Mongolia in the region: time for economic foreign policy

The Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in the South Gobi desert, Mongolia. The mine is a joint venture between the Mongolian government, Canada's Ivanhoe Mines and British-Australian Rio Tinto. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Julian Dierkes, UBC

Mongolia has been extraordinarily successful in building a foreign policy around the Leitmotiv of ‘third neighbours’ for the past 20 years. Reinforced by the country’s democratisation and the promise of mineral resources, this foreign policy has helped Mongolia claim much more attention on the global stage than one might expect from a vast country of only three million inhabitants. Read more…

Rising from Haiyan’s ruins

Filipino survivors riding through smoke from mosquito pesticide dispensed by officers at a damaged residential area in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines on  15 November 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ernesto M. Pernia, University of the Philippines

Recovering from the tragedy wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, the most potent typhoon ever to hit land in planet earth’s recorded history, is evidently no mean task. Difficult to estimate is the economic cost; virtually incalculable is the human cost, including lost human capital going to economic cost. Read more…

A new direction for Australian aid in the Asian century

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott with world leaders at the APEC summit in Bali (Photo: AAP).

Author: Susan Harris Rimmer, ANU

Australia’s newly elected prime minister, Tony Abbott, has signalled that his government will move to incorporate the country’s overseas aid agency, AusAID, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

But what will this mean for the developing countries that currently receive Australian aid, and the people living in extreme poverty inside those states? Moreover, what does it mean for Australia’s overall soft power goals in the Asian century? Read more…

Getting behind Myanmar’s reforms

Australian Pime Mnister Julia Gillard and the President of Myanmar Thein Sein speak to the press at Parliament House in Canberra 18 March 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Trevor Wilson, ANU

Australia hosted a high-level government delegation from Myanmar this week, led by President Thein Sein.

Thein Sein’s ambitious program of economic and political reform has surprised the international community since he assumed office in March 2011. Read more…

Getting real about change in the Asian century

Students wave Indonesia and Australia flags during the opening of a school in Tanggerang, built with Australian development assistance, 15 July 2010. Former Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Stephen Smith and his Indonesia counter part Marty Natalegawa were in attendance. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Virginia Hooker, ANU

The Issues Paper that kick-started debate about Australia in the Asian Century is a provocative document.

It recognises the urgency of implementing national policies that will enable Australia to interact positively with Asia. Yet it fails to address two interlinked characteristics of Australian society: the ongoing anxiety about racial and religious difference and unease about socio-economic change. Read more…

North Korean satellites and missiles: advantage hardliners

A concert is held in Pyongyang in February 2012 to commemorate the birthday of North Korean late leader Kim Jong-il. On the screen is shown the rocket that carried a satellite North Korea launched in April 2009 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andray Abrahamian, Choson Exchange and University of Ulsan

North Korea’s announcement of a satellite test planned for April has kicked up quite a fuss as governments try to decide how to respond.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said it would be a ‘grave provocation’, while Japan’s cabinet secretary urged North Korea not to carry out the test, saying it was a violation of UN sanctions.

Read more…

China lifts Africa’s development prospects

An unidentified man walks along oil pipelines belonging to Italian oil company Agip in Obrikom, Nigeria in this Monday, March 6, 2006 file photo. African oil exploration is booming and China is investing. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The dramatic increase in recent years of trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) in sub-Saharan Africa by firms from Asia — notably China and India — has become an emotionally charged and controversial issue.

For China, as Luke Hurst has written, Africa would seem an excellent complement to its resource- and market-seeking global agenda. Read more…

Durban climate talks bring mixed results for Indonesia

United Kingdom's Chris Huhne Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, speaks at the climate change conference in Durban, South Africa, 8 Dec. 2011. The head of the group of developing countries says the outcome of UN climate negotiations boils down to whether the two-tiered system of rich and poor countries should continue, or whether all nations should be treated more equally. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Fitrian Ardiansyah, ANU

Agreements achieved in the early morning of 11 December in Durban, South Africa appeared to salvage the UN climate talks — but have also raised questions about the commitment and capability of countries around the world to urgently tackling climate change.

After two weeks of difficult negotiations, governments involved in the 17th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-17) agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol and negotiate a binding agreement for all countries to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Read more…

The revival of the World Bank’s bank

Visiting World Bank President Robert Zoellick smiles during a news conference Thursday Oct. 27, 2011 at suburban Mandaluyong, east of Manila, Philippines. Zoellick welcomed a deal clinched by European leaders to address their two-year debt crisis, saying it may have helped avert the spread of the financial turmoil to emerging markets that provide half of global economic growth. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Stephen Howes, ANU

The founding institution within the World Bank Group is the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).

The only part of the institution that was established by the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, the IBRD is the World Bank’s bank. Read more…

Pakistan: US losing hearts and minds in the battle against terrorism

Pakistani demonstrators burn a US flag during a protest in Multan on May 4, 2011, against the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Alicia Mollaun, ANU

The United States’ relationship with Pakistan is characterised by deep mistrust. Mistrust in US policy and mistrust of US intentions in Pakistan.

The death of Bin Laden and the circumstances under which he was killed is unlikely to change this. Mistrust is likely to rankle both sides as the details of the US mission come to light. Read more…

Japan’s crisis and Australia

French President Nicolas Sarkozy gestures before boarding a car upon arrival at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo. Sarkozy arrived here to offer support to the country after its earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor crisis. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Jenny Corbett, ANU

French President Sarkozy is the first foreign leader to visit Japan since the disasters of early March. His visit has been welcomed in Japan and has partly restored the unfortunate impression that the French jumped ship early by evacuating all their nationals.  Well-timed, symbolic gestures of support can have great impact. Would this be a good moment for a high-level gesture of goodwill, respect and support from Australia?  Absolutely. But a mere repetition of the mantra that Japan is our most strategically important ally in the region would be a wasted opportunity. These circumstances provide an important moment to take the bilateral relationship one big step towards new levels on many fronts.

On the humanitarian front Australia can offer assistance beyond aid and rescue teams. Read more…