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Podcast Ep. 33: US leadership: vision vs reality; RCEP; human rights in China; Syria, the Kurds and US credibility

13 Nov 2019
By Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA and Dr Darren Lim
Indian PM Modi at the BRICS Summit. Photo by the Kremlin.

Allan and Darren kick off this week’s episode by covering a bad week for the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy at the ASEAN and East Asia Summit meetings in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Defence Minister Linda Reynolds delivered a constructive speech in Washington DC setting out a vision for precisely what the United States ought to be doing. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement appears set to become a reality, albeit without the participation of India. Staying with India, it is reported that former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell will become Australia’s next High Commissioner.

In a speech in Sydney last week, Foreign Minister Marise Payne raised the plight of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang while discussing the threats posed by technology to human rights, and Beijing was not pleased; is any criticism of China’s human rights record compatible with a working bilateral relationship? Finally, the two catch up on the news from northern Syria, with Darren asking whether the Trump administration’s withdrawal of troops and abandonment of the Kurds will cause long term problems for America’s credibility.

We invite our listeners to email us at this address:

We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern James Hayne for his help with research and audio editing, and XC Chong for research assistance. As always, we’re grateful to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Aaron Connelly on the ASEAN Meetings (twitter):

Linda Reynolds, “Keynote Address, Hudson Institute, Washington DC”, 2 November 2019:

Ben Doherty, “Australia to join major Asia-Pacific trade deal RCEP but India holds out”, The Guardian, 4 November 2019:

Joe Aston, “Barry O’Farrell to be Australia’s next ambassador to India”, Australian Financial Review, 3 November 2019:

Marise Payne, “Ensuring security, enabling prosperity”, Speech at the United States Studies Centre, 29 October 2019:

“Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on October 30, 2019”:

Allan Gyngell, “From the bookshelf: ‘Meeting Saddam’s men: looking for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction’”, ASPI Strategist, 6 November 2019:

Adam Grant and Allison Sweet Grant, “Stop trying to raise successful kids”, The Atlantic, Decemer 2019:

The Ezra Klein Show, “The loneliness epidemic (Vivek Murthy)”, 10 October 2019:

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