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10 October 2018
North Korea rebrands
Last month, North Korea unveiled its latest series of propaganda posters, which, unlike some previous batches, contained no images of Donald Trump being attacked with an axe or Washington being destroyed by missiles.
Instead, the four brightly coloured posters promoted local production of steel and fabrics, as well as branded drinks, jams …
3 October 2018
The China – United States collision course
On Sunday, a US missile destroyer and a Chinese warship came within about 40 metres of colliding near a tiny set of Chinese-occupied reefs in the South China Sea. According to the United States, which revealed the incident on Tuesday, the USS Decatur was cruising close to the contested reefs when confronted by a Chinese destroyer that approached …
26 September 2018
The Japan–China thaw
Next month, for the first time since 2011, a Japanese leader will make an official visit to China. These two Asian giants have one of the world’s largest trading partnerships, yet their relationship is marked by historical tensions and petty snubs. Seven years ago, the trip to Beijing by former Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda lasted just …
19 September 2018
Big Brother in China
Every New Year, Xi Jinping gives a televised address from his office, in which two bookshelves can be partially seen in the background. The event prompts an online scurry to identify which new books the leader is reading.
At his last address Xi had included, in addition to classics such as Marx’s Das Kapital, two books about …
12 September 2018
Trade war fallout
Until last Friday, Donald Trump’s trade war with China had been relatively easy to ignore. Trump’s US$50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese-produced goods, announced in June, were quickly matched by China, which caused pain to select groups such as vehicle manufacturers and farmers. But the damage could soon spread.
Trump’s plan to …
5 September 2018
Morrison’s Pacific no-show
Unlike Jacinda Ardern, who left her eleven-week-old baby at home to make her first foreign trip as a mother, Scott Morrison chose not to attend this week’s Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru. Instead, Morrison will be represented by Marise Payne, the foreign minister, who insisted the prime minister’s absence from the eighteen-nation summit was not …
29 August 2018
Julie Bishop’s scorecard
Courage and vision have been in short supply in Canberra of late, so it might be unfair to judge Australia’s most recent foreign minister by standards we have learnt not to expect.
Julie Bishop was not particularly creative or adventurous in the foreign ministry, and did little to reshape Australia’s relations with the region. She is known …
22 August 2018
China detains by the million
China tends to do everything on a grand scale – building huge high-speed rail networks, say, or globe-spanning trade routes – and this has extended to its vast abuse of human rights.
Earlier this month, a United Nations committee reported that more than a million people have been detained and another two million forced to attend indoctrination …
15 August 2018
Australia’s 6009 sanctions
Australia’s currency and stock market dropped in recent days due to the activities of a fifty-year-old pastor from North Carolina, who has a congregation of twenty-five.
In 2016, Pastor Andrew Brunson was arrested in the Turkish city of Izmir after being accused of spying and of supporting a thwarted coup. His arrest angered American evangelicals …
8 August 2018
Project of the century
Five years ago, China’s president, Xi Jinping, announced his “project of the century”: the Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar globe-spanning infrastructure scheme. It appeared to be a Sinocentric trade blueprint, or an attempt to extend Beijing’s influence, or a vague branding exercise – and it is probably a little bit of each.
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