ASPI suggests
15 Jul 2016|


It has been an exciting week across Asia, Europe and the US, kicking off with the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea’s award on the Philippines v China case. There’s been no shortage of coverage on the ruling, with red lines drawn (or delegitimised, in the case of the fabled nine-dash line) and China arching its back. This primer from The Wall Street Journal has got you covered on the main takeaways if reading the whole 501-page document (PDF) isn’t for you. But after celebrations have died down in Manila, where does the arbitration leave us? An interesting read at The New York Times discusses how the stark reality of China ignoring the PCA will affect the Philippines, and a piece over at Chatham House weighs up how successful the ruling will be to actually achieving regional stability. Never disappointing, CSIS’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has mapped the outcomes of the ruling in a fun new infographic on their stellar website. Brookings has asked what the US should be doing to enforce rule of law in the region, while The Diplomat offers some thoughts on China’s future struggles with international law and The National Interest asks if it’s possible to convert law into order in the region. And finally, the ruling coincided eerily well with CSIS’ Sixth Annual South China Sea Conference; you can listen to and watch the speeches here (hats off to ASPI alum Nat Sambhi for being the events page poster girl).

Several continents away, in what felt like a bizarre political Hunger Games, British MP Theresa May secured her place at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday after every opponent she faced dropped off the face of the map. Richard V. Reeves over at Brookings offers seven key takeaways about the new PM, and The Washington Post looks at what May will inherit (Brexit and all) as she steps into David Cameron’s shoes. Lowy has an interesting piece that discusses May’s ‘strikingly left-wing, domestically focused, one-nation’ foreign policy plans and a solid read over at The Economist asks how May, as a ‘no-nonsense conservative’, can reduce the harm of Brexit to the UK’s economy.

But it’s not just May seizing job opportunities born of the political upheaval rife in the UK over the past few weeks. Brexiteer Boris Johnson was anointed with the honour of becoming the UK’s Foreign Secretary this week, and so far, things haven’t gone well for him. Not only was BoJo booed during his first speech on the job, but he’s also been openly mocked, according to this piece from The Atlantic, by the nations he’s insulted during his times as a journo and a politician. If you’re unsure of which countries they are, indy100 has an interactive map of the countries Johnson has offended, detailing how they were slighted and when. Let us not forget Boris’ less than diplomatic performance in Japan last year, when he bulldozed a ten-year-old  in a casual game of rugby.

Across the pond, Bernie Sanders has finally thrown in the towel and endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic party’s nominee for the White House. The endorsement has had, in some instances, the unfortunate effect of rendering impassioned voters who no longer ‘feel the Bern’ into Trump supporters as #SelloutSanders went viral on Twitter. Vox has an interesting interview with Georgetown historian Michael Kazin on the political trends that led to the ‘Sanders phenomenon’ and what legacy he leaves for the American left. And with the Republican and Democratic National Conventions just around the corner, Brookings has put out a top-notch series of videos on convention rules and delegates for those in need of a preamble.


If you’re in need of a couple of good primers on what’s been happening across the world this week, it’s always worth checking in on what Monocle’s The Globalist podcast series has been pumping out. This week’s offerings include NATO’s stance on Russia after Brexit (57 mins), our recent federal election (58 mins) and, of course, China’s reaction to the PCA’s ruling (1 hour).

It’s from a few weeks ago but still definitely worth a listen: Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, The New York Times’ economic and political opinion columnist, discusses Brexit (18 mins), and how it might not be as bad for the global economy in the long run as media is making it out to be.


A great interactive video and photo essay from The New York Times looks at photographer Sergey Ponomarev’s attempted journey to the disputed Scarborough Shoal with a Filipino crew, and the interception of their vessel by The Chinese Coast Guard. The video offers a more human perspective of the issue, showing some of the people affected by the militarisation of the once-peaceful fishing zone.

Wasting no time whatsoever, CSIS hosted a frank discussion (40 mins) with Chinese Ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, just hours after the PCA issued its verdict. Tiankai drops some truth bombs on the future of tensions in the South China Sea, and how the judgement has been perceived in Beijing.

And finally, just in case you thought that modern aircraft carrier operations were routine and safe, the USN reminds us just how marginal it can be. (h/t Andrew ‘The Doctor’ Davies)


Canberra: Mark your diaries for 29 July—ANU’s Bell School is hosting a conference that will explore the appeal of jihad to young, educated women from the West, as well as the roles of women in the Caliphate and how to prevent women from Australia’s Muslim community from being recruited. Buy your tickets to the day-long event here.

Perth: Scott Snyder, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, will offer some thoughts on South Korea’s strategic choice between Beijing and Washington at 21 July at the Perth US Asia Centre. Register here.