Memo #194 – Next month, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr will make his maiden visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG), Australia’s nearest neighbour and second largest recipient of Australian foreign aid. This visit comes 10 months after the then brand-new foreign minister threatened PNG with sanctions following suggestions from within the PNG government that national elections might be delayed. Not surprisingly, these threats did not go down well with Papua New Guineans. But ironically, Foreign Minister Carr can take partial responsibility for inspiring a new, digital generation of Papua New Guineans to engage in public discussion. Continue reading
Memo # 189 – Foreign policy may not be the result of a rational, calculated, and well-coordinated act. Instead, it may stem from messy domestic politics or bureaucratic inertia and oversight. This idea applies to the Japanese government’s actions in the Senkaku dispute, even though critics paint a portrait of a monolithic Japanese government masterminding a Senkaku strategy. Continue reading
Memo #173 – Mongolia continues its rapid ascent in the strategic playbook of the United States and the West. The US views Mongolia through an integrated lens balancing its economic interests with strategic concerns. As the world’s fastest growing economy (GDP growth at 17.3 per cent in 2011), Mongolia is an appealing target for foreign investors in sectors such as mining, nuclear power, and technology. For Washington though, security still trumps in Mongolia. The US continues to view Mongolia as a credible partner in an uncertain area filled with truculent neighbours. Continue reading
Memo #113 – Dramatic changes appear to be underway in Burma since a quasi-civilian government took office in March 2011.
Although there are many uncertainties over the extent and sincerity of the new government’s initiatives for reforms, which have been both political and economic, one thing is clear: the reforms that have been initiated in Burma since March 2011 have been the most significant in over half a century. The country is at a critical juncture, and while it is still too early to tell just how developments will play out, for the first time in years there is reason to be optimistic about Burma’s political direction. Continue reading
Memo #54 – We are witnessing rapid changes in the foreign policy environment of North Korea. These changes have serious regional and global implications. Nuclear weapons, famine, refugees, human rights, and regional security, are issues that, according to Professor Kyung-Ae Park, require a thorough understanding of the domestic and external forces behind North Korea’s foreign policy. Her book, New Challenges of North Korean Foreign Policy brings together 10 of the world’s leading experts to examine the challenges facing North Korea in the foreign policy arena today. Continue reading