2021 Podcasts

Learn about and listen to our 2021 events and podcasts.

Podcast: Himalayan Refugees and Climate Change

The Himalaya and the adjacent Tibetan plateau house the globe's third biggest ice packed are the source of most of Asia's major rivers.

Over the past century of the people of these mountains have had to endure colonisation unstable geopolitics, and now a climate changing at twice the global average. Despite this they have survived and in some cases thrived, coming up with innovative ways to approach these changes.

Tsechu Dolma, Co-founder and Director, Mountain Resiliency Project

Dr Ruth Gamble, DECRA Fellow, History, La Trobe University

Recorded on 8 December 2021.

Episode #176

Live Podcast: The Architecture of Repression in Xinjiang

Since the mass internment of Uyghurs and other indigenous groups in China was first reported in 2017, there is now a rich body of literature documenting recent human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. However, there is little knowledge of the actual perpetrators inside China’s vast and opaque party-state system.

A report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) maps and analyses the governance mechanisms employed by the Chinese party-state in Xinjiang. While the international debate continues as to whether the recent events in Xinjiang constitute genocide, this report gathers the relevant evidence before it could be covered up, and makes it publicly available.


  • Professor James Leibold, Head of the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy, La Trobe University
  • Daria Impiombato, Researcher at ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 24 November 2021.

Episode #175

Webinar: Democracy in Malaysia: Prospects and Possibilities

After a period of turmoil, Malaysia’s new Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, has a tenuous hold on leadership. A politician of the UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) coalition, his party returns to power a few short years after their first ever electoral defeat when former Prime Minister Najib Razak was tied to the 1MDB scandal involving RM 2.67 billion (close to $900m AUD) in missing funds.

Ismail now holds a slim majority in parliament and is seen by many as a compromise leader for parties and factions desperate to hold off high profile opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. While Malaysia faces recovery from a devastating pandemic and the economic fallout from a lengthy lockdown, even more challenges come from within - managing a tenuous coalition whose support is crucial to government stability. What are these political developments likely to mean for Malaysia’s long term democratic prospects?


  • Dr Amrita Malhi,Visiting Fellow, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University
  • Professor James Chin, Asian Studies, University of Tasmania
  • Associate Professor Kerstin Steiner, Director of Research, La Trobe Law School, La Trobe University

Chair: Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia, La Trobe University

Held as live zoom panel on 18 November 2021.

Live Podcast: Biden's Asia Agenda

After a quiet start to his presidency, United States President Joe Biden has made some recent decisive steps in engaging with Asia by selling nuclear submarines to Australia and establishing the AUKUS pact, outlining an approach to trade with China, and hosting a Quad summit at the White House, gathering with key U.S. partners in Asia.

A major part of this strategy is building up alliances to offer both the region and world at large to drive ‘responsible competition’ with China. With the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan signals a step away from the wars of the past two decades, Biden now has an opportunity to focus the US on the region it is says is its highest priority, Asia.

Professor Nick Bisley, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University

This live podcast event was presented in collaboration with the US Embassy Canberra as part of the 'Regional Perspectives of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific' - Emerging Leaders Program and recorded with a live zoom audience on 9 November 2021.

Episode #174

Webinar: The AUKUS Deal: Regional Security in the Indo-Pacific

Australia, the UK and the US have announced a historic security agreement, dubbed ‘AUKUS’, in response to regional security concerns about China’s rising power and influence in the Indo-Pacific. Under the deal, Australia will build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology provided by the United States. It also signals to a greater presence of the three powers in the region with a focus on military and technological capabilities, including in long-range weapons, cyber and undersea technologies.

How do the three states see AUKUS as contributing to regional security? How have regional states responded to this agreement? And what are the broader implications of Australia’s pursuit of nuclear-powered submarines?


  • Dr Anna Powles, Senior Lecturer in Security Studies at Massey University, New Zealand
  • Associate Professor Maria Rost Rublee, Politics and International Relations, Monash University
  • Professor Peter Dean, Director, Defence and Security Institute, University of Western Australia
  • Natalie Sambhi, Executive Director, Verve Research

Chair: Dr Rebecca Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia, La Trobe University

Held as live zoom panel on 27 October 2021.

Live Podcast: Regional Security After the Taliban Takeover

The Islamic fundamentalist group, the Taliban, have returned to power in Afghanistan twenty years after being ousted by the United States, sparking concern for a harsh rule imposed on Afghans, a neglect of human rights and the beginning of a humanitarian crisis for the region.

For neighbouring countries the initial shock of transition is being met with pragmatism of coping with the aftermath. The Taliban has sought to boost diplomacy with neighbouring countries such as China, Pakistan and Russia, and many are looking to make the most of the power vacuum left by U.S. forces. For other regional countries the Taliban’s return to power represents a security risk, and the proliferation of violent extremism could pose a threat to security in the region.

Dr Niamatullah Ibrahimi, Lecturer in International Relations, La Trobe University

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 21 October 2021.

Episode #173

Live Podcast: Anti-China Sentiment in India

In June 2020 there was a clash between India and China at a disputed border site in the Himalayan Galwan Valley, in which twenty Indian soldiers were killed. A wave of anti-Chinese sentiment swelled across India, with Chinese-made televisions thrown from balconies, restaurants boycotted and Chinese goods burnt. With the covid-19 pandemic devastating India the anti-Chinese sentiment has only worsened.

While bilateral trade between the two countries is now recovering, there is a conscious effort of decoupling. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has banned hundreds of Chinese apps, slowed approval for Chinese investment and called for self-reliance. With Indian public discourse on China worsening, have the two countries have walked away from shaping the ‘Asian century’ together?

Snigdha Poonam, Author and independent Journalist

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 14 October 2021.

Episode #172

Webinar: Asian Monarchies in the Modern Age

While the twentieth century saw the collapse of monarchies across Europe, recent events are a reminder that hereditary monarchies still matter in Asia. In some countries like Malaysia and Bhutan the institution is thriving, but they can struggle for relevancy given the pro-democracy movement in Thailand and fast-modernising landscape of Japan.

In an era of autocratic populism, does constitutional monarchy provide some safeguards against the megalomania of political leaders? Are they just feudal relics and ceremonial figureheads which should be abolished, or does the division between ceremonial and actual power act as a brake on authoritarian politicians?

A virtual book launch of God Save the Queen: The strange persistence of monarchies by Dennis Altman, published by Scribe Publications.


  • Professor Dennis Altman, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, La Trobe University
  • Professor Kaori Okano, Japanese Studies, La Trobe University
  • Dr Wendy Mee, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Department of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University

Chair: Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

Held as live zoom panel on 12 October 2021.

Live Podcast: Vietnam's Strategic Challenge

As strategic competition between the US and China increasingly shapes the region, Vietnam has reoriented its national foreign and defence policy. Vietnam has a major stake in the international rules-based order. One of its key priorities is defending sovereignty and maritime claims in the South China Sea, which are coming under challenge by an assertive Beijing.

Vietnam has been increasingly vocal in its opposition to Beijing's coercive activities and claims in the maritime domain. It has also been deepening diplomatic and defence links with the US and other regional partners, such as Australia. How has strategic competition between the US and China influenced Vietnam's foreign and defence policy? Is Hanoi likely to move closer to the US, or "hedge" against choosing between either power? And what does this mean for Vietnam's relations with China and the wider region?

Dr Huong Le Thu - Senior Analyst, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Non-resident Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 29 September 2021.

Episode #171

Webinar: The Shortest History of China

Modern China is seen variously as an economic powerhouse, an icon of urbanisation, a propaganda state or an aggressive superpower seeking world domination. From kung-fu to tofu, tea to trade routes, sages to silk, China has influenced cuisine, commerce, military strategy, aesthetics and philosophy across the world for thousands of years.

China’s history is full of heroes who are also villains, prosperous ages and violent rebellions, cultural vibrancy and censorious impulses, rebels, loyalists, dissidents and wits. The story of women in China, from the earliest warriors to twentieth-century suffragettes, is rarely told. And historical spectres of corruption and disunity, which have brought down many a mighty ruling house, continue to haunt the People’s Republic today.


  • Linda Jaivin - Author and co-editor of the China Story Yearbook
  • Dr Ruth Gamble - Lecturer, History, La Trobe University
  • Professor Baogang He - Alfred Deakin Professor and Personal Chair in International Relations, Deakin University

Chair: Dr Bec Strating - Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

A virtual launch of Linda Jaivin’s book ‘The Shortest History of China’, available from Black Inc books.

Held as live zoom panel on 28 September 2021.

Live Podcast: Australia's Relationship with India

India and Australia stand to benefit greatly through deep and ongoing engagement. But despite some share interests between the two states, there is a shallow public interest and understanding of India in Australia, and the coverage of the country is often cursory and limited in scope.

How can we better promote understanding of India in Australia, leverage shared interests, and strengthen national, business and societal relations?

Lisa Singh, Deputy Chair, Australia India Council and Former Australian Senator (2011-2019)

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 19 August 2021

Episode #170

Live Podcast: Gender and Security in Asia

Why does gender matter when thinking about security? In Asia, discussions and policies concerning conflict, peace and security remain dominated by male voices and views. The exclusion of women’s voices has significant implications for the types of ideas, strategies and policies that are proposed and adopted in security-related fields.

A live recording of the Asia Rising podcast for 'India Week' - in collaboration with the Australia India Institute

Dr Meenakshi Gopinath, Director, Women in Security Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP) and member of the La Trobe Asia Advisory Board

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 11 August 2021

Episode #169

Webinar: Developing Partnerships Between Australian and Indian Universities

In 2019 a formal agreement between La Trobe University in Australia, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani established the Asian Smart Cities Research and Innovation Network (ASCRIN). This network facilitates and enables the development of strong partnerships required to support ‘smart cities’ through a collaborative and comprehensive approach, incorporating input from governments, universities and industry partners.

This event will look at the successes of ASCRIN and how it can be a model for partnership, as well as the importance of international collaboration when implementing real world impact and providing social and public goods.


  • Professor Aniruddha Desai, Founding Director of ASCRIN, La Trobe University
  • Professor Susan Dodds, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Industry Engagement), La Trobe University
  • Professor Yogesh M Joshi, Dean of International Relations, IIT Kanpur
  • Professor Sudhirkumar Barai, Director Pilani Campus and Director International Programs & Collaborations, BITS Pilani

Chair: Dr Rebecca Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

This event was part of 'India Week' in collaboration with the Australia India Institute and took place on zoom on 11 August 2021.

Webinar: The Challenge of China

The recent emergence of China as an economic and military super-power, rivaling the United States, is one of the most significant and challenging developments of the present era.

A La Trobe Asia / Ideas and Society event


  • The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull AC, 29th Prime Minister of Australia
  • The Hon. Kevin Rudd AC, 26th Prime Minister of Australia

The panel was introduced by Professor John Dewar, Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University and chaired by Dr Rebecca Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia.

Held as live online event (ON24) on 10 August 2021.

Religious Tourism in India

India had more than 10 million foreign tourists arrive in 2019, and more than a billion domestic tourists. A large portion of these are religious tourists, visiting the multitude of Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist sites scattered around the country.

GuestDr Kiran Shinde, Senior Lecturer and Convener of Planning program at La Trobe University

Recorded 23 July 2021

Episode #168

Webinar: Is Asia Heading for War?

As Asia grapples with a global pandemic the region has become less secure. China's ambitions in Taiwan and Hong Kong are growing, North Korea is uncharacteristically silent, and the United States, a long-time stabilising presence, continues to slowly withdraw.

In this webinar, an expert panel considers where conflict is likely, who could be involved, and what can be done to mitigate the situation.

A La Trobe Asia / Asia Society event.


  • Dr Oriana Skylar Mastro, Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at American Enterprise Institute
  • Professor Nick Bisley, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University
  • Guy Boekenstein, Northern Australia Fellow, Asia Society

Chair: Matt Smith, La Trobe Asia

Held as live zoom panel on 4 August 2021.

Live Podcast: China Panic

Australia’s relationship with China has been in sharp decline, fueled by a critical government agenda and a hostile media environment. The trust, warmth and confidence towards China is at a record low, and the majority of Australians now see it as a major security threat.

In his new book China Panic, David Brophy offers a progressive alternative to Australia’s relationship with China aside from paranoia and pandering, with solutions and strategies that strengthen Australian democracy.

Dr David Brophy, Senior Lecturer in Modern Chinese History, University of Sydney

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 22 July 2021.

Episode #167

Webinar: Australia-Southeast Asia Relations: The Post COVID-19 Regional Order

The relationship between Australia and Southeast Asian countries has grown substantially in the last decade, from a marriage of convenience to the development of regional agendas, strategic partnerships and shared economic interests.

A global pandemic has shifted priorities, and vaccine diplomacy throughout the region has both shifted and strengthened existing allegiances. Has Australia’s actions during the pandemic helped or hindered relationships with Southeast Asian nations? What will the post-COVID-19 regional order of Southeast Asia look like?

The launch of the fifth issue of the La Trobe Asia Brief which was the product of a fruitful online academic dialogue held in February 2021 in collaboration between La Trobe Asia, Asia Centre, Centre for Strategic and International Studies Indonesia, Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia, Griffith Asia Institute, Asialink, Perth USAsia Centre and Generate Worldwide. It was proudly supported by the Australia-ASEAN Council.


  • Professor Caitlyn Byrne, Director, Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University
  • Chen Chen Lee, Advisor (Diplomacy) to Asialink
  • Dr Huong Le Thu, Senior Analyst, The Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Dr Jeffrey Wilson, Policy Fellow, Perth USAsia Centre

Chair: Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director - La Trobe Asia

Held as live zoom panel on 7 July 2021.

Live Podcast: Is Asia Becoming Less Democratic?

Asia’s relationship with democratic governance is complicated. While some countries such as Japan and Indonesia pride themselves on transparent elections, the struggles for democracy continue in countries such as Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines, where growing authoritarianism may be undermining long-term prospects for democratic institutions and civil liberties.

Dr James Gomez, Regional Director, Asia Centre

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 23 June 2021

Episode #166

Live Podcast:  Is Taiwan a target?

For the last seventy years Taiwan and mainland China has remained mostly separated. While China has encouraged interaction in the hope of a peaceful reunification, they have sought to isolate Taipei internationally, offering inducements and economic incentives to those who might engage.

In recent months there could be signs that Beijing is contemplating taking Taiwan by force, with an increase of military activity near the island. This live podcast discusses this shift, the implications for Taiwan, and the international dilemma.

Dr Oriana Skylar Mastro, Center Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), Stanford University

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 15 June 2021

Episode #165

Live Podcast: The Philippines and Regional Security

Regional security is a critical issue for the Philippines. Once closely aligned with western democracies, the strong-arm leadership of Rodrigo Duterte has guided it in a more authoritarian direction, leading critics to voice concern for the country’s democratic freedoms.

In the international arena, tensions in the South China Seas have complicated a cooling relationship with China, leading the Philippines to diversify its foreign relations and take the development of its defence and security capabilities seriously.

Dr Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby, Associate Professor in International Studies, De La Salle University, Manila

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 10 June 2021

Episode #164

Webinar: Japan's Evolving Security Policy

Japan has been expanding its military roles in the post-Cold War period. While the conventional security threats associated with China’s military rise and North Korea’s nuclear weapons are still present, Japan’s participation in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, the arms trade ban policy, regional maritime capacity-building and shaping international norms have become more influential in Japan’s foreign and defence policy.

How have domestic norms and political interests contributed to this trend? How does Japan balance a desire to broaden its military role without violating the pacifist domestic norm? And how will it expand relations with other states to pursue its economic and security interests in a changing region?

The book launch of Japan’s Evolving Security Policy: Militarisation within a Pacifist Tradition by Kyoko Hatakeyama, published by Routledge.


  • Professor Kyoko Hatakeyama, Graduate School of International Studies and Regional Development, University of Niigata Prefecture
  • Professor Nick Bisley, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University
  • Associate Professor Nobuhiro Aizawa, Department of Cultural Studies, Kyushu University

Chair: Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

Held as live zoom panel on 8 June 2021.

Xinjiang's Falling Birth Rate

In April 2017, Chinese Communist Party authorities in Xinjiang launched a series of “strike-hard” campaigns against “illegal births” with the explicit aim to “reduce and stabilise a moderate birth level” and decrease the birth-rate in southern Xinjiang. The crackdown has led to an unprecedented and precipitous drop, and the largest declines have been in counties where Uyghurs and other indigenous communities are concentrated.

Professor James Leibold, Head of Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University and a senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Recorded 18 May 2021

Episode #163

Live Podcast: What to Expect at the Shangri-La Dialogue

The Shangri-La Dialogue is one of the premiere defence summits on the Asian calendar, where leaders from all over the region gather to discuss key global issues and security trends. James Crabtree, Executive Director of IISS-Asia, oversees the event and lays out what likely to be on the agenda at this year's dialogue.

James Crabtree, Executive Director of IISS-Asia

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 4 May 2021

Episode #162

Social Justice in Japan's Education

Over the past two decades Japan has experienced slow economic growth, changed employment practices, population decline, an ageing society, and an increasingly multi-ethnic population resulting from migration. How all of these factors have influenced education will shape the society of the future.

Professor Kaori Okano, Asian Studies and Japanese, La Trobe University

Episode #161

Seminar: China's Grand Strategy and Australia's Future in the New Global Order

The rise of China, Trump’s America First policies, division within Europe and successful defiance by authoritarian states are affecting the shape of the emerging new order. Human rights, rule of law, free media and longstanding global institutions all seem set to be weakened. Autocracies are exercising greater control over world affairs. Australia will need to engage heightened levels of diplomacy to forge relations with countries of opposing principles. It will need to be agile in pursuing a realistic foreign policy agenda if it is to be well positioned for this future.

Speaker: Dr Geoff Raby AO, former Australian ambassador to China (2007–11); ambassador to APEC (2003–5); and ambassador to the World Trade Organization (1998–2001). Member of the La Trobe Asia advisory board.

A La Trobe Asia 'China in Focus' seminar, held online via zoom on 22 April 2021.

Webinar: Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking in Asia

Human trafficking is an urgent human security issue in Asia. The abuse and exploitation associated with human trafficking have been documented across a range of sectors, including the sex industry, domestic work, construction, agriculture, and fisheries. Key drivers of human trafficking across the region include poverty and the desire for a better life. Increasingly widening economic disparities in Asia and the impact of climate change have become a focus of attention for organisations attempting to address peoples' vulnerability to human trafficking.

Trafficking for labour exploitation outside the sex industry is now recognised as an equally significant concern in the region. The offshore fishing industry is beset by extreme cases of forced labour and human trafficking, exploiting migrant workers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia and Myanmar, and with countries like Australia benefitting from the import of this seafood only fuelling the problem.


  • Associate Professor Sallie Yea, Tracey Banivanua Mar Principal Research Fellow, La Trobe University
  • Jenny Stanger, Executive Manager at the Anti-Slavery Task Force, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
  • Sunil Rao, Lecturer, La Trobe Law School, La Trobe University

Chair: Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

Held as live zoom panel on 20 April 2021

Live Podcast: China's COVID-19 Exit Plan

While the rest of the world still struggles with a deadly pandemic, Beijing has suppressed the spread of COVID-19 and is executing an exit plan to make the most of its opportunities in a changing world, where "the east is rising while the west is declining".

Chris Buckley, Chief China correspondent for The New York Times

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 30 March 2021

Episode #160

Webinar: Fighting Fake News in a Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how the spread of fake news and misinformation online – even if shared without malicious intent – can weaken global public health efforts, contribute to social unrest and lead to real-life harms or even death.

In the Asia Pacific, Singapore and Indonesia are among the early adopters of fake news laws to crack down on the pernicious problem of online misinformation and disinformation. These laws aim to address COVID-19 misinformation and the real-world violence and hate speech aimed at minority and religious groups, but internet and human rights experts fear the laws are also open to political misuse.

A landmark report from La Trobe University details the harm caused by online misinformation, how it is being regulated in some countries, and how it might be tackled.

The launch of the report Fighting Fake News: A study of online misinformation regulation in the Asia Pacific.

A La Trobe Asia / Asia Centre event.


  • Associate Professor Andrea Carson, Journalism, La Trobe University
  • Dr James Gomez, Regional Director, Asia Centre
  • Associate Professor Dirk Tomsa, Politics, La Trobe University

Chair: Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

Held as live zoom panel on 16 March 2021

Live Podcast: The Chagos Islands Sovereignty Dispute

The Chagos Archipelago, a group of small tropical islands in the middle of the Indian ocean, has become a surprising location of strategic importance. Recent international legal rulings have invalidated The United Kingdom’s claimed sovereignty, and international groups are urging the UK to end its ‘unlawful occupation’, presenting interesting dilemmas for the United States and its allies.

Nilanthi Samaranayake, Director of the Strategy and Policy Analysis Program at the Center of Naval Analysis in Washington D.C.

Host: Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 9 March 2021

Episode #159

How COVID-19 Impacts International Students in Australia

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit tertiary education in Australia hard, and for most of 2020 it prevented students from studying on campus. For international students they were unable to enter the country, which meant a drop in enrolments and a decrease in university revenue, a situation which will likely continue into 2022.

Australian international students are largely from Asian countries, with large numbers from China and India in particular, and how the pandemic affects enrolment numbers will have flow on effects throughout not just those societies, but Australia as well.


  • Dr Jasvir Nachatar Singh, Lecturer at the Department of Management, Sport and Tourism, La Trobe Business School, La Trobe University
  • Dr Stacey Farraway, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International), La Trobe University

Recorded February/March 2021

Episode #158

Webinar: Could Taiwan be the Next Global Flashpoint?

In late January 2021, China moved to intensify military activity in the Taiwan Strait, sending bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons and fighter jets into airspace just southwest of the island. Taiwan responded by scrambling fighters and broadcasting warnings, but there has been no subsequent comment from China.

Beijing has long regarded the island as a renegade province and strongly opposes diplomatic attempts by other countries to engage with it. The action is the latest in an escalation of tension around the independence of Taiwan, and it coinciding with the inauguration of new United States President Joe Biden has led many to interpret it as a clear warning and the first major test of the Biden administration’s foreign policy.

What do these heightened tensions mean for Taiwan’s dreams of independence? What are the Chinese Communist Party’s objectives for Taiwan? Will the Biden Administration stand up to China over Taiwan, and will it look to its allies such as Australia for support?


  • Professor Brendan Taylor, Strategic Studies, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University
  • Natasha Kassam, Research Fellow, Lowy Institute
  • Jessica Drun, Non-Resident Fellow, Project 2049 Institute

Chair: Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

Held as live zoom panel on 3 March 2021

Webinar: Myanmar’s Military Coup: Challenging Democracy in Southeast Asia

On 1 February 2021, the military upended years of quasi-democratic rule in Myanmar in a carefully orchestrated coup. Military leaders justified the takeover by alleging voter fraud in the 2020 November election, which the National League for Democracy (NLD) had won in a landslide. The civilian leader of Myanmar and the NLD, former Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, was detained by the military, along with dozens of officials, law-makers and aides.

The military announced that it will remain in power for one year, with ultimate authority resting with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Some suspect the military will stay in charge beyond that, returning to the time prior to Myanmar’s first democratic reforms in 2011.

What were the driving factors behind the military coup? Does Myanmar have a long-term future as a democratic country? What response should be expected from the international community, and what are the implications for regional stability in Southeast Asia?


  • Hunter Marston, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University
  • Christopher Lamb, President of the Australia Myanmar Institute; Honorary Associate Professor - The University of Melbourne; and, Former Australian Ambassador to Myanmar
  • Wai Wai Nu, Peace, Human Rights and Women Rights Advocate, Founder of Women's Peace Network, Myanmar

Chair: Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

Recorded live as a zoom webinar on 24 February 2021

Live Podcast: Is the Democratic Dream of Hong Kong Over?

In the course of a year Hong Kong has been transformed by a new security law. Drafted by Beijing and aimed at protestors, it has led to mass arrests of activists, lawyers and law makers. Political participation in Hong Kong is now more dangerous than ever, and with rights and freedoms diminishing under Beijing’s vast national security apparatus, is the democratic dream of Hong Kong over?

Antony Dapiran, Hong Kong-based writer and lawyer, author of the book City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong

Recorded with a live zoom audience on 17 February 2021

Episode #157

Islam and Indonesian Politic‪s‬

The political landscape of Indonesia has had a shakeup with the resurrection of the long-defunct Masyumi Party. The once-powerful party invokes a time when Islamists were more united in Indonesia, and signals a desire for greater coordination.

Associate Professor Dirk Tomsa, Politics, La Trobe University

Recorded 9 February 2021

Episode #156