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Electric vehicle India

Deep flaws in EU, U.S. electric vehicle plans

The U.S. Biden Administration is set to follow European countries with large-scale subsidies and mandates for plug-in electric vehicles, saying it was necessary to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and cut global warming. President Joe Biden has announced that the United States will rejoin the Paris climate agreement, reversing a decision made by Donald Trump, and appointed John Kerry as his personal climate-change ambassador.

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Media

U.S. Vote again defies polls and shows up proselytising media

The U.S. presidential election has displayed once again not only deep flaws in the business of polling data gathering but also the distortions in Western democracies perpetrated by an inherently biased media that works against mainstream views rather than attempting to understand them. The same problems are occurring in Australian politics too, though to a lesser extent. That is likely due to the fact that in the United States voting is not compulsory. But the growing power of social media is increasing the trend even here.

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China Chinese Communist Party

China rumblings – Australia, world, heed the warnings

PRC’s goal is to become “the leaders of the world, all under heaven” PRC defence spending increased 60 per cent even as GDP shrank 35 per cent PRC duplicitously signs agreements then blatantly violates them   Retired United States Navy Captain Jim Fanell recently gave a livestream online presentation to the NCC, exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) aggressive moves towards global domination. Captain Fanell spent nearly 30 years as a naval intelligence officer specialising in the Indo-Pacific, with an emphasis on China’s navy and its operations, including as director of Intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

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Two contenders and the media

U.S. presidential contest: Two contenders and the media

Since November 3, the two contenders in the American election and the media have been on high alert. The refusal by Donald Trump to concede defeat in the U.S. presidential election has prompted paroxysms of rage in the media, and the implication by some that Trump is planning an unconstitutional coup to remain in power.

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Trump Covid19

Trump’s Covid19 diagnosis changes campaign dynamics

by Peter Westmore President Donald Trump’s covid19 infection and subsequent hospitalisation have overshadowed the U.S. election campaign, including the first presidential debate and President Trump’s nomination of an outstanding woman, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to replace feminist icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. The course of Trump’s Covid19 diagnosis will not be…

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New cold war

Australia in the event a new cold war develops

Is there a possibility of a new cold war? Whichever way we look at international relations, it is becoming increasingly obvious that, for Australia, developing the right policies is far from easy. Our leaders flounder as they struggle to solve policy problems. It’s hardly surprising, then, that political point scoring tends to take priority over policy analysis. All analysis suggests the same is largely true for our most important ally, the United States; especially in managing the complexities of the U.S./China relationship. Thus, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that political and economic relations between China and the Western…

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Benjing's aggression

Western appeasement fuels Beijing’s aggression

Western nations are facing an increasingly aggressive Beijing, which has ramped up its rhetoric and its actions over a range of political, economic and strategic issues. Beijing’s aggression calls the West to greater attention on this issue. These actions include selective bans on exports of Australian barley and beef, and threats to Australian wine exports, in retaliation for Australia’s criticism of China’s response to the covid19 pandemic, strident persecution of racial and religious minorities, the abrogation of the Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong, influence gathering operations in Australia and cyber-espionage. China has also exploited its position as…

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US Election Trump vs Biden

Trump vs. Biden: What is at stake in the U.S. Presidential Election?

by Patrick J. Byrne and Peter Westmore In just over a month, Americans will go to the polls to elect the country’s president for the years 2021-24, in an election where the dividing line between the incumbent Republican, Donald Trump (pictured), and his Democrat challenger, Joe Biden, is extraordinarily wide. Trump vs. Biden shows us that this may be the most important presidential election in a generation. The differences between the populist President and his challenger reflect the deep cleavages in American society. These are seen in the divisions between social conservatism and left-wing radicalism; between the sentiments of “middle…

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Morrison's foreign relations bill blocks Premier Andrews Victoria Belt and Road funding

FOREIGN RELATIONS BILL RISKY BUT RIGHT AND IMPERATIVE

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has upped the ante with his proposed Foreign Relations Bill, legislation that is designed to cover deals with any nation but which everyone knows is really about just one. The Bill will permit the Federal Government to scrap any agreement that universities or his fellow national cabinet members have signed with foreign countries, on the grounds of national security. It is expected that the Labor Opposition will support the Bill. This move follows a number of other signals to China that Australia will not simply roll over on every disagreement despite the enormous economic sway China…

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Hong Kong oppression Agnes Chow Jimmy Lai

ARREST AND RELEASE CONTINUES IN HONG KONG

by Terri M. Kelleher Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy supporter and media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested and detained for questioning for 40 hours under the new Chinese National Security Law (NSL). He has been charged with “collusion” under the new law. His two sons were also arrested. Mr Lai says he is not guilty of subversion or separatism and that the pro-democracy movement is not subversive nor do its demands amount to separatism. They are not demanding independence but only the freedoms they have until now enjoyed. They want the freedoms guaranteed under the Sino-British Treaty to be observed…

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Taiwan controls covid19

TAIWAN HAS LESSONS FOR AUSTRALIA IN MANAGING COVID19 PANDEMIC

by Peter Westmore With Victoria in lockdown because of covid19, and outbreaks in New South Wales and Queensland linked to interstate travel, followed by border controls, it is clear that it will take months, if not longer, to get on top of community transmission of the virus. Where community transmission is occurring, any relaxation of restrictions of movement and industry is likely to result in new outbreaks. The lesson is particularly apparent in Victoria, but also applies in other states to a lesser degree. It threatens to cause massive disruption to Australia for at least a further six months, if…

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Carrie Lam HK national security Law

BEIJING REGIME TIGHTENS GRIP ON HONG KONG

by Peter Westmore Following its imposition of a so-called “National Security Law” – actually a law suppressing free speech in Hong Kong – the Beijing-appointed Government of Hong Kong has stepped up its efforts to silence Beijing’s many critics in Hong Kong. Four students aged between 16 and 21 were arrested in Hong Kong for breaching the “National Security Law”, after advocating independence for Hong Kong. The new law, which was never put before Hong Kong’s legislature before being imposed by the Hong Kong Government, stipulates that secessionist crimes are punishable by terms of up to life imprisonment. Following this,…

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kiwi NZ Waitangi activism

CASSANDRA’S LEGACY: WE HAVE LEARNT NOTHING FROM 1995

by Amy Brooke As Bertrand Russell once commented, pragmatism is like a bath full of warm water heating up so imperceptibly you don’t know at which point to start screaming. However, in embracing pragmatism, New Zealand’s political parties, including Labour and National, have abandoned a vital principle of government: even-handedness. Reacting to continual pressures, successive governments have parted company with New Zealanders as a whole, outmanoeuvred and intimidated by radicalised activists. Not only is their agenda prioritised: law and order are no longer adequately maintained. In 1995, an article in The Economist described New Zealand as having embarked on “ethnic…

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Global population decline

NEW EVIDENCE ON GLOBAL DEPOPULATION

by Allan Carlson, PhD The future of the human race lies with those nations or communities ready to affirm and support the natural family model. The late, great English novelist P.D. James wrote a dystopian novel in 1992 entitled The Children of Men. Set in the year 2021, she describes a world where all human males have become sterile, and children have disappeared. As the last generation turns age 25, societies give way to strange beliefs, unspeakable cruelties, systematic euthanasia, and hopelessness. According to a new study published this week in the distinguished British medical journal, The Lancet, we are…

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China bribing Pacific island countries

China’s expansionism threatens global security

by Chris McCormack More Pacific Island nations backing China CCP “infrastructure” money buying influence and strategic advantage Human rights and regional security threatened in Pacific China’s aggressive expansionism in the Pacific and Indian oceans is threatening global security as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) beguiles small nations with fast money. Former U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet…

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Fightback against draconian law in Hong Kong

by Peter Westmore Several Western nations, including Australia, have publicly declared their opposition to the draconian security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong, and the British Government, which was a co-signatory to the original agreement with China to maintain Hong Kong’s freedoms, has announced that it will give up to three million Hong Kong people entry to Britain, with a pathway to citizenship. The moves are a stinging rebuke to the Chinese Communist Party’s attempt to suppress opposition in Hong Kong to its creeping power grab over the territory. In recent years, two million of Hong Kong’s seven million…

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DFAT warning: ‘Do not travel to Hong Kong’

by Terri M. Kelleher The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has warned Australians that they face the risk of arbitrary detention under the new Hong Kong security law if they travel to Hong Kong. DFAT advised that the new law could be interpreted widely. “You can break the law without intending to,” the department said, and warned that the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. “The full extent of the law and how it will be applied is not yet clear. You may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds. You could break the…

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Beijing steps up repression in Hong Kong

by Peter Westmore Following months of unrest in Hong Kong over the refusal of the Beijing-nominated Government to protect human rights and the rule of law, the communist-controlled National People’s Congress in Beijing has adopted a security law which will be enforced in Hong Kong. This is contrary to the Sino-British Treaty signed in 1984. The new law has the following elements: Beijing will establish a national security office, staffed by mainland security services, to supervise local authorities in policing the law. Hong Kong’s top official will pick which judges hear national security cases, overriding the independence of Hong Kong’s…

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Ireland hits impasse after Sinn Fein election win

by Jeffry Babb The Irish elections of February 2020 represented a political revolution. The usual balancing act in Irish politics between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael has been disrupted, with republican party Sinn Fein polling the most first-preference votes. Minor parties, including the left-leaning Social Democrats and the Greens, also polled well. By June 2020, no government had been formed as coalition negotiations dragged on. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar remains in office as head of a caretaker administration. Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have said that they will not form a coalition government with Sinn Fein. The traditional…

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Black Lives Matter protests in perspective

by Peter Westmore The appalling death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police, captured on smartphone camera then circulated on television and social media throughout the world, triggered a tidal wave of protests throughout the United States, which then extended to other parts of the world, including Britain, France, Belgium and Australia. Charges of murder and aiding and abetting have been laid against the police involved. In the U.S., however, the protests have morphed from police brutality to symbols of America’s history of racism, particularly in the Confederacy, then into an attack on President Donald Trump, undoubtedly aggravated by Trump’s offensive…

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Beijing move threatens Hong Kong’s freedoms and rule of law

by Peter Westmore The action by the Chinese Communist Party to ram through a resolution at the rubber-stamp National People’s Congress, authorising the Standing Committee of the CCP to propose a law to “prevent, stop and punish” acts of secession, subversion and terrorism in Hong Kong, as well as a law criminalising any action that disrespects the Chinese flag, has reignited protests in which thousands of Hong Kong people have been arrested. The language used in the Congress resolution reflects Beijing’s description of pro-democracy advocates who have conducted public protests to support freedom of speech, freedom of association and the…

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Taiwan an island of sanity in a sea of contagion

by Jeffry Babb For years, epidemiologists have been warning that the world was overdue for an outbreak of disease that would rival Spanish Flu, which killed millions after World War I. The intermingling of animals and humans has inevitably introduced novel diseases into the human population. China’s so-called “wet markets”, where wild animals are sold and butchered with no hygienic precautions are only one example. For those people whose image of China is formed by shiny cities like Shanghai, let me tell you that they are wrong. Most of China is a primitive place. What can you say about a…

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Alarm bell is ringing loud on China’s trade threats

by George Christensen MP Alarm bells rang throughout Canberra and Australian industry in late April, when Communist China’s Ambassador to Australia, Jingye Cheng, raised the spectre of a Chinese boycott of Australian exports. More alarm bells sounded when de facto trade embargoes were launched by China against our barley and beef exports. Sadly, some of those alarm bells were sounding to warn off further criticism of the so-called People’s Republic of China. Frankly, this sort of thinking puts profits and diplomatic niceties before straight talking and, more importantly, our sovereignty as an independent nation. But alarm bells have also been…

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China threatens globe

The China bear in the global living room

by Kevin Andrews MP It can be surprising how fast events that greatly change perceptions can occur. Take the attitude to China. For years, many in the West had assumed that the Middle Kingdom would liberalise politically as international trade increased. As the Economist wrote: “Western leaders believed that giving China a stake in institutions such as the WTO would bind it into the rules-based system. They hoped that economic integration would encourage China to evolve into a market economy and that, as they grew wealthier, its people would come to yearn for democratic freedoms, rights and the rule of…

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Politics done by stealth in the UN: China and the WHO

by Jeffry Babb The United Nations (UN) is not intended to be about realpolitik, but about international cooperation. Many Australians have always had a soft spot for the UN. We are reminded of Labor leader Herbert Vere “Doc” Evatt (1894-1965) and his role in the formation of the UN, so that small and medium powers like Australia would not be excluded from decision-making in the General Assembly. Australians fought against Communism in the Korean War (1950-53) under the blue-and-white UN flag. We are constantly reminded of the UN’s “good works”, especially that done by its agencies, such as the World…

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Doctors of WHO let the covid19 dogs out

by Peter Westmore The scandalous action of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to put the interests of China ahead of its obligation to protect the world’s people from the epidemic that originated in Wuhan, China, has not yet been properly documented. Yet an analysis of the factual information now available shows a failure of monumental proportions. Covid19, as the coronavirus was later to be named, was identified by infectious disease specialists in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December. When they posted their concerns online, they were taken into custody by Chinese security police, forced to recant, and told to…

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What makes China different is not the Chinese but the CCP

Many people are puzzled about why the People’s Republic of China (PRC) acts the way it does. It derives from the establishment of modern China and the nature of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP is a revolutionary party; its strategies and tactics are the CCP’s inheritance as a conspiratorial organisation. The legal system, for example, exists to enforce the policies of the CCP. Few people who encounter the PRC legal system emerge unscathed. That is why the people of Hong Kong, who respect and value the rule of law, took to the streets to prevent extradition from Hong…

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The Soong Dynasty: Three sisters who rules China

by Jeffry Babb There is an old saying about the Soong Dynasty, as the three Soong sisters are called: “One loved money, one loved power and one loved China.” “Soong Dynasty” is a play on words. The ancient Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD) was a golden age in China’s history, a time of peace and prosperity. The three Soong sisters were Ai-ling, Ching-ling and Mei-ling. They were the daughters of Charles Jones Soong (usually called Charlie), an American-educated Methodist missionary of Hakka descent. The Hakka are known as “ke jia ren” (“guest people”), due to their nomadic way of life. Charlie…

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China’s waterways bring prosperity … and sorrow

by Jeffry Babb At harvest time in Henan, the fields of golden grain stretch from horizon to horizon. Harvesters the size of large SUVs clog the roads as they move from field to field to take the crop off. They unwaveringly progress across the fields of grain, steadily gobbling up the standing wheat. No inch of ground is wasted. In the mountains, they still use sickles to harvest the grain. No space is unused. The North China Plain is the breadbasket of China. When Henan starves, China starves. China still has localised famines. As has ever been, the problem is…

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Myth-busting China’s ‘soft power’

by Dr Paul Monk Part Two of two parts (read Part One here) DR PAUL MONK IS AN AUTHOR AND FORMER HEAD OF THE CHINA DESK AT THE DEFENCE INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION. HIS BOOKS INCLUDE ‘THUNDER FROM THE SILENT ZONE: RETHINKING CHINA’ AND ‘THE WEST IN A NUTSHELL: FOUNDATIONS, FRAGILITIES, FUTURES’. HE DELIVERED THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE AS AN ADDRESS TO THE NCC’S NATIONAL CONFERENCE OVER THE WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 7-9, 2020.   Myth 4: Social media will lead to the liberalisation and democratisation of China Bill Clinton declared, in 2000, that IT innovation, combined with the immense benefits of joining the…

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Covid19 outbreak hits China’s growth, imperils Communist Party

by Peter Westmore The rapid spread of the new coronavirus Covid19 throughout China is already having a dramatic, negative effect on China’s economy, with impacts already seen in the West, and, in China, rising hostility over the Chinese Communist Party’s failure to stop the outbreak. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has consistently claimed that the outbreak is “under control” and there is no cause for alarm. It repeatedly reports a decline in the number of confirmed cases, and reports an influx of health professionals from other parts of China into the worst affected city of Wuhan. However, the facts on…

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China soft power

Myth-busting China’s ‘soft power’

by Dr Paul Monk Part One of two parts (You can read Part Two here) DR PAUL MONK IS AN AUTHOR AND FORMER HEAD OF THE CHINA DESK AT THE DEFENCE INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION. HIS BOOKS INCLUDE ‘THUNDER FROM THE SILENT ZONE: RETHINKING CHINA’ AND ‘THE WEST IN A NUTSHELL: FOUNDATIONS, FRAGILITIES, FUTURES’. HE DELIVERED THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE AS AN ADDRESS TO THE NCC’S NATIONAL CONFERENCE OVER THE WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 7-9, 2020. In 1988, when he was director of the Institute of Political Science in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Yan Jiaqi gave a speech entitled “China is no…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Coronavirus: China must answer hard questions

The fact that China’s top virus research institute is located in Wuhan, the same city in which the coronavirus outbreak first appeared, raises questions which require answers. Only a full disclosure of what has been going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where research has been carried out into the spread of the coronavirus from animals to humans, will satisfactorily resolve these concerns. Since the identification of the new virus in China last December, at least 6,000 people have become infected, and hundreds have died. After Chinese authorities stated that a link had been found between infected people and…

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ASIAN POLITICS Changing of the guard: Taiwan votes

Every hour, on the hour, the guard changes at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. The changing of the guard is an impressive display of precision military drill. The guard at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial in Taipei. Chiang Kai-shek was known as “the man who lost China” but he was determined not to lose Taiwan. Chiang ruled the Republic of China (ROC), as Taiwan is officially known, with an iron fist. The party he led, the Kuomintang (KMT) held power without being threatened. The KMT, or Chinese Nationalist Party as it is also known, had no formal opposition. Now another…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Australia considers a Magnitsky-type law

Sergei Magnitsky was a tax accountant who was murdered in a Russian prison in 2009, having previously been refused medical treatment for severe illnesses. He had been detained after investigating a $US230 million ($A336 million) fraud involving Russian tax officials. Kevin Andrews MP An American friend and businessman, Bill Browder, took up the case, lobbying the United States Congress to sanction the officials involved. Through the advocacy of Senators Benjamin Cardin and John McCain, the Magnitsky Bill passed the Congress in 2012 and was signed into law by President Barak Obama. The purpose of the law was to prevent entry…

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WORLD AFFAIRS Central banks move to dictate climate policies

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), comprising 60 of the world’s central banks including Australia’s Reserve Bank, has issued a warning that unless countries act on climate-change, central banks may have to step in as the “climate rescuers of last resort” and even “buy large sets of devalued assets” such as coal, gas and oil reserves. The BIS’s customers are solely central banks and international organisations. Its mission is “to serve central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability, to foster international cooperation in those areas and to act as a bank for central banks”. National sovereignty in…

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Finally getting Brexit done

Boris Johnson’s handsome win in the British election was hardly surprising, really, given the policy Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor put to the electorate. You figure it out. Labor promised to negotiate a new deal with Brussels for Britain’s exit from the European Union. That deal would be put to the electorate at a new referendum. Labor would encourage the electorate to vote against it. Is it any wonder that traditional Labor voters turned to the Tory party in droves? Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now in a strong position. Unlike the government of the hapless Theresa May, Johnson’s Conservatives are now…

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EDITORIAL America ‘resets’ foreign policy on China and Russia

Behind the endless media turmoil over President Trump, there is strong bipartisan support in Washington for a foreign policy “reset” to handle Beijing’s expansionary ambitions and Russia’s ascendancy aspirations over parts of its old Soviet empire in Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America. Despite being uneven and halting over the last few years, the new foreign policy template recognises that the post-Soviet communist world, where the United States was the dominant global economic and strategic force, is being replaced by a multipolar word world where China, in particular, is likely to become the most powerful rival the U.S. has ever…

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HUMAN RIGHTS A Magnitsky-style law for Australia?

Sergei Magnitsky was a tax accountant who was murdered in a Russian prison in 2009, having previously been refused medical treatment for severe illnesses. He had been detained after investigating a $US230 million ($A336 million) fraud involving Russian tax officials. Sergei Magnitsky An American friend and businessman, Bill Browder, took up the case, lobbying the United States Congress to sanction the officials involved. Through the advocacy of Senators Benjamin Cardin and John McCain, the Magnitsky Bill passed the Congress in 2012 and was signed into law by President Barak Obama. The purpose of the law was to prevent entry into…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Johnson to take UK out of the EU on January 31

Following his massive election victory on December 12, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has secured long-delayed Parliamentary approval for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) on January 31. Despite the opposition of the Scottish Nationalists, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, the process is inevitable. Boris Johnson In the last days of the election campaign in December, Johnson’s critics – who include “our” ABC, SBS and the BBC – said that the election would be close, and that Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn could possibly win. In the event, the Conservatives secured a majority of 11 per cent over Labour, a parliamentary…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Hong Kong voters reject Beijing and its proxies

In a decisive expression of the popular will, the people of Hong Kong have voted overwhelmingly to support pro-democracy candidates in local government elections, defeating pro-Beijing candidates decisively. Pro-democracy supporters are exultant at the result of the elections. The local government elections are for the lower tier of government in Hong Kong, below the Legislative Council where laws are enacted. Traditionally, these positions have been dominated by pro-Beijing supporters, backed by big business in Hong Kong. The turnout of votes has traditionally been relatively low. In the 2015 election, previously the largest in Hong Kong, 47 per cent of eligible…

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS How and why the U.S. should stop financing China’s bad actors

Roger W. Robinson Jr is president and chief executive of RWR Advisory Group and co-founder and chairman of the Prague Security Studies Institute. He earned a BA from Duke University and an MA from George Washington University. He served as senior director of international economic affairs on President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council, where he was the principal architect of the secret economic and financial strategy that proved decisive to the defeat of the Soviet Union. He later served as chairman of the Congressional U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission. Prior to his government service, he was a vice-president in…

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ASIAN AFFAIRS Taiwan and Hong Kong: Pawns in a bigger game

Chinese President Xi Jinping is unlikely to unleash the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on dissenters in Hong Kong, sources in Taiwan say, because Xi wishes to retain the “One country, two systems” policy. Under this policy, Xi hopes to lure Taiwan to reunify with the Chinese mainland. The problem is, very few people trust Xi or believe he is sincere. If the PLA subdues the dissidents in Hong Kong, the “one country, two systems” policy would be a dead letter. People in Taiwan would not give any credence to Xi’s promise of “peaceful reunification” between mainland China and Taiwan. Taiwan…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Brexit: Quintessentially British party politics

The UK votes on December 12. The issue is Brexit: “to leave or not to leave … that is the question”; with sincere apologies to Shakespeare. The slumbering elephant in the room is immigration, but that is unmentionable, especially on the politically correct BBC. Can Boris Johnson snatch a convincing electoral victory and deliver a real Brexit, or will Corbyn’s Labour and the remainders stonewall and defy the will of the people? What is so apparent in the Brexit issue is that since the decisive victory of the leave campaign in the 2016 referendum, Parliament, the chattering elites at the…

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ASIAN AFFAIRS Destination Oz: Flood of Hong Kong emigres may restart

In 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to China. Hong Kong, ceded to Britain by China in 1842, later along with the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, was to be British Territory “in perpetuity”. The New Territories had been leased for 99 years, from 1898. Hong Kong could not exist without the New Territories, so, at the end of the lease of the New Territories in 1997, Britain surrendered Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). At the time of that surrender, the people of Hong Kong were guaranteed their freedoms and the rule of law for 50…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Hong Kong voters reject Beijing and its proxies

In a decisive expression of the popular will, the people of Hong Kong have voted overwhelmingly to support pro-democracy candidates in local government elections, defeating pro-Beijing candidates decisively. Young voters in Hong Kong celebrate the victories of pro-democracy candidates in the November 24 local goverment elections. The local government elections are for the lower tier of government in Hong Kong, below the Legislative Council where laws are enacted. Traditionally, these positions have been dominated by pro-Beijing supporters, backed by big business in Hong Kong. The turnout of votes has traditionally been relatively low. In the 2015 election, previously the largest in Hong…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Deaths after Fukushima due to excessive caution

A newly released study of deaths in the aftermath of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has called for precaution with regard to the much-touted Precautionary Principle. The study, by economists at the universities of Columbia (United States), Nagoya (Japan) and Verona (Italy), and published by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, an independent economic research institute in Bonn, Germany, concluded that the closing of Japan’s nuclear power plants after the 2011 acci­dent at Fukushima resulted in death from cold of thousands of people. Domestic electricity costs rose by up to 38 per cent after the closures…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Geopolitics, oligarchs and the Moldova miracle

Little Moldova does not receive much media attention in the English-speaking world. It is fair to say that a large number of Australians, Britons and Americans have probably never heard of this sliver of a country. When the country does appear in the headlines, the articles usually employ the same less than flattering description of Moldova as the poorest and least visited country in Europe. It was once even dubbed the “least happy nation on the planet”, a land – in the words of American author Eric Weiner – submerged “in a deep and persistent pool of despair”. There is…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Early UK election will be another Brexit vote

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advanced towards Brexit by securing an in-principle vote in the House of Commons, followed by an overwhelming vote for a general election on December 12.  Boris is keeping us all awake. The election will finally establish whether Britain is to withdraw from the European Union (EU). Mr Johnson put his new Brexit deal to Parliament on October 22. It proposed that there be no border between the Irish Republic, a member of the EU, and Northern Ireland, which remains part of the UK. But goods crossing the Irish Sea would require documentation establishing their…

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ASIAN AFFAIRS How long has China’s Red Dynasty really got?

Since paramount leader Deng Xiaoping proclaimed, “to get rich is glorious”, the economic revolution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has lifted 850 million people out of absolute poverty, a great social achievement. This, however, is relative. The people to benefit most are those with an urban hukou. A hukou is a residence permit. The middle class, as we understand the term, constitutes some 12 per cent of the population, almost exclusively residents of big towns and cities. The country dwellers are referred to as Lao Bai Xing, or Old Hundred Names. There are relatively few surnames in China,…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Hong Kong protestors speak candidly to NCC, as Xi threat calls Tiananmen to mind

Amid calls for Tibetan independence by protestors in Nepal and for democracy in Hong Kong by protestors there, China’s President Xi Jinping has responded with a chilling warning reminiscent of the Tiananmen Square massacre: “Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones.” Bob Hawke wept for the massacred protestors of Tiananmen Square in 1989 and offered Chinese students in Australia asylum. Indicative of the inordinate influence China is wielding around the globe, either through soft power, coercion or force, 22 pro-Tibetan activists were arrested in Kathmandu, Nepal, prior to…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Hong Kong’s ‘software’ may be key to its survival

The South China Morning Post was once one of the most reputable newspapers in Asia. It was known for its high standards of journalism and commitment to factual accuracy. When it editorialised on a subject, readers took notice. The Hong Kong protests are a battle between the rule of law, which is HK’s “software”, and the rule of lawlessness that is Beijing. There was an old joke in Hong Kong: “there are 6 million people in Hong Kong and only 100,000 of them matter.” The ones who mattered read the South China Morning Post, as they had done since 1903, when…

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POPULATION Lifestyles and policies ensure population peril ahead

For as long as most of us can remember, we have been told that the world is overpopulated. But, within our children’s lifetime, the world population will peak, and then begin to fall. What happens to each of us as we age is now imminent at the global level. Estimates vary but, according to the United Nations, by the year 2100, the world’s population will be in the region of 11 billion. Others estimate it will be around 9.5 billion; we are dealing with human beings, so we can’t be sure. One thing is certain: the world’s population, which has…

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EDITORIAL Gladys Liu controversy ignores reality of China’s interference

The Hong Kong-born federal member for Chisholm, Gladys Liu, certainly has questions to answer over her membership of organisations controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.   Gladys Liu But the way in which the ALP and the media have run the controversy, purely to embarrass the Morrison Government and the newly elected MP, ignores the underlying issue of China’s extraordinary attempts to interfere in Australian politics. China is also doing so throughout the Pacific, and in neighbouring countries, including Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste. The ALP is hardly in a position to claim the moral high ground when its…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Boris’ brinkmanship shakes up Britain, EU

Britain’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has well and truly thrown the cat among the pigeons by proroguing the Houses of Parliament for a month in the run-up to Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, due on October 31. The word “prorogue” comes from Old English, and means to discontinue sessions of Parliament without dissolving it. At the time of writing, Britain’s Houses of Parliament are meeting for a week, and are expected to consider a vote of no confidence in the Government, proposed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Johnson has already thought about that one. There is widespread…

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COVER STORY Hong Kong’s David and Goliath struggle

For three months, huge crowds of up to two million people have protested in Hong Kong against Communist Beijing’s efforts to impose sweeping curbs on freedom of speech in the territory. Hong Kong was a British territory that was handed back to China in 1997, but with promises from Communist Beijing to respect the long tradition of free speech, its independent legal system and particularly to have a directly elected chief executive and a fully elected local parliament. Hong Kong is tiny: one-ninth the size of Sydney, with a population of 7.4 million, 1.6 times Sydney’s population. The vast majority…

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ASIAN AFFAIRS Hong Kong defies its obtrusive overlord

  The name of Hong Kong in Mandarin Chinese is Xiang Gang, which means “Fragrant Harbour”. Hong Kong was a British Crown Colony for most of its existence. Talk of democracy was not encouraged. The colony was dominated by the hongs, trading companies such as Swire and Jardine Matheson. Jardine’s emblem is a Scottish thistle. Swire controls Hong Kong’s de facto flag carrier airline, Cathay Pacific. The pilots are often Australians and, in the old days, the cabin crew came from all over Asia. These days, they are mostly from Hong Kong. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was…

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Boris Johnson and the EU: Crash through or just crash

Boris Johnson, elected overwhelmingly by the grass roots of the British Conservative Party to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister, faces the awesome task of reuniting the British Government to secure Britain’s exit from the European Union, within just three months.   Boris Johnson is an unlikely Prime Minister. The 55-year-old former mayor of London cuts a bedraggled figure, with a mop of characteristically uncombed blond hair, clothes askew, and a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth while quoting Latin aphorisms that nobody understands.   Yet he has pursued the prime ministership with singular determination.   Theresa May…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Boris Johnson and the EU: Crash through or just crash

Boris Johnson, elected overwhelmingly by the grass roots of the British Conservative Party to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister, faces the awesome task of reuniting the British Government to secure Britain’s exit from the European Union, within just three months.   Boris Johnson: Never lost for words.   Boris Johnson is an unlikely Prime Minister. The 55-year-old former mayor of London cuts a bedraggled figure, with a mop of characteristically uncombed blond hair, clothes askew, and a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth while quoting Latin aphorisms that nobody understands. Yet he has pursued the prime ministership…

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ASIAN AFFAIRS Uyghurs lose in ethnic power play

Like many ethnic minorities in strategically important regions of China, China’s Uyghurs have been on the losing end of an ethnic power play. The Uyghurs (pronounced “we-gars”) are a Turkic people who constitute 45 per cent of the people of Xinjiang, which has a total estimated population of 24 million. A “re-education” camp for Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. The Uyghurs do not speak Chinese as a native language, they speak Turkish. The Turks conquered Anatolia, which was called Asia Minor in ancient times. Although the Turks are Muslims, in ancient times Anatolia was a centre of Christianity. The Turks originated…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS China kills prisoners on an industrial scale to obtain transplant organs

The recent protests by up to two million people in Hong Kong against a law that would allow extradition to China was principally concerned with the implied attack on freedom of speech and association in Hong Kong. But anyone extradited to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) would also face the horror of being killed to extract and sell their organs to unsuspecting foreigners. The trafficking of human body parts is officially condemned by the World Health Organisation, but is the foundation of China’s organ-transplant industry. A protest in the West against China’s organ-harvesting industry. Despite PRC claims that organs…

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One million protest China’s attack on Hong Kong’s freedom

Faced with relentless pressure from Beijing to undermine the independence of Hong Kong’s legal system, one of the foundations of Hong Kong’s continued existence as a free and prosperous society, an estimated one million people rallied outside Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, demanding that proposed extradition legislation be withdrawn. In response to this unprecedented opposition, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, has deferred, but not withdrawn, the legislation. Supporters of a free Hong Kong are not satisfied with the Government’s position. When Britain transferred Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, China promised to respect the economic and legal…

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IDEOLOGY WARS Roger Scruton and the Tories: a sorry tale

There is contemptible, there is mega-contemptible, and there is the British Conservative Party. In saying this I am not referring, though I might, to the hopeless and undemocratic muddle over Brexit. Nor am I referring to the craven refusal (lest France be offended!) to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. I am referring to the shocking and inexcusable treatment of Sir Roger Scruton, Britain’s leading conservative philosopher (which means, more or less, Britain’s only conservative philosopher). Sir Roger Scruton This sorry story begins with Sir Roger (who, admittedly, should have known better) agreeing to give an interview…

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Taiwan upgrades U.S. links, asserts sovereignty

The Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) is upgrading its military establishment so it can effectively respond to any threats emanating from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The ROC is also benefitting from the United States’ “pivot to Asia” announced by former U.S. President Barack Obama. In April of this year, two U.S. des­troyers transited the Taiwan Strait in a “freedom of navigation” exercise. The Taiwan Strait separates the island of Taiwan from mainland China. The Strait is 130 kilometres wide at its narrowest point. U.S. authorities announced that freedom of navigation exercises would be conducted frequently in the…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS New Middle East alliance will challenge Saudis

A leading American strategic analyst has drawn attention to a new political alliance of Turkey, Iran and Qatar, which is challenging the dominance of the Saudi regime in the Middle East. The analyst is Yossef Bodansky, the Israeli-born director of research at the International Strategic Studies Associ­ation, and former director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is an expert in Middle Eastern politics and Islamist terrorism. In a recent article, he wrote: “A new bloc is emerging in the greater Middle East with the declared objectives of dominating the…

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ASIAN AFFAIRS Entire nations going out without a baby’s whimper

East Asia is dying. All East Asian societies have birthrates below the replacement rate and, as a result, their populations will shrink. The accepted replacement rate is 2.1 babies per woman. Australia, for ins­tance, has a birth rate of 1.8 babies per woman, but we can gather immigrants from all over the world to make up the difference. South Korea is the fastest ageing developed country in the world. Its birth rate is 0.98 – less than one child per woman. The total number of babies born in South Korea last year was 400,000 – not enough to replace those…

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ASIAN AFFAIRS Xi’s imperious play prompts U.S. to repair Asian friendships

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aggressive foreign policy is an extension of Xi’s determination to make his mark as the most powerful People’s Republic of China (PRC) leader since Mao Zedong. Asian countries are strengthening ties with the other Pacific power, the United States, in a bid to revive the Pacific Rim partnership. Look at a map of the Pacific Ocean and you will see that Hawaii is placed in the centre. Pearl Harbour is the major U.S. naval base in the Pacific. The name of the commercial harbour in Honolulu, derived from the Polynesian language, meaning “sheltered bay”. Honolulu is…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS President Donald Trump: an unlikely promise keeper Part 2

The gender wars In February 2017, President Trump res-cinded President Obama’s guidelines to the Education Department that instructed public schools to support transgender students using the toilets of their choice. Trump reversed this guideline so that biological boys no longer have access to girls’ toilets, showers and change rooms. He argued that public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without federal interference. Christian parents across the nation were greatly relieved when Trump revoked Obama’s appalling guidelines. Furthermore, President Trump’s Administration is working on a narrow (scientific, historical, truthful and biblical) definition of gender. According to a…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Covington boys: left hoist on its bigots’ petard

On January 19, 2019, the annual pro-life rally, the March for Life, took place in Washington, DC. Though in excess of 100,000 people attended the march, the American mainstream media ignored it; as it does every year. An emoji artist’s impression of the moment the face crime was committed. (NB: No emojis were distressed in the creation of this image.) Participating in the rally this year was a group of boys from a Catholic high school in Covington, Kentucky. As the event wound up, the boys started assembling at the Lincoln Memorial, awaiting bus transportation back home. Also at the…

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ASIAN AFFAIRS Taiwan reaches out to its regional neighbours

After years of neglecting sympathetic parties, for example in Australia, the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan is finally doing something about advocating its case. Advertisements promoting Taiwan as a tourist destination are one prominent example. Melbourne’s trams now carry advertisements for Taiwan throughout the city and suburbs. A Chinese air forcepilot’s view of Taipei 101. This is only one instance of a widening policy to gain support from like-minded allies throughout the world, and in Asia in particular. For many years, while the number of Taiwan’s formal diplomatic allies shrank, the ROC government did little more than act as…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS President Donald Trump: an unlikely promise keeper Part 1

Two years ago my wife Sheila and I cast our votes for Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential elections (we have dual citizenship). We did this at a time when the mainstream media in the United States, and indeed throughout the world, had declared him unfit, and when some Christians argued that he was a fake conservative deceiving naïve Christians. They cautioned Christians against voting for him and warned that, if elected, his presidency would be disastrous. Two years later, while many “never-Trumpers” have become less shrill, the mainstream media has not. According to Media Research Council analysts who reviewed…

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BOOK REVIEW What draining the DC swamp turns up

THE RUSSIA HOAX: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump by Gregg Jarrett Broadside (HarperCollins, New York Hardcover: 352 pages Price: AUD$52.99 Reviewed by Hal G.P. Colebatch This book is an indispensible guide through the toxic swamp that much of the political establishment of Washington, DC, has become. One reads it both with horror at what much of the U.S. political class has become and with increasingly awe-struck admiration at what President Donald Trump has achieved in draining that swamp to date; a truly Herculean achievement. Whether the rot started with the Clinton Presidency or with…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Why Hungary and Poland rile the EU

Following the fall of the Soviet empire in 1989, the newly liberated countries of eastern Europe turned towards the West, and sought to build their futures as free and independent nations on the basis of political, economic and military cooperation with the West, including the United States. Viktor Orban Arising from these events, a long process of negotiations led to the enlargement of the European Union to include a number of east European nations, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Slovenia. Each country was required to agree to a range of conditions, including economic, legal…

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CHINA Thank you for your service, soft power; sharp power will take it from here

Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are seeking to cut into the fabric of nations they wish to influence through the use of sharp power. Sharp power, unlike soft power or hard power, seeks to influence the target nations by stealth. Examples are the Confucius Institutes, which are now attached like limpets to universities around the globe, including Australia. While the ostensible purpose of the Confucius Institutes is to promote Chinese culture, their actual aim is to further the PRC’s foreign policy objectives. Confucius is a strange vehicle to promote communism as this ancient Chinese Sage taught that…

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EDITORIAL Resistance grows to Beijing’s soft-power push

  Asian countries are moving away from dependence on Beijing investment capital When will we get our own development bank so Australia won’t need infrastructure funding from overseas? While Victoria and Western Australia have signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Beijing’s Belt and Road investment project, there has been a growing backlash against Beijing’s investment practices across Asia and Africa. The WA Government’s agreement went largely unnoticed at the time. However, senior Labor leaders expressed serious concern when the Victorian government signed an MOU in 2018, although a week later Bill Shorten backtracked. He defended Premier Daniel Andrews, saying that…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Still time to reach a deal on Brexit

Despite the current impasse in the British Parliament, and Britain being only two months from its legislated Brexit from the European Union (EU), there is still time to reach a decision that will ensure an orderly withdrawal of Britain from the European Union and continued close trade and financial relations between Britain and the EU. Over recent weeks, several attempts to resolve the impasse have gone before the House of Commons, which has insisted on having the final word on the Brexit deal, and each has failed. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s complex proposal to ensure that Britain regains economic…

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CULTURE AND POLITICS China exhibits its latest assault on human dignity

  “Fair is foul, and foul is fair;hover through the fog and filthy air.” Macbeth, Scene 1, Act 1 China has undergone wrenching changes since paramount leader Deng Xiaoping declared that “to get rich is glorious”. Deng, who succeeded Mao Zedong after the Chairman died in 1976, put China on the road to prosperity. Mao was genuinely surprised when the Great Leap Forward, intended to make China an economic superpower in a decade, mutated into the worst famine in the history of China. It is estimated that at least 45 million people starved to death between 1958 and 1962, Frank…

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EDITORIAL The Remnant, resistant, creative minority

Donald Trump could win a second term as U.S. president in 2020 against deep opposition from the establishment and the progressive left. A letter from a Trump supporter to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) indicates why he could win: “I am unalterably supportive, flawed vessel or not. It’s not the man, it’s the resistance that binds us to him.” Daniel Henninger, a journalist at the WSJ, said he receives many letters like this. They are the “voice of resistance [that] has been building for decades” from “dislocated people living inside the Trump ‘base’ … Its scale is suggested by the…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Free trade and the WTO in the Trump era

Donald Trump, it will be recalled, made trade policy a large part of his push for the U.S. presidency. In particular, he announced he would not sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which had been negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama. The Australian Government was party to those negotiations and a strong supporter of the TPP. The TPP went ahead without the United States. The U.S. President also criticised the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and various trade agreements to which the U.S. was already party, in particular NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). In Trump’s view, the U.S. had done…

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BREXIT December 12: D-Day for Britain’s EU vote

The most important decision for Britain in a generation will be the vote in the British Parliament on December 12 to accept or reject British Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal on withdrawal from the European Union (EU).   Withdrawal from the EU is scheduled to take effect next February.         After many months of tough negotiations with Brussels, the British Government and EU negotiators agreed to an extremely detailed plan to achieve Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, while preserving Great Britain’s trading rela­tionship with the EU, protecting the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and British…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS European Union’s winder of discontent

While media attention, in Australia at least, has been focused on the imminent departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, and possible challenges to British Prime Minister Theresa May, across the Channel equally significant changes are under way in France and Germany. Power couple: Emmanuel Macron and wife Brigitte. Just 18 months after Emmanuel Macron was elected President of France in an election that shook French politics to the core, Macron is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the failure of his administration to match the promises he made to the French people in May 2017. At…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Countering fake news: Jair Bolsonaro may just save Brazil’s democracy

Jair Bolsonaro has been recently elected President of Brazil, apparently putting an end to a generation of highly corrupt leftist rule. Indeed, Brazilians appear to have finally rejected the socialist model epitomised by the defeated presidential candidate of the Workers’ Party, Fernando Haddad. Jair Bolsonaro puts up his hand for “God, family and Brazil”. Haddad was the de facto representative of the socialist forces led by former President Lula da Silva, who was forced to transfer his candidacy to Haddad because of the statutory prohibition of convicted criminals to run political campaigns while serving their sentences. Bolsonaro has been labelled…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS U.S. midterm elections leave Trump in charge

The midterm elections held in the United States on November 6 led to the Democrats winning a majority in the House of Representatives, but losing seats in the Senate, where the Republicans now have a clear majority. The elections were for the full House of Representatives, one third of the Senate, and governors of more than half the states of America. Since President Donald Trump’s election, the Republicans had had a majority in the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, enabling President Trump to get legislation through both houses of the U.S. Congress, as well as appoint black-letter…

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ASIAN AFFAIRS China uses salami tactics to isolate Taiwan

It is often said that the Chinese are a patient people. China would prefer to grind Taiwan down slowly than invade the island, a venture that would meet stubborn resistance and have no guarantee of success. China’s salami tactics take many and varied forms. It has stolen several of Taiwan’s reduced number of diplomatic allies recently and has moved to normalise relations with the Holy See, Taiwan’s sole remaining diplomatic ally in Europe. Taiwan cannot compete with China’s seemingly bottomless supply of funds to pay for grandiose presidential palaces and rarely used sports stadiums in impoverished debt-ridden nations. China’s aim…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED China’s pushiness provokes pushback among neighbours

Increasing friction between the two superpowers of the 21st century, the United States and its nascent rival China, is coincidentally occurring in Australia’s backyard, so it was no surprise that deep divisions between the two countries came to the fore at the recent APEC meeting in Port Moresby.   Neither country could agree on the final communiqué on trade, with China aggressively rejecting a proposal to overhaul the World Trade Organisation and hitting out at what it labelled unfair trade tactics from the United States.   But the stoush over trade did not arise in a vacuum, nor was it…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS The U.S. and China: more than trade is at stake

This is not the first time I have written about China, but it is the first opportunity I have had to discuss the fact that United States-China relations have taken a serious turn for the worse. I don’t mean over trade. That was a skirmish always easily resolvable, so long as it remained within the boundaries of a disagreement about trade balances. China certainly saw it in that context. At least until recently. A week or so ago a senior Chinese official told a reporter in the Hong Kong English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post: “If it is about…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS High stakes in U.S. midterm elections

The U.S. midterm elections to be held on Tuesday November 6 will have a massive impact on the United States and the future of Donald Trump. It could also have important ramifications for social conservatives in countries as far removed as Australia. The midterm elections come exactly two years after the 2016 presidential election in which Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. Up for election will be all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, together with 33 of the hundred members of the U.S. Senate, as well as the positions of 36 U.S. state governors, and numerous officials elected…

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Trump to UN: we’ll do it our way; you do it yours

U.S. President Donald Trump’s annual address to the United Nations General Assembly revealed once again that the media still don’t get it. Forget about Mr Trump’s personal, or personality, failings: he is charting a different course for U.S. policy – domestically and internationally.   Most of the reporting on his General Assembly address concentrated on the President’s rather extravagant account of his first two years in office, and the laughter this drew from the floor. What was not reported or commented on were several important points from what was, on any account, a landmark address.   Most presidential speeches to…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Hawaii: Pearl of the Pacific

On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service launched 353 aircraft from six aircraft carriers in two waves against the United States’ base at Pearl Harbour. The USS Arizona rests where it sank on December 7, 1941. The Americans were taken completely by surprise. All eight battleships in Battleship Row were sunk or damaged, although all but the USS Arizona were raised and saw service later in the war. The Arizona is now a war cemetery. The plan for a third wave attack against Pearl Harbour was abandoned. Marshall Admiral of the Navy Isoroka Yamamoto, who masterminded the…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS China takes up challenge to imitate and overtake America

Since World War II and until very recently, global relations were predominately driven by an ideological warfare represented by the polarising struggle between market capitalism in democratic states and communism. The conflict, defined by the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), manifested around the globe in wars such as those in Angola, Cuba, Chile, Korea and Vietnam. The two powers fought for supremacy in these proxy wars, the space race and, most importantly and most dangerously, the nuclear arms race. Today, new forces are reshaping the world. The collapse of the USSR saw American dominance rise…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Turkey-U.S. dispute further destabilises Middle East

The dispute between Turkey and the Trump Administration over the prosecution of an American Christian pastor, Andrew Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for over 20 years, may further destabilise the Middle East. Washington concerned as Turkeycosies up to Russia. Turkey is one of the largest countries in the region, with a population of 80 million – far larger than that of its neighbours, Syria, Greece, Lebanon and Iraq. Its population is comparable with that of Germany and Iran. Turkey has traditionally been one of the power centres in the Islamic world, particularly after the Ottoman Muslim Turks defeated the…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump delivers for U.S. economy and workers

Following the imposition of tariffs (import duties) on imported steel dumped in the United States, and on imports from the European Union (EU), which restricts U.S. exports, the American economy is now growing at its fastest rate for years, despite threats of reprisals from the EU and China, and relentless negativity from the American media. The American economy is now growing at an annual rate of over 4 per cent. Motor vehicles remain a sticking pointbetween the U.S. and the European Union. U.S. President Donald Trump says his administration has accomplished “an economic turnaround of historic proportions”, and that, “if…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS No question about it: the Don is in charge

The U.S. President is no shrinking violet. Nor does he move slowly.    After less than two years in office, Donald Trump has turned the United States – and quite possibly the world – on its head. All the old economic verities are being set aside. And, as if that were not enough, he is giving geopolitics and the Western alliance a good old shake. Donald Trump is a showman, not a politician. His public pronouncements are not carefully crafted to satisfy the largest possible audience. He is inclined, as the saying goes, to shoot from the hip. He exaggerates…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing goes ‘boo’, Qantas gets in a flap

The evocative term “flag carrier” dates back to the early days of aviation, when men wore suits to fly and their companions wore formal dresses. Flying was glamorous – and expensive. Even a short trip could cost several months’ wages. Commonly, men joined the Commonwealth Public Service in the expectation of earning a trip overseas – by air, or course. “Flag carriers” were so called because they were the national airlines. Often, they literally carried their nation’s flag – on the tailfins of their aircraft, as many still do. Usually, though not always, these airlines were government owned. The legendary…

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ASIA-PACIFIC AFFAIRS A modest proposal for Australia’s regional security

If Australia can finance China’s Asian development bank, why don’t we create an Australian Infrastructure Investment Bank to develop our neighbouring Pacific island states? Bipartisan agreement on new federal legislation to deter Beijing’s interference in Australian politics and economy is necessary and welcome. However, far greater defence spending and investment in developing our Pacific island neighbours will also be necessary to secure Australia’s sovereignty. Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has entrenched himself in power and is in the process of transforming China’s social and political development. Under Xi, the international ambitions of Beijing have fundamentally changed. Deng Xiaoping’s policy of “hide…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing goes ‘boo’, Qantas gets in a flap

The evocative term “flag carrier” dates back to the early days of aviation, when men wore suits to fly and their companions wore formal dresses. Flying was glamorous – and expensive. Even a short trip could cost several months’ wages. Commonly, men joined the Commonwealth Public Service in the expectation of earning a trip overseas – by air, or course. “Flag carriers” were so called because they were the national airlines. Often, they literally carried their nation’s flag – on the tailfins of their aircraft, as many still do. Usually, though not always, these airlines were government owned. The legendary…

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BOOK REVIEW The main driver of our foreign policy

      FEAR OF ABANDONMENT: Australia in the World since 1942   by Allan Gyngell   Black Inc, Carlton Paperback: 352 pages Price: AUD$34.99   Reviewed by Chris Rule   In the introduction to his book, Fear of abandonment: Australia in the world since 1942, Allan Gyngell says that Australian foreign policy is the subject of this book.   However, he goes on to say that it is neither “a history of people-to-people relations”, nor “a diplomatic history”. Rather it is more about the “bridge”, that is, the policymakers – the prime ministers and external affairs/foreign affairs ministers, and…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Two to tango: Where to now for U.S. and China?

More Western commentators are beginning to think seriously about China. However, thus far, not nearly enough has been heard from the most powerful and influential of them. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. Edmund Burke Some in the United States may think that such discussion will fall upon deaf ears within the administration of Donald Trump. Perhaps so, but further delaying that discussion will likely harm Western and indeed global interests. In thinking about China it is, of course, necessary to take note of the advice of Edmund Burke quoted above; but equally important is to…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Behind the U.S.-North Korea rapprochement

For the past 18 months, U.S. President Donald Trump and the reclusive communist dynasty of North Korea have exchanged increasingly rancorous personal and communal abuse. North Korea has conducted nuclear weapons tests and launched intercontinental ballistic missiles into the Pacific Ocean and threatened to destroy cities on the continental United States and Guam, while in reprisal, President Trump has threatened war and fury on a scale never before seen on earth. Yet, suddenly, President Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un (pictured), have agreed to meet in Singapore to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, an objective U.S. administrations…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Behind the U.S.-North Korea rapprochement

For the past 18 months, U.S. President Donald Trump and the reclusive communist dynasty of North Korea have exchanged increasingly rancorous personal and communal abuse. North Korea has conducted nuclear weapons tests and launched intercontinental ballistic missiles into the Pacific Ocean and threatened to destroy cities on the continental United States and Guam, while in reprisal, President Trump has threatened war and fury on a scale never before seen on earth. Yet, suddenly, President Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un (pictured), have agreed to meet in Singapore to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, an objective U.S. administrations…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS One Belt, One Road: China’s new empire

In 1992, American political scientist Francis Fukuyama speculated that history was over and that Western democracy, combined with free market liberalism, had triumphed. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, was an unlikely best seller. How far away that now seems. The United States has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was intended to anchor America to the economies of Asia; minus, of course, the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump have deliberately likened his policies to those of President Andrew Jackson (1828–36). Jackson was prepared to go to war to…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Saudi Crown Prince challenges Wahhabists

The arrest and detention of Wahhabist opponents of Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, points to a major power struggle within the oil-rich kingdom, and may foreshadow a shift in Saudi Arabia towards a more moderate form of Islam. Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Asked about the direction of political and religious reform at a recent Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, the Crown Prince said: “We were not like this in the past … we want to go back to what we were before, a country of moderate Islam which is open to all religions and to the…

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ASIAN HISTORY Jinmen: the forgotten crisis that brought the world to the brink

That the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster is well known. But who remembers that 60 years ago this year, the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis resulted in a similar nuclear imbroglio? In 1958, China did not have nuclear arms at the time, but the Russians did. The question was, would the USSR risk nuclear war for China? The Taiwan Strait separates the island of Taiwan from the mainland of China. At its narrowest, it is only 130 kilometres wide. The Strait contains a number of island groups, including the Pescadores, Matsu, and…

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REGIONAL AFFAIRS Taiwan stands up to Beijing’s bullyboy tactics

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has urged regional powers to take a stand against China’s bullying in the cause of regional solidarity and a rules-based approach to problem solving. China has blatantly disregarded agreements with Taiwan over regional aviation routes, causing chaos in the busy Chinese New Year period, when thousands of mainland-based Taiwanese businessmen traditionally return to Taiwan for family reunions. Chinese New Year – also known as the Spring Festival – is universally celebrated in Chinese societies, for which it is a reaffirmation of family values and a festival to bring good fortune in the coming year. In January…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Sexual exploitation at Oxfam symptom of culture of death

The revelations of sexual exploitation of women in Haiti by Oxfam GB aid workers is hardly surprising, given that many charities advocate the exploitation of women as part of their “charitable” efforts. As Haitians tried to get on with life amid the ruins,they were offered sexual exploitation and death. Following the Haitian earthquake in 2010, which was estimated to have killed 220,000 people, injured 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless, charities flooded into the country in an effort to help those affected. According to The Times, Oxfam GB (Great Britain) rented a house in Delmas near Port-au-Prince. The Oxfam GB…

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EDITORIAL Why Russia re-elected Vladimir Putin

Western media reports denouncing the overwhelming re-election of Vladimir Putin as President of Russia have alleged that Putin won because of ballot rigging and corruption. These claims are either grossly ill informed or malicious, show no understanding of the reality of Russia today, and seriously mislead the Western world about contemporary Russia. It is true that Putin’s most outspoken opponent, Alexei Navalny, was prevented from standing for president. Navalny was sentenced in 2013 for embezzling timber worth 16 million rubles ($750,000) from the Kirovles state timber company while working as an adviser to Kirov’s governor. Persons convicted of corruption cannot…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Sexual exploitation at Oxfam symptom of culture of death

The revelations of sexual exploitation of women in Haiti by Oxfam GB aid workers is hardly surprising, given that many charities advocate the exploitation of women as part of their “charitable” efforts. As Haitians tried to get on life amid the ruins,they were offered sexual exploitation and death. Following the Haitian earthquake in 2010, which was estimated to have killed 220,000 people, injured 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless, charities flooded into the country in an effort to help those affected. According to The Times, Oxfam GB (Great Britain) rented a house in Delmas near Port-au-Prince. The Oxfam GB men…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Middle-East time bomb: youth unemployment

With 30 per cent of their populations under the age of 30 and 5 million young people with high literacy rates entering their labour markets annually, the biggest problem facing North-African and Middle-Eastern nations is youth unemployment.   From Iran to Morocco, leaders of all religious sects and political systems are struggling to find solutions to the region’s unemployed youth. Rapid population growth followed major investments in health care, reducing the infant mortality rates in countries where large families have been the norm. Egypt’s population doubled in the past 30 years to 95 million. Following major investment in education since…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Russians were spoilers: U.S. election rap sheet

The charge sheet filed by the U.S. Justice Department against 13 Russian nationals and three companies alleged to have interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election contains a number of surprises: no Trump campaign officials are implicated; the Russians apparently supported both Trump and Bernie Sanders, the far-left Democrat, in the party primaries; they sponsored rallies which supported both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; and they sought to encourage people not to vote in the election. Businessman Yegeny Progozhin,here seen failing to please VladimirPutin, is among the indicted. The 37-page indictment was published on the U.S. Department of Justice website.…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS China v Professor Brady: intimidation or coincidence?

In the first edition of News Weekly for this year (January 27), Bernard Moran reported on the work of Professor Anne-Marie Brady, a China specialist at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury. Last September, Professor Brady had published “Magic Weapons: China’s Political Influence Activities under Xi Jinping”, an extensive survey of the activities that China has pursued in NZ to forward China’s political and economic interests, activities that tread close to and sometimes cross the line of interference in NZ’s sovereignty. Professor Anne-Marie Brady. Now it has come to light that Professor Brady herself seems to have become the target of…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Saudis, Israel confirm Middle East alliance

Momentous events in the Middle East, in particular in Saudi Arabia and Israel, have gone almost unnoticed, obscured by a daily diet of sensationalism that does nothing to clarify the situation. As the attention of the United States turns inwards, these two key U.S. allies must take steps to secure their own futures. Saudi Arabia was established following World War I, part of a tactic by the British and the French to control the Middle East. The House of Saud was awarded control of Arabia, a strategy made acceptable to the public, at least in part, by T.E. Lawrence’s immensely…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Western sanctions have forced Russia to upskill

American Senator John McCain, speaking in support of the economic sanctions imposed on Russia following the re-incorporation of the Crimean Peninsula into its territory, dismissed post-Soviet Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country”. Notwithstanding McCain’s hyperbole and anti-Russian animus, it would be fair to say that in 2014 the Russian economy was overly dependent on energy exports. The collapse of communism and subsequent dissolution of the USSR in 1991 carried away a large proportion of the once-gigantic Soviet industrial base. Old, moribund production facilities, even whole industrial sectors, were lost; unable to compete with Western goods and services…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS China exerts soft power on our southern neighbour

Australia is often compared with countries such as Argentina and Canada, based on the observation that they are sparcely populated countries with huge emptinesses. But, at a deeper level, the country most like our own is New Zealand. It is so like to us and we are so used to NZ nationals living amongst us that their country of origin has become invisible to us. Bernard Moran brings us word from the land hidden under the Long White Cloud, and we would do well to listen to him as we in Australia are vulnerable to similar infiltration by cajolement from…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS U.S. urges Taiwan rearmament to counter China threat

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced during her recent trip to Taiwan’s Pacific Ocean allies that the Republic of China (Taiwan’s official name) would increase defence spending by 2 per cent annually. The United States recently expressed concerns that a military imbalance was developing in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan media reported U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty as saying. Taiwan and the U.S. are de–facto allies, even though they no longer have official diplomatic ties. Taipei and Washington have far more in common than do Beijing and Washington, despite the huge trade volumes between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS The more Zimbabwe changes, the more it stays the same

The overthrow of Zimbabwe’s tyrannical dictator, Robert Mugabe, is the result of a power struggle within the ZANU PF political party, not the restoration of democracy in this troubled country. ZANU PF is the party which Mugabe used to control Zimbabwe, in conjunction with the country’s military forces. Morgan Tsvangirai Until shortly before his overthrow, the 93-year-old Mugabe ran the country with an iron fist through his Vice-President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, ZANU PF, and the Zimbabwe National Army, which was based on the pre-independence guerilla force and is closely aligned with the controlling political party. A month before his ouster, Mugabe…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Behind the indictments of ex-Trump campaigners

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has laid a series of charges against a former aide to Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and his long-time business partner Rick Gates, alleging conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges in connection with their work for a Russia-aligned political party, the Party of Regions in Ukraine, and the former government of Ukraine, between 2006 and 2016. Paul Manafort The charges relate to a time long before Trump appointed Manafort chairman of his election committee in 2016. Trump dismissed him some months later, before the 2016 election. Paul Manafort, a political lobbyist, has…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS What is the way out of the Catalan crisis?

To most people outside Spain, the violent suppression of an independence referendum in the region of Catalonia by the central government seems inexplicable – if not incomprehensible. To understand what is going on, one needs the perspective of history, and an understanding of the power structures in modern Europe. Barcelona, the capital of the region of Catalonia. For centuries, Catalonia, whose capital city is Barcelona, has had a sense of national identity separate from Spain, with a distinct language, history and culture. Periodically, this region has sought independence from Spain. Finally the Spanish Government recognised the strong local feelings of…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Timor Leste, Australia reach new border treaty

Australia and Timor Leste have reached agreement on the joint maritime border, resolving a long-running dispute over oil and gas exploration rights in the Timor Sea. The agreement was reached under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an international agency established in 1899 to resolve amicably disputes between nations. The court depends on the voluntary agreement of nations to accept its authority, and so far, 121 countries have accepted its jurisdiction. It was the first permanent intergovernmental organisation to provide a forum for the resolution of international disputes through conciliation and arbitration. The status of the sea border…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Gallant Taiwan survives alone in the bitter sea

Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China (ROC). The ROC national day is celebrated on October 10 and is known as Double Ten. Double Ten is a day of celebration. On this day in 1911, 5,000 years of dynastic Chinese rule came to an end and the Chinese republic was established. The Ching Dynasty was established in 1644. The Ching were not Han Chinese, but Manchus from Manchuria, now northeast China. The Manchus usurped the Ming Dynasty, who were Han Chinese. The overthrow of the Ching Dynasty had been the aim of Chinese nationalists for many years. One…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing applauds jailing of Hong Kong activists

Following an appeal launched by Hong Kong’s prosecutor’s office, Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal has imprisoned 11 student activists who had been convicted of participation in an illegal assembly, and three student leaders of the Umbrella Movement who were involved in a separate protest at the Legislative Council precinct against government attempts to restrict democracy. 100,000 protested against the convictions. There was a furious response from Hong Kong citizens, with a huge crowd estimated at over 100,000 protesting against the convictions. The imprisonments follow a year of turmoil that included the government’s bid to prevent democratically elected opposition MPs who…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Germany’s energy plan: a disaster in the making

The Finkel review into Australia’s future energy requirements put forward Germany as a model for Australia’s shift to renewable energy. This critique of the German experiment by one of Germany’s leading environmentalists, was published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) early this year. It is reproduced here in a slightly edited form with permission. In 2012, I wrote about the Energiewende of the German government – its plan to transition to a low-carbon energy supply – in the aftermath of the tsunami catastrophe at Fukushima. At that time, Germany’s conservative/liberal government had decided to dismantle 19 nuclear power stations…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS South Africa is losing its rainbow nation credentials

After 23 years in government, South Africa’s ANC has demonstrably failed to produce a cohesive nation, despite being critical of the preceding apartheid years. In fact, it is the blatant anti-white racism of the ANC that has led to many of the beleaguered white minority (8 per cent of the 54 million) to seek to withdraw from the Republic of South Africa (RSA). By almost any test, except enhancing the dignity of the black majority, the years of white minority government were better than the socialist misrule of the ANC, a political party that has long been thoroughly permeated with…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS EU v Poland: disquiet on the eastern front

After a period of stability following the French election, which saw the overwhelming victory of Emmanuel Macron’s new party in the National Assembly, the European Union’s unity is being challenged from a surprising quarter: Eastern Europe. Economically, the former communist states of Eastern Europe have been among the best performers in Europe since they joined the EU over 10 years ago. But three countries in the region – Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic – have directly refused to accept the new migration quotas that the EU has established to handle the influx of migrants from the Middle East and…

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ASIA-PACIFIC AFFAIRS Pacific likely to focus for Taiwan’s Iron Lady

Australia and Taiwan have a common interest in maintaining peace and stability in the Pacific region. The microstates of the Pacific often have a small economic base and are prone to destabilisation. Their governmental structures are often weak, meaning that their resources can be exploited by foreign interests that have no interest on the long-term effects of their actions on the islands’ economies. Taiwan is the target of a storm brewing over the Pacific. Resources such as timber and fisheries immediately spring to mind. Criminal elements, including drug smugglers and gangs dealing in weapons, plus people smuggling, can take advantage…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Why we must fight for freedom: Trump in Poland

The following is an edited version of U.S. President Donald Trump’s address to the Polish people at the Warsaw Uprising Monument in Warsaw, on July 6, 2017. See also our editorial: Behind Donald Trump’s endorsement of Poland This is my first visit to Central Europe as President, and I am thrilled that it could be right here at this magnificent, beautiful piece of land. Poland is the geographic heart of Europe, but more importantly, in the Polish people, we see the soul of Europe. Your nation is great because your spirit is great and your spirit is strong. For two…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Death of caliph will hasten end of Islamic State

The attempt by radical Sunnis to establish Islamic State (IS), a terrorist caliphate in Syria and Iraq claiming authority over Muslims worldwide, looks near to defeat, with the liquidation of its empire and the reported death of its leader. It is expected that IS-inspired terrorism around the world will gradually diminish as a consequence. Islamic State was formally established in 2014, following the declaration of a caliphate by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a former al Qaeda operative in Iraq, who had been involved in the military resistance to the American forces that overthrew Saddam Hussein and installed a Shia-majority government in…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Liu Xiaobo’s extraordinary courage remembered

The death of leading Chinese pro-democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo has been marked around the world by media articles and protests against the regime which persecuted him for nearly 30 years for advocating democratic reform inside China. Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize while a prisoner in 2010 for his advocacy of peaceful reform of China’s one-party dictatorship. The communist regime prevented him from leaving China to receive the award, and even prevented him from delivering the traditional speech in absentia. Contrary to suggestions in some obituaries in the West, his death will not bring an end…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Taiwan’s ‘friends’ make the Beijing cut

Panama severed formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan on June 13 this year, ending over 100 years of cordial relations between the Central-American nation and the Republic of China. Beijing’s cheque book has become too fat to ignore and observers in Taiwan fear that Panama will be only the first in a cascade of Central-American nations dumping Taiwan to gain a slice of Beijing’s pie. Beijing and Taipei had reached a de facto diplomatic truce when Ma Ying-jeou was president. Ma, who represented the Kuomintang (KMT), or Nationalist Party, upheld the “1992 Consensus”, which meant that there was only one China,…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Call for referendum after Taiwan court backs same-sex marriage

Pro-family organisations in Taiwan have initiated two referendum proposals, following the decision of Taiwan’s Constitutional Court to declare that the country’s existing marriage law is unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court ruled that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman was unconstitutional, as it did not allow marriage between people of the same sex. It gave the country’s legislature two years to amend the existing law, and said that if the law was not changed, same-sex marriages would be regarded as legal. However, family organisations in Taiwan – which organised mass rallies in defence of marriage in 2016…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Donald Trump has the world in a spin

U.S. President Bill Clinton is said to have coined the phrase, “it’s the economy, stupid”. It was assumed that he had just discovered the importance of economics. Before we rush to judge Donald, don’t forget that the world through a crystal ballis seen upside down. The same President succumbed to the persuasion of neo-liberal advisers (Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers, then respectively chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve and Secretary of the Treasury) to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act – legislation that had protected the United States from a banking crisis since the 1940s. The abandonment of that act helped project the…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Taiwan to go full steam ahead with submarines

  Necessity is the mother of invention. Plato, The Republic, Book II Taiwan will design and build its own submarines and complete the first boats within eight years, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen announced on March 21, 2017, at the Zuoying Naval Base in the southern port city of Kaohsiung. It plans to commission the first boat into service within 10 years. Taiwan 2027, aboveAustralia 2027, below Taiwan has tried for years to buy submarines on the international market, but pressure from Beijing has killed any deals before they got off the drawing board. Australia, which is building its new class…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Pro-EU technocrat unlikely to solve France’s malaise

After a fiercely fought contest in the first round of France’s presidential election, the independent left candidate, Emmanuel Macron, and the right’s Marine Le Pen will contest the run-off election on May 7. Under the French Constitution, presidential elections are conducted via run-off voting to ensure that the elected president obtains a majority. If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the first round of voting, the two highest-scoring candidates contest a run-off. Emmanuel Macron Macron, a former member of the Socialist Party and a strong supporter of the European Union and immigration, will face off against Le Pen,…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Rare win for the family at UN women’s commission

The Agreed Conclusions for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) have been greeted with enthusiasm, delight, and even wonder this year. The CSW, held annually at the UN in New York, is attended by between 4,000 and 6,000 women from all over the world. This year was the 61st such event. Each year the CSW, assisted by UN Women writes a draft document (also called the “zero draft”) on the theme for the year, which is circulated before the commission starts its deliberations. The theme for CSW61 was “Women’s Economic Empowerment in a Changing World of…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS French election may determine Eurozone fate

The presidential election to be held shortly in France will determine, for the immediate future, whether France will remain a member of the European Union. In France, the president holds far greater executive power than corresponding leaders in the United States or Australia. The legislature to be elected in June is also deeply divided among a multiplicity of parties, such that no party is likely to win close to a majority. The first round of the presidential election will be held on Sunday, April 23, and the second round will be held a fortnight later. According to recent opinion polls,…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump makes calculated response to Syrian atrocity

The targeted response by U.S. President Donald Trump to the killing of some 70 Syrians with deadly sarin gas sends an unequivocal message to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad that the United States will respond proportionately to such actions, when it is possible to do so. Revealingly, although Russia – Assad’s main ally – denied that Assad was responsible for the deaths by poison gas, it did not deny that poison gas had been released. It claimed, instead, that the gas had been released due to a strike on a rebel facility that had manufactured the gas. One of the reinforced…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS UK sets out on the bumpy road to Brexit

On March 29, British Prime Minister Theresa May gave the EU notice of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the first formal step of the legal process for leaving the EU. Two weeks earlier, Britain’s Parliament had finally approved the bill authorising the Government to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. The House of Commons had considered the legislation early in February, but the House of Lords had sought amendments protecting the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, and requiring a vote on the final negotiated terms of Brexit. However, the British Prime Minister refused to accept…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Don’t laugh: this is serious. Revival of Maoist play is a propaganda coup in Victoria

The Government of Victoria, led by leftist ALP Premier Daniel Andrews, is colluding with China’s President Xi Jinping to reintroduce hard-line Maoist Communism into China by sponsoring a season of the propaganda play, The Red Detachment of Women. The play, which opened on February 15 at the Victorian Arts Centre, was part of the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts. The Victorian Performing Arts Centre is said to be Australia’s premier performing arts venue. Not only does The Red Detachment of Women have the imprimatur of the Government of Victoria, it will be accorded the honour of taking place where prestigious…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Theresa May prepares Britain for post-EU life

As British Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, backed by a vote of the British Parliament, attention has turned to the terms of separation, which will depend on negotiations between Britain and the EU. Theresa May is standing firm. Despite an attempt by anti-Brexit campaigners to thwart Britain’s exit by forcing the matter back to Parliament, the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly – with support from both Labour and the Conservatives – to give the Prime Minister the authority to initiate Britain’s separation from the EU. The vote was 498 to…

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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Taiwan society divides over gay agenda

  By three methods may we learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is the noblest; second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest. Confucius   The turbulent issue of same-sex marriage is dividing Taiwan’s society almost down the middle. Taiwan is a free society with a vibrant civic culture. Frequently people will take to the streets and hold mass rallies to promote their points of view, as have those opposed to same-sex marriage and those supporting it. The island of Taiwan is both a traditional Chinese society that upholds age-old family values and…

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TAIWAN POLITICS

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. American Declaration of Independence In mid-1980, anyone entering “Free China” (Taiwan) for the first time would have immediately noticed that all apartments had bars on their windows. It might have been free, but it was a strange sort of freedom. Less than a year before, in the biggest civil disturbance since the 1947 “2-28” rebellion against the Kuomintang (KMT) government, the Tangwai, or “Out of Party”…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS The left’s whitewash of Fidel Castro

The death of the 90-year-old former leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro, was widely reported as the death of a dictator – but one who was loved by his people and who vastly improved the lot of ordinary Cubans. The media also repeated that the United States Government, specifically the CIA, had tried to assassinate him, according to some reports, hundreds of times. It was as if America’s hostility, and its long-standing economic sanctions against Cuba, was the cause of Castro’s authoritarianism. Occasionally mentioned was the fact that under Castro, Cuba became a communist state and ally of the Soviet Union.…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS How the left whitewashed Fidel Castro

The death of the 90-year-old former leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro, was widely reported as the death of a dictator – but one who was loved by his people, and vastly improved the lot of ordinary Cubans. Fidel Castro, “El Comandante”, in August 2016. The media also repeated that the United States Government and specifically the CIA had tried to assassinate him, according to some reports, hundreds of times. It was as if America’s hostility, and its long-standing economic sanctions against Cuba, was the cause of Castro’s authoritarianism. Occasionally mentioned was the fact that under Castro, Cuba became a communist…

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EAST ASIAN AFFAIRS Taiwan and Japan look extinction in the face

Taiwan and Japan have much in common. Taiwan’s young people often follow trends in Japanese fashion and games. Both nations love baseball; in Japan, you will often see boys training in a baseball diamond etched into a schoolyard. Japanese companies helped kick-start Taiwan’s “economic miracle”. Both economies now rely on high-tech manufacturing to earn their way in the world. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TSMC) designs and makes chips for Apple. TSMC is a generation and a half in chip design ahead of its rivals in mainland China. Another thing that Taiwan and Japan have in common are stagnant birthrates that…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS China builds Great Wall in the South China Sea

The landmass of Eurasia is dominated by two great powers, namely Russia and China. They are both continental powers and their maritime experience is limited. Russia is largely confined to the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and ports in the Russian Far East, which are often iced in for a great part of the year. China, under the Ming and Ching Dynasties, restricted the use of naval power. The voyages of Admiral Cheng Ho in the early Ming Dynasty, though fruitful, were an aberration.   China’s foreign policy revolved around managing the “northern barbarians”. That is why Beijing was the…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Obama Administration exacerbates Syria conflict

Having stoked the Syrian conflict for the past four years by arming the so-called “moderate rebels”, the Obama Administration is compounding its error by encouraging Turkey, Syria’s hostile neighbour, to become involved militarily inside Syria. There can be no doubt that by providing military support to anti-government rebels, and repeatedly demanding that Syria’s President Assad resign, the Obama Administration, and Secretary of State John Kerry in particular, encouraged the civil war, at the same time that the United States launched aerial bombing against al Qaeda and ISIS military targets in northern Iraq and Syria. Bashar al Assad No one is…

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TAIWAN New president cautious, ambivalent towards Beijing

No recent president has taken power in Taipei with greater expectations than has Tsai Ing-wen; fulfilling those expectations will be a difficult task, not through lack of goodwill but due to the complexity of the challenge. Tsai is the first female president of the Republic of China (Taiwan’s official name) since its inception in 1912. The ROC was established following the Shin Hai Revolution in 1911, led by Dr Sun Yat-sen. The revolution ended 5,000 years of dynastic rule in China. The ROC transferred its seat of government to Taipei in 1949, after Mao’s communists took over mainland China. Taiwan…

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REGIONAL AFFAIRS Shifts in Australia-Indonesia relations

Since 2011, Indonesia has transformed itself from a regional leader to a global influencer; it has strengthened economically and gained stability from the consolidation of its democracy. However, Australian perceptions of Indonesia have not changed to reflect these shifts. For the bilateral relationship to achieve its promise, leaders in each sector need to take ownership and act as role models to drive positive action. John McCarthy AO and Melissa Conley Tyler write.   Since the first Indonesia-Australia Dialogue was organised as a prime ministerial/presidential initiative to build better relations during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s visit to Australia in 2011, it is interesting…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Hong Kong voters reject heavy-handed Beijing

A record turnout of over 2 million voters saw a swing towards younger leaders who oppose Beijing’s increasingly public efforts to muzzle free speech in Hong Kong. The election took place as Chinese President Xi Jinping was hosting the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, a Chinese coastal city near Shanghai. The visit by U.S. President Barack Obama was characterised by a series of behind-the-scenes incidents as Chinese officials repeatedly limited the operations of both U.S. government officials and media to cover Obama’s presence at the summit. Hong Kong, formerly a British colony, was handed over to Beijing in 1997, after the…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS South China Sea powder keg may blow anytime

The South China Sea is caught in a disturbing web of conflicting claims from which escape may be impossible without armed conflict. This tar baby, a tangle of claims and counterclaims, could suddenly blow up into a major international crisis. The late A.J.P. Taylor, the noted British historian, argued that World War I was a random “war by timetable” because the major powers were locked into mobilisation of their troops by intricate railway timetables, leading to a continent-wide war (A.J.P. Taylor. War by Timetable: How the First World War Began. Macdonald, London, 1969). Similarly, the two major protagonists in the…

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TAIWANESE POLITICS Tsai remains in control after her first 100 days

Part 2 of a two-part series Tsai Ing-wen, President of the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, took office on May 20, 2016, promising to be a new kind of leader. She took office with great expectations for a “new deal” for the people of Taiwan. What can we say about President Tsai’s first 100 days? So far, despite some unexpected challenges and a few minor wobbles, she’s doing fine. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen For the first time since the ROC was established in 1912, a woman holds its highest executive office. What’s more, an unmarried woman. And concurrently, a…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Erdogan’s political coup will transform Turkey

In the aftermath of a failed military coup organised by some elements in the Turkish military, Turkey’s Islamist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has organised a mass roundup of public servants, lawyers and academics – as well as a third of Turkey’s military leadership – in what is clearly an attempt to use the military coup as an excuse to silence his domestic opponents and concentrate more power in his own hands. President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has been battling a corruption scandal that goes to the heart of his government. Last December, Turkish law enforcement officers raided several…

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BRITISH POLITICS Tories push trans agenda hard in schools, prisons

The British Conservative Government under mock-Tory David Cameron is either actively promoting or supinely condoning transsexualism in schools and prisons, with concepts of clear differentiation between the sexes being labeled as bigotry. Prisons and schools get the same treatment. The mind boggles at what would happen under a Labour Government – but perhaps some of the working-class, cloth-capped miner types who comprise its traditional support-base would object. Teachers in the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) are being advised to avoid use of the word “girls”, to cater for transsexual pupils, despite the fact that “transsexuals” are a minuscule minority of the…

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TAIWANESE HISTORY AND POLITICS Fractious party puts Tsai in a pickle

Just months since she took power, President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen’s position looks unsteady. One cannot grasp Taiwan’s current politics without a firm understanding of Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party and how it came into existence as a counter to the Kuomintang. In this issue, Jeffry Babb outlines the political background and next time will look at Tsai’s performance so far. President Tsai Ing-wen recently apologised to the island’s Aborigines for oppression. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) may now be the ruling party in Taiwan, but that doesn’t mean it always gets its way. After years of preceding every mention of…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump v Clinton race revealing of state of U.S.

With the race to the Whitehouse in November now a clear-cut competition between Republican outsider Donald Trump and Democratic Party insider Hillary Clinton, what does the forthcoming election tell us about the current state of the United States? Can the Donald trump the lady with dynastic ambitions? Hillary Clinton is the candidate strongly backed by the Democratic Party machine, the left-liberal financial and cultural establishment in the U.S., and the black caucus, a powerful political constituency in the United States. While Clinton was always expected to win her party’s nomination, the most significant aspect of it was that she was…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Intifada of the Knife: Israel’s unknown war

For the last half-year, a war has been waged in Israel that is almost unknown in Australia: the Third Intifada, also known as the Intifada of the Knife. As at April 1, 2016, these knife attacks had claimed the lives of 29 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean asylum seeker and a Palestinian bystander. The attacks caused more than 400 injuries. These stabbings took place at a rate of more than one a day. In the same period, in excess of 200 Palestinians were killed, including 44 minors; eight were women, according to the Middle East Monitor. It is a sad…

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ASIA-PACIFIC AFFAIRS Taiwan, China find rapport over South China Sea

The Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) is a major player in the South China Sea imbroglio, although commentators who wish to curry favour with Beijing seldom mention this inconvenient fact; perhaps they just want to simplify a complicated situation. The extent of the “nine dash line” claim. The fact is we cannot understand the situation in the South China Sea without considering the role and claims of the Republic of China on Taiwan. The ROC occupies Taiping Island, one of the major islands in the South China Sea. According to ROC President Lee Teng-hui, speaking in 1999, “all water…

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COVER STORY Democratic Progressive Party ousts Kuomintang

The Taiwanese election of January 16 saw the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rise to power in Taipei. This change has a significance out of all proportion to a simple election result. Few commentators have realised that this is the first time since 1928 that the Kuomintang (KMT) has not been the dominant power in the Republic of China. Indeed, most Taiwan journalists still habitually refer to the KMT as “the ruling party”. In May Tsai Ing-wen will be inaugurated as Taiwan’s first female president. This coming May, the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen will be inaugurated as the first female president of…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Poland’s election sends shock waves through EU

In an election almost totally ignored in Australia, Poland’s Law and Justice Party has secured an absolute majority in the country’s parliament (Sejm), in a major blow to the European Union (EU). Poland’s Prime Minister-elect Beata Szydlo. Liam Halligan wrote in the London Telegraph: “We’ve just seen history made in Poland. Following last week’s parliamentary elections, a single party is now in power for the first time since the 1989 communist collapse.” (October 31, 2015) The election result is particularly significant because Poland is a member of NATO and has a population of 37 million people, the largest in Eastern…

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EUROPEAN AFFAIRS Euro banks were lending like there’s no tomorrow

The ongoing saga of Greece has, for the moment, been and gone through the headlines. That being so, it is appropriate to have a fresh look at things and introduce readers to further insights that might help make the whole mess more understandable. Economist Ann Pettifor. That is, to the extent that Europe’s problems are economic. For the purpose of this article the problems now raging in relation to immigration are not considered – though these cannot, in the final analysis, be regarded as unrelated to the problems of unity confronting the European Union (EU). Europe burning, as it has…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Polls show conservative resurgence at grassroots

Recent state and municipal elections in the United States have put a serious crimp in the argument that the LBGT agenda is inevitable. On November 3, voters in Ohio rejected by a two-thirds majority the push to legalise marijuana in that state; an underdog Republican took the governorship of Kentucky away from the Democrats – who have held the position for 40 of the past 44 years – and the people of Houston, Texas, threw out of office the lesbian mayor whom they had voted for three times previously. What has happened is that the grassroots conservative base in these…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Europe’s refugee crisis was much worse last time

As train after train of refugees arrives in Germany, swamping the railway stations and stretching the capacities of welfare organisations, a senior Berlin-based administrator protests against the strain the newcomers are placing on the country’s resources. R.M. Douglas Germany, he warns, cannot go on indefinitely being treated “as a waste-paper basket with a limitless capacity for the unwanted waste of the world”. More importantly, the scale of the influx is in danger of giving rise to a toxic brew of resentment on the part of the indigenous population that might well lead to neo-Nazism and ultra-nationalism once again becoming significant…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Europe generous in face of Middle-Eastern influx

Since the beginning of 2015, at least 500,000 people have flooded into Western Europe as a result of wars and civil turmoil in the Middle East and north Africa. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pursuing a policy of welcome. This is substantially more than the 400,000 who entered Europe in 2014, and reflects in part the worsening situation in Syria, and the failure of the United Nations to continue to supply food, clothing and shelter for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced to Turkey and Lebanon by the fighting in Syria. After the UN told refugees that it was…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS China’s official media hints at power struggle in Beijing

Commentaries appearing in the official Chinese media hint at a power struggle in the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party. The party is facing unprecedented pressure as a result of the slowing economy and the stockmarket collapse that has damaged the savings of millions of China’s new middle class. Not to mention its pathetic response to the horrific explosion in central Tianjin in which over 100 people died. President Xi Jinping, right, with Barack Obama The Government had encouraged stockmarket investment as a means of expanding companies’ sources of capital, and to encourage productive investment rather than speculation in…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Cuts in aid trigger mass migration: more to come?

In late August, more than 200,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan awoke to a text message saying that World Food Program (WFP) was cutting their food rations. The option for many was to head back into the war-torn countries from which they had fled, or take the dangerous route to Europe. The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan The United Nations’ humanitarian work is not funded by regular contributions, but entirely by donations from member countries. According to The Guardian (September 7, 2015): “The current global humanitarian funding budget for all countries stands at $US19.52 billion, but only $US7.15 billion of that…

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ASIA Taiwan: no longer the Kingdom of Youth

Forty years ago, Taiwan was on the cusp of industrial take-off. It seemed that every shirt, pair of shoes and what was politely called “giftware” (in other words, junk) on sale in the department stores of the Western world was made in Taiwan. For the people of Taiwan, the deal was that the government would provide no social welfare, but that everyone would find work if they wanted to. Demography is destiny Taipei 101 hangs over the city and surrounding hills like a vast pagoda. Taiwan was reaching its demographic peak. Young people were in the majority and were entering the…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Eurozone shaken as Greece goes into default

The default by Greece’s Syriza Government on a €1.5 billion ($2.2 billion) repayment due to the International Monetary Fund by July 1, followed by the referendum which voted overwhelmingly to back the government’s refusal to accept the continuation of the European Union’s austerity program, have triggered Greece’s expected exit from the Eurozone. Alexis Tsipras, left, with Yanis Varoufakis, who resigned as finance minister after the “No” vote in the referendum. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tried to manoeuvre events to make it look as if Greece’s main lenders – the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Why G7 endorsed UN climate-change agenda

The world’s leading industrial nations, the G7, endorsed the climate-change agenda of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at a recent meeting in Germany. G7 leaders meeting in Germany The G7 meeting, hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also included leaders from the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the UK. Representatives from the European Union were also present. The G7 meeting concluded with a resolution which reaffirmed the goal of limiting global warming in the 21st century to two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, first agreed to at a 2009 United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen. “Urgent…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Straitjacket treaty has led to European insanities

Is there risk writing about Greece at this time? No quick fix for Greece Most definitely. It is possible that by the time this article reaches its audience the long-running crisis involving Greece and the European Union will have reached a decisive conclusion. For me that means Greece will have decided to default on its debts in one manner or another. That is, however, far from the most likely scenario. More probable is some less decisive outcome, which will have the effect of prolonging the crisis. For the EU, whatever happens, resolution or not, may prove unsatis­factory. More on that…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Greece and EU stare into abyss of debt, austerity

With Greece at the point where it can no longer meet payments to its creditors on its mountain of debt, it and the European Union stand on the edge of a precipice from which there seems no going back. Alexis Tsipras The central problem is the Greek Government debt, now estimated to exceed €400 billion ($580 billion), almost twice the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and nearly twice the average of the Eurozone. Since its debt crisis began in 2010, Greece has been granted two huge loans by the European Central Bank and other financial institutions: €110 billion in 2010,…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS China’s sandcastles give its neighbours the jitters

For the past nine months just about every ocean-going dredge in China has been deployed to island-building in the Spratly Islands just west of Palawan in the Philippines. Harbours have been carved out of the coral and forts are now rising next to them. At least one airfield has been completed so far, on Fiery Cross Reef, and the reclamation on Subi Reef is large enough to accommodate a second one. The forts are enormous, covering up to nine hectares each. They are forts because they all come with four flak towers standing apart from the corners of the buildings.…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Should we fear China and Russia in the global economy?

As the economies of China and Russia expand and integrate into the global economy, both are extending their economic and diplomatic influence with new multi-lateral organisations. BRICS’ leaders (from left): Russia’s Vladimir Putin, India’s Narendra Modi, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, China’s Xi Jinping and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma. Are these new organisations a threat to the post-World Ware II Western alliance, or are will they bring greater global economic and political stability? Phillip Y. Lipscy recently analysed this debate in Foreign Affairs (May 7, 2015), the journal of the US Council on Foreign Relations. Lipscy is the Thomas Rohlen Center Fellow,…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS New fronts in the fight against human trafficking

The Vatican is taking up the fight on human trafficking, the huge problem which Pope Francis has labelled a crime against humanity. Pope Francis The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples now works in tandem with COATNET, the coalition of Christian organisations against human trafficking. Meanwhile, a clearer picture of the sinister business is coming to light, which shows victims of human trafficking drowning at sea and being imported into Europe’s highly exploitative sex industries. A power vacuum in lawless Libya means the state serves as a funnel for thousands of desperate Middle-Eastern and Sub-Saharan migrants pouring into Europe.…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS UK election: implications of Conservative victory

The British Conservatives’ election victory – contradicting the predictions of all the opinion polls as they won more than 330 seats – has allowed the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to form government in his own right. The election was also a triumph for the Scottish nationalists, who won almost every seat in Scotland. David Cameron Following the election outcome, the leaders of the parties which expected to perform better – Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) – all resigned, creating a vacuum in the political leadership of the opposition. Cameron’s victory, although narrow, is the first…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Supreme Court argument goes to heart of marriage

The United States Supreme Court has been discussing the problems, concerns and harms with same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court of the United States Its open discussions stand in stark contrast to rulings by lower courts that there is no rational basis for defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman only. Whereas in Australia marriage is a federal issue, in the U.S. marriage is a state matter. However, the U.S. Federal Supreme Court is now being forced to consider the issue, after many state referenda to define man-woman marriage. In some cases, these referenda were upheld by…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Atheists purge Christians in US armed forces

Militant atheists are using the issues of homosexual marriage and attitudes to homosexuality generally to silence believing Christians in the armed forces or increasingly to drive them out. It is hard to say how much of this is due to President Barack Obama, who is of course the Commander-in-Chief, but his subscription to far-left ideologies, frequent insults directed at historical Christianity and support of homosexual marriage (even appearing on a platform with children to sing its praises) at least dove-tail neatly with what is going on. Chaplains in the armed services seem to be particular targets, being set up for…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Advancing Indonesia should abolish death penalty

This has been an appropriate time for Australia to lobby and pressure the Indonesian Government to abolish the death penalty. Joko Widodo The campaign in Australia to stop the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran was supported by a parallel campaign by some in Indonesia. They pointed out that while the Australians were facing execution for drug smuggling, their Government was lobbying other countries on behalf of Indonesian citizens facing the same fate for the same crime of drug smuggling in other parts of the world. Australia has had a long, close and robust relationship with Indonesia. The countries…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Rome: Defeat extremists through Christian-Muslim cooperation

In an effort to deal with the problems of Islamist extremism and the persecution of believers, the Holy See has launched a diplomatic offensive to bring the world’s great religions together. Egyptian President el-Sisi A visible effect of this commitment is a statement issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council on March 13, drafted by the Holy See together with Lebanon and Russia. According to Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the UN in Geneva, the statement was “the first time we explicitly mentioned the category of Christian persons”. The joint statement clearly recognises the abuses…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS China’s fascination with water not always healthy

China is a very big country of great contrasts. Even its size is debatable. Most people would agree China is somewhat larger than Australia, but with a population of 1.3 billion compared with Australia’s 23 million. As for water, some areas are drought prone, while others face regular flooding. China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project China has two major rivers, plus many more that are substantial enough to warrant attention. The two major rivers, known to anyone who has the least knowledge of China, are the Yellow River and the Yangtze. The Yellow River is in northern China. The name derives…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS U.S. state attacked over religious liberty law

Why the outcry in the U.S. over Indiana’s new religious liberty law? Ryan T. Anderson After all, it is based on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993),which was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton after it passed in the federal Senate by 97 votes and by unanimous voice vote in the House of Representatives. Nineteen other US states have similar laws and a further 11 have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection. These laws and legal projections prohibit governments from placing substantial burdens on the exercise of religious…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS The rise, decline and fragmentation of the radical Islamists

It was notable that two of the heroes of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last January 7 were themselves Muslims. Ahmed Merabet  They were police officer Ahmed Merabet, who was killed when he confronted the terrorists at the Charlie Hebdo office, and 24-year old grocery assistant Lassana Bathily, who sheltered Jewish shoppers at the kosher grocery store where he worked. Just as they defied the Islamic State terrorists, one paying the ultimate price, millions of French citizens marched across the country in a defiant statement that they would not succumb to Islamic State’s stated intention of using terrorism to…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Canada’s Supreme Court upholds religious freedom

In a landmark decision with implications for the debate over religious freedom in Australia, Canada’s highest court has ruled that the secularist government of Quebec denied religious freedom to a Catholic college, in relation to a mandatory course on Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC). Canada’s Supreme Court The province’s education ministry insisted that the Ethics and Religious Culture course had to be taught only from a secular perspective. Loyola College, established by the Jesuits in the 1840s, applied for an exemption from this requirement, and proposed teaching the course from a Catholic perspective, which was respectful of other faiths and…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Putin admits military takeover of Crimea in 2014

A little over a year ago, Crimea was incorporated into Russia following what was said to be a spontaneous uprising by the people of Crimea against Ukraine and a referendum on union with Russia organised by the Supreme Council of Crimea. There was an overwhelming referendum vote in favour of union. Crimea has been part of Ukraine since 1954. It had earlier been part of Russia, but was transferred to Ukrainian control during the Soviet era because it has an extensive land border with Ukraine, but none with Russia itself. From the time of Stalin’s forced deportation of the Crimean…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Greece and EU edge towards debt crunch

After days of discussion between the left-wing Syriza government in Greece and the European Union regarding Greece’s debt crisis, neither side wants to bring the issues to a head, while both sides remain committed to their original positions. Greek PM Alexis Tripras  Syriza demanded an end of the EU austerity plan, while the EU insisted that Greece will have to commit to repaying its debts, in exchange for a multi-billion dollar bailout. Syriza, an acronym of Greek letters for Coalition of the Radical Left, has risen from next to nothing to government over the past decade. In 2007, it won…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS UK-US special relationship ‘hanging by a thread’

Writing in the London Telegraph, the former British Ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, claims Britain’s “special relationship” with the U.S. in “hanging by a thread”.  British Prime Minister David Cameron British ambassadors are not, by virtue of a lifetime’s training and experience, given to wild or exaggerated statements or “causing embarrassment”. Therefore this statement needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness.  U.S. President Barack Obama, significantly half-Kenyan, demonstrated his contempt — and probably hatred — for Britain in one of his first acts in office, gratuitously insulting the country by returning the bust of Sir Winston Churchill which…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Behind Sri Lanka’s vote for change

In an utterly unexpected election outcome, the people of Sri Lanka have decisively rejected incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa, electing in his place a former associate of the former president, Maithripala Sirisena, who had accused Rajapaksa of corruption and nepotism, and of wanting to establish a dictatorship. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Rajapaksa had installed relatives in some of the most sensitive posts, including his younger brother Gotabhaya as defence minister. In turn, Rajapaksa accused Sirisena of being in league with the Tamil Tigers, the militant group which staged a bitter 37-year war for the independence of northern Sri Lanka before…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Cross-strait ties remain Taiwan’s biggest challenge

Taiwan is a small island, half the size of Tasmania, with a population of 23 million, about the same as Australia.  Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou This island, home to some of the world’s most successful high-tech companies, must contend with the People’s Republic of China, which has a population of over 1.3 billion and occupies an area making it the world’s fourth most extensive country. Coming to terms with this not-so-gentle giant is the most persistent problem in Taiwan politics. Former president Chen Shui-bian was not a favourite with the Beijing authorities. His party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), does…

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MIDDLE EAST Israel, Jordan: islands of stability in the Middle East

Every day, press, radio and television news carry reports of violence in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Egypt, Libya and other countries of the Middle East, creating the impression that the Middle East is a seething hotbed of violence and terrorism. While this is true of some countries, it is emphatically untrue of Israel and Jordan, two radically different countries which share a long common border and a commitment to sustained economic development and the peaceful resolution of differences between communities and nations. The ancient city of Petra, Jordan Israel is a Jewish democracy, while Jordan is an Arab monarchy. The two…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Russian ambitions go far beyond Ukraine

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, celebrated his 62nd birthday recently — not with parties and parades and fireworks, but alone in the Siberian forests. Russian President Vladimir Putin Things are not going well for the ruler of All Russia. He has become, like the Russian officer in Leo Tolstoy’s story, A Prisoner in the Caucasus: a captive in his own country. In the tale, two Russian officers are captured by the Tartars. The Tartars are Muslims, and the Russians are Christians. One Russian officer escapes, and the other is ransomed, barely alive. Russia is still bogged down in the Caucasus.…

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Pierre Ryckmans

TRIBUTE ‘Simon Leys’, the China-watcher who couldn’t lie

Dr Pierre Ryckmans (‘Simon Leys’), Belgian-Australian writer, Sinologist, essayist and literary critic. Born in Brussels, September 28, 1935. Died in Canberra, August 11, 2014. The late Belgian-born Pierre Ryckmans, writer, essayist, academic and literary critic, was one of the world’s greatest authorities on China. Among his many works, he translated, and provided a commentary on, The Analects of Confucius. Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd, whose honours thesis on Chinese dissident Wei Jing-sheng was supervised by Ryckmans, recently paid tribute to him as “one of the world’s leading China scholars”. Ryckmans spent most of his working life at the Australian…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Downsized NATO no match for Putin’s Russia

As United States defence and foreign policy lurches from one disaster to another, and Putin’s Russia becomes more openly bellicose, a senior British general has warned that, after years of military cuts, Nato has become powerless to stop a Russian invasion of eastern Europe. The dire warning comes from General Sir Richard Shirreff, deputy supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation until earlier this year. He said Nato must rearm if it was serious about defending itself. Asked about Russia’s increasing military pressure on Ukraine, he said: “The reality is that Nato would be very hard pressed and they…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Will President Xi Jinping be China’s Gorbachev?

China’s Communist Party controls everything. With a membership of 82.6 million, it is the world’s biggest political party. Political scientists like to draw the distinction between “cadre parties” and “mass parties”. Cadre parties, like the Chinese Communist Party, are not open to all who wish to join them. Membership is the privilege of a carefully selected elite. Mass parties encourage all who share their beliefs to join, such as — in theory at least — the Australian Labor Party and Liberal Party. Zhou Yongkang, China’s Himmler The Chinese Communist Party literally has the power of life or death over its…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Australia should help Iraq’s besieged Christians

In what is emerging as one of the worst atrocities of the civil war in Iraq, jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) who captured control of the city of Mosul, about 300 km north of the capital, Baghdad, in June, have murdered many of the city’s Christian minority and forced the rest to flee. The Sunni terrorists have also destroyed a number of mosques and shrines of the Shia branch of Islam. Christians have fled en masse from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, abandoning communities that date back to the first centuries of Christianity.  (The terror is reminiscent of the dark days of…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Locking up the dogs of war: huge decline in war-related deaths

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, war-related deaths have declined dramatically; and since the Second Gulf War of 2003, war-related deaths have been at the lowest level in modern history. This may seem counter-intuitive. The media’s intensive coverage of the horrors of current conflicts give the impression that war is worse than ever, with more armed conflicts, civilian deaths, rapes and human rights violations.   Joshua S. Goldstein  On this basis, many commentators have argued, particularly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., that the world has been facing a major “clash of civilisations”.   Yet…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Indonesia’s President-elect Joko Widodo

The announcement by Indonesia’s electoral commission that Joko Widodo, the popular governor of Jakarta, was decisively elected President of Indonesia for the next five years, marks the beginning of a new era in Indonesian politics. Joko Widodo Politically, the history of Indonesia since independence can be broken into three periods. The first was the Sukarno era, which lasted from 1945, when Indonesia declared independence from the Netherlands, until 1967, when President Sukarno was overthrown. In this period, the nationalist President made a name for himself as an anti-Western, anti-colonialist leader, who was one of the global leaders of the so-called…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing fury over Hong Kong pro-democracy rallies

Large numbers of Hong Kong residents have taken part in public demonstrations to protest against the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to muzzle free speech, control Hong Kong’s legal system and prevent the people of Hong Kong from controlling their own future in elections due to be held in three years. When the British surrendered Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, they secured an undertaking by the Chinese government that it would respect the rights of Hong Kong residents to freedom of speech and association. Under the terms of a formal and legally binding agreement, called the 1984 Sino-British Joint…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS China’s Confucius Institutes pushing Beijing’s line

More than 300 Confucius Institutes worldwide are now leading China’s global “soft power” push. Confucius Institutes are attached to the University of Sydney, University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide, University of Melbourne and University of Newcastle. The institutes ostensibly promote Chinese language and culture; but any staff who dissent from the political line of China’s ruling Communist Party are dismissed. The powers in Beijing have been very clever in the manner in which they promote their soft power campaign. Instead of naming their institutes after communist luminaries such as Mao Zedong, Red China’s founding father, or Deng Xiaoping, the…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Iraq: examining the professed caliphate

The Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has changed its name, but otherwise the militant group remains the same. Over the weekend of June 28-29, a spokesman for the group announced that it had established a caliphate stretching from Diyala province, Iraq, to Aleppo, Syria. The caliphate is a political institution that the Islamic State claims will govern the global Muslim community. “Iraq” and “Levant” have been dropped from the organisation’s name to reflect its new status. The trouble with the announcement is that the Islamic State does not have a caliphate and…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Ukrainian borderlands soaked with blood again

Though the actual meaning of “Ukraine” is disputed, one commonly accepted meaning is “borderlands”. Another meaning is “country”. Like another border state, Poland, its strategic location means that it has been a bone of contention between East and West for centuries. Vladimir Putin Now the game is on again. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, never accepted the result of the 2004/05 Orange Revolution. He believed — probably correctly — that the Europeans and the Americans, including multibillionaire George Soros, had given the Western-leaning opposition aid. This included cash and tactical assistance. Stefan Romaniw, who has recently returned to Australia from Ukraine,…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Has Gates Foundation stopped funding abortion?

Controversy has arisen over the announcement by Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will no longer fund abortions. Up to the present, the Gates Foundation has been a major donor to international abortion campaigns conducted by United Nations agencies and bodies such as Marie Stopes International and International Planned Parenthood. The announcement was made in an elliptical way on a web site of the Gates Foundation, in a blog called Impatient Optimists. On it, Melinda Gates recently posted an article headed, “Reflections on My Recent Travels”. In it, she described recent…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Indonesia’s two presidential candidates in tight battle

On July 7, Indonesians will go to the polls in an election which will have important implications for the whole of South-East Asia, and Australia. The presidential election follows legislative elections which took place last April. In those elections, no party secured a majority of seats in the People’s Representative Council, but the largest groupings were Megawati Sukarnoputri’s PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party — Struggle) with 19 per cent; Golkar (the party of former President Suharto) 15 per cent; Gerindra (Greater Indonesia Movement) 12 per cent; and retiring President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party, 10 per cent. Joko Widodo.  In Indonesia’s…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Extraordinary background to new Indian PM

The national elections in the world’s largest democracy, India, have concluded with the defeat of the Congress Party and a decisive victory for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP is led by Narendra Modi, the charismatic former chief minister of the state of Gujarat in India’s north-west, which has enjoyed rapid economic growth under his leadership over the past 12 years. India’s new PM, Narendra Modi. The elections saw an astonishing rise in the percentage of seats held by the BJP in the 543-member lower house in the Indian Parliament. Before the election the BJP held only…

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UKRAINE: West draws up plan to stop Putin’s energy blackmail

The slow-motion crisis in Ukraine as Russia attempts to establish its control over the east of the country has intensified, with the seizure of government buildings, fighting between separatists and Ukrainian government forces, and votes on autonomy in Russian-speaking parts of the country. Russia has put additional pressure on Kyiv, announcing that Ukraine will now have to pay for its energy up-front, threatening to bankrupt the current government. Britain, the European Union, Japan and the United States have foreshadowed an emergency response to protect Ukraine and other eastern European countries from cuts in Russian gas exports. Next month, G7 leaders…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Russia ups the ante, but faces backlash in Ukraine

As this issue of News Weekly goes to press, the international human rights organisation, Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), has expressed deep concern that Moscow is using its own special forces and pro-Russian organisations in eastern Ukraine to justify military intervention. HRWF is urging all the involved parties to solve the crisis through dialogue. Mustafa Dzhemilev, leader of the Crimean Tatars. Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and the United States agreed, during recent talks in Geneva, that illegal military groups in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that those occupying government premises must be disarmed and leave. But the separatists’ spokesman…

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PAKISTAN: Council of Islamic Ideology ‘anti-women’: Sindh assembly

A provincial assembly in Pakistan has defied the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to Pakistan’s government and parliament. The Sindh Assembly rejected what it called “anti-women” recommendations of the council. The CII was against any minimum-age requirement for women to be married and against the use of DNA tests in rape cases. The assembly unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Pakistan’s federal government to do away with the CII, as it was damaging the country. The Sindh province boasts a population of 50 million, of whom 90 per cent…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The significance for Australia of the rise of Indonesia

When Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that his maxim for foreign affairs would be “less Geneva and more Jakarta”, he was reflecting a reality which seems to have eluded many in Australia’s diplomatic club, notwithstanding Julia Gillard’s rhetoric concerning the “Asian Century”. As Abdul-Latif Halimi, editor of The International Spectator, puts it, “Australia’s dominance and transactional approach to the relationship will have to give way to a more balanced and strategic one, as Canberra comes to terms with the fact that a burgeoning Asian power of more than 250 million people cradles Australia’s northern borders” (“The regional implications of Indonesia’s…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: China trade roils Taiwanese students

When Taiwan suffers one of its all too frequent regressions into “government by mass action”, we are reminded that the Republic of China (i.e.,Taiwan) is still a “young democracy”. When, on March 18, a group of students occupied the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s single-chamber parliament, it simply confirmed that, as far as governance is concerned, Taiwan’s politics are immature rather than young. The students were protesting about an agreement that had been negotiated with mainland China to open up cross-strait trade in services. At the time of writing this article, nothing to date, it seems, can shift the students short of…

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SOUTH AFRICA: Nelson Mandela: some inconvenient truths

The late Nelson Mandela has been portrayed in the mainstream media as a statesman and humanitarian without blemish. It is true that when apartheid ended and he came to power in South Africa, he did not emulate Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe and massacre his political opponents. Instead, he tried to ease the transition to black-majority rule by setting up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. However, recent media reports have emphasised only one side of Mandela. CultureWatch commentator Bill Muehlenberg here provides some balance. It was not originally my intention to say anything about the passing of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013),…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: China takes leading role in new ‘scramble for Africa’

China is using a multidimensional strategy to gain influence over the world’s fastest-developing continent — Africa. China lacks the wealth or investment capacity to match the United States or Europe, but it is using its economic leverage very effectively. China is also deploying “soft power” to win friends and influence people in Africa. The first “Scramble for Africa” was between 1880 and 1900, when the European colonial powers carved up Africa among themselves to gain access to its raw materials, which helped fuel Europe’s industrialisation. The European powers also sought access to Africa’s markets to sell their manufactured goods. The…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: No military solution in sight to end Syrian civil war

United States President Barack Obama’s legacy looks likely to be a cause of more than usual controversy. But one thing is certain — you wouldn’t want to be in a poker game with him. In the space of a month, he held his nerve when all around him were urging him to “do something” about the Assad regime in Syria. He then stared down the Republican’s Tea Party faction over the Budget and debt ceiling, in what is universally recognised to be an electoral disaster for the Grand Old Party. What we can say about Obama is that, despite plenty…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: China pivots towards Central Asia

China is rapidly expanding its economic and strategic interests in Central Asia, with global strategic implications. As the United States refocuses its attention from Afghanistan to the Asia-Pacific, and NATO halts its eastward expansion, China is stepping up its “Marching Westwards” policy. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently toured through Central Asia, signing contracts worth tens of billions of dollars, and treating the former Soviet republics as if they were now in China’s sphere of influence. He opened an important energy pipeline that will feed Caspian gas from Kazakhstan across Asia into China’s coastal cities. It will traverse Turkmenistan, feeding into…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The folly of a US-led Syria strike

The civil and religious war in Syria, already characterised by the most appalling brutality, plumbed even deeper levels of depravity with the use of poison gas late in August. At the time of writing, UN inspectors had visited the site of the attack on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, and taken samples back to their base for analysis. However, the well-placed Foreign Policy magazine alleged that US intelligence services overheard a Syrian defence ministry official making “panicked phone calls to the leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve gas attack” that killed hundreds of people.…

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: China’s intransigence blocks Taiwan’s civil aviation bid

Communications are the lifeblood of the modern world, so when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) uses its effective veto in the United Nations (UN) to keep Taiwan out of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), it hurts us all. The ICAO is the body that regulates and supervises civilian aviation around the world. Taiwan is a major aviation hub, yet it is denied the chance to participate in policy formulation, which means it gets only indirect information about civil aviation policies and regulations. Not only is it denied direct access to these rules and regulations, it has to guess…

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MIDDLE EAST: Egyptian army ousts Morsi in show of force

A dictator is no less of a dictator because he is placed in power by a majority of voters. If a political leader believes that his party’s control of a majority of parliamentary seats means he can do what he pleases, regardless of the interests of minorities, then this is no longer a liberal democracy, but something called majoritarian democracy, because there are no constraints on the exercise of power. A liberal democracy is governed by the rule of law, and the rights of minorities are protected by a constitution or similar statute. The government cannot banish people merely because…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Taiwan, Philippines fishing spat muddies SE Asian waters

Anyone visiting Taiwan will be amazed at the quality and variety of the seafood. But a lot of it comes from far afield. That’s why anything that threatens Taiwan’s fisheries is taken very seriously. Taiwan is an island, about half the size of Tasmania, with a population of 23 million — about the same as that of Australia, which in area is many times bigger. Most of Taiwan is mountainous and not suited to agriculture. That’s why the sea has always been so important to Taiwan — because it is an irreplaceable source of protein. When times have been hard…

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MIDDLE EAST: No winners in Syrian civil war

The Crimean War (1853-56) is almost forgotten today, except perhaps for the Balaclava and Inkerman streets scattered throughout Melbourne’s older suburbs. But there is much to learn from this conflict, which claimed the lives of a million soldiers and uncounted civilians. This war was the 19th century’s most deadly conflict. From 1853 to 1856, the Western powers, including France and Britain, allied to Turkey, confronted Czarist Russia for control of the Middle East. For us it yielded Alfred Lord Tennyson’s epic poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, and the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, known as “The Lady…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: China to build rival to Panama Canal

The left-wing Sandinista government of Nicaragua has fast-tracked a plan for China to build and operate a rival to the Panama Canal, linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The plan was pushed through the Sandinista-controlled Nicaraguan national assembly, with the strong support of the president, Daniel Ortega. Ortega led a popular uprising which overthrew the former Somoza dictatorship in 1979, and held onto power until defeated in a democratic election in 1990. He was elected president again in 2006, and re-elected in 2012. However, Nicaragua remains one of the poorest countries in central America. The plan for a canal through…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The Islamic origins of Syria’s civil war

Conflicts within Islam, not democracy or human rights, are at the centre of the current Syrian war. There are several levels of conflict in the Arab-Muslim world. The first is an economic conflict between the educated younger generation, who make up half the Middle East’s population, and the old oppressive regimes that could not supply them with jobs. This conflict led to the Arab Spring and to predictions by optimists that a democratic tidal wave would sweep through the Arab world, similar to the one that saw the collapse of the old Soviet empire. This was wishful thinking. Instead, Islamist…

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MIDDLE EAST: Egypt becomes a nightmare for Muslim Brotherhood

Having achieved power after surviving 80 years of persecution, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is now widely despised and facing growing nationwide protests. The Brotherhood’s long-awaited dream of making Egypt an Islamic state is turning into a nightmare, only two years after President Hosni Mubarek was deposed by massive protests, says Zvi Mazel, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt.[1] So deep is the economic, social and political crisis that there is a serious threat of civil war, although many believe that the army would step in before that happened. Civil disobedience is rife. In Cairo and across Egypt there are daily demonstrations calling…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Gathering storm clouds in the East China Sea

The confrontation between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea initially rated almost no mention in the Australian media. The Senkaku Islands. The dispute was expected to burn itself out long ago, but instead it has progressed from words to shows of force, then to shadow-boxing, and now threatens to boil over into violence. As the seriousness of the situation has belatedly been recognised, an explanation is being sought for the sudden interest of both parties in these tiny islands. The answer that is in vogue, at least in Australia, is that the islands encompass…

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LATIN AMERICA: Death of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez

Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez (1954-2013), who died on March 5 — the 60th anniversary of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s death — made five bids to lead his country. The first, a failed 1992 coup d’état, led to his jailing. The plotters making this bid, dubbed Operation Zamora, called themselves the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 and claimed to be inspired by three 19th-century historical Venezuelans, Ezequiel Zamora, Simón Bolivar and Simón Rodríguez. After being released in 1994 Chávez undertook a 100-day whistlestop tour of Venezuela, followed by visits to several South American countries and particularly to communist Cuba to meet Fidel Castro.…

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ITALY: Former comedian now Italy’s kingmaker

Weeks after the Italian people voted overwhelmingly to reject the government of technocrats imposed by the European Union (EU) — and, by implication, to reject the EU’s austerity program — there is still no clear sign that a stable government can be formed with a working majority in the Italian parliament. Italian economist and newspaper columnist Carlo Bastasin, in an election commentary for the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said, “No parliament, no government, no president of the republic. And now not even a pope. The situation in Italy resembles a house of cards in a perfect storm.” Italy’s left-wing coalition, the…

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COVER STORY: Red China’s global cyber-espionage exposed

An American computer security company, Mandiant, which was targeted by Chinese cyber-spies, turned the tables on the hackers, infiltrating their systems and documenting the massive degree of computer espionage undertaken by the Chinese regime, through the government’s military force, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Mandiant has been tracking Chinese computer espionage since 2004, on behalf of both corporate clients and US government departments. It has documented the extent of computer hacking, from one key PLA site in Shanghai, in a special report, available on its website, www.mandiant.com. Kevin Mandia The Chinese attack on Mandiant came through an apparently innocuous email…

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JAPAN: Japan’s policy U-turn to reverse 20-year decline

The recently-elected government of Shinzo Abe in Japan has announced a radical — some call it revolutionary — expansion of government economic activity, to address over 20 years of economic stagnation. The Liberal Democratic Party was elected last year with a mandate to get Japan’s economy moving again, in the wake of the global financial crisis and the Fukushima disaster. The latter two events, on top of the country’s long-term economic decline, has made Japan almost irrelevant to the world’s economy, despite its importance as a source of high-technology manufactured goods. One of the new government’s first initiatives was to…

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FRANCE: Homosexuals support protest against same-sex marriage

A protest march in support of heterosexual marriage took place in Paris on January 13. As many as 1.4 million French men and women came out to show their concern for family values and to oppose moves by French President François Hollande’s socialist government to legalise same-sex marriage. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media offered very little coverage about this massive turnout. And it was even quieter on this incredible fact: many leading homosexuals took part in the march. Indeed, one of the co-sponsors of it is an atheist and a homosexual. This under-reported element must be highlighted. So too the…

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CANADA: Impact of same-sex marriage laws on free speech

Each day we see more examples of how the campaign for same-sex marriage is spelling the end of faith, freedom and family. One simply has to look at countries where special rights for homosexuals — including marriage rights — have been in place to see how it translates into a severe curtailment of civil liberties. Consider the situation in just one country, Canada, where special rights for homosexuals have been given for quite some time now, and homosexual marriage has been legal since 2005. The situation in Canada is very bleak indeed, and getting worse by the day. Two lengthy…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: South Africa – flawed, but not yet fractured

One may expect an expatriate South African journalist — a notoriously cynical breed — bearing one of the most illustrious names in Afrikanerdom to be bitter about her homeland, but she is not. She is cautiously optimistic. Charmaine Pretorius, a former high-flying journalist with the South African Press Trust, says South African democracy is flawed, but it isn’t broken. Andries Pretorius (1798-1853) was the leader of the voortrekkers, who set off with their ox wagons and families into the veldt to escape the British and to practise their religion as they saw fit. Despite two Boer Wars, the British never…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Romney draws level with Obama in presidential race

This article was written before News Weekly went to press on October 31, and before American voters cast their vote on November 6. Barack Obama has been re-elected President of the United States of America.  Two weeks before the presidential election, which will shape America for the next four years, the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, drew level with President Barack Obama after trailing consistently since the party primaries some months ago. At the time of writing, the momentum had swung towards the challenger. Even before the third and final presidential debate on October 22 (US time), a range of US…

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ASIA: Island dispute pits Japan against Taiwan and China

Generalising about one billion people may seem fraught with hazard, but it is nevertheless true that the Chinese have a very strong sense of ethnic identity which comes to the fore when territorial issues are involved. The clash between Japan and both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) shows just how quickly these nationalist issues can ignite. The dispute is over a small group of islands in the East China Sea known to Japan as the Senkakus, to Taiwan as the Daoyutai Archipelago and to China as the Diaoyu Islands. As a result of this…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Soaring inflation hits Iranian regime

Revealing insights into economic conditions within closed societies can emerge from the most unexpected quarters. The latest example of this has occurred in relation to the tightening of Tehran’s ― and the rest of Iran’s ― chicken and chicken-meat market. Information reaching the West indicates that chicken prices have trebled over the past year, and nearly doubled in the last few months. One reason for this is the fact that chicken meat is an extremely popular commodity for the average Iranian. American Middle Eastern affairs expert, Michael A. Ledeen, makes this very point well. “Anyone who has spent much time…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Leadership transition to determine future of China

Behind closed doors in Beijing, a leadership battle is taking place which will determine the direction taken by China’s government over the next five to 10 years. Despite the fact that no announcements have emerged from the government, internet bloggers and observers in Hong Kong have been able to piece together a reasonably clear picture of what is happening within the leadership elite of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which has run the country for the past 63 years. Within the leadership group, it had been determined years ago that at this year’s 18th Congress of the CCP the next…

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SYRIA: Christians’ plight lost under mountain of propaganda

Without a doubt, the greatest lie being told about the Syrian conflict is that it is being waged by President Assad against “the Syrian people”. This is pure propaganda. In December 2011, just three months into the crisis, the Qatar Foundation conducted a major poll inside Syria to assess the level of support for Assad. (This was before al-Qaeda and other international Salafi jihadists started flooding in, making the crisis worse). As an advocate of regime change in Syria, Qatar was embarrassed by the results and so buried them. When eventually leaked, the results revealed that 55 per cent of…

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UNITED KINGDOM: Britain’s political correctness lunacy

Britain can no longer be called a free society. The hysterical and excessive enforcement of political correctness in Britain has now reached such a pitch that the country can be regarded as in many ways neither free nor even sane. David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition government, having inherited this situation, has nor only condoned it but encouraged it to go further. A few days ago, Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London staged a five-day trial, at taxpayers’ expense, in which a football player, John Terry, was charged with calling a black footballer, Anton Ferdinand, “black”. A criminal investigation led to Terry’s arrest…

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CANADA: Assisted suicide upheld under rights charter

VANCOUVER: On June 15, the British Columbia Supreme Court rendered a controversial judgment in the case of Carter vs. Canada, one that purports to create constitutional immunity for those who provide assistance to those seeking to kill themselves — a judgment that stands at odds with the Supreme Court of Canada’s Rodriguez ruling in 1993. The only saving grace is that doctors will not be scribbling lethal prescriptions any day soon: current law will stand for at least a year (the sole exception being the plaintiff in this case, 64-year-old amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS] patient Gloria Taylor). Let us hope…

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SYRIA: The Moscow-Minsk-Tehran axis propping up Assad

Syria’s civil war is unambiguously showing that Russia sticks by its long-time allies, while the West, especially the United States, continues to disengage from the Middle East. A Syrian affairs expert, Jonathan Spyer, who visited Australia recently, is a senior fellow at the Israel-based Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center. He told his Australian audience that Russia, hand-in-glove with Iran, is propping up the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Russia has not only steadfastly opposed the imposition of sanctions aimed at pressuring Assad to relinquish power, but has instead opted to significantly beef up its military aid to…

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TAIWAN: Taiwan’s globally competitive manufacturing sector

Taiwan is a small island only half the size of Tasmania with a population of 23 million — slightly more than Australia. Keeping those people employed and the economy growing would seem to be a task in itself. But Taiwan has not only survived, it has thrived, as have its traditional industries, in large part due to intelligent government support which has allowed them to upgrade their products to meet ever-increasing international competition. When the seat of government of the Republic of China (ROC) relocated to Taipei in 1949, Taiwan was an agrarian society. It had been a colony of…

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MIDDLE EAST: Muslim Brotherhood to benefit as Egypt descends into chaos

Egyptians are in the unenviable predicament of being about to exchange their six-decade-old authoritarian military dictatorship for a hardline Islamist government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood. The regime change is unlikely to be smooth, and Egypt faces the prospect of severe and prolonged food shortages if not famine. The political turmoil last year that the Western media enthusiastically hailed as the “Arab Spring” could become what a growing number of Middle East watchers are fearing could be an Arab Winter. One well-informed commentator on the Middle East is Col. (ret.) Dr Jacques Neriah, a former foreign policy adviser to Israel’s…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Australia rolls out red carpet for China’s Himmler

Many observers who have not had direct personal experience of the Chinese people imagine them to be like a colony of ants, where regimented conformity produces a perfectly functioning society. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Chinese are natural anarchists, who want nothing more than to be left alone to manage their own affairs. Conformity is an aim that is seldom achieved, however much the dynasty in power may desire it. Zhou Yongkang The traditional aim of Chinese governance has been what the scholar and sage Confucius called da tung or “great commonwealth”, an era of peace, prosperity…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Extent of China’s leadership crisis becoming evident

China’s leadership transition was supposed to be smooth and trouble-free, as it was a decade ago, when Hu Jintao emerged as President and Wen Jiabao, the smiling tiger, as Premier. Wen would be known as Prime Minister in Australia, but is actually only number three in China’s hierarchy. He has proved to be a most presentable spokesman for the Communist regime. This time the transition will not be smooth. The detention of Bo Xilai, pin-up boy for the Party’s left faction in Szechuan Province in China’s far west, is only one part of a larger puzzle. Bo had previously been…

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IRAN: Iranian opposition pleas unheeded by Obama

A leading American expert on Iran has released a secret memorandum to the Obama administration from Iran’s political opposition, known as the Green Movement. The Green Movement emerged in response to Iran’s fraudulently conducted June 2009 election that ensured President Mahmoud Ahmadinjad retained power ahead of his challenger, ex-prime minister Mir Hussein Mousavi, who is now regarded as Iran’s underground opposition leader. A previously unknown 2,840-word memorandum from the Greens, dated November 30, 2009, although neither addressed nor signed, was intended for the eyes of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to former Reagan administration Iranian…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Western media duped by mirage of Arab Spring

It is now just over 14 months since the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouaziz, a Tunisian baker, an event which led to considerable turmoil and unrest across the Middle East and regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The popular term used to designate these changes, the “Arab Spring”, I have long considered to be a confection of the Western media based as it was on the naïve belief that it portended a desire in the region to embrace Western-style democracy. While the reforms in Tunisia have left us with some grounds for optimism, events in Egypt and Libya have proved…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: How Islamists hijacked the Arab Revolution

Just over a year ago, popular uprisings broke out in the Arab world, in response to a crisis there arising from the corruption of despotic Arab rulers, chronic unemployment, soaring prices and a stifling lack of freedom of expression. First Tunisia, then Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iran and Syria have been convulsed by massive protests demanding an end to despotic rule, corruption and economic stagnation, which have paralysed these countries for decades, but which had been blamed on either the United States or Israel. In the West, the response to the protests was euphoric. Leaders such as Barack Obama, British Prime…

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AFRICA: How free enterprise is transforming Africa

After more than 50 years of the West trying to kick-start economic growth in Africa by showering the Dark Continent with aid, Africa is finally growing — not because of aid, but because of private enterprise. Of course, growth is not uniform, and some economies which should be doing well aren’t doing well at all. Lord Peter T. Bauer (1915-2002), a Hungarian-born conservative British economist, set out the pathway for development in Africa when he said that economic development depended on “aptitudes and attitudes”, not aid. Bauer was writing in the 1970s, when Africa’s backwardness was put down to “Western…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: China builds trade links with Taiwan

While President Obama has been pushing a new trade agreement in the Pacific, which effectively excludes China, China itself has quietly been building trade links across the Taiwan Straits. For many years, Taiwanese firms have invested on the mainland, often setting up manufacturing subsidiaries in China; but for many ears, political differences have prevented the establishment of a fully mature trading relationship between free Taiwan and the communist People’s Republic of China. However, since Kuomintang leader Ma Ying-jeou was elected President of Taiwan in March 2008, the cross-strait tensions that go back 60 years have cooled, and economic and cultural…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Taiwan faces risk of demographic collapse

In an important response to the ageing of its population, a Taiwanese government minister has stated that Taiwan has missed the chance to deal with its demographic decline which will have a damaging effect on its economy and its future. China Times reported that during a recent seminar the Minister without Portfolio, Hseuh Chern-tay, suggested that Taiwan’s population decline was irreversible, and he said that all that could be done was to lessen its impact by keeping elderly people in the workforce longer. According to a study by the Industrial Technology Research Institute, senior citizens 65 years and over will…

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MIDDLE EAST: How the West misreads Middle East dictatorships

Middle Eastern dictators are toppled only by direct Western military intervention or when they lose the backing of their armed forces chiefs, according to Barry Rubin, deputy director of the Tel Aviv-based Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. When neither factor enters the political mix, Muslims in the Middle East have been unable to remove longstanding dictatorships. Rubin says that the lesson from Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s assassination is that he, like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, became vulnerable to losing power once Western forces intervened. And the only reason Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s President Ben Ali fell was because…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Russia enacts new law to restrict abortion

Faced with a catastrophic decline in its population, Russia is acting to restrict the availability of abortion in the country. The restrictions follow nearly 90 years of permissive abortion laws, introduced originally after the communists seized power in Russia in 1917. Since the collapse of communism in Russia around 1990, the official abortion rate has declined. Currently, government figures put the number of abortions in Russia at about 1.3 million a year, about the same as the number of live births. However, pro-life activists in Russia believe that the real abortion rate is much higher, because of the incidence of…

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MEXICO: Marriage … with a two-year expiry date!

Advocates for same-sex marriage have assured the public they do not want to diminish the status of marriage, only to enhance it. However in Mexico City, which legalised same-sex “marriage” in 2010, lawmakers are proposing two-year marriage licences as a way to cut down on clogged courts and messy divorces. The City Assembly of Mexico City has proposed that the licence would contain within it the outlines of how the marriage would be dissolved at the end of two years if the parties wished to end it, and the contracts would include detailed provisions on the custody of children and…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Iranian plot to kill Saudi man in Washington

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force was thwarted in an apparent attempt to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US, Adel Al-Jubeir, by means of a suicide-bomb attack in a Washington restaurant. The plot came adrift when it was penetrated by US authorities, including the Drug Enforcement Agency. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton swiftly denounced this somewhat crude and brazen plot and those behind it. Attorney-General Eric Holder declared that, in addition to fully prosecuting two suspects, the US intended to “hold the Iranian government accountable for its actions”. (The reaction of the US…

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TAIWAN: Taiwan celebrates centenary of Republic

On October 10, 1911, the Shin Hai Revolution, led by Dr Sun Yat-sen, overthrew 5,000 years of dynastic rule in China and established the Republic of China. On Double Ten Day, when Chinese communities worldwide celebrate this centenary, they inevitably think of Taiwan. For many years, after the relocation of the seat of Republican government to Taipei in 1949, Taiwan stood as a bright but lonely beacon in a dark world dominated by the contending totalitarian powers of the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union. Taiwan survived ejection from the United Nations in 1971 and bounced back, even…

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MIDDLE EAST: Arab Spring presages endgame for Egypt

Egypt faces a fate far worse than war-torn Somalia, according to leading American financial and religious affairs writer David P. Goldman, who also writes under the pen-name “Spengler”. He warns that few appreciate how close Egypt is to economic and social collapse. Goldman is a former senior editor of First Things, a New York-based ecumenical journal that seeks to create a “religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society”. He was previously research director at the Bank of America and at Credit Suisse. (See this webpage for details of his new book, How Civilizations End). He writes that Egypt’s…

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FINANCIAL AFFAIRS: Ruby anniversary of demise of gold-backed currency

The gold standard (that is, a gold-backed currency) was just a “barbarous relic”, according to the 20th-century’s most influential economist, John Maynard Keynes. But if the gold standard is just an outdated relic, why has the price of gold soared to over US$1,800 an ounce, a level it hasn’t seen in decades? And why have calls for a return to the gold standard been such a big issue in the Republican Party nomination race for the U.S. presidency? The reason is that people don’t trust paper money in times of economic distress. Gold has functioned as a store of value,…

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COVER STORY: Remembering the day that shook the world

September 11 this year marked the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC — a day of infamy that has seared itself indelibly on people’s memories. At 08:46;26, Eastern Daylight Time, American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 airliner, with 92 people on board, that had been hijacked in mid-air en route from Boston to Los Angeles, speared into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York, between floors 93 and 99, travelling at an estimated airspeed of 425 knots (790km/h), breaching the central…

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TURKEY: Turkish army purge spells end of Kemalism

When NATO’s second biggest army falls victim to a ruthless political make-over, one would expect that it would send political shockwaves across the world. The Turkish army has undergone a radical transformation since 2007, yet this has been barely reported in the Australian media. On July 29, chief of Turkey’s general staff, General Isik Kosaner, and the heads of Turkey’s army, navy and air force, resigned. Kosaner said he did so because it was “impossible” for him to continue serving in light of the government’s detention of 250 serving and retired military personnel, including several generals and admirals. On the…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Vietnamese clash with Beijing over South China Sea

In recent weeks, thousand of anti-China protesters, with flags and banners, have massed in Seattle, Houston, Calgary and Melbourne to demonstrate against what they see as bullying behaviour by Beijing in an escalating row over control of the South China Sea. The 1.7 million square km South China Sea is crossed by key shipping lanes and is believed to hold potentially large oil and gas reserves. Apart from mainland China and Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have also laid claims to parts of this sea. Vietnamese demonstrators waved flags, sang patriotic songs and chanted “Down with China!” and…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Why Portuguese voters punished spendthrift Government

Recent elections in Western Europe have seen the defeat of governments which had run up massive deficits, threatening national insolvency. The recent Portuguese election followed a course previously seen in Ireland, Iceland and arguably Britain, where the Labour Government was defeated last year. In Portugal, the minority Socialist Government of José Sócrates was forced to call an early election when its austerity plan to cut the country’s massive government deficit was defeated in the Portuguese parliament. Portugalrequested a nearly $115 billion bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in April, after it became obvious that the country…

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MIDDLE EAST: Obama’s Middle East reset leaves Israel out in cold

The late Dr Frank Knopfelmacher of the University of Melbourne, one of Australia’s most incisive analysts of socio-cultural and strategic matters, said that the future of Israel would be decided, not on the battlefields of the Middle East, but on the streets of New York. He said this because no matter how bravely the Israelis fought or how brilliant their generals were, their future ultimately depended on their support in America. If America — or, more specifically, American Jews — abandoned Israel, that would seal the fate of the Jewish state. So far, the United States hasn’t abandoned Israel, but…

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CHINA: One hundred years of republican government in China

On October 10 this year, Chinese communities around the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, the single event that established modern China. Known as “Double Ten” in Taiwan, the Xinhai Revolution was named after the date in the traditional Chinese calendar on which the revolution fell, marking the end of 5,000 years of imperial rule in China. Chinahad been in turmoil for a hundred years, under attack from within and without. The Taiping Rebellion, led by a Chinese Christian with heretical beliefs, killed tens of millions in the 19th century and led to chaos and famine…

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SRI LANKA: Australia silent over war crimes against Tamils

Everybody should read the United Nations’ recent 214-page report on war crimes committed in Sri Lanka both by the government forces and by Tamils fighting for their homeland in the country’s north-east. (UN Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, March 31, 2011). It is a timely reminder of “man’s inhumanity to man”. If Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd had declared that we must intervene in Libya because the world cannot allow another massacre of innocent civilians as had occurred in Sri Lanka, his call at the UN for intervention in Libya would have a…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Prime Minister Gillard kowtows to China

During her recent overseas trip, Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited Japan, South Korea and China, before jetting off to London to represent Australia at the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The incongruity of Julia Gillard, a professed republican, attending a royal wedding was matched only by the fact that she was accompanied by her partner, Tim Mathieson, and that the royal wedding guests included, prominently, Elton John and his homosexual partner, David Furnish. In light of the fact that the US President was not invited to the wedding, and Australia was already represented by our head of…

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MIDDLE EAST: Libyan impasse the result of multiple policy failures

Two months ago, it seemed certain that a popular uprising, which had forced the resignation of the autocratic presidents of Egypt and Tunisia, would engulf Libya, the oil-rich north African state led by the tyrannical President Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled his country with a rod of iron since 1969. Instead, the popular uprising in Libya has descended into stalemate, with Gaddafi still entrenched in his capital, Tripoli, and apparently unmoved by the rebellion in eastern Libya. Despite the defection of not only some of his senior military commanders, but also the justice minister and the foreign minister, there seems…

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SRI LANKA: Kevin Rudd silent on the plight of the Tamils

It is two years since the civil war ended in Sri Lanka between the majority Sinhalese government in Colombo and the Tamil minority struggling for autonomy in their north-east homeland. The Tamils were crushed by overwhelming, undiscriminating firepower that rained down on them from the Sinhalese air force and ranks of artillery. Only when the guns fell silent were civilians separated from soldiers. The former were herded into largely known concentration camps while the fate of the latter is still unknown. The entire Tamil population of the north-east was caught up in the conflict. According to the Catholic bishop of…

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JAPAN: Why Japan will recover from Sendai quake-tsunami

Despite hysterical scaremongering in many parts of the media, there can be no doubt that Japan will quickly recover from the terrible earthquake off the port of Sendai, in northern Japan, which has cost the lives of tens of thousands of people, mainly as a result of a tsunami which swept up to 8 km inland, destroying coastal towns and villages in its path. We can be confident of Japan’s recovery, because similar earthquake disasters have occurred before, in far more populous parts of Japan, and because of the Japanese people’s extraordinary willingness to work together to get over such…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Good intentions not enough to defeat Gaddafi

It is a well-understood principle of military action that clearly defined and achievable objectives are necessary to win a war. The American defeat in South Vietnam, and the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, were a consequence of the failure to develop a coherent military strategy and then pursue it. The attacks on Colonel Gaddafi’s military forces in Libya risk failure for the same reason: there is confusion over what the Allied military action is to achieve, and existing divisions — within the Allied forces as well as the Arab world — will be exacerbated as the war goes on. The background…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Obama reaps whirlwind in the Middle East

For years, American policy in the Middle East has pursued two contradictory objectives: maintaining in power authoritarian pro-American governments to counter Islamist extremism, and espousing the rhetoric of democracy. Barack Obama reinforced this in June 2009 in his famous Cairo speech in which he sought a new relationship with the Islamic world. The US regarded the speech as of such importance that the White House had it translated into 14 languages. President Obama said, in part, “I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest…

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TAIWAN: WikiLeaks rattle Taiwan’s external relationships

Taiwan is on tenterhooks as WikiLeaks releases reveal more information than the government would care for about the two relationships that define Taiwan’s strategic outlook – those with China and the United States. So far, WikiLeaks have exposed, among other things, the locations of the four undersea communication cables that link Taiwan to Hong Kong and also information about the triangular relationship between Taiwan, the US and China. As described in the leaked record of conversation between former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Beijing is sub-rational about Taiwan, which it regards as a…

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POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: Offended by the offended

CALIFORNIA: Five Live Oak High School students’ First Amendment rights were challenged this year when they were asked to leave school because they donned American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo,* an offence one official called “incendiary”. Other students could wear or wave the Mexican flag and any number of other potentially offensive messages, but wearing the American flag in America is just too “incendiary”. To their credit, the Morgan Hill Unified School District did not concur with the suspensions, but the “offended” still got their way. Unfortunately, in America today, being offended works! It’s become an effective strategy for…

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Kenyan or Keynesian? (letter)

Sir, Two of a number of debates surrounding the presidency of Barack Obama have included those economic policies, often described as those of Cambridge economist John Maynard Keynes. To a lesser extent, others argue that Obama’s presidency is invalid because, as they claim, “he wasn’t born in America, but in Kenya”. In a series of interviews among a dozen Obama supporters, seen on US television recently, some interesting responses emerged. Referring to his economic policies, they were asked if they thought Obama was a Keynesian. All but one replied, somewhat angrily: “No, I believe he was born in Hawaii.” The…

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KOREAN WAR: 60th anniversary of a nasty but necessary war

Look at a map of East Asia, find the Korean Peninsula and look where it points: straight towards Japan’s main islands. Korea has been described as a dagger aimed at the heart of Japan. That’s why the Korean War was a necessary war. If you doubt Korea’s importance in the scheme of things, consider that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of communist North Korea, is that very rare thing – a formal treaty partner with the People’s Republic of China. Without China’s support, North Korea’s economy would collapse. One day, even with China’s support, the North…

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AFGHANISTAN: The case for Australia’s continued engagement

Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan – currently the subject of parliamentary debate – is based on two underlying principles. First, we are acting in support of our American ally which is carrying the main burden of the war effort. Second, in attempting to deny the Taliban from gaining power in Afghanistan again, we are in effect continuing to fight fundamentalist Islamic terrorism. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that these are worthwhile objectives. We have a small civilian effort alongside the military component, and the former is doing its best to win “hearts and minds”, which is extremely difficult…

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COVER STORY: Election outcome will weaken Obama

As News Weekly goes to press, Americans are voting in elections which will give the Republicans control of one or both houses of the US Congress, effectively imposing a veto on Obama’s domestic agenda and making him a lame-duck President for the second half of his current term. Unless Obama can pull the rabbit out of a hat, it seems likely that the resurgent Republicans will comfortably capture control of the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats are up for election, and increase their numbers in the Senate which the Democrats currently control by 59 votes to 41. Opinion…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Why Australia needs to stay in East Timor

Australia should respond positively to East Timorese requests to expand its security and economic presence in East Timor. Joao Boavida,CEPAD’s executive director. This is the recommendation of a recently-released report produced by and for the people of East Timor by the Timorese development agency CEPAD (Centre of Studies for Peace and Development), giving an up-to-date account of the major issues facing East Timor today. In 1999, Australia led an international intervention force in East Timor, which lies just off the coast of Western Australia, after the people voted for independence from Indonesia which had run East Timor since occupying the…

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CHINA: Institute accused of being Beijing’s mouthpiece

When Jon Stewart, host of the popular left-leaning American late night comedy and current affairs offering The Daily Show, highlighted vigorous public protests over the opening of a Confucius Institute in a Californian school in October, it brought into the open a simmering dispute over the legitimacy of China’s soft power push. The Confucius Institutes were founded by the Communist Government of China to spread Chinese language and culture throughout the world. Now, some 282 Confucius Institutes have been established throughout the world, along with 272 smaller Confucius classrooms in an astounding 88 countries, including Jamaica, Ethiopia, Romania, Israel, Dubai…

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Questions about Venezuela’s links with radical Muslims

A two-year FBI sting has led to a scientist and his wife being charged with conspiring to sell American nuclear secrets to Venezuela. The operation is the second such sting to be disclosed by the FBI in the last three months. The first, in June, gained worldwide media attention when the FBI arrested 10 Russian sleeper agents who had been posing as Americans since 2000. Their mission was to identify for their Moscow controllers American citizens who may be vulnerable for later recruitment. Unbeknown to the 10 imposters was that their moves were being closely monitored, beginning in 2003, by…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: China’s military build-up threatens Taiwan

A Pentagon report has documented a build-up of Chinese military forces opposite Taiwan since 2008 when Taiwan elected a new government committed to improving relations with Beijing. The build-up comes at a time when China has been extending a diplomatic olive-branch to Taiwan in a number of areas, including the establishment of direct sea and air links across the Taiwan Strait, an economic co-operation agreement, and other moves to reduce tensions between democratic Taiwan and mainland China. The contrast between Beijing’s unadvertised military build-up and its diplomatic offensive is worrying not only to Taipei and Washington, but to other regional…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Wikileaks points to Pakistan, Iran support for Taliban

Among the 90,000 US military documents published on the internet site, Wikileaks, a number contain disturbing allegations that Iran and Pakistan’s intelligence service had secretly armed Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan to kill Afghan government employees and Western troops. The reports are unconfirmed, and have been denied by both Iran and Pakistan; but they cannot be simply dismissed, as the Taliban have clearly been receiving continued external supplies to enable them to continue their guerrilla war in the eight years since American-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. According to the Wikileaks documents, in 2004 and 2005, Iran offered…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Timorese leaders reject Gillard’s asylum scheme

Leaders of East Timor and of the East Timorese community in Australia have rejected Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s planned asylum-processing centre in East Timor. The plan emerged from informal discussions between Ms Gillard and East Timor’s President, José Ramos Horta, during his recent visit to Australia. Deputy Prime Minister of East Timor, Mario Carrascalao, told Paul Toohey, of Melbourne’s Herald Sun, that there was no chance that a processing centre for asylum-seekers would be built in his country. He said: “It’s not going to happen. A resolution against the processing centre was passed by the Parliament, and it was supported…

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TAIWAN: Could China trade pact reduce cross-strait tension?

Trade is Taiwan’s lifeblood, and the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou is banking on a new trade agreement with mainland China giving the economy a shot in the arm. The self-governing island sees no alternative but to do a deal with Beijing to allow its exports greater access to the giant China market. Taiwan, with some 23 million people crammed into an area half the size of Tasmania, is a world centre of the information technology industry. Taiwan’s investors have poured in excess of $100 billion into investments on the Chinese mainland, helping to kick-start China’s export-led growth story. The…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Beijing’s softly, softly approach to Taiwan, Hong Kong

Recent events in relation to Taiwan and Hong Kong show that the Chinese Communist Party is showing increasing sophistication in dealing with ethnic Chinese societies overseas in a way which protects its interests. After Mao Zedong seized control of China in October 1949, at the end of over 20 years of civil war, the defeated Nationalists retreated to the island of Taiwan, off the coast of China, where they established the government of the Republic of China. From that time onwards, Beijing has engaged in political and military struggles to forcibly reunite Taiwan with the mainland. One result of Beijing’s…

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MIDDLE EAST: Israeli nuclear-missile submarines stationed off Iran

The global media have been so fixated on reporting – or misreporting – the Turkish-inspired Gaza flotilla that many reporters have overlooked a far more significant flotilla which has been dispatched by Israel to the Persian Gulf. At the same time as Israeli naval commandos were boarding the Mavi Marmara (a vessel belonging to the Turkish self-styled “humanitarian agency”, the IHH, which has links to Islamist terrorists), news surfaced that Israel had redeployed three of its five Dolphin-class submarines in the Gulf. All three of these German-built submarines – the Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan – have previously patrolled in the…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Beijing thwarts sanctions against North Korea

In a move which shows the Communist regime in Beijing in its true colours, Beijing has effectively protected North Korea from international sanctions, after it was proven that a North Korean submarine had torpedoed a South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, in international waters, with the loss of 46 lives. The leaders of China and North Korea shaking hands in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, on 5 May 2010. Both the United States and South Korea directly requested the Chinese Government to rein in the Stalinist regime of Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang; but China’s response was simply to point…

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INDIA: India’s ‘Red Corridor’ and the Naxalite threat

Observers of Indian affairs can be forgiven for fearing that the world’s second most populous nation risks joining the ranks of failed states. New Delhi’s announcement early in April that Maoist rebels had killed 75 Indian soldiers in a series of attacks on security convoys in eastern Chhattisgarh state may have stunned many Westerners. But those following Indian affairs closely were not surprised. The perpetrators, Maoist rebels known as Naxalites, have since their formation in the late 1960s been responsible for the deaths of some 6,000 Indian soldiers and government officials. Last year’s death toll exceeded 1,100, up by more…

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS: China and the West: war without guns

The international mainstream media speculate on what China is up to, rivalling or replacing the United States of America, the world’s sometime “sole superpower”. Chinese army officers openly called for retaliation against America’s arming of Taiwan by all sorts of “oblique means and stealthy feints”, including sales of US bonds. Behind the latest Sino-US cold war lie many years of cyber-warfare and espionage, but also struggles for control between the power structures within China. Reports on censorship of Google by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Government, coupled with internet-hacking, highlighted the worsening of relations between the two so-called superpowers.…

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POLAND: Aircraft crash annihilates Polish leadership

“Not since the height of Stalinist repressions have so many of the country’s best and brightest perished.” That was how The Economist described the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others aboard a Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft that was attempting to land at a fog-bound airport in Smolensk, western Russia, on April 10. The delegation was due to attend the 70th anniversary commemoration of the World War II Katyn Forest murder of thousands of Polish army officers who had been captured by