Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

China in the G20: a balancer and a responsible contributor

Author: Wang Yong, Peking University

The upcoming G20 Summit in Cannes will undoubtedly attract the world’s attention, as many look to see whether the G20 can play a positive role in the global economic recovery.

And while searching for an effective solution to the crisis, the world will also focus on China, asking whether it might become a responsible ‘leadership state’ in an emerging global governance structure like the G20. The answer, it seems, is that based on its own interests, China is choosing to become a responsible contributor to global governance and wants to become part of the solution to the current global crisis. Read more…

Can Asia keep growing?

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Getting the right fix on the interaction between macroeconomic policy and structural reforms is crucial to navigating the world’s economic woes in the years immediately ahead.

The turmoil in industrial Europe and North America today is primarily about plummeting confidence in the ability of political leaderships to establish the right balance between stimulating their flagging economies and dealing with the structural problem of future debt. Read more…

A China–US trade war: closer than ever?

Author: Ding Dou, Peking University

Longstanding tensions over the value of the Chinese currency now seem on the verge of breaking out into action.

The US Senate recently voted three consecutive times on a bill designed to take punitive action against China over its alleged ‘under-valued’ currency. Read more…

The prospect of democracy and peace in Aceh

Author: Badrus Sholeh, Deakin University

The Indonesian province of Aceh is due to hold its gubernatorial elections in December 2011.

These elections highlight the significant contribution democracy has made to the maintenance of peace since Aceh’s 2006 elections — which were held a year after the peace agreement between the Freedom Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government. Read more…

How to improve Australia’s Asia literacy

Author: Arjuna Dibley, ANU

Eclipsed by the clamorous debate surrounding a 14 year-old Australian boy allegedly caught purchasing marijuana in Bali recently, some important developments in Australia’s relationship with Indonesia went largely unnoticed.

In Jakarta, 20 Australians and Indonesians met at the inaugural Indonesia-Australia Dialogue (IAD) on 5–6 October. Read more…

Moderate Islam in Southeast Asia and Egypt

Author: Nazry Bahrawi, NUS

A decade after 9/11, the pursuit of ‘moderate Islam’ as the antithesis to ‘radical Islam’ has changed the contours of Islamic theology in Southeast Asia in unimaginable ways.

But, while largely positive, this scramble for moderate Islam can run counter to the progressive ideal of pluralism if touted overzealously. Read more…

Creating community without a grand design

Author: Mahani Zainal Abidin, ISIS

Asian institutions for regional integration have proliferated since the 1998 financial crisis. They range from highly formal to very informal.

Most were not based on a grand design or mission but were responses to key issues. Some institutions evolved according to the needs of the market, and their final form owes much to pragmatism and flexibility. Read more…

Can India and China coexist in an Asian concert of powers?

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

The CIA considers India a ‘swing state’ in Asia, meaning that the way in which it chooses to lock into existing security structures will have important implications for the Asian security order.

India’s emergence is especially important in the context of China’s rise and the apparent relative decline of the US. This confronts Australia with stark choices between its economic imperative not to alienate China and its long-standing strategic reliance on the US. Read more…

Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s change of heart

Author: Jacqueline Menager, ANU

Gandhi once said that ‘the spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires a change of heart’.

Almost a year since the November 2010 elections, a change of heart in Burma has not been easy for the country’s democratic icon, Aung San Suu Kyi. Read more…

The War on Terror: too early to be disillusioned with Pakistan?

Author: Vikas Kumar, Bangalore

President Barack Obama is disillusioned with Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy. But he is unwilling to admit that his exit deadline, governed by considerations for his re-election next year, has allowed the Taliban — and its supporters and promoters within the Pakistani military intelligence — to destabilise the situation in Afghanistan without making costly investments in capturing territory.

The Taliban and its supporters believe any potential outcome in Afghanistan to be zero-sum: if the US does not win it loses and if they do not to lose they win. In the meantime, all they need to do is publicise the cost of the War on Terror to US voters, for which spectacular attacks on foreign embassies in Afghanistan and the killing of a few coalition soldiers a week is sufficient. Read more…

Clear benefits in stronger Asian regional institutions

Author: Masahiro Kawai, ADBI

According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) study Institutions for Asian Integration: Toward an Asian Economic Community (2010), Asia is supported by a dense web of 40 overlapping regional and sub-regional institutions that promote regional cooperation and integration at the intergovernmental level.

Yet with few formal or explicit commitments from members of these institutions, Asia remains ‘institution-light’. Read more…

India’s declining FDI inflows

Author: Geethanjali Nataraj, NCAER

The time has come for India to realise its potential as a major destination for foreign direct investment (FDI).

Forbes puts India at 77th place — ahead of China at 90th place — in its 2010 list of the best countries for business. Equally, the UN Conference on Trade and Development report World Investment Prospects Survey 2010–2012, and the AT Kearney FDI Confidence Index 2010 rate India as the second most promising country for investment and business. Read more…

The global implications of sending gas to Japan

Author: Christopher Findlay, University of Adelaide

Commentators on these pages have been pondering the implications of the Fukushima explosion on Japan’s energy policy and its strategy for international purchases.

Samuels suggests an extensive re-examination of energy policy in Japan and a possible shift toward renewable energy. Read more…

Australian opposition leader throws economic relationship with China into question

Author: Jane Golley, ANU

Australia’s opposition leader, Tony Abbott, who, if the polls are to be believed would win a handsome victory and become Australia’s next prime minister if an election were held today, has advanced some views that have baffled and disturbed the Australian policy and business community (including senior members of his own front bench) over the past week or two.

Among them, on foreign economic policy, he appears to be backing away from Australia’s key economic relationship with China in favour of ramping up the relationship with Japan. Read more…

China’s political reform challenge

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The Central Committee of China’s ruling Communist Party concluded its annual four day meeting last Tuesday in one of the last such meetings before the generational changeover in the Chinese leadership next year.

This was an important session of the Central Committee, but it’s still far from clear what direction the Party will take as its new leadership takes over the reins next year. Read more…