UK Torture Report Raises Serious Questions

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3 July 2018

A recently released report of the UK Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament under the chairmanship of conservative MP Dominic Grieve QC has received remarkably little media coverage in Australia.  There are a number of reasons to be concerned about the information contained within the report, not least because it raises serious questions about the level of Australian complicity in the behaviour described in the report.

Following the events of 11thof September 2001 the administration of US president GW Bush announced its “war on terror.”  Components of this “war” including the setting up of secret and not so secret detention camps. Prisoners were “rendered” (i.e. kidnapped) to these camps where many have been held indefinitely, without trial, without due process of law, and as the UK report makes clear, tortured. Continue reading

AUSTRALIA AND THE BRI: WHY SO RELUCTANT?

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26 June 2018

 The Sydney Morning Herald has recently published a series of articles (18-23 June 2018) on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The articles come at a time when relations between China and Australia are getting distinctly cooler. The articles will do nothing to thaw the relationship. On the contrary, they are replete with the assumptions, allegations, falsehoods and queries that if anything, will reinforce Australia’s faulty perceptions as to what the BRI is, how it is transforming the development model that has prevailed since World War II, and how it is illustrative of China’s changing role, not just in Asia, but in Europe, Africa and South America. Continue reading

SOUTH CHINA SEA A TOUCHSTONE FOR THE NEW REALITIES

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22 June 2018         

 At the recent Australia-China Business Council meeting in Canberra, China’s ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye accused Australia of harbouring a cold war mentality, and said that “less bias and bigotry” was needed if the currently strained relationship between the two countries was to be repaired.

Prime Minister Turnbull, addressing the same conference after Mr Cheng, said that the relationship between Australia and China was a “very, very strong one” that could endure differences that might arise from time to time.

The different perspectives of the two men neatly reflect the wider problem in Australia-China relations: that each side has a different perspective that is not easy, and often impossible, to reconcile. Continue reading

 The SCO and G7 Meetings Point to Different Worlds

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13 June 2018                           

Two meetings of considerable geopolitical significance took place last weekend. They could not have been more different in tone and outcome. Each in their way were representative of the fundamental realignment that is taking place in the world order, and each points to a very different future.

The first of these meetings was the G7 (or G6+1 as some of the participants described it) in Québec City Canada. Attending were political leaders of the six largest (as measured by GDP) of western industrial nations and Japan. Continue reading

Time for an Overdue Reappraisal of Australia’s Place in a Changing World

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10 June 2018

It seems likely that the Australian House and Senate will pass the governments legislative proposals, ostensibly aimed at alleged foreign interference in Australia’s electoral process. Despite denials to the contrary, the legislation is manifestly aimed at alleged Chinese interference, although the scope of the proposed legislative provisions amounts to a sustained attack upon the ability of critics in the media and elsewhere to do their job of holding governments to account.

The cynic might argue that such legislation is hardly necessary, as serious and sustained criticism of the policies of successive Australian governments, and certainly in the “defence” and “national security” areas has been conspicuously absent for many years both from the mainstream media and the Labor opposition. Continue reading

Address to the Beijing People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries

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6 June 2018 

Mr President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues. My heartfelt thanks to the organizing committee of the Beijing People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries for the opportunity to visit Beijing and participate in this conference.

We are witnessing at the present time a period of unprecedented change in the geopolitical world. For the first time in at least three centuries the geopolitical balance is re-orientating from the west to the east. That process of reorientation creates both opportunities and challenges. It is on those opportunities and challenges that I wish to focus my remarks today.

As everyone in this room is aware, from the 16thto the 20thcenturies, certain Western nations embarked on a process of colonization. Although it is possible to point to some benefits of that process, most of the benefits accrued to the colonizing powers at the expense of exploitation of people and resources. Continue reading

Trump’s Cancellation of North Korean Summit Points to Old Habits and New Geopolitical Challenges

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25 May 2018

To absolutely no one’s surprise, US president Donald Trump has announced the cancellation of the summit meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un scheduled to have been held in Singapore on 12 June 2018.

In announcing his decision Trump referred to what was described in the letter he wrote to Kim blaming the North Koreans for the cancellation of the meeting with “the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement.” Continue reading