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14 September 2022

Timor-Leste ties

Last week Timor-Leste’s president, José Ramos-Horta, visited Australia and signed a new defence cooperation agreement that followed a decade of negotiations between the two countries. Such agreements are the bedrock of security coordination. They establish the responsibilities and protections each defence force has when operating in the other’s …

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7 September 2022

Penny Wong in PNG

Australian foreign minister, Penny Wong, continued her neighbourhood outreach last week with a trip to Port Moresby, which had been delayed until after the election in Papua New Guinea (PNG). James Marape has been returned to the prime ministership, but Wong now has a new PNG counterpart, Justin Tkatchenko, who was raised in Australia and moved to …

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31 August 2022

Marles’ submarine hunt

Australia’s defence minister, Richard Marles, has made a brief visit to Europe this week, meeting with his counterparts in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. In the UK he toured several shipyards, with an eye on deciding whether Australia should choose British or American nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS deal – the eighteen-month …

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24 August 2022

Timor-Leste eyes China

Timor-Leste’s president, José Ramos-Horta, has learnt from Pacific islands countries that fear of Chinese influence is an incredibly effective way to get the West’s attention. The maritime boundary dispute between Australia and Timor-Leste was finally settled in 2018, but since then there has been another conflict over how best to exploit the …

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17 August 2022

Geopolitics trumps democracy

Last month, Biman Prasad, leader of Fiji’s National Federation Party, asserted that Australia and New Zealand are ignoring democratic decay within the Pacific due to a fear of pushing island countries toward China. Prasad was primarily concerned with Fiji, yet the claim could be extended to Solomon Islands.

A bill was tabled last week in …

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10 August 2022

Taiwan crisis

China has responded aggressively to a visit to Taiwan by the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, by conducting several days of military exercises encircling the island. But Beijing’s missives have also been rhetorical, including several launched in Australia’s direction.

After the foreign minister, Penny …

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3 August 2022

Indonesia challenges AUKUS

Ahead of the United Nations’ tenth conference on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT), Indonesia has expressed concern over the use of highly enriched uranium for naval propulsion. In a leaked draft of its submission to the UN, Indonesia argued that sharing nuclear technology for military purposes contradicts the spirit and objective …

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27 July 2022

China and AUKUS

China is seeking to place pressure on Australia’s AUKUS agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom, claiming that it breaches international law. The agreement, signed in November 2021, entitles Australia to procure a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines – of either American or British design – and utilises a loophole in the Non-Proliferation …

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20 July 2022

Indonesia livestock diplomacy

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Indonesian cattle has become a pressing concern for the Australian government. First detected in May in the provinces of Aceh and East Java, the disease has spread to twenty other provinces, including Bali. The fear is that holidaymakers returning from Bali could transmit the disease to Australian livestock, …

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13 July 2022

Pacific summit

Fiji is hosting the annual Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting this week, the first in-person summit since 2019, though not all of the eighteen member states are attending. Kiribati and the Marshall Islands are absent amid concerns that the forum had not adequately addressed the interests of Micronesian countries, which had previously threatened …

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