The new nuance in Chinese diplomacy

China's President Xi Jinping during his recent visit to Australia and New Zealand, 21 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

Much energy has been expended on projecting the impact of the rise of Chinese economic power on its political and military might and the strategic contest with the United States. Read more…

China flexes its muscles at APEC with the revival of FTAAP

United States President Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing at the APEC CEO Summit on 10 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mireya Solís, Brookings Institution

The 2014 APEC leaders’ summit witnessed a string of successes in Chinese trade diplomacy. Key among these successes was the endorsement of China’s signature trade initiative as APEC host: the realisation sooner rather than later of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). Read more…

Where are Hong Kong’s moderate democrats?

A protester rests after they tried to break into the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, 19 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Steven Yet, University of Toronto

After weeks of protests, the protracted stalemate in Hong Kong doesn’t appear to be over. While the Occupy Central movement has brought together civil society groups to protest for democratic change, the movement lacks active participation from the political side. Read more…

Why the AIIB presents an opportunity for New Zealand

China's President Xi Jinping walks with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key after attending a meeting with the New Zealand-China Council in Auckland on November 21 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Cassandra Shih, Victoria University of Wellington, and Benedict Xu-Holland, ANU.

So far 20 countries have taken up China’s open invitation to found the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Notably absent at the signing were Australia, Indonesia and South Korea, who did not definitively respond to the invitation. Until a week before the signing it seemed likely that Australia would join, but it eventually withdrew, citing ongoing transparency concerns similar to those voiced by US officials. The US likely sees the new bank as a threat to the US and Japan’s status as the regional norm-shapers of development finance. Read more…

Political Islam in Bangladeshi democracy

Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, acknowledge their leader during a rally in Dhaka, 4 February 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mubashar Hasan, Griffith University

Recently Bangladesh was side-tracked from an electoral democracy. Earlier this year, the ruling party Awami League formed government after a one-sided election. Bangladesh’s major opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), boycotted the election on the grounds Read more…

South Koreans defend their rights in cyberspace

A woman uses a smartphone before the city skyline in Seoul at dusk on 21 March 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Eun Jeong Soh, ANU

Over 3 million South Koreans have downloaded a Germany-based smartphone messenger app, Telegram, while 400,000 users of Kakao Talk — the nation’s most widely used messenger app — terminated their account, in protest against government attempts to crackdown on dissenters. Read more…

Uncertainty at home brings calm to the Thai–Cambodian border

Thousands of anti-government protesters march in front of anti-riot policemen on a main road during a massive rally in central Bangkok, Thailand, 11 November 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Nicole Jenne, European University Institute

Domestic uncertainties in Thailand and Cambodia have hindered progress along the heavily militarised border and the Preah Vihear temple dispute.

Between 2008 and 2011 the border around the ancient Khmer temple of Preah Vihear (Phra Viharn in Thai) was the site of repeated clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops. Open conflict was put on hold when Cambodia submitted the dispute to the International Court of Justice in 2011. Read more…

Remembrance, reconciliation and the East Asian memory wars

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Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

‘The past’, as William Faulkner once wrote, ‘is not dead, it isn’t even past’. Nowhere is this more true than in today’s East Asia. The recent ‘memory wars’ between the countries of the region — particularly (though not exclusively) between Japan and its neighbours China and Korea — are eloquent testimony to the power of the past to haunt the present and influence the course of domestic and international politics. Read more…

Abbott’s awkward APEC moment

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Author: James Laurenceson, ACRI

Forget shirt-fronting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s most challenging task in the summit season was breaking an uncomfortable silence with Chinese president Xi Jinping. And he had to do it twice: first at the APEC meeting in Beijing and again at the G20 in Brisbane. Read more…

Can Japan’s National Security Strategy outlive Abe?

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviews members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces at Asaka Base, Tokyo, 27 October 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Yuki Tatsumi, Stimson Center

On 17 December 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued Japan’s first National Security Strategy (NSS). The document declares that Japan will make a more ‘proactive contribution to peace’ based on the principle of international cooperation. It also outlines three basic goals for Japan’s national security — ensuring the nation’s territorial sovereignty, improving the security environment in the Asia Pacific region by cooperating with the United States and other regional partners, and active participation in global efforts to maintain international order. Read more…

Australia and China after their FTA

Chinese president Xi Jinping and Australian prime minister Tony Abbott speak at a press conference following the signing of several memorandums of understanding to strengthen trade in Canberra, 17 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

The past week has seen big breakthroughs in Asia Pacific economic diplomacy. At the APEC summit, Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe broke the diplomatic ice in the China–Japan relationship. The United States and China paved the way towards extending the successful International Technology Agreement through the WTO. They also did a game-changing deal that will entrench deep cuts to carbon emissions through to 2025–30. Read more…

US–China agreement presages a change in the air

President Obama at a tree-planting ceremony at the APEC Summit in Beijing. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Frank Jotzo, ANU

The joint Chinese–American announcement of emissions targets brings the world a big step closer to meaningful post-2020 action on climate change. Barack Obama in his Brisbane speech made it clear where the two superpowers see things going: ‘If China and the United States can agree on this, then the world can agree on this’. Read more…

Lifting Australia’s influence on China

A woman holds Chinese and Australian national flags as she waits to catch a glimpse of China's President Xi Jinping as he drives by during the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, 16 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: He Fan, CASS and ANU

Chinese President Xi Jinping is attending the 9th G20 Summit in Brisbane and is about to make a formal state visit to Australia. It could be a historic time for strengthening strategic cooperation between Australia and China. Read more…

Who calls the shots on Australia’s foreign policy?

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott offically welcomes China's President Xi Jinping to the G20 Leaders' Summit in Brisbane on 15 November, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kerry Brown, University of Sydney

On hearing that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott pulled away from involvement in the Chinese development bank because of US pressure, a cynical observer might assume that Canberra’s policy towards China is signed off in Washington. Hardened Chinese diplomats may well tell President Xi Jinping that if he wants any decisions about Australian foreign policy towards China he might as well cut out the middle man and talk directly to the State Department in the US. Read more…

After a big year for APEC, what next?

US President Barack Obama talks with China's President Xi Jinping during a meeting after participating in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing Tuesday, November 11, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Yuen Pau Woo, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

The APEC summit has only just ended, but like the return of hazy skies over Beijing, clouds of uncertainty surrounding the regional forum have again drifted overhead. This is familiar weather for APEC, a grouping that has faced questions about its future for well over a decade. Read more…