The Lowy Interpreter

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Signs of a Ceasefire in the U.S.-China Trade War

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-11-12 17:36:08

[By John Edwards] It is not yet agreed, may yet fail, and is anyway unlikely to settle matters, but the impending “phase one” trade deal could be a useful ceasefire in the U.S. economic war with China. Two years on from the U.S. initiation of penalty tariffs on China, it is also a convenient moment to point to a few lessons from the trade war thus far. The essence of the deal is that the U.S. will suspend the...

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Low-Lying Pacific Islands Sue Over Climate Change

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-10-30 14:00:48

[By Tim Stephens] There has been a surge in climate litigation in national courts over the past few years, especially in the United States. Accompanying this has been growing interest in litigating climate change in international forums, including the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu is a prominent regional advocate for turning to international courts to address the climate crisis. Such a move raises important questions: What legal arguments could Vanuatu or another plaintiff government make, where would they make them,...

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Poles Apart: The Long Shadow of US-China Competition

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-10-04 19:18:12

[By Dr Nengye Liu] From trade to cyber, from the South China Sea to outer space, strategic rivalry between the United States and China is shaping the international order. The polar regions seem no exception. At the recent Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council held in Rovaniemi, Finland, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech where he did not mention climate change, although he did on a number of occasions dismiss China’s claim to have a role to play in the...

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Raising the Stakes in the Gulf’s Game of Reprisals

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-09-17 20:24:54

[By Rodger Shanahan] Last weekend’s attack on the Saudi oil facility at Abqaiq is the most dramatic escalation of the Persian Gulf tensions since the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. At the time of writing, the weapons used have allegedly been traced to Iran, while the Yemeni Houthi movement has claimed responsibility. This latter claim has been rejected by Riyadh and Washington, which leaves the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi’a militias (known collectively as Popular Mobilisation Units,...

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The Philippine Standoff Over China

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-08-28 14:08:15

[By Malcolm Cook] Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to arrive in China on Wednesday for his fifth presidential visit to China in less than three years. His predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III, made only one trip to China, in 2011. China is Duterte’s most visited presidential destination. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s 2017 invitation for Duterte to visit the US remains unrequited. The sharp increase in visits to China reflects the very different nature of Philippine-China relations under the two...

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Op-Ed: For U.S., Buying Greenland Might Make Strategic Sense

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-08-21 21:21:34

[By Donald R. Rothwell] Suggestions by the Trump administration that the United States is exploring the acquisition of Greenland have been greeted with global derision. Greenland politicians have pointed out that the island is “not for sale” and are insulted to think that they would become part of just another Donald Trump real estate deal. However, is the notion of the United States acquiring Greenland that absurd? Throughout history, there are many examples of territory being transferred, and the United States has...

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Vanguard Bank Tensions Show That China Remains Undeterred

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-08-16 13:43:19

[By Trinh Le] For weeks, Chinese and Vietnamese coastguard vessels have been involved in a confrontation after the Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 entered waters near the Vietnam-controlled Vanguard Bank on 3 July. The incident has upset both Hanoi’s leadership and the Vietnamese public, and led the U.S. to criticise Beijing for “bullying behavior” in the area. The ship briefly left the region to resupply, only to return in recent days. This latest stand-off harks back to a similar...

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Iran: The White House Calls on Australia

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-08-05 13:02:48

Washington has asked for Australian support to participate in a coalition maritime Persian Gulf security force. The request was formally announced as part of Sunday’s AUSMIN talks. It is the type of request that Australia would prefer not be made. Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and its subsequent pursuit of a “better deal” – without actually saying what kind of “better deal” was envisaged – only served to open a Pandora’s box. It was a tactic...

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China's Spy Ships Change Equation in the Pacific

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-07-31 16:56:44

[By James Goldrick] Exercise Talisman Sabre has finished, and the Australian, American and Japanese units involved have dispersed to their bases or operational deployments. So has the Chinese ship which monitored their activities. The Type 815G intelligence gatherer (AGI) No. 853 Tianwangxing (in English, Uranus) was not the first of its class to conduct such operations. Its sister ship No. 852 Haiwangxing (Neptune) deployed in the same way to monitor the last Talisman Sabre exercise in 2017. It could be a Chinese joke to...

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Tanker for Tanker

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-07-24 21:34:08

[By Rodger Shanahan] The most perplexing question following Iran’s capture of the MV Stena Impero on Friday is why the British were unable to foresee this action as a natural response to Britain’s earlier seizure of the Iranian-flagged tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar and make appropriate preparations. The Grace 1 was impounded earlier this month as part of a crackdown on Syrian sanctions-busting and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had even publicly flagged a response would be coming. Some would argue that the UK...

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