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

Rising tensions and temperatures in the South China Sea

An aerial view of Southwest Cay, also known as Pugad Island, controlled by Vietnam and part of the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea, 21 April 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Francis Malasig).

Author: Margareth Sembiring, RSIS

Marine environmental protection and management is an important aspect of climate change adaptation. Coastal and marine habitats — especially coral reefs and wetlands — are bastions against waves, erosion and flooding that are predicted to get more frequent and intensified due to climate change. Read more…

Myanmar stumbling over non-secession

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and Myanmar's president Htin Kyaw attend a photo opportunity after the opening ceremony of the 21st Century Panglong Conference in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 24 May 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

Author: Lwin Cho Latt, University of Yangon

The second round of Myanmar’s 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference held in May 2017 was a historic milestone in the peace-making process. The conference produced a 37-point agreement — out of an attempted 45 — covering political, economic, social, and land and environmental issues. The agreement became part of the Union Accord as the fifth step in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement’s (NCA) seven-step roadmap for peace and national reconciliation. Read more…

Time for Trump to hit back at China’s new cybersecurity law

US President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, US, 6 April 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria).

Author: Claude Barfield, AEI

The Trump administration should immediately confront Chinese leaders over China’s recently enacted cybersecurity law. The new law came into force on 1 June, having been several years in the making with vehement protests from foreign governments and multinational corporations. Read more…

Prepare for the long haul in India’s GST roll-out

A banner promotes a pre-Goods and Services Tax clearance sale as customers walk out of an electronic shop at a market in New Delhi, India, 22 June 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).

Author: Rajiv Kumar, Pahle India Foundation

India faces an uphill battle before it will have an efficiently operating Goods and Services Tax (GST). Besides confusion over the applicable rate for certain products among retailers, service sector companies also face the daunting prospect of having to deal with not just the Union but also 29 other state tax administrations, each with its own norms and distinct attitude towards rent seeking. Read more…

Lese majeste losing its magic

A wrapped picture of Thailand's then Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is displayed for sale at a royal memorabilia shop in Bangkok, Thailand, 29 November 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva).

Author: Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Kyoto University

Following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October 2016 and the enthronement of his unpopular son, now King Vajiralongkorn, the Thai palace has continued to work intimately with its traditional ally — the military — to strengthen the position of the monarchy in politics during this volatile transitional period. Read more…

China’s inside-out climate leadership

Tourists hold umbrellas as they stand in front of the Tiananmen Gate and a giant portrait of Chinese late Chairman Mao Zedong on a day of heavy rain in Beijing, China, 20 July 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter).

Author: Fergus Green, LSE

When the Bush administration rejected the Kyoto Protocol in the 2000s, China was one of many countries that invoked US recalcitrance to justify its own inaction on climate change. But when President Trump announced on 1 June this year that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, China’s response was strikingly different. Read more…

Trump enamoured by an Abe charm offensive

US President Donald Trump (R) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe smile during a bilateral meeting at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, 26 May 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Author: Gerald Curtis, Columbia University

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s courting of Donald Trump, so far at least, has been a political success for Japan and for Abe’s style of personal diplomacy. Read more…

A peace regime on the Korean Peninsula?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks on during a ballistic rocket test-fire through a precision control guidance system in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) 30 May 2017.

Author: Stephan Haggard, University of California San Diego

An apparent outcome of the Mar-a-Lago summit between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping was renewed commitment to rolling back North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Trump muted his aggressive rhetoric towards China, particularly on economic issues. Read more…

Can Koike conquer the capital?

Tokyo Governor and head of Tokyo Citizens First party Yuriko Koike waves to voters atop of a campaign van as election campaign officially kicks off for Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, on the street in Tokyo 23 June 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Issei Kato).

Author: Michael Cucek, Temple University Japan

On 2 July the voters of metropolitan Tokyo go to the polls to elect a new prefectural assembly. These elections are usually mild affairs, made duller in recent years by the diminished popularity of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP). Read more…

The next chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership

An employee of a foreign exchange trading company looks at a monitor showing US President Donald Trump speaking on TV news in Tokyo, Japan. Trump’s United States is still ‘the biggest threat to the global trading system’. (Photo: Reuters/Toru Hanai).

Author: Editors, East Asia Forum

The future of trade and cross border commerce in Asia and the Pacific and the US role in Asia’s economy were put in doubt by Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) economic agreement. Read more…

Is the TPP a sleeping beauty or an organ donor?

A staff member removes a flag after a TPP–11 meeting in Hanoi, 21 May 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Hoang Dinh Nam/Pool).

Author: Gary Hawke, VUW

Will the work that went into negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) go to waste? There are two approaches the remaining members can take. Useful parts of the TPP can be uplifted and transplanted into other agreements. Or the trade agreement can be seen as a sleeping beauty — or better yet, a modern woman who needs no prince but who will wake up and get on with it. Read more…

Will the Qatar crisis engulf India as well?

India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (R) talks to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they wait to receive Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (unseen), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and UAE's deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces during a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi, India, February 11, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

Author: Ashok Sajjanhar, Institute of Global Studies

A political earthquake shook the Persian Gulf and its neighbours on 5 June 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt all severed links with Qatar, a member of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). These countries were soon joined by Libya, Yemen and the Maldives. Kuwait and Oman, the other two members of GCC, refused to follow Saudi Arabia’s lead. Read more…

South Asian countries building connections

Vehicles are seen at Kawran Bazar roundabout in Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 22, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)

Author: Prabir De, Research and Information System for Developing Countries

The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) sub-regional grouping has realised that narrowing connectivity gaps is a must for facilitating regional trade. Improved connectivity, which the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is only making slow progress on, is essential to providing cheaper access to goods and services, creating more jobs and ultimately helping to alleviate poverty at a faster rate. Read more…

UN abandons democracy in Asia

Nine pro-democracy activists charged with unlawful assembly chant slogans outside a court in Hong Kong, China 5 May 2017. Banner reads "Shame to political persecution". (Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip).

Author: Jorge Carrillo-Rodriguez, Bangkok

The UN’s development agencies frequently operate in a political minefield. Stuck between the zealously guarded sovereignty of member states and the need to spur structural transformations, these agencies tread carefully. But they still push, albeit timidly, for democratic values such as participation, civic engagement, accountability and broad citizenship. Until now.

It seems that the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has decided that democracy is not necessary. Read more…

New heights for ASEAN–China commercial diplomacy in aviation

The seventh-freedom right is a key to allowing ASEAN airlines reap the benefits of China traffic. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Alan Khee-Jin Tan, NUS

In 2010 ASEAN and China concluded an air transport agreement to establish a liberalised market access regime for both sides’ airlines. Yet the benefits from the arrangement were unbalanced, with China making much bigger gains in access than the ASEAN states. A closer look at this imbalance makes clear the need for a true single market in aviation across ASEAN. Read more…