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28 August 2019

Bypassing the US and China

In the past week, global stock markets have dipped and climbed as Donald Trump threatened to increase tariffs on China, then suggested he may not, then claimed – despite Beijing’s denials – that Chinese officials had called the White House to resume trade talks. Asked if he was having second thoughts about his tactics, Trump said “I have …

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21 August 2019

Morrison’s Pacific step-down

Last week’s meeting of Pacific leaders in Tuvalu was supposed to advance Scott Morrison’s effort to improve ties with Australia’s neighbours. Instead, the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum will be remembered as the moment when Morrison’s Pacific “step-up” went backwards.

One measure of the shift can be seen in the response of Fiji’s …

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14 August 2019

Hong Kong is dangerous

Every week in Australia about 55,000 people travel to Hong Kong, which for decades has been one of the country’s most popular destinations. Yet, last week the Australian government changed its official travel advice for Hong Kong to “Exercise a high degree of caution”. Protests and random attacks on demonstrators, the advice warned, have become …

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7 August 2019

Pompeo vs White

Last weekend, Australia’s foreign and defence ministers met with their American counterparts for the annual Australia–US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN). These days, the forum serves as a sort of litmus test of where Australia is sitting between the US, its closest ally, and China, its largest trading partner. The dilemma for Australia is …

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China’s red line

Last week, China released a 51-page defence white paper that outlined its long-term military plans, as well as its concerns about countries such as the United States and Australia. Published in Mandarin and English, the document was the country’s first such white paper in four years. It did not label the US an adversary – as Donald Trump’s …

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24 July 2019

The other trade war

In South Korea recently, shoppers have been avoiding Uniqlo, convenience stores have been removing Asahi beer from their fridges, and holiday-makers have been cancelling trips to Tokyo. This unofficial boycott of Japan is part of a new trade war that began on 4 July, when the Japanese government began curbing exports of material crucial to South …

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17 July 2019

Not getting the Pacific

Yesterday, Scott Morrison announced that his first official guest since he won the election will be James Marape, the prime minister of Papua New Guinea. This six-day state visit will be the latest instalment in Morrison’s firm, and occasionally frenzied, commitment to the Coalition’s signature foreign policy – the “Pacific step-up”. Since …

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10 July 2019

The Hugh White debate

Late last month, China tested a series of anti-ship missiles close to its artificial islands in the South China Sea. Beijing initially denied building these islands, and then insisted they would not be militarised. Now, yet again, China is going one step further.

These strategic developments reflect the current pattern in the Asia-Pacific. …

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3 July 2019

Australia discovers Europe

From 1989 to 1994, Boris Johnson was posted to Brussels for London’s Daily Telegraph, where he delivered a colourful – and largely fictional – series of dispatches about the European Union’s bureaucratic overreach. These stories, including accounts of plans to regulate chip flavours or to classify snails as fish, have been credited …

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26 June 2019

America’s plans for Australia

At a United States–run store at a military base outside Darwin, the currency is US dollars and the marines stationed there can buy cans of Coke at the non-Australian price of 50 cents. Marines have rotated through the base since 2012, starting with 200 troops. In July 2019 the size of the deployment is due to expand to its intended maximum of 2500 …

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