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Modi should use future budgets to build, build, build (Jul 26)
Author: Geethanjali Nataraj, Observer Research Foundation Expectations of the Modi government’s first budget were high. But, in the face of difficult fiscal circumstances and volatility in oil and food prices, the new government and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had limited options. Seen in this light, this year’s budget is balanced and gives a sense of […]

East Asia’s geostrategic equation and Japan’s collective self-defence (Jul 25)
Authors: John Blaxland, ANU and Rikki Kersten, Murdoch University Given that Japan is a mature democracy and has been a positive force for global peace and stability for the past 70 years, why is it so controversial that the country wants to possess more ‘normal’ military capabilities? Japan is one of the top military spenders, […]

Lessons from aid workers in North Korea (Jul 25)
Author: Eun Jeong Soh, ANU Since the mid-1990s, various governmental and non-governmental organisations have delivered aid to North Korea’s orphanages and hospitals. But for some time now aid to North Korea has dwindled. The US has provided virtually no aid since 2009, South Korea has banned direct state aid and and limited private assistance since […]

China’s SOEs test the waters in the South China Sea (Jul 24)
Authors: Megan Bowman, George Gilligan and Justin O’Brien, UNSW In early May, the Chinese HYSY-981 oil rig was moved into waters near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The oil rig is owned by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and operated by its subsidiary China Oilfield Services Limited. It […]

China’s Second White Paper on Foreign Aid Signals Key Shift in Aid Delivery Strategy (Jul 23)
By Zhou TaidongOn July 10, 2014, China released its much-awaited white paper on foreign aid on foreign aid. In recent years, Chinese foreign aid has been a subject of scrutiny and even controversy. As the world's fastest rising power, China has sharply expanded its foreign aid spending in both scale and scope over the last decade. Partly due to this, but also because of China's official aid approach that emphasizes mutual benefit and imposes few conditions, China's role as a provider of foreign aid has stimulated considerable interest and debate both inside and outside the country.

Electoral Reform Breathes New Life in Cambodia (Jul 23)
By Silas EverettOn Tuesday, the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) agreed to take its 55 seats in the national assembly on condition of reconstituting the National Electoral Commission (NEC), which it accused of rigging last year's national election...

CRISIS IN UKRAINE A chessboard drenched in blood (Jul 23)
The MH17 tragedy may have been a horrendous mistake, but it may also have been a desperate gambit by the Kiev minions of the Empire of Chaos. Washington has been quick off the blocks to ignite and in theory win the spin war to persuade the world that Russia's hand was wittingly or otherwise behind the downing of the civilian aircraft. Moscow, more rationally, is seeking the facts first, before pointing fingers of blame. - Pepe Escobar (Jul 23, '14)

The charge of the Atlanticist Brigade (Jul 23)
No credible version of events points to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine as intentional mass murder or terrorism, and with international experts now getting access to the black box, there seems to be little the Atlanticist Brigade can use to point the finger at Moscow. Still, expect sanctions on Russia to follow, and for the reverberations to reach east all the way to China. - Peter Lee (Jul 22, '14)

JOHN PILGER Orwell alive in Palestine, Ukraine (Jul 23)
Western coverage of contemporary events from Palestine to Ukraine reveals that Orwell's 1984 is only too real in today's world. Yet as Leni Riefenstahl knew only too well, the "messages" the media carry of government atrocities depend not on "orders from above" but on a "submissive void" in the population as a whole, not least in the "intelligentsia". (Jul 22, '14)

Hardliners maneuver over Iran talks extension (Jul 23)
Hardline Iranian factions are maintaining pressure on the government over potential concessions in any nuclear deal reached with world powers, following an amicable extension arrangement reached last week. By exaggerating the level of opposition in the establishment towards a long-term agreement, the conservative establishment hopes to prevent normalization of ties with the US. - Mahan Abedin (Jul 22, '14)

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