The Lowy Interpreter

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Yemen and the Drone Innovation

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-08-10 16:35:17

[By Rodger Shanahan] As Yemen’s deadly conflict grinds on, exactly how much assistance the Iranians are providing the Houthis is open to conjecture. The Saudi-led coalition is keen to portray the Houthis as agents, rather than allies, of Iran. And while there is certainly strong evidence of technology and weapons transfer – either by land through Oman, or via the Red Sea – the Yemenis have also demonstrated their ability to improvise when necessary. Their reported conversion of anti-ship missiles from a ship- to...

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China's "Belt and Road Initiative" Arrives in West Africa

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-07-20 15:00:33

[By Dr. Cornelia Tremann] Xi Jinping’s choice of Senegal for a state visit on July 20-21 his first visit to West Africa, suggests that China seeks to deepen cooperation in a region that has seen less Chinese engagements than elsewhere in Africa. In using Senegal as a springboard, China seeks to advance strategic goals: bringing West Africa into the “Belt and Road” orbit and consolidating influence in a historically French-dominated region.  China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been targeted at rail, road,...

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In Defense of the Aircraft Carrier

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-06-28 19:04:37

[By Abhijit Singh] In a recent article, David Brewster poses an interesting question: is there a cheaper and less risky way for India to project power in the neighborhood than by continuing to rely on its aircraft carriers? By developing the Andaman and Nicobar Islands into a strategic hub for power projection, Brewster wonders if India could replace its expensive and “sinkable” aircraft carriers with “unsinkable” island bases. Yet the choice for New Delhi to abandon its flat-tops in...

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Island Bases vs. Aircraft Carriers: Choices for the Indian Navy

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-06-20 12:31:18

[By David Brewster] Many analysts are skeptical about the vulnerability and cost of large aircraft carriers (and the opportunity cost of building, maintaining, and protecting them). Others argue that carriers are becoming more survivable, capable, and lethal than ever before. If the skeptics are right, what are the cheaper and less risky ways of achieving effects similar to those of aircraft carriers? One alternative is to use island bases: they may not be able to move, but they are likely...

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Will Pakistan’s "Belt and Road" Dream Turn into a Nightmare?

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-06-15 10:39:17

[By David Brewster] China’s infrastructure investments as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have the potential to change the strategic dynamics of the entire Indo-Pacific region. The BRI’s “flagship” project is the $62 billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that is planned to run from one end of Pakistan to the other. This has led to overinflated expectations that seem unlikely to be met. Pakistan’s new cargo cult The CPEC is considered a game changer by the Pakistani elite, who...

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Japan’s Plans to Build a “Free and Open” Indian Ocean

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-05-29 20:17:00

[By David Brewster] While many eyes are on China’s port investments in the Indian Ocean, Japan has also been busy. The scale of its infrastructure investments in the region rivals, and sometimes exceeds, that of China. But Japan argues that its growing presence in the Indian Ocean is qualitatively different, focused on transparency, economic sustainability, and a rules-based order that should become part of regional norms. Compared with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Japan’s investment activities in the Indian Ocean...

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Questions & Answers About China's New Aircraft Carrier

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-05-18 20:54:00

[By Sam Roggeveen] For weeks now, the online community that follows Chinese military affairs has speculated about photos indicating China’s first homebuilt aircraft carrier, known for the moment as the Type-001A, would sail for the first time. The carrier looked finished, cleaning crews appeared to be making final preparations, and navy personnel were seen boarding the ship in large numbers. Once upon a time, the job of getting photos of new Chinese military equipment was done secretly by spies on the...

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China's Play for Bases in the Indian Ocean

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-05-15 22:06:00

[By David Brewster] China is moving to establish a network of naval and air bases in the Indian Ocean to support its growing strategic imperatives in the region. This likely includes plans to build bases in the eastern Indian Ocean. In July 2017, China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti, and Beijing is currently in negotiations with Pakistan to establish an additional base at or near Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. But it will not be enough for China to...

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Rising Seas Lead to Shifting Alliances

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-04-27 14:14:00

[By Dr. Kumuda Simpson] In 2009 the first democratically elected President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, held an underwater cabinet meeting. The stunt was crafted to draw international attention to the plight of many low-lying island nations as climate change causes sea levels to rise, threatening their continued existence. Nasheed used the moment to call on world leaders to act to confront climate change, stating that unless they were successful, nations such as the Maldives would disappear. Discussions around climate change and...

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Can Japan's Subsea Mineral Discovery be Mined?

By The Lowy Interpreter 2018-04-20 16:44:00

[By Frederick Kuo] Rare earth metals are critical to the production of a massive array of industrial goods, from smartphones to precision-guided missiles. This makes rare earth materials production and ownership a contentious issue in the tug of war between states. China’s production of rare earth metals began in the 1980s and accelerated in the 1990s, and today it dominates the industry. Enabled by government policy and lax environmental standards around the heavy environmental fallout from mining and producing of these metals, China has come to control 95% of global supply,...

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