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Recent years have seen a global resurgence of ethnic nationalism. Yet, political identities based on ethnicity are nothing new. In fact, ethno-nationalist desires reshaped Europe’s borders in the early 20th century with devastating consequences. Despite more than seven decades of relative peace, largely kept in place by the multilateral organizations and deepening global integration, nationalism appears to be returning to the forefront of politics once more. In Europe, politicians and political parties are tapping on anti-immigrant nationalist sentiment. For instance, Italy’s Matteo Salvini has openly advocated solutions which involve marginalizing ethnically-defined “others”. Rogers Brubaker, professor of sociology at UCLA, has coined the term “civilizationism” to describe the rhetoric used by multiple European political parties which claims that the ethno-cultural homogeneity …

Recent revelations about the alleged misuse of the personal data of millions of Facebook users have dominated international headlines. Reportedly, Cambridge Analytica exploited loopholes in Facebook’s privacy settings to create psychometric profiles for targeted political influence campaigns. Thus far, available evidence suggests that the firm was active all over the globe, but not directly involved in Australian politics. So, why has the Cambridge Analytica scandal got alarm bells ringing, on the opposite side of the world, in Canberra? To understand the significance these events for Australia, one must understand our geopolitical position in the Pacific. Australia has long thought of itself as the United States’ younger sibling. In 2003, US President George Bush memorably labelled Australia America’s “deputy sheriff” and …

The decision of the United Kingdom (UK) to leave the European Union (EU) in the referendum of June 23rd 2016 has reverberations well beyond Europe as a political and economic shock of substantial proportions. The future relationship of China, both with the remaining member states of the EU and with the UK, is one example of how a domestic political decision is having global ramifications as change ripples through the international system. Overarching any analysis about the impact of Brexit must be a sense of caution about what still remains unknown over the shape of future policy outcomes. Two cross-cutting factors are particularly important: the first is a legal and political one – what will the resulting settlement between the …

Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 11 December 2001 was a watershed for China’s international economic relations. Joining the WTO meant that, after two decades of gradually opening its economy and markets, China formally accepted both the benefits and obligations of membership in a multilaterally negotiated rules-based regime governing international trade. The long march towards WTO accession – its pitfalls and challenges as well as the impressive surge in China’s import and export figures thereafter – have been well documented. But, somewhat in the shadows of these remarkable achievements in the field of multilateral trade policy, foreign investment has emerged as another important component of China’s international economic relations.

East Asia’s rapid economic and military development has captured global attention. Analysis of news coverage demonstrates that regional economies and tensions have been growing in tandem. The South China Sea has historically been of particular interest because of the number of conflicting claims on the islands and sea-lanes it encompasses. Of note, these conflicts have never escalated to a full-scale regional war. Direct extrapolation suggests that previous restraint in military interactions implies the nations involved do not consider the potential benefits sufficient to justify an upset to the balance of power. However, contemporary changes in economic and security conditions complicate the issue.

Newly confirmed as US Secretary of State, John Kerry delivered his first policy speech last week, making the case for a renewed and proactive American diplomacy. Directing his remarks to the US Congress – and to Beijing’s leaders – more than to his actual audience at the University of Virginia, his message was urgent: “This is a time to continue to engage for the sake of the safety and the economic health of our country. This is not optional. It is a necessity.” Given the looming March 1 deadline for across-the-board sequestration which would reduce State Department operations by $850 million and foreign assistance by $1.7 billion, the US’ chief diplomat used his speech to defend the foreign policy budget against spending cuts, portraying foreign affairs as the guarantor of American economic prosperity.

When journalists at the Southern Weekly newspaper in China’s Guangdong province went on strike last week against a local censor, Chinese citizens and the international media alike sat up and took notice. Microblogs amplified the journalists’ demands and helped make the incident a national topic of debate. Foreign commentators drew parallels to 1989, suggesting this could be the start of bigger protests. But the deal quickly reached between Communist Party officials and the striking journalists shows that the system of media control is still very resilient.

The lightning growth of Chinese media is part of the dramatic expansion of the presence of Chinese diplomats, peacekeepers, commercial actors (state-owned or private) and ordinary citizens that has been transforming the African continent in the last 10-15 years.