ASPI suggests

The world

The people of Hong Kong are waging a strong protest against a proposed law that would allow them to be extradited to mainland China. Here’s a useful collection of CNN stories that covers all bases. documents the protests in pictures and argues that the powerful images illustrate what Hong Kongers are fighting to protect: their civil liberties. This Wall Street Journal article highlights how the people leading these protests took lessons from the 2014 Umbrella Movement and are better prepared for violent retaliation from law enforcement personnel. China has adopted all sorts of tactics to curb the protests, from authorising cyberattacks on the Telegram app to censorship and propaganda, as Shannon Tiezzi writes in The Diplomat. The China Daily’s spin, that 800,000 protesters demonstrated in support of the extradition bill, takes the cake.

The annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit is underway in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The Diplomat published a brief but useful explainer. The Hindu has covered the highlights of the meeting  between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the summit in which the pair reportedly vowed to speed up the resolution of boundary issues. Modi is said to have given Pakistan the cold shoulder, which, as Shekhar Gupta explains in this video on The Print channel on YouTube, may be a wise strategy on India’s part.

See this incisive piece by H.S. Panag, which shows how bad the state of Pakistan’s economy is. The dire economic situation is forcing Islamabad to extend an ‘olive branch’ to New Delhi, Panag writes, but it’s not a genuine attempt to restore peace.

The Yemen conflict has escalated once more after the country’s Houthi rebels launched a cruise missile at a Saudi Arabian airport, wounding 26. The New York Times has the details in a piece that also explains how the war is affecting US–Iran relations. The Washington Post investigates what happened to the Stockholm Agreement signed between the warring parties almost six months ago. The Australian covers US President Donald Trump’s move to use emergency powers and bypass Congress to approve a US$8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

Trump has announced that 1,000 extra US soldiers will be deployed to Poland, one of only a handful of NATO countries that meets the 2% of GDP spending commitment on defence. Foreign Policy asks what impact such a small increase will actually have, while the BBC has more on the plan, outlining the absence of any permanent US commitment to the country. And see The National Interest for a dive into NATO’s eastern front, where efforts to bolster military power have not gone unnoticed but work still needs to be done for greater deterrence.

Finally, see this interesting read by Foreign Policy, which compares the global movement to ban nuclear weapons to the need to reduce carbon emissions.

Tech geek

It’s been a big week in F-35 news. The US Defense Department has reached an agreement with Lockheed Martin to buy 478 more of the jets in a deal worth US$34 billion. That could have ramifications for Australia, as the cost of the F-35A variant that the RAAF has ordered is set to drop to US$80 million per plane, down US$9.2 million on the most recent production lot.

News of the deal came just two days before a series of reports were released highlighting a broad sweep of problems with the F-35 program.

According to Defense News, ‘deficiencies’ include issues with the F-35’s stealth coating and airframe that restrict it to short bursts of supersonic speed, spikes in cabin pressure that are painful for pilots, and problems with the jet’s handling at certain angles of attack. Read the series of articles documenting these and other problems here.

Lockheed Martin was quick to rebut the reports, releasing a statement that addressed the issues one by one and said that they are ‘well understood, already resolved or on a near-term path to resolution’. That’s despite Defense News reports that some of the problems identified ‘may not ever get a full fix’.

Trump has revealed his preferred design for the new Air Force One. Two planes based on the Boeing 747-8 are being built and the proposed new design ditches the iconic colour scheme that’s been on presidential transport since the 1960s for one that’s reminiscent of what Trump has on his personal jet.

And in case you think you’ve had a bad week, Japan’s defence ministry has admitted that its use of Google Earth resulted in a miscalculation of the elevation angle of nearby mountains when it selected a site to base its Aegis Ashore missile-defence system.

This week in history

The 10th of June 1967 saw the end of the Six-Day War between Israel and its neighbours. The BBC has the whole story.


Al Jazeera has put together a series of graphs and charts which highlight the devastating figures associated with child labour around the globe.

Listen to this ABC story which uncovers the not-so-tasty truth that humans are each eating, on average, enough plastic to make a credit card every week. [3:11]

India’s The Print analyses Modi’s renewed ‘Look East’ policy in this YouTube video. [23:05]


Clear and Present Danger has a special episode on how the Chinese government is controlling the flow and content of information, especially with regard to its own history. [46:40]

For an in-depth discussion on everything from the protests in Hong Kong and Russia to Saudi arms sales, listen to Pod Save the World. [1:01.33]

This episode of World Affairs looks into the newly decentralised nature of Islamic State following its loss of territory in the Middle East. [59:01]


Canberra, 17 June, 6–7 pm, Australian National University: ‘Australia and the war in Afghanistan’. More info here.

Canberra, 17 June, 6–7.30 pm, Australian National University: ‘Security and diversity: an evening with Catherine McGregor’. Register here.

Sydney, 18 June, 6–7.30 pm, Australian Institute of International Affairs: ‘The battle for Venezuela’. Tickets here ($25).