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With Jonathan Pearlman

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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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19 June 2019

Choosing Hong Kong

A week ago, Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam responded to the first mass protests against a controversial extradition law by claiming that relenting would be like spoiling her children. Days later, as the protests in Hong Kong continued, she suspended the law. After a further march on Sunday that was attended by almost 2 million people …

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12 June 2019

Xi’s Trump card

Last month, Xi Jinping visited a small magnet factory in south-east China. The plant belongs to JL MAG Rare-Earth Co., a Chinese company that produces magnets from rare earths, a group of seventeen little-known metals that are used to make phones, cameras, planes, electric cars, X-ray and MRI machines, and just about every other gadget upon which …

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5 June 2019

Morrison’s China silence

On Monday morning, Sydney residents woke to discover that three Chinese warships had entered Sydney Harbour. The ships, carrying 730 officers and sailors, docked at the Garden Island Naval Precinct for a four-day stopover. Canberra did not announce the visit, leading to anxious and curious news headlines, followed by Scott Morrison’s attempt to …

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