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

Overstating Chinese influence in Australian universities

School of Business graduates toss their hats into the air for family members to take pictures outside the main building at the University of Sydney in Australia, 22 April 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed).

Author: Fran Martin, Melbourne University

Both Australia’s national government and its security agency ASIO have expressed concerns over the influence that the Chinese government exerts on Chinese student groups studying at Australian universities. They have also accused Beijing of using those groups to spy on Chinese students in Australia. Read more…

Indonesian voting behaviour beyond Jakarta

A woman takes her picture with some of the many flower boards, sent by supporters of outgoing Jakarta governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama just after he lost Jakarta’s gubernatorial election in Jakarta, Indonesia, 27 April 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Darren Whiteside).

Author: Diego Fossati, Griffith Asia Institute

The recent gubernatorial elections in Jakarta have generated vigorous debate about the state of democracy in Indonesia. Many observers have commented on the rise of nativist sentiment and Islamic radicalism and have argued that this new salience of identity politics poses a threat to pluralism and the rule of law. Read more…

China’s SEO reform wrangle

An employee from the state-owned State Grid Corporation of China works at an electric substation in Zhanang county, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, 30 August 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Xinling Wang, China Policy

For the past twenty years, Chinese reformers have sought to improve the efficiency of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), with the latest through mixed-ownership reform. Despite the ever-deepening process, so far the new initiatives have not been very fruitful. Read more…

China’s Korean Peninsula balancing act

North Korean people take a tour on a vessel on the Yalu river outside Sinuiju, North Korea, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, 9 September 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jacky Chen).

Author: Nate Kerkhoff, Yonsei University

During its 19th National Communist Party Congress spectacular in October 2017, China indicated that it would take a more active approach to foreign policy. There have already been indications that China’s revamped foreign policy is in action in the Korean Peninsula. But whether or not this signals a new era of actively promoting its political system abroad remains to be seen. Read more…

Fact-checking critics of Chinese aid

Construction equipment donated by China, that will aid in the rehabilitation of the war-torn Marawi city, in the port of Iligan city, Philippines, 19 October, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco).

Author: Alvin Camba, Johns Hopkins University

Pundits and journalists have often argued that Chinese loans are expensive and harmful to recipient countries. But they fundamentally misunderstand how Chinese aid and investment works across different countries. Read more…

Indonesia’s fatal war on drugs

Indonesian President Joko Widodo arrives at the ASEAN Summit in Clark, Pampanga, Philippines, 12 November, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Erik De Castro).

Author: Dave McRae, University of Melbourne

Under President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), Indonesia’s war on drugs has taken on a deadly edge. Initially, Jokowi focused on judicial executions, declaring in December 2014 that his government would empty death row of its 64 prisoners sentenced on drugs charges in order to tackle a ‘drugs emergency’. Action followed quickly — his government executed 14 narcotics prisoners within six months. Read more…

China’s ‘three warfares’ in Xinjiang

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) Party Secretary Chen Quanguo attends a group discussion session on the second day of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 19 October, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu).

Author: Michael Clarke, ANU

There has been extensive analysis of China’s use of ‘three warfares’ — public opinion, psychological warfare and legal warfare — in the context of external issues like the South China Sea dispute and the Doklam standoff with India. But China has also deployed elements of the ‘three warfares’ to counter a primarily domestic security challenge: the threat of Uyghur militancy, radicalisation and terrorism in Xinjiang. Read more…

Australia’s foreign policy white paper

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop before their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 50th ASEAN Regional Forum in Pasay City, Manila, Philippines, 6 August, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Rouelle Umali).

Author: Editorial Board, East Asia Forum

The Australian government has published a new Foreign Policy White Paper. It is 14 years since the Howard government launched its own Foreign Affairs and Trade White Paper in 2003, although the Gillard government produced the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper in 2013. Much has changed in Australia’s international environment since either of those papers were released. Read more…

Hard work, getting Australia’s foreign policy right

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull waves to the crowd upon his arrival to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related meetings in Clark, Pampanga, northern Philippines, 12 November 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Erik De Castro).

Author: Peter Drysdale, ANU

Getting foreign policy right at this point in world diplomatic history has never been more difficult.

For that reason the Foreign Policy White Paper launched by Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steve Ciobo in Canberra last week is a welcome beginning to an important public debate. Read more…

Is Indonesia’s fight against forest fires falling short?

Police and a fire fighter from a local forestry company try to extinguish a forest fire in the village in Rokan Hulu regency, Riau province, Sumatra, Indonesia 28 August 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman).

Authors: Armida S Alisjahbana, Padjadjaran University and Jonah Busch, Center for Global Development

Forest fires sweeping across Sumatra and Kalimantan in recent months prompted six Indonesian provinces to declare a state of emergency. Yet the scale of resources devoted to fighting and preventing fires remains far short of what is needed to turn around Indonesia’s rising rates of deforestation and meet Indonesia’s ambitious climate pledge. Read more…

Canada needs to set a course for its ships in East Asia

Chinese navy band members perform as Canadian naval ship HMCS Ottawa arrives at a pier of the Yangtze river in Shanghai, China, 26 May 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Adam P MacDonald, Halifax

Over the past several years Canada has begun conducting regular naval deployments throughout East Asia. But the regular dispatching of the Royal Canadian Navy does not constitute but rather begets the need for a regional strategy to guide and legitimise these missions — something successive governments have failed to do. Read more…

Legitimacy and longevity in Singapore’s reserved presidency

Singapore's President-elect Halimah Yacob greets supporters as she leaves the nomination centre in Singapore, 13 September 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Authors: Isabel Chew and Kai Ostwald, University of British Columbia

Singapore’s new President Halimah Yacob is a widely liked and respected former speaker of parliament, as well as the first female ever and first Malay in five decades to become the largely ceremonial head of state. Yet what looks like a milestone for Singapore is triggering anxiety about the political process that selected her and reviving lingering questions about the long-term staying power of the People’s Action Party (PAP), the party that Halimah quit before her presidency. Read more…

Kyrgyzstan rejects authoritarian trend in Central Asia

People vote at a polling station during the presidential election in the village of Kyzyl-Birdik, Kyrgyzstan, 15 October 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Vladimir Pirogov).

Author: Kirill Nourzhanov, ANU

On 15 October 2017, Kyrgyzstan held presidential elections that marked a milestone for the country and may have significant regional implications. For the first time since independence in 1991, power changed hands in Kyrgyzstan peacefully and through regular electioneering. Read more…

No opposition to Cambodia’s lack of opposition

Police officers stand guard at the Supreme Court during a hearing to decide whether to dissolve the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 16 November 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Samrang Pring).

Author: Kongkea Chhoeun, ANU

The prospect of a political equilibrium in Cambodia faded when the Cambodian Supreme Court dissolved the country’s only opposition party on 16 November. After a complaint by the Cambodian People’s Party-led government, the court disbanded the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on the grounds that the party had associated itself with criminals or had conspired with individuals against the interests of the Kingdom of Cambodia. This is after Kem Sokha, the leader of the CNRP, was arrested for treason in September. Read more…

New Zealand trading policy for fig leaves

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signs official documents next to New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters after their meeting in Wellington, New Zealand, 24 October 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Nicolaci da Costa).

Author: Gary Hawke, Victoria University of Wellington

Trade policy was not prominent in the recent New Zealand general election. But it is among the first issues to confront the new Ardern government — a coalition between the centre-left Labour Party and populist or maverick New Zealand First Party with support from outside the cabinet by the left-wing Green Party. Read more…