What’s this all about, then?
I’m Ben Bland, a foreign policy analyst and author based in Sydney. My research focuses on Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and China’s growing role in Asia, reflecting over a decade of experience as a foreign correspondent living in China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
In this occasional newsletter, I’ll share insights, thoughts, recommendations and updates on the issues I cover, as well as anything else that piques my interest.
As a journalist, I learned to “simplify and exaggerate”. As an analyst, I’m always under pressure to come up with over-arching frameworks to explain the world. But politics, like life itself, is rarely so straightforward.
I’ll use this newsletter to highlight the contradictions I observe. Being contradictory, I will also sometimes make the case that things are indeed much simpler than you’d imagine.
The title was inspired by my forthcoming book, Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and the Struggle to Remake Indonesia.