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

On nuclear first strike, White is wrong

A boy looks at a photograph showing Hiroshima city after the 1945 atomic bombing, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Japan, 6 August 2007. (Photo: Reuters)

Author: Gareth Evans, ANU

Hugh White’s views on the dangers of the United States moving to a ‘No First Use’ nuclear posture are not just inherently unpersuasive, for reasons crisply spelt out by Ramesh Thakur, for instance, in recent pieces in The Strategist and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Read more…

The real meaning of Thailand’s constitutional referendum

A well-wisher holds a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing, in Bangkok, Thailand, 9 June 2016. (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Patrick Jory, UQ

The result of the Thailand’s recent referendum appeared to show an easy win to the ‘yes’ camp. 61 per cent of voters approved the draft constitution while 39 per cent voted ‘no’. 58 per cent also approved a second question, inserted at the last minute, on whether a non-elected prime minister could be appointed Read more…

A new model of urbanism will help China boost growth

A worker inside his dormitory near a residential construction site in Hefei, Anhui province. (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Authors: Cai Fang and Wang Meiyan, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Guo Zhenwei, National Research Institute for Health and Family Planning of China

China’s unprecedented growth since reforms began in the late 1970s has been accompanied by an equally transformative process of urbanisation. China’s urbanisation rate increased from 17.9 to 54.8 per cent between 1978 and 2014, which represents the largest peacetime population movement in human history. Read more…

1MDB scandal reveals tangled web of global finance

Author: Natasha Hamilton-Hart, University of Auckland

Malaysia’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal reached a crescendo in July 2016. The US Attorney General claimed that more than US$3.5 billion belonging to 1MDB was ‘allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates’ between 2009 and 2015. Read more…

Australian investment decisions need demystifying

Author: Rebecca Mendelsohn, ANU

Foreign investment is periodically controversial in Australia. The decision by Treasurer Scott Morrison to reject foreign bids for Australian electricity provider, AusGrid, on national security grounds is the latest matter to generate adverse comment. Read more…

Making the Hangzhou G20 summit relevant

A man rides an electronic bike past a billboard for the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou, China.

Author: Editors, East Asia Forum

Among all the summit-babble about inclusive and sustainable growth and a myriad other agendas that have attached themselves to the G20, it’s still far from clear that when leaders gather in Hangzhou in China next weekend they will add strategic value to the world’s premier economic dialogue.

Read more…

Can China help shape global governance at the G20?

G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors group photo in Chengdu, China. (Photo: Reuters)

Author: Ye Yu, Shanghai Institute for International Studies

At the end of the twentieth century, China was an observer of global governance, on the sidelines of the G7 and not yet a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Encouraged by Western countries to embrace global governance, China has become much more proactive in pushing global cooperation since the G20 was founded. As president of the G20 for 2016, China has an unprecedented opportunity to provide impetus to global development.

Read more…

What to expect from China’s G20 leadership

People watch a light show for 30 day countdown of the upcoming G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, August 5, 2016. (Photo: Reuters).

Authors: Wang Wen, Renmin University of China

The G20 has become the key vehicle for implementing and promoting global economic governance. China is set to host this year’s G20 summit in Hangzhou on 4–5 September. Read more…

Jokowi and the Luhut factor

Luhut Panjaitan, Indonesia's Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, gestures while speaking at an event hosted by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club at a hotel in Jakarta November 11, 2015. (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Emirza Adi Syailendra, RSIS

Without networks within the military, and having no effective power over the political parties, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has been constrained in his political manoeuvres. To combat this, Jokowi has installed retired army generals to important civilian posts as coordinating ministers, defence minister and head of state intelligence. Read more…

South China Sea: the problems of an ambitious award

Chinese sailors of the PLA Navy Ship Changbai Shan, a Type 071 amphibious transport dock, line the deck. (Photo: Flickr).

Author: John Lee, Canberra

Analyses of state responses to the South China Sea arbitral award often frame the issue as a binary choice between a rules-based or power-based approach to international relations. But states are unlikely to view the matter this way, because international law is not autonomous from politics. Read more…

Japan set to reap returns on investment in Myanmar

A police officer stands on guard near national flags of Myanmar and Japan during the commencement ceremony of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project in the Japanese Special Economic Zone at Thilawa outside Yangon. (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Patrick Strefford, Kyoto Sangyo University

After over 20 years of sanctions and international pariah status, Myanmar has begun to come in from the cold. It has taken the 2010 elections, a new ‘civilian’ president and the by-elections of early 2012 to convince the international community that the transition to democracy is ‘real’. Read more…

Is the South China Sea fracturing ASEAN?

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrives at a meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Vientiane, Laos, 25 July 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Author: Adam Leong Kok Wey, National Defence University of Malaysia

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) judgement on the South China Sea ruled that there is no legal basis for Chinese ‘historical rights’ within its claimed nine-dash line. China did not accept the judgement Read more…

Jokowi’s electoral juggle

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo delivers a speech in front of parliament members at the House of Representative building in Jakarta, Indonesia, 16 August 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Author: Emirza Adi Syailendra, RSIS

Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) victory in the 2014 presidential election was celebrated as it represented a major step forward for democracy in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. Jokowi’s rise to power was unprecedented. It was largely the collective effort of volunteers and a strong social media presence Read more…

Decomposing water and energy trends in China

Men pick up lotus roots at a pond in Linyi, Shandong Province, China, 12 April 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Authors: Can Wang and Xinzhu Zheng, Tsinghua University

Water and energy are indispensable inputs to modern economies. But in China these are both under threat. China’s per capita quantity of fresh water is only one-quarter of the global average and its sparse water resources are unevenly distributed across the country. Read more…

‘No first use’ nuclear pledge bad for US standing in Asia

US President Barack Obama tells photographers that he and his fellow world leaders are waiting for two more late-running delegates to join them for a family photo at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, United States, 1 April 2016. (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Hugh White, ANU

Barack Obama began his presidency with a dramatic gesture which captured the world’s imagination and won him the Nobel Peace Prize. Speaking in Prague in 2009, he declared that the United States would work towards abolishing nuclear weapons. Since then, for over seven years, nothing has happened. Read more…