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

Concerns over judicial independence in Timor-Leste

Author: Michael Leach, Swinburne University of Technology

The parliament of Timor-Leste passed a motion on 24 October announcing the government’s intention to dismiss the contingent of foreign judicial officers working in its legal system. Citing concerns over recent tax cases against foreign oil companies operating in the Timor Sea, which have gone against the government, Timor-Leste’s leaders called into question the competence and integrity of foreign judges and prosecutors, accusing them of not complying with East Timorese law. Read more…

PNG’s exchange rate policy hurting the poor

Author: Paul Flanagan, ANU

Earlier this year, Papua New Guinea moved away from a market-based exchange rate. It seemed just a technical announcement at the time. The central bank indicated that the exchange rate would float within a narrow band around the interbank exchange rate. However, this seemingly innocuous announcement has major implications for PNG’s future development. Read more…

Does the WTO ruling against China on rare earths really matter?

Author: Nabeel Mancheri, Tokyo University

In August, the Appellate Body of the WTO ruled that China’s export duties, quotas, and administration of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum products violated various provisions of the GATT and the Accession Protocol that China promised to implement when it joined the WTO in 2001. Read more…

Is Vietnam in denial on military strategy?

Author: Shang-su Wu, RSIS

Vietnam’s recent, and significant, investment in military hardware is aimed at coping with a changing strategic environment. But will it make any significant difference in balancing against China’s military might in the South China Sea? Read more…

Sino–Japanese relations 120 years after the war

Author: Liu Jiangyong, Tsinghua University

The year 2014 marks 120 years since the First Sino–Japanese War. While the two nations have enjoyed several decades of peace, there is an uneasy feeling in China that recent developments and revisions to the Japanese constitution draw parallels with the decade prior to 1894. Read more…

After historic IPO, where to from here for Alibaba?

Author: Mark J Greeven, Zhejiang University

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has a track record of breaking records. It not only operates the world’s largest online business-to-business platform, but also the world’s largest online consumer marketplace. In 2004, it had the largest initial public offering (IPO) since Google on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In 2014, Alibaba had the biggest IPO in US history with its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on 19 September. Read more…

What to expect from the new US–Japan Defense Guidelines

Author: Ken Jimbo, Keio University

When the current Guidelines for US–Japan Defense Cooperation were released in 1997, the core strategic impulse of Washington and Tokyo was to deal with potential armed contingencies in Northeast Asia, namely regarding the Korean peninsula and Taiwan. As the US Asia strategy emphasised deterrence of and response to these contingencies, Japan reconfigured its alliance strategy from predominantly territorial defence to proactive cooperation with the US in ‘situations in areas surrounding Japan’. Read more…

Continuity the key to New Zealand’s regional participation?

Author: Gary Hawke, NZIER

New Zealand’s approach to regional affairs is unlikely to change with the recent re-election of Prime Minister John Key. The election, held on 20 September, provided a clear mandate for Key’s National Party. The routine three-yearly election was brought forward by a few weeks to provide certainty about who would represent New Zealand at the end-of-year meetings of APEC, the East Asia Summit, and the G20. Read more…

Is that as good as it gets for Abenomics?

Author: Tobias Harris, Teneo

As the second year of Abenomics progresses, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s program of coordinated monetary and fiscal stimulus and structural reform has lost some of its lustre. Not only have Abe’s approval ratings fallen below 50 per cent for the first time since he took office in December 2012, but a recent poll in the right-wing Sankei Shimbun found that, for the first time, disapproval of Abe’s economic policies had exceeded its approval ratings, with 47 per cent opposed and 39 per cent in favour. Read more…

Asian cooperation hanging on a handshake

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

The APEC summit is just over a week away and all stops are out in Beijing to make it an economic and diplomatic triumph, despite the huge underlying challenges in managing China’s relations with the region. The primary goals and foundations of APEC are economic — delivering on Asia’s economic development ambitions within the framework of the rules-based global economic system. Read more…

China–Japan relations: creating a ‘sea of peace, cooperation and friendship’

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

Tensions in the East China Sea over the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dominate manoeuvring around the upcoming meeting between Chinese president Xi Jinping and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at the APEC summit. Read more…

New rules for China’s war on terror?

Author: Kendrick Kuo, Johns Hopkins

After a very violent year, officials in China’s western province of Xinjiang announced in March 2014 that they were considering an anti-terror law for the region. The law would ostensibly fill the gaps in the national criminal law by addressing the unique challenges of terrorism. But do laws really matter in an authoritarian state and in a region as militarised as Xinjiang? Read more…

No good time for Xanana Gusmão to let go

Author: Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University

Timor-Leste’s prime minister, Xanana Gusmão, has deferred his decision to step down as his country’s leader until April 2015. He had announced earlier this year that he intended to leave office firstly in September, then in October. He has since said that he wishes to stay on to oversee negotiations with Australia over a resolution to the Timor Sea dispute. Read more…

Taiwan’s Ten Thousand Double-Edged Swords

Author: Che-Yu Ou, Waseda University

Procuring the Ten Thousand Swords missile system is a blunder for Taiwan; it aggravates the security dilemma between it and the PRC. For its own security, Taiwan should deter threats from the PRC by manufacturing weapons with exclusively defensive capabilities. Read more…

Infrastructure spending is the medicine Thailand’s insecure economy really needs

Authors: Pisit Leeahtam, Chiang Mai University & Cynn Treesraptanagul, Chiang Mai

In May 2014, the Thai army, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) staged a coup d’etat to prevent civil war breaking out after months of political deadlock and administrative paralysis. Since then, the interim constitution has been enacted, the new cabinet has received royal endorsement, and the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Council have been established. Read more…