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The View from Indonesia

On 14 February 2024, in Jakarta’s old Chinatown district of Glodok, a chain-smoking gentleman with a nephew studying in Melbourne gave me his shorthand view of that day’s election. “In Indonesia,” he began, before an exhale of kretek fumes, “we always know who is going to win before the vote.”

The joke harks back to the Suharto …

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November 1, 2023

The View from Myanmar

Since the Myanmar military’s coup in 2021, which threw out the elected civilian administration led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the ruling junta has targeted politicians, activists and journalists in different cities across the country. It has arbitrarily detained opposers and applied heavy punishment, including decades-long imprisonment, torture and killings. One …

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3 October 2023

The View from Vanuatu

Whenever there’s a looming motion of no confidence in Vanuatu’s government or visiting foreign dignitaries, local pigs get nervous.

In a culture which reveres pigs and regularly sacrifices them to seal the deal – from weddings and funerals to political alliances – there’s been a flurry of recent “kastom” pig killings. Vanuatu …

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6 September 2023

The View from the Philippines

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese is due to visit Manila this week to discuss defence and maritime security cooperation with Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The visit comes at an auspicious time. The two countries have increasingly been looking to cooperate on resisting China’s territorial and maritime claims in the South China …

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2 August 2023

The View from South Korea

Most South Koreans regard Australia as a true friend. During the Korean War (1950–53), Australia dispatched 17,164 soldiers to save South Korea from North Korea, reinforced by the “Red China” army, incurring 340 deaths. The legacy of this has been a values-based relationship between the two nations, ranging from partnerships in trade and investment …

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5 July 2023


Amid the intense rivalry between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific, taking sides appears to be the new normal. Yet as middle powers and US allies, Thailand and Australia are resisting this new normal. Both have new governments which are seeking – where possible – to avoid choosing sides.

Thailand is now at a turning point …

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7 June 2023


For so long, Australia held the title of deputy sheriff in the Pacific region. The sheriff, the United States, had confidence that its deputy had the situation in the Pacific region under control. The US focused its attention elsewhere, particularly on the Middle East to address extremism and on East Asia to contain the rise of China. But the visit …

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12 April 2023

The View from Singapore

It is understandable that Australian leaders may feel insecure, even paranoid, about Australia’s future in the Asian twenty-first century. As Western power recedes from the world ­– especially from East Asia – Australia and New Zealand will be left stranded as lonely Western outposts in Asia.

But it’s fatal to find emotionally comfortable …

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8 February 2023

The View from Japan

Japan’s new National Security Strategy (NSS), released in December, is a groundbreaking document that sets out plans to strengthen not only defence capabilities, but also diplomatic, economic, technological and intelligence capabilities. It aims at enabling Japan to create a new balance in the Indo-Pacific – a project likely to require crucial …

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14 December 2022

The View from Vietnam

Australia and Vietnam have conducted a series of high-level meetings in recent months, as they try to cement a relationship that both now view as increasingly important.          

In June, Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, visited Hanoi – her first trip to a South-East Asian country since taking office – and three months …

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