Little Red Blog apologises for the lack of content in recent week as we have been touring around South East Asia. As a result of that from today we will begin to focus not just on China but on its neighbours in South East, North and South Asia. The China story, while being enormous and compelling in its own right, has become increasingly about China’s relationships with its neighbours.
There is rising tension with Japan, the regions new problem relationship, replacing the China/Taiwan flashpoint. China is looking to invest heavily in South East Asia but has been beaten to the punch in many countries by Japan, Singapore and South Korea. China’s relationship with India – with whom it has border disputes dating back decades – is a developing one, made problematic by China’s close relationship with Pakistan.
The “hands off” approach to other nation’s internal issues (North Korea aside) has been a pillar of China’s foreign policy, until now. In a landmark decision the Chinese are brokering peace talks to resolve Myanmar’s most problematic (for the moment) internal conflict between the government in Naypidaw, still dominated by the old junta, and the Kachin Independence Organisation in the north of the country close to China’s border.
This website has always had a strong focus on China’s relationship with Australia in the 10 months since I left The Australian after more than a decade at the newspaper. That remains a vitally important issue that does not get enough coverage in the Australian press. But the rest of the region gets even less.
LRB will now be looking at China’s relationships with its neighbours, Australia’s relationships with its neighbours and at times, relationships between those neighbours themselves. This is in keeping with the new Abbott government’s promise its foreign policy will more Asia focused “more Jakarta than Geneva” has been the mantra.
Tony Abbott is heading to Indonesia on Monday as his first port of call, an overdue recognition – although he may not put it quite this way – that Australia has been perhaps unduly obsessed with China and ignoring our closer neighbours in the Association of South East Asian nation. Little Red blog is in Jakarta to follow this.
But first here’s a different story altogether written my friend Claudia Trevisan, an excellent Brazilian journalist who was on the board of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China with me during 2012-2013. Claudia worked tirelessly on the important issue of deteriorating working conditions for correspondents in China, guiding the annual report that the board produced on those conditions
Earlier this year Claudia shifted to the Washington bureau of her newspaper after several years in China. So while this story is not about Asia per se, it is a warning about the rise of the authoritarianism in any shape and that remains a huge problem in China and across the region.
We look forward to you continued support as readers and hopefully you will find the time to comment on some of stories – that helps to make the “blog” experience richer for all its users.