Independent Strategic Analysis of Australia’s Global Interests


President Biden and the Pakistan-US Relationship

18 February 2021 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Pakistan needs a more manageable relationship with the United States that also brings economic gains. Two of the major obstacles in the Pakistan-US relationship will be Islamabad’s increasing proximity towards Beijing and the zero-sum approach of Pakistan’s deep state.

Re-opening Bali for Business?

Petitioning to re-open Bali is a move of desperation from the local government. It will be difficult to attract a suitable number of tourists, though, given the many factors beyond the control of the Indonesian authorities.

After Devastating Flood, What Now for India?

Climate change, dams and a lack of glacial monitoring are making floods of this nature increasingly likely. Urgent action is needed to prevent another disaster.

China’s Likely Coercion Saves it from Embarrassment in Afghanistan

China would like to fill the vacuum left if US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, likely due to the country’s strategic significance. While that strategy may be sound, Beijing’s tactics remain questionable.

Myanmar’s Latest Coup: What is to be Done?

16 February 2021 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Successive Myanmar governments have exploited the inability of the international community to exert any real pressure on the country’s military leaders, who are increasingly supported by China. Whatever policies are adopted by the international community over the short term, there are no quick or easy answers to the complex questions surrounding modern Myanmar.

Political and Governance Challenges Confronting Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste has coped comparatively well with the effects of COVID-19, largely due to its sovereign wealth Petroleum Fund. Unfortunately, however, the longevity of the Petroleum Fund is now in question and, while a restructuring of the governing coalition spurred on by COVID-19 has brought some respite from high levels of political instability, it is still likely only to offer temporary relief. For Australia, the objective is a prosperous and stable neighbour but, if its economic and political challenges are not addressed, Timor-Leste could become significantly more vulnerable to the ambitions of foreign powers, which may be at odds with Australian interests.

A Chinese City on Australia’s Northern Border?

Plans for the city on the PNG Torres Strait island of Daru are unlikely to come to fruition. It does, however, underscore ongoing interest from China for infrastructure projects in PNG and Australia’s political concerns.

China-Kazakhstan Relations: Setting a Standard for Central Asian States

China’s incursions into Kazakhstan’s security construct, traditionally seen by Russia as its domain, could set the tone for Beijing’s future relations with Russia and the other Central Asian states.

International Food Prices Rise to Six-Year High, Presenting an Opportunity for Australian Exporters

Higher Chinese demand for feed grains and the imposition of Russian wheat export duties is pushing global food prices higher. Higher prices will benefit food exporters, including Australia, but will increase living costs for populations in poorer, import-reliant countries.

Djibouti at a Crossroads: China’s African Engagement and an Adversarial Beijing-Washington Relationship

9 February 2021 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Djibouti’s geostrategic position and willingness to host the military forces of external powers, including of the United States and China, continues to draw the country to the centre of great power politics. Beyond the wider strategic concerns emanating from US-China rivalry, the confined space of Djibouti presents a potential opportunity for the two powers to improve their co-operation at close range because instability and insecurity in the Red Sea and western Indian Ocean Region are equally disadvantageous for both Washington and Beijing.

Publication Guide

  • Associate papers are primary source assessments written by FDI associates. The assessment topics range from regional bilateral relationships and opportunities and challenges in our neighbouring countries.

  • Feature interviews are interviews conducted by an FDI Research Manager. Interview topics range from the sustainability of our planet to the improved provision of emergency food aid.

  • Normally issued in hardcopy, these represent a comprehensive study of one of FDI’s four research areas.

  • Strategic alerts are priority current intelligence items. We provide these alerts when events such as military deployments or foreign election results occur.

  • A 1500 to 3000 word, single topic assessment.

  • A number of short articles addressing current intelligence topics, issued each week.

  • A record of discussions resulting from a single, or series of, roundtable conferences.

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