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12 May 2021

Budget

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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28 April 2021

Victoria’s China deals

Last week, the Morrison government cancelled Victoria’s two Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreements under its new Foreign Arrangements Scheme.

The government revealed it is auditing more than 1000 agreements that state governments, local governments and universities have made with other countries.

Creating a national register of …

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21 April 2021

Myanmar neighbours meet

On Saturday, South-East Asian leaders are due to meet in Jakarta to discuss the Myanmar coup, which could be a historic test of credibility for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Since its founding in 1967, the ten-member group has survived decades of regional political turmoil – largely by adhering to a policy of non-interference …

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14 April 2021

The new capitalism

Last week, the International Monetary Fund initiated a program to let poor countries swap debt for green investments and backed a “solidarity tax” on companies and individuals who have benefited from COVID-19.

In addition, the world financial watchdog expanded its reserves by US$650 billion and used a meeting with the World Bank to urge …

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7 April 2021

Foreign-student diplomacy

Australia has commenced an international education overhaul, which could lead to big changes in the sector.

The number of foreign students admitted is likely to drop, their countries of origin may be different, and fewer students may be educated on Australian campuses. More teaching will be delivered online, and course offerings to foreign …

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31 March 2021

Battle for Myanmar

On Sunday, defence force chiefs from Australia and eleven other countries issued a joint statement urging the Myanmar military to “cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar”.

The chiefs were responding to the massacre of more than 100 people by Myanmar’s security forces on Saturday – the …

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24 March 2021

US–China manoeuvring

Top officials of the Biden administration and the Chinese government met for the first time last week in Alaska. The talks started with an unusually acrimonious public exchange, which seemed to suggest the US–China relationship was entering a new phase of confrontation.

But the talks ended with officials making more positive comments, which …

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17 March 2021

The Quad rises

The leaders of the countries belonging to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – United States, Japan, India and Australia – met for the first time last Saturday.

The Quad failed to get off the ground ten years ago, due to differences among its members, but it has taken much firmer shape over the past four years. Last week’s online meeting …

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10 March 2021

China choices

China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, began its annual meeting last week. Its discussion so far has underlined the competing images China now presents to the world.

Premier Li Keqiang announced a target of at least six per cent annual economic growth for the year. Li’s announcement signalled an unexpected return to China’s …

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