nation states

Much of the commentary on the tussle between Apple and the FBI over access to the iPhone San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook has focused on the right to privacy of citizens and consumers. While worthy of debate, this issue should be placed in the (often shadowy) war for power underway between the

Six ways the EU is fighting terrorism and managing migration

The recent terror attacks in Brussels shocked Europe and the world. In the aftermath, there has been considerable debate over the link between terrorism and migration. This is not surprising, given the refugee crisis, and that the two problems are connected with the conflict in Syria and the threat

Why do they hate us?

Europe is under attack and each successive terrorist attack widens societal divides, sends radicalisation and hate soaring, and makes saner voices inaudible as the hawks shout for war. Such is the nature of terrorism: it sets societies spinning in a vicious cycle of fear and sporadic violence. Amid

Trailer: Ten Years

Above is the trailer for the Hong Kong movie, Ten Years, which just won the best film category at the city's film awards. The film comprises five short stories that show a future in which Hong Kong has been culturally and politically taken over by the mainland. After playing to packed audiences