Indonesia Crosses the Nine-Dash Line

Indonesia Crosses the Nine-Dash LineOn July 14, Indonesia took a major step forward in confronting China’s South China Sea claims with an announcement that it was renaming a part of the sea in its territory the “North Natuna Sea,” becoming in a single step the most important Southeast Asian nation to stand up to Beijing. That may have come…

Myanmar’s Rohingya: A Far Wider Tragedy

Myanmar’s Rohingya: A Far Wider TragedyThe crisis of the Rohingya minority of Myanmar is not simply a humanitarian one of huge dimension and one that has revealed the fragility of Aung San Suu Kyi’s status as a Nobel Peace Prize winner. It is a multi-layered issue which, unless handled with much greater care than seen to date, will long reverberate…

Indonesia Can’t Get its Tourism Act Together

Indonesia Can’t Get its Tourism Act TogetherMillions of television viewers in multiple countries often see advertisements encouraging them to come to “Wonderful Indonesia.” The nation does indeed have an amazing number of actual or potential tourist attractions – historic sites, natural wonders, beautiful beaches, interesting buildings, wildlife, arts and local customs. It also now has okay hotels, a web of air…

Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom

Sovereign Women in a Muslim KingdomGiven the generally subservient position of women in most Muslim societies, unsurprisingly it is barely known that there have been occasions when women have been rulers in their own right, and effective ones at that. It is a particular surprise for those unfamiliar with the details of Southeast Asian history to find that Aceh, traditionally…

Book Review: China at War

Book Review: China at WarHistory, whether written by academics or popular writers, is usually delivered in easily recognizable chunks with familiar faces – the Pacific War, the Korean War, the Chinese Revolution, etc. But it is often the links between events that tell a more coherent story. Hans van de Ven, professor of Modern Chinese History at Cambridge University,…

US’s Tillerson Stirs up The South China Sea

US’s Tillerson Stirs up The South China SeaUnited States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Southeast Asia has exposed how the US’s current obsession with North Korea is undermining more important long-term interests. The only good thing one could say about the visit, which took in the Philippines – for ASEAN’s 50th anniversary – Thailand and Malaysia was that his words…

Astonishing North Korea Policy Change From Tillerson

Astonishing North Korea Policy Change From TillersonThere are times when the utter confusion apparent in Donald Trump’s White House is a cause for relief. One such seems to be the case of North Korea. If one listens to Trump himself one comes away with two possible directions for US policy following the North’s latest testing of long range rockets which could…

The Duterte Mirage

The Duterte MirageHow long will it be before Filipinos wake up to the sheer lack of achievement in President Duterte’s year in office? He still stands high in the polls because of his uncouth, action-man image. From far right to far left criticism is muted despite a performance that which does not bear too close examination nor…

An Ageing, Worried Hong Kong Marks 20 Years Out of UK’s Clutches

An Ageing, Worried Hong Kong Marks 20 Years Out of UK’s ClutchesTwenty years on from the end of British colonial rule of Hong Kong, it would be hard to argue that the territory’s relative position in the world has improved. Indeed, the optimism felt at the time of the handover that the city could be beacon of freedom, prosperity and democracy in the region and the…

Book Review: Islands and Rocks in the South China Sea: Post-Hague Ruling

Book Review: Islands and Rocks in the South China Sea: Post-Hague RulingThe 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China on Beijing’s maritime claims to almost the entire South China Sea should have been a seminal event in east Asian history. Here was an international body rejecting China’s “historic” claims to almost the whole sea and supporting the Exclusive Economic Zone claims of Vietnam,…
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