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27 November 2019

China pulls strings in Vanuatu

Australia’s spy agency, ASIO, does not usually provide a running commentary on its investigations. But on Sunday night the agency confirmed that it was aware of China’s reported attempt to install a candidate into federal parliament, and that it was “actively investigating” the allegation. 

Presumably, ASIO made this rare statement …

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20 November 2019

American disengagement

As a businessman and then a politician, Donald Trump has long held a hustler’s suspicion that friends are just as likely to rip you off as enemies – making them doubly duplicitous. This belief has led Trump, as president, to unrestrainedly attack longstanding American allies.

Australia, however, has proven the handy exception which allows …

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13 November 2019

The future of Bougainville

In ten days, the people of Bougainville will start voting in a referendum on whether to break away from Papua New Guinea and create a new state. A decisive majority is expected to vote for independence. The long-awaited referendum marks the start of a new era for the province, following Australian colonial rule for most of last century and the civil …

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Wednesday 6 November

How to deal with Hong Kong

The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong has been leaderless, partly to prevent authorities targeting the organisers. One of the few named activists has been Bonnie Leung, a 32-year-old district councillor.

Last month, Leung visited Canberra with a message for Australia’s MPs: she urged them to delay ratifying a free trade deal with Hong …

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30 October 2019

Indonesia’s worrying path

For many years, former Indonesian general Prabowo Subianto was effectively barred from entering Australia. This was due to his suspected role in mass disappearances, torture, rapes and killings in Jakarta, Timor-Leste and West Papua from the 1970s to the 1990s. In 1998, after being discharged from the military for alleged kidnappings, he entered …

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23 October 2019

Countering China in the Pacific

For the past two years, Australia has been urgently trying to improve ties with its Pacific neighbours to prevent China from gaining a military foothold in the region. But as China’s pockets grow deeper, this task is proving increasingly difficult – as highlighted by the recent revelation that an entire Pacific island could soon come under Chinese …

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16 October 2019

Communists eat Big Macs too

Last weekend, in response to Peter Dutton’s criticism of Chinese Communist Party values, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson accused Australia of a “Cold War mentality”. The spokesperson, Geng Shuang, used the same phrase last year to describe the debate about foreign interference following the publication of Silent Invasion, …

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9 October 2019

Morrison’s dark musings

Last Thursday night, Scott Morrison gave this year’s Lowy Institute lecture, which should have been an opportunity to explore significant global changes affecting Australia, such as growing tensions between China and the United States. Instead, Morrison’s speech was confused, paranoid and strangely contradictory. It featured an urgent warning …

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2 October 2019

China means business

Yesterday, China held one of its biggest ever military parades to celebrate seventy years of Communist Party rule. But the showcase of its latest weaponry and growing military power will do little to ease global anxieties about the uses for which that hardware is intended. This is largely because the role that China wants to carve out on the international …

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25 September 2019

Again, all the way with the USA

Donald Trump has not been as bad for Australia as for most other countries, but this doesn’t make his presidency less terrible. The US president has backed autocrats, damaged his country’s alliances, reverted to protectionism, abandoned the Paris climate-change deal, and taken aggressive steps on Iran and North Korea that failed because he had …

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