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14 October 2020

Aid is up

The Morrison government increased development aid funding by about 4 per cent in the federal budget delivered last week. 

The government plans to spend an extra A$304.7 million over two years in Timor-Leste and the South Pacific to help with the coronavirus recovery. An extra A$23.2 million will be spent over three years to assist with the …

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7 October 2020

Can we bank on the Quad?

Foreign ministers from Australia, the United States, Japan and India met in Tokyo on Tuesday for what was only the second formal ministerial meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

The Quad started in 2007 as a low-profile gathering of officials from the Indo-Pacific’s four largest democracies, but was moribund in less than a year …

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30 September 2020

From negative to positive globalism

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last Friday, Scott Morrison emphasised the need for global cooperation to manage challenges like COVID-19. He also praised the UN for “fulfilling its high purpose, the purpose that seventy-five years ago brought the world together in a united hope, and in goodwill”.

The speech marked a …

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23 September 2020

Taiwan tensions

Last Friday, China stepped up tensions in the Taiwan Strait, sending air force jets into Taiwanese airspace in three locations. This occurred as Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, was due to meet US undersecretary of state, Keith Krach. The undersecretary is the most senior State Department official to visit Taiwan since the United States switched …

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16 September 2020

No news from China

Last week, amid deteriorating Australia–China relations, two Australian reporters flew home from China on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

It later emerged that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and Australian Federal Police had executed search warrants in June on four Chinese reporters based in …

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9 September 2020

Virtual diplomacy

The fifty-third foreign ministers’ summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) starts today via video conference, highlighting an emerging diplomatic reality: regional leaders’ summits are unlikely to be conducted face-to-face this year. 

During the pandemic, virtual meetings have provided Scott Morrison and foreign minister …

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2 September 2020

The China freeze deepens

China’s deputy ambassador to Australia, Wang Xining, delivered an ambiguous speech about Australia–China relations to the National Press Club last week. While Wang made positive comments about the relationship, describing it as “longstanding and weight-carrying”, he also expressed Beijing’s dissatisfaction with Canberra’s proposed inquiry …

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26 August 2020

Vaccine diplomacy

In the past week, senior Chinese and Japanese diplomats have brushed aside travel constraints in an effort to woo key allies, often with so-called “vaccine diplomacy”, or offers of aid to deal with the pandemic and its aftermath.

Japanese foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi has visited several countries across the Asia-Pacific, and defence …

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19 August 2020

Allies in conflict

The leaders of Japan and South Korea both marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of the Pacific War at the weekend. Their speeches underlined the intractable nature of the stand-off between the two Western allies. These are Australia’s second-and fourth-largest trading partners, and the impasse between them is again threatening to unsettle …

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12 August 2020

TikTok or not?

While addressing a US security conference last week, Scott Morrison announced that Australia would not join the Trump administration in banning TikTok. He said an intelligence agency review had concluded the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing platform was not misusing Australian citizens’ data.

Morrison’s decision stands in contrast to …

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