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

Building on Japan’s National Security Council

Author: Taylor M. Wettach, Georgetown University

Since his return to office in December 2012, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government have responded to an increasingly severe security environment through a number of national security reforms. While this agenda did not begin with the Abe government — rather, it builds on a history of solidifying central decision-making though administrative reforms — associated developments have seen Japan receive a new wave of international media attention. Read more…

Warming Sino–Russian ties leave Japan in the cold

Authors: Andrei I. Kozinets, Far Eastern Federal University, and James D.J. Brown, Temple University

Russia has recently raised the priority given to East Asia in its foreign policy. This trend has further accelerated following the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in 2014. But how is the policy progressing and what is its impact on Russia’s relations with China and Japan? Read more…

Banking on better SME financing in ASEAN

Author: Ganeshan Wignaraja, Asian Development Bank

Concerns about moderating economic growth and rising income inequality in ASEAN economies have brought small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the policy limelight. Arguing that SMEs have significant potential for creating jobs, some commentators are suggesting a host of industrial policies such as financial subsidies and local content rules to promote SMEs. But this risks heavy-handed state intervention in SMEs. Read more…

China isn’t about to abandon North Korea

Author: Kevin Gray, University of Sussex

Much has been made of the recent cooling of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea and Beijing’s increased emphasis on Seoul. Deteriorating relations since 2012 were confirmed most recently by South Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s prominent position at China’s 70th anniversary celebrations of the end of World War II. For those looking forward to North Korea’s rapid demise and to the reunification of the peninsula on Seoul’s terms, this growing distance between Beijing and Pyongyang has been greeted with cautious optimism. Read more…

Is China’s economic luck running out?

Author: Ilan Alon, University of Agder

At the end of April 2015, FXI — China’s prestigious Xinhua China 25 index, a key indicator of China’s stock market value — climbed dramatically, reaching over US$52 per share. By 5 September, the index had dropped to a low of about US$33 per share, representing the destruction of almost 40 per cent of its value for the period and trillions of dollars in total. Both retail and institutional investors in China felt the bite. As financial markets react, the question remains: what is happening in China? Is the Chinese economy likely to collapse? And what will be the impact on the rest of the world? Read more…

The geo-economic potential of the China–Japan relationship

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

China and Japan already together account for more than a fifth of global output, bigger than the share held by the United States or that of Europe. Over three-quarters of that, of course, is generated in mainland China but, contrary to widely held perceptions, the China–Japan economic partnership is one of the biggest in the world. Read more…

Sino–Japanese economic embrace is warm enough to thaw the politics

A man shops for Japanese-brand Nikon digital cameras, 09 July 2003, at a tech-mall in Beijing. China's import volume is expected to jump between 12 and 15 percent this year, outgrowing exports, according the Ministry of Commerce. Digital cameras, steel and cars were among the commodities registering higher growth since early 2002. (Photo: AFP)

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

China and Japan are locked into each other economically. The bilateral relationship is the third-largest in the world, with a US$340 billion trade relationship in 2014. China is Japan’s largest trading partner, accounting for one-fifth of its trade, and Japan is China’s second-largest. Japan is the largest investor in China, with a stock of direct investment at more than US$100 billion in 2014 or US$30 billion more than the next largest source, the United States. But even those massive trade and investment figures do not demonstrate just how intertwined the two Asian giants are. Read more…

Changing the gender agenda in India

Author: Vidisha Mishra, ORF

2015 has been declared the year for global action on development. The post-2015 agenda aims to fill the gaps in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is far more ambitious than ever  before. The year  could prove crucial for integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment into the global development and climate agenda. But will these global processes reach their intended goals? And what do they entail for gender justice in developing countries like India? Read more…

International cooperation needed to fight jihadism in the Maldives

Author: Iromi Dharmawardhane, RSIS

Jihadist activity and Islamic radicalism have been visibly growing in the past decade in the Maldives, traditionally a religiously-relaxed Muslim country. The Maldives experienced a terrorist attack in 2007, which wounded 12 foreigners, just prior to the inauguration of President Mohamed Nasheed. During Nasheed’s time in office there was a huge increase in violent extremism and a spread of radical ideology among the population. Read more…

Rationalising China’s exchange rate policy

Author: Yukon Huang, Carnegie Endowment

There are conflicts among the many objectives shaping China’s exchange rate policy. Politically, China’s leaders are keen on having the renminbi become a major international currency. For this purpose, the renminbi needs to be strong and stable enough that others will use it to settle trade balances and as a reserve currency. The People’s Bank of China’s (PBoC) near-term objective is to get the renminbi into the International Monetary Fund’s basket of elite currencies — the Special Drawing Rights. Read more…

Nepal constitutional reform an uphill battle

Author: Siegfried O. Wolf, Heidelberg University

Nepal is once again trying to change the nature of its political system. After the end of a 10-year Maoist insurgency in 2006, it is drafting a new constitution. Due to numerous unfortunate political undercurrents, numerous interruptions meant the constitutional-building process was delayed for more than seven years. Finally, on 20 September 2015 Nepal has formally adopted a new constitution, the first to be drawn up by democratically elected representatives after centuries of autocratic rule.

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The importance of Xi’s US visit

Authors: Wang Yong, Peking University, and Yves Tiberghien, UBC

The results of the China–US summit between Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama, held at a critical turning point in the relationship, will reshape the direction of the Asia Pacific region and even global politics.In the interests of both countries and the world, the two leaders must find ways to neutralise security tensions and build cooperative momentum with core initiatives, such as climate change talks, a potential investment treaty and mutual work around the forthcoming Chinese G20 presidency. Read more…

Corruption undermines Thais’ trust in democracy

Author: Boonwara Sumano, TDRI

Corruption has existed in Thai society for a long time. It has contributed to the failure of government projects. The Klong-Dan water treatment scandal in the late 1990s spent around 23 billion baht (US$ 638 million) of public funds needlessly. More recently, the rice-pledging scheme suffered losses of around 700 billion baht (US$ 14 billion) but resulted in little concrete improvement in poor farmers’ welfare. These instances provide some evidence of the increasing magnitude of damages caused by corruption. Read more…

A Chinese view on fixing the Japan relationship

Author: Zha Daojiong, Peking University

Evidence of a strain in the diplomatic relationship between China and Japan over the past few years has been most apparent in the absence of summits between top government leaders, which has in turn affected routine meetings at the ministerial level. It seems that Beijing still has not overcome its diplomatic ‘Noda shock’. Read more…

Myanmar’s mining investment and its discontents

Author: Soe Nandar Linn, World Bank

Following five decades of rule by socialist and military governments, under which the country became one of the least developed countries in the world, a new chapter of Myanmar’s engagement with the international community was opened in March 2011. While the previous regime denied that poverty existed in Myanmar, the new government acknowledged the problem and made addressing it a key economic policy priority. Read more…