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  • Author: Anthony Bubalo
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The examples of Egypt and Saudi Arabia show the risks in betting on the stability of autocratic regimes in the region. Despite the Arab uprisings of the last decade, most countries in the Middle East remain in the grip of autocrats, with a widespread view that this is the 'default setting' for the region. However, an examination of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where authoritarianism has been revived, reveals both regimes are struggling for popular legitimacy. Increasingly reliant on repression, these regimes risk provoking civil unrest, and external powers should reconsider their assumption that autocracy guarantees stability in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Authoritarianism, Political stability, Legitimacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Egypt
  • Author: Roland Rajah
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Indonesia has much economic potential but the trade-off between growth and stability continues to bind its growth ambitions. Indonesian economic policy continues to prioritise stability over growth but the adequacy of economic growth has become the bigger issue. President Joko Widodo’s commendable pro-growth efforts have so far only stabilised Indonesia’s trajectory rather than boost it. Doing better will require reforms to be calibrated to make the trade-off between growth and stability less binding while enhancing productivity.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance, Economy, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Natasha Kassam, Richard McGregor
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China has lost the battle for public opinion in Taiwan. Saturday’s elections are likely to reflect strong anti-Beijing sentiment China is already looking past the elections to weaken the island’s democracy through overt and covert means Whatever the result, Beijing will increase pressure on Taipei to open talks on unification
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: David Orsmond
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China’s economic growth has fallen to its slowest rate since 1990, and this deceleration looks set to continue unless China implements the kinds of deep reforms behind the successful economic transitions of Japan and Korea. China’s economic growth has fallen to its slowest rate since 1990, and this deceleration looks set to continue. Key factors include weakening demographics, inefficient investment, maturing export markets and declining productivity growth rather than the current trade dispute with the United States. To reverse that trend, China will need a wide-ranging policy approach that mimics the policies implemented by Japan and Korea at a similar economic stage. While there are considerable political and economic obstacles to such reforms, if it manages to continue its rapid catch-up to advanced economy incomes the potential returns for both China and the world are significant.
  • Topic: Reform, Economy, Economic growth, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Elina Noor
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Malaysia’s foreign and security policy faces myriad challenges, but not much is likely to change under Mahathir Mohamad’s ‘New Malaysia’ framework. The return of Mahathir Mohamad to the prime ministership of the country he had previously led for 22 years has raised questions about the direction Malaysia’s foreign and security policy might take. While there may be some course-corrections in foreign and security policy under Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan government, it will not stray far from the approach of previous administrations. Continuities will include its non-aligned status, its pragmatic dealings with both the United States and China, its focus on ASEAN centrality and Malaysia’s economic development through trade. Malaysia will revisit its earlier “Look East” policy; it has plans to upgrade its defence capabilities in the South China Sea; and it will take a more consultative approach to foreign policy-making.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia
  • Author: Roland Rajah, Alexandre Dayant, Jonathan Pryke
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China has not been engaged in debt trap diplomacy — at least not yet. China has not been the primary driver behind rising debt risks in the Pacific, although a continuation of business as usual would risk future debt problems in several countries. There is scope for a new Australian infrastructure financing facility to provide loans to the Pacific without causing debt problems, particularly as it has adopted key sustainable lending rules. Pacific nations have an opportunity to obtain more favourable financing from official development partners but care must be taken to avoid overly geopolitical aid.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Infrastructure, Geopolitics, Soft Power, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Ben Bohane
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: As Bougainville prepares for a referendum on independence, Australia must navigate a policy response that acknowledges the history of conflict and colonialism there, Bougainville nationalism, PNG sensitivities, the principles of the guiding Bougainville Peace Agreement and new geostrategic realities to help forge a lasting solution. Bougainville is largely ‘referendum ready’ and its people are expected to vote overwhelmingly for independence in the November referendum. While Bougainville has abundant natural resources and a skilled older generation, as an independent nation it would face many challenges including fiscal self-reliance, consensus on mining issues, unity and political integrity. Australia has a significant stake in the outcome and should step up its engagement to remain a trusted peace and security broker in Melanesia. It should not oppose Bougainville’s independence if that is the result under the referendum and peace process, and should take a leading role in ensuring a peaceful resolution between the parties.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Colonialism, Conflict, Independence, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Australia, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Melanesia
  • Author: Bobo Lo
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The rise of Asia is the central challenge of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, calling into question long-standing assumptions about Russia’s place in the world. Moscow is now more committed to engagement with the Asia-Pacific than it has ever been. This reflects belated recognition of the region’s critical importance in global affairs. Russia’s ambition to become a major player in the Asia-Pacific faces considerable hurdles. Overcoming them will depend on larger changes in its foreign policy mindset — an uncertain prospect at best.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Economy, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Lydia Khalil
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Women will be important to the resurgence and transformation of the Islamic State from governance project to global terrorist insurgency. Islamic State has expanded both the potential and the scope of the roles and functions women can play, providing additional avenues for their participation in jihad in both kinetic and non-kinetic roles. The cohort of former caliphate members of mostly women and children now held in camps pose a key challenge for counterterrorism efforts around the world. Assumptions about women and violence can obstruct an accurate assessment of the threat female IS supporters pose and an accurate understanding of their agency.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Women, Radicalization, Islamic State, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Australia, Syria
  • Author: Denise Fisher
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: As 30 years of peace agreements come to an end, stability in New Caledonia is now at risk. New Caledonia faces an uncertain future as it prepares for its last local elections under the Noumea Accord, and as it enters a four-year process ending 30 years of peace agreements. The continued stark ethnic divide over independence revealed in the November 2018 referendum, the first of potentially three such votes, revives old tensions and complicates essential discussions about future governance, which will have consequences for France, Melanesian neighbours and the wider region. While strategically Australia benefits from continued French regional engagement, its support should not be at any cost.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Political stability, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Australia, Asia-Pacific, New Caledonia, Melanesia
  • Author: Denise Fisher
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: As 30 years of peace agreements come to an end, stability in New Caledonia is now at risk. New Caledonia faces an uncertain future as it prepares for its last local elections under the Noumea Accord, and as it enters a four-year process ending 30 years of peace agreements. The continued stark ethnic divide over independence revealed in the November 2018 referendum, the first of potentially three such votes, revives old tensions and complicates essential discussions about future governance, which will have consequences for France, Melanesian neighbours and the wider region. While strategically Australia benefits from continued French regional engagement, its support should not be at any cost.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Political stability, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Australia, Asia-Pacific, New Caledonia, Melanesia
  • Author: Ben Bland
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: he pressures on Indonesian democracy are not likely to abate under a second-term Jokowi or a Prabowo presidency. Incumbent President Joko Widodo is the front-runner to defeat long-time rival Prabowo Subianto in Indonesia’s fourth direct presidential election on 17 April. Constrained by compromises and knocked off balance by the rise of identity politics, if Jokowi wins a second (and final) term, he is unlikely to make significant progress on much-needed economic, legal, and political reforms. Despite these concerns, there is hope for the future with a new generation of politicians from outside the elite now seeking to follow Jokowi’s path to national office. Indonesia’s future will depend on how far they use their electoral mandates to shake up a defective system.
  • Topic: Politics, Reform, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: James Chin
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of Malaysia’s momentous regime change, the new government faces a number of challenges to implementing wholesale political reform. Malaysia’s new government will need to deal with several key issues in the next 12 months to establish itself as a ‘change and reform’ administration, namely the Malay/Bumiputra Agenda, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63), political Islam, and a clear timetable for transition of power. Each of these issues is crucial to Malaysia’s political stability in the near term and to laying the foundation for long-term institutional reforms. If these reforms are not handled properly, the new Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) administration under Mahathir may be a one-term government and the country could easily revert to the old regime.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Regime Change, Reform, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Stephen Grenville
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Recognition of the need for greater government intervention in the economy is increasingly shaping the US political debate, with this shift paralleled among prominent economists. The surprising success of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign has emboldened Democratic presidential hopefuls to advocate bold platforms involving larger government. Coincidentally, some prominent economists are advocating greater government expenditure to address ‘secular stagnation’. This is unlikely to result in a radical shift away from the post-Reagan small-government policies, but the centre of gravity has shifted towards recognising a role for more government intervention.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Elections, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: John Edwards
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The outlines of a trade deal between the United States and China are there. But without a return to the negotiating table, the dispute could rapidly escalate, magnifying the damage to world growth. With the Osaka G20 meeting looming, Chinese analysts and policymakers visited in Beijing are pessimistic about the prospects for a trade deal with the United States. If they are right, global financial markets are in for a much wilder shock than anything yet seen in this quarrel. Yet much of a deal has already been agreed, while the consequences of not reaching a deal have become increasingly dire.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Roland Rajah
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: East Asia is no longer reliant on US or Western markets to fuel its growth, giving it more room to manage amid global trade tensions. Heightened global trade tensions and the US desire to ‘decouple’ from the Chinese economy for national security reasons pose significant risks to East Asia’s export-driven growth model. However, the latest data suggests East Asia is no longer so dependent on exporting to the West, with China in particular eclipsing the United States as the leading source of ‘final demand’ for the rest of the region’s exports. This gives East Asia much greater room to manoeuvre, as regional integration is now a more viable platform for growth while US decoupling efforts will likely struggle to find traction in the region.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Global Markets, Exports
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Evan A. Laksmana
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: A maritime realignment of Australia–Indonesia defence relations could shape the broader Indo-Pacific security architecture and provide an additional strategic hedge for both countries. One of the key prerequisites for the implementation and sustainability of the newly announced Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is the stabilisation of bilateral defence relations. To achieve such sustainability, bilateral defence engagement should focus on joint maritime challenges. Canberra should formulate long-term plans to assist the modernisation of Indonesia’s armed forces with a focus on maritime security operations, and should increase the number and scope of maritime exercises.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations, Armed Forces
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Bobo Lo
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Putin’s foreign policy will remain grounded in long-standing assumptions about Russia, the West, and international order. There will be broad continuity in Russian foreign policy over the course of Vladimir Putin’s current presidential term. Any policy changes will be stylistic, not transformative. The Kremlin is committed to asserting Russia as a global power, although it will be tactically flexible in pursuing this ambition. Putin will present different faces to the West: sometimes accommodating, at other times assertive and even confrontational. But there will be no compromise on core principles.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Grand Strategy, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Malcolm Cook
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Australia’s dialogue partner relationship with ASEAN is more suitable for Australian interests in Southeast Asia than the idea of ASEAN membership. Australian membership in ASEAN is currently not possible. Australia’s dialogue partner relationship with ASEAN supports Australian policy autonomy and Australia’s engagement with Southeast Asia. The ASEAN–Australia dialogue partner relationship has significant room for growth.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Partnerships, Regional Integration, Trade
  • Political Geography: Australia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Rita Parker
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Potential drivers of unregulated population migration in the Pacific Islands require attention from regional governments including Australia. The challenges of unregulated population migration in the Pacific Islands region are the result of several push-pull factors and can lead to instability and insecurity in the region. Unregulated population migration in the Pacific Islands region has implications for more than one nation state and civil society and the balance of security and domestic stability can be disrupted. The challenge for policymakers is to recognise that drivers of unregulated population migration, including political or economic uncertainty, natural disasters, pandemics, climatic or environmental change, food or water scarcity, civil conflict, or organised crime, do not occur in isolation.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Migration, Natural Disasters, Immigration, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: James Curran
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: President Trump may be unwittingly preparing the United States for the end of American global hegemony. President Trump invokes neither the language nor history of the Pax Americana. His America First approach is only hardening, meaning allies will need to think about American power differently. The United States will not become a ‘normal nation’, but the distance between its sense of providential destiny and limited capacity to effect transformational change abroad will only grow.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Hegemony, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Australia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Manu Bhaskaran
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Without bold adjustments, Singapore’s extraordinary economic performance may prove difficult to sustain. The Singapore economy retains many strengths but is facing growing challenges, including to its key regional hub status. Singapore’s ability to adjust effectively to these challenges may have weakened compared to the past. The major reason for this diminished capacity is that the policy responses required to support a successful adjustment may not be evolving quickly enough. Moreover, the capacity for companies to make more spontaneous bottom-up adjustments seems to be lacking.
  • Topic: Government, Economy, Business , Economic growth, Economic Policy, Capacity
  • Political Geography: Singapore, Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Stewart Firth
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Domestic developments in the Pacific Island states matter more than ever to Australia. The challenges to internal resilience in the Pacific Islands are both structural — in the form of issues arising from population growth, urbanisation, land, immigration, health, and gender relations — and particular to the political situation in each Island nation. The inability of Pacific states to match service provision in cities with their growing populations is a major challenge to resilience. Of all political issues in Papua New Guinea, loss of customary land is the most likely to provoke protest and conflict.
  • Topic: Politics, Political stability, State Formation, Services
  • Political Geography: Australia, Australia/Pacific, Solomon Islands, Asia-Pacific, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia
  • Author: Euan Graham
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump–Kim summit is a distinct new phase in the dramatic cycle that defines the North Korea nuclear issue and the peninsula’s highly theatrical brand of geopolitics. Now that North Korea has finally reached the threshold of a nuclear missile capability to directly threaten the US mainland, its scripted brand of hyperbole and brinksmanship is encountering a different sort of melodrama: the political theatre of Donald Trump. The North Korean nuclear issue cannot be understood without an appreciation of the fundamental tension within inter-Korean relations. There is no precedent for a minor, revisionist power developing an asymmetrical nuclear deterrence relationship with the United States. The result is unlikely to be stable.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Weapons , Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Greg Colton
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Greater Australian engagement in the Pacific Islands region is needed if Canberra wants to ensure regional stability and underpin Australia’s national security. Inconsistent engagement by Australia, the United States, France and New Zealand in the Pacific Islands region has created space that non-traditional powers have exploited to engage with sovereign Pacific Island states. There is an increasing risk of geostrategic competition in the region, particularly with the growing influence of China and the economic leverage it holds over some indebted Pacific Island nations. The Australian Government should pursue a deliberate strategy of forging stronger links with its traditional partners in the region, and more equitable partnerships with its Pacific Island neighbours, if it is to underpin regional stability and strengthen Australia’s national security.
  • Topic: International Relations, National Security, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, France, Australia, Asia-Pacific, United States of America
  • Author: Rodger Shanahan
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Terrorists have manipulated the humanitarian crisis in Syria to create a cover for foreign fighters and to raise funds for terrorist groups under the guise of charitable donations. While terrorist abuse of charitable donations is a limited problem, even small amounts of funding can have disproportionately large effects. Early government intervention in setting due diligence standards for humanitarian aid groups operating in, or raising funds for use in, high-risk conflict zones is essential. The Australian Government should use the ‘declared area’ legislation more widely to raise the risk threshold for those seeking to use humanitarian assistance as cover for supporting terrorist causes overseas.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Australia, Syria
  • Author: Andrew Rosser
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Indonesia’s education system is low in quality and the underlying causes are political. Indonesia’s education system has been a high-volume, low-quality enterprise that has fallen well short of the country’s ambitions for an “internationally competitive” system. This outcome has reflected inadequate funding, human resource deficits, perverse incentive structures, and poor management but has most fundamentally been a matter of politics and power. The political causes of poor education performance include the continued dominance of political, bureaucratic, and corporate elites over the education system under the New Order and the role that progressive NGOs and parent, teacher, and student groups have had in education policymaking since the fall of the New Order, making reform difficult.
  • Topic: Education, Government, Politics, Children, Youth, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, Australia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Matthew Busch
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Despite impressive economic performance, Vietnam’s strong trade and investment gains have yet to fully overcome the vestiges of its economic past. Economic restructuring and greater integration with the international economic system has brought Vietnam impressive gains in wealth, trade, and investment. Such efforts have not, however, resolved Vietnam’s ‘missing middle’ or the lack of a productive domestic private sector and the continued dominance of the state-owned sector. While these challenges represent a risk to Vietnam’s future growth potential, initiatives such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership provide an opportunity for further trade and investment expansion.
  • Topic: Economic growth, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Investment, Trade, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Asia, Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Bal Kama
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Papua New Guinea entered its 2017 National Election after a tumultuous period in the country's politics and economy, and there remains much uncertainty about the election process, with significant implications for the country's future. In the last ten years key political, bureaucratic, and regulatory institutions have struggled and in some cases, failed. These struggles have been more profound under the O'Neill government despite some tangible advances in the country's ambitious Vision 2050 roadmap. There is a widespread desire across the country for robust and independent institutions to ensure economic gains are transparently and sustainably managed. The ultimate question for many voters in the 2017 general elections was not who would form the next government, but who would be the most credible leader. [3] With elections now over, and the O'Neill government returning for a second term, what does Papua New Guinea expect of the new government and those in power? This analysis attempts to address how key trends in PNG's politics will impact upon both the bureaucracy and regulatory environment. It will identify some of the key actors and how they are likely to change. It will discuss current political trends, their impact on the regulatory and legislative environments and how likely they are to continue in the future. Finally, it assesses the prospects of continuing dysfunction in PNG politics, the further marginalisation and deterioration of the bureaucracy, and how this destructive course might be avoided.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Elections, Regulation, Economy, Institutions, Bureaucracy
  • Political Geography: AustralAsia, Papua New Guinea
  • Author: Sinclair Dinnen
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Concerns about personal security have been prominent in Papua New Guinea for many years. Personal security figures regularly in travel advisories issued by foreign governments. International news coverage of Papua New Guinea is often about violence or crime, reinforcing the country's reputation as a dangerous and lawless place. A visitor to Port Moresby, the sprawling national capital, sees evidence of this in the elaborate security arrangements that shape the urban landscape. Drivers of insecurity in this young nation are complex and multidimensional, stemming from the legacies of a recent colonial past, along with the ongoing challenges of state consolidation and the uneven effects of economic globalisation. The main security threats are non-traditional, including urban crime, gender-based violence, corruption, arms trafficking, border protection, resource poaching, climate change, natural disasters, and transnational crime. Although some view China's growing presence as a potential threat, its activities in Papua New Guinea have been largely confined to diplomacy, development assistance and investment. Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has acknowledged the absence of any "distinct conventional external threat", while PNG's National Security Policy recognises the developmental and political character of the country's security challenges.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Development, Natural Resources, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: AustralAsia, Papua New Guinea
  • Author: Craig Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Climate, topography, population, culture, economics, and finance all conspire to raise significant barriers to providing economic and social infrastructure critical to Papua New Guinea's future development. Compared to developed economies, the physical stock of infrastructure assets in Papua New Guinea is insufficient to deliver the economic and social services needed to drive faster economic growth and improve human development. It faces significant choices as a result that may also be influenced by the public infrastructure requirements of foreign direct investment in export oriented extractive resource sectors. A lack of effective national infrastructure planning and funding constrain PNG's economy and its ability to improve the lives of its citizens through provision of these infrastructure services. This paper briefly reviews several key infrastructure sectors - telecommunications, transport, energy, and urban water - to provide snapshots of their status, identify challenges, and where possible make relevant international comparisons. It also looks at ways to improve the delivery of relevant economic infrastructure: (i) effective planning and prioritisation; (ii) funding strategies for infrastructure investment; (iii) funding of ongoing infrastructure operations; and (iv) consideration of infrastructure life cycle issues. In addition, in the future effective economic regulation of PNG commercialised infrastructure services will help ensure that consumers benefit from these services. The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission will therefore have an increasingly important role to play.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Infrastructure, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: AustralAsia, Papua New Guinea
  • Author: Jonathan Pryke
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Until recently, visitors making their way to the immigration checkpoint at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby were greeted with a sign exclaiming, "Welcome to Papua New Guinea: The land of the unexpected". In a nation that is so self-aware of its unpredictability, forecasting future scenarios is like staring into a crystal ball. Quality data is scarce and incomplete, trends are difficult to establish and validate, and prognostications on PNG's future are often dogmatic and politicised. Over the past 42 years Papua New Guinea has defied many of the most negative projections for its future, and navigated a huge number of 'crossroad' situations. Even before 1975, some were arguing that independence would be an unmitigated disaster, and the risk of Papua New Guinea becoming a failed state is a question that has permeated its short history. It is a question that is now being asked more frequently. On one view, Papua New Guinea has managed to "muddle through", largely on the strength of its peoples' resilience in the face of adversity. However, this resilience may be dwindling, and rather than "muddling through", Papua New Guinea may instead be on a "muddling down" trajectory. Its politicians, on the other hand, claim that the country's prospects have never been better. In a nation with so many development challenges and such porous data, it is difficult to identify future scenarios, let alone determine which is most likely. How does one define a failed state in Papua New Guinea, where most of the nation is not dependent on a properly functioning state? Without accurate data, how can one track trends in human development over decades? Should the focus be placed on the country as a whole, or on urban areas, on rural areas, or areas critical for economic development? How can new technological advancements be appropriately accounted for? Drawing on the papers in this series, five variables from each of the sectors addressed in the papers have been identified as critical influences on PNG's development over the next ten years and beyond. From these variables, three potential scenarios emerge, with the most likely scenario that Papua New Guinea will continue to 'muddle through' as it has in the past, failing to meet many expectations of development but defying the country's many detractors, and avoiding state failure.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Politics, State
  • Political Geography: AustralAsia, Papua New Guinea
  • Author: Jonathan Pryke, Paul Barker
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: On many indicators, Papua New Guinea's rapid population growth is outpacing development progress. Service delivery across the country is in decline. Growing urbanisation is increasing the burden on service providers as people who move from rural areas generally lose access to their customary land and become less self-sufficient. More than 40 per cent of the population is under the age of 14. The resulting youth bulge is outstripping very limited formal sector employment opportunities. The needs of the private sector are evolving, and skills development is critical. New immigrant groups are moving in to Papua New Guinea and taking over small and medium businesses that have typically been run by locals, adding further societal and employment pressures. This paper will chart these trends in Papua New Guinea, and the impact they will have on political stability, policymaking and development. It will look at trends in service delivery, employment, and skills development. It will look at the role of new immigrants in Papua New Guinea and future workforce capacity, and assess the government's capacity to deal with these challenges.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Immigration, Urbanization, Youth
  • Political Geography: AustralAsia, Papua New Guinea
  • Author: David Osborne, Robert Harden, Christopher Hoy
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: This paper analyses the PNG economy by considering (1) macroeconomic stability; and (2) fiscal policy and debt.
  • Topic: Debt, Political stability, Economic growth, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: AustralAsia, Papua New Guinea
  • Author: Jenny Hayward- Jones
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The new O'Neill government faces a rapidly changing external environment as it struggles to manage a significant domestic economic downturn and unprecedented pressures on the national budget. Australia remains Papua New Guinea's closest foreign partner; by far its largest bilateral aid partner, trading partner and foreign investor, but its influence is diminishing as that of other actors is growing. China is an increasingly important player - as a trade partner, investor in infrastructure and source of foreign loans, as well as in the small to medium business sector. Relations with other Asian nations are expanding. Large foreign companies are exerting more influence on government policy than most nation state development and trade partners of Papua New Guinea can hope to exercise. These relationships are likely to come into sharper focus over the next year, as the PNG government prepares to host APEC in 2018. It is not clear that the new PNG government has the capacity to pursue the national interest abroad while it is preoccupied with a complex set of challenges at home.
  • Topic: Government, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics, Development Aid
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, AustralAsia, Papua New Guinea
  • Author: Sam Geall
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: President Trump’s retreat on climate change put China ‘in the driver’s seat’. But to really demonstrate leadership, China needs to green its overseas investments. President Trump’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Agreement shone a light on China’s efforts to fight climate change, which are as much about economics and technology as environmental responsibility. Longer-term technological and economic change may lead China to eventually show greater diplomatic ambition on climate. China cannot assume an international leadership position on climate until it deepens its domestic energy transition and greens its overseas investments.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Treaties and Agreements, Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Huong Le Thu
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Under President Obama the bilateral relationship between the United States and Vietnam flourished. Despite some misgivings about the future direction of US policy in the region under President Trump, Hanoi is working hard to ensure that the relationship continues to expand. With the key elements of President Trump’s Southeast Asia policy still unclear, the president’s visit to the region comes at a critical moment. This is especially the case for Vietnam whose bilateral relationship with its former adversary, the United States, developed significantly under the Obama administration. While Hanoi was disappointed with President Trump’s abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, there are strong signs that the relationship will continue along a positive trajectory.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Donald Trump, Barack Obama
  • Political Geography: Vietnam, North America, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Aaron L. Connelly
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Donald Trump has put US policy in East Asia on autopilot. But that could leave the United States far off course — and in a crisis, Trump will be required to fly the plane. Despite President Donald Trump’s promise to adopt an America First foreign policy, US policies in East Asia — on issues from trade, to diplomatic engagement, to the North Korean nuclear crisis — now more closely resemble those of Trump’s predecessors than his campaign vision. There are few advisers around President Trump with the necessary expertise, experience, and inclination to implement an America First foreign policy in Asia. Most principals hold conventional Republican views, and lead institutions that have advanced conventional policies. As a result, US policy in East Asia is on autopilot. The greatest risks are not a deliberate crash, but that of a crisis, in which the autopilot will disengage and President Trump will be required to fly the plane; or that the United States will drift far off course before a qualified pilot can retake control.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas Wright
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The 2016 US presidential election is the most consequential election for international order since the Second World War. America’s status as a liberal superpower is on the ballot. To understand Donald Trump’s foreign policy, we must distinguish between his three core beliefs that he has held for many decades and rarely if ever waivered from, the central themes of his campaign, and other issues. His core beliefs are opposition to America’s alliance arrangements, opposition to free trade, and support for authoritarianism, particularly in Russia. If he is elected president and governs in a manner consistent with these beliefs, the United States will be transformed from the leader of a liberal international order into a rogue superpower that withdraws from its international commitments, undermines the open global economy, and partners with Putin’s Russia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: America