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4 March 2020

Out of the Middle East, into the Indo-Pacific

On Saturday, the United States and the Taliban signed a peace deal that may finally end America’s – and Australia’s – longest war. The war in Afghanistan is almost twenty years old. It has led to the deaths of more than 100,000 Afghans, and almost 2400 US troops. Australia joined the war at the outset. More than forty Australians have since …

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26 February 2020

Missing out on India

In India this week, Donald Trump addressed the biggest political rally of his career. More than 100,000 people attended a “Namaste Trump” event, which was held at the world’s largest cricket stadium in Gujarat, home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Onstage, Modi and Trump shared a hug (Modi’s trademark) and exchanged lavish compliments. …

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19 February 2020

Can we trust America?

Last weekend, global leaders, diplomats and security officials gathered in Germany for the Munich Security Conference, the world’s largest foreign policy event. This year’s theme was “Westlessness”, a reference to growing anxiety about the West’s declining influence as it encounters powerful rivals.

But US Secretary of State Mike …

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12 February 2020

Wuhan and diplomacy

Australian diplomats are currently attempting a delicate task that could save the country billions of dollars – they are trying to persuade China to open a small gap in its great internet firewall.

As a result of the Wuhan coronavirus, about 100,000 fee-paying Chinese students may not make it to Australia for the start of the academic year. …

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5 February 2020

Taco Bell in Indonesia

On Saturday, Indonesian president Joko Widodo is due to arrive in Australia for a visit that will include a speech to the joint houses of parliament. This will be the first such address since March 2010, when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged Australians to see Indonesia as “more than a beach playground with coconut trees”.

In the …

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29 January 2020

Wuhan tests trust in China

In 2003, a semi-retired surgeon in China, Jiang Yanyong, wrote a letter to the nation’s leaders, revealing that authorities had been covering up the extent of the SARS epidemic. Chinese authorities responded by sacking the minister of health and mayor of Beijing. They then put Jiang under police surveillance before detaining him.

Five years …

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22 January 2020

Bushfires are foreign affairs

Earlier this month, residents in South America experienced a phenomenon that has become a defining feature of this Australian summer: a blood-red sun set against a hazy sky.

The cause, according to Argentina’s national meteorological service, was the smoke from Australia’s bushfires, which had drifted more than 12,000 kilometres to the …

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18 December

Australian Foreign Affairs Annual Index – 2019 Edition

Days Scott Morrison spent in the United States in 2019: 8
Days he spent in Indonesia: 2 
Days he spent in Vanuatu: 2
Days he spent in China: 0
Days he spent in India: 0

Number of people in Australia who speak Mandarin at home: 596,711
Number of fluent Mandarin speakers in Australia who are not of Chinese ancestry: …

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Wednesday 11 December

Morrison’s climate self-destruction

At the United Nations climate summit in Madrid this week, Australia will present the case for its carbon emissions targets and resist calls from other countries for stronger commitments. The emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, will claim that Australia is on track to meet its current targets, even though by all measures – except those used …

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4 December 2019

Taiwan votes, China interferes

On 11 January 2020, Taiwan will hold elections that pit the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which favours independence from China, against the Opposition, Kuomintang, which favours closer ties to Beijing.

As usual, China has made its preference clear. Last month, on the day President Tsai Ing-wen announced that her running mate was William …

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