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7 July 2021

Indonesia COVID battle

Last week, the Indonesian government announced a partial lockdown and increased health spending and limits on foreign arrivals in response to a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases.

New infections have hit record numbers over the past week, and the daily death toll has risen above 700 in the world’s fourth most populous country.

President …

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30 June 2021

Red China’s birthday

The Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary this week, along with another significant milestone: it regained sovereignty of Hong Kong twenty-four years ago.

The official celebrations on Thursday will highlight China’s economic and military development since 1921, when foreign colonial powers controlled concessions across …

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23 June 2021

China tactics

The Morrison government has decided to lodge a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization over Chinese sanctions on Australian wine exports.

The move, following a similar appeal to the WTO in December over China’s anti-dumping penalties on Australian barley exports, suggests the government is ramping up its formal response to China’s …

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16 June 2021

G7 revival

The leaders of the world’s old economic powers held their first Group of Seven summit in two years on the weekend.

The issues covered in their 14,000-word communiqué ranged from COVID-19 to the challenge of China, from climate change to infrastructure renewal, from economic stimulus to fair trade and human rights.

The communiqué …

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9 June 2021

Exiting Afghanistan

The Morrison government has closed Australia’s embassy in Kabul, declaring it cannot guarantee security to diplomats “in light of the imminent international military withdrawal from Afghanistan”.

Despite being involved in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban for twenty years, Australia began a hasty withdrawal from the country …

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2 June 2021

Morrison and Ardern

Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern have insisted that Australia and New Zealand are taking a unified approach to dealing with China, including on human rights and economic-coercion issues.

The leaders were in Queenstown on Monday for their first in-person meeting since the beginning of the pandemic.

Their expression of solidarity on …

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26 May 2021

Cryptocurrency and geopolitics

Last week, as the cryptocurrency market fell into turmoil, financial services minister Jane Hume said the Morrison government would “let people make their own decisions” about investing in high-risk assets.

By contrast, China and the United States each signalled they would be reining in digital currencies, in a rare alignment of their …

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19 May 2021

Bringing students back

Scott Morrison has declared that “the next step” in reopening the country’s borders is to bring back international students.

Previously, the Morrison government was at odds with universities over how to deal with COVID-19’s impact on higher education. When it delivered the federal budget last week, it suggested borders would remain …

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12 May 2021


The diversification of the Australian economy is the standout international relations theme of yesterday’s federal budget.

Measures supporting this objective will be undertaken by several departments, not just the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This reflects the government’s new focus on creating cross-government responses to …

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05 May 2021

India travel ban

The Morrison government’s tough penalties for anyone returning from India are raising questions about its responsibility for Australian citizens abroad. 

Up to 9000 Australians have been left stranded in India amid a collapse in its health-care system and a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

The penalties represent a conflict between …

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