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

China’s outdated war on drugs

A policeman looks on as confiscated drugs are burned during a campaign ahead of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, in Lanzhou, Gansu province, China, 22 June 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Emile Dirks, University of Toronto

Every year, tens of thousands of people worldwide die from opioid-related overdoses, many of which are linked to the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. Journalists and politicians have called on China, the primary source of fentanyl, to do more to stamp out production and interdict shipments of the drug. These calls ignore China’s own domestic war on drugs, one rooted in the memory of the country’s humiliation at the hands of imperial Britain in the 1839–42 Opium War. Read more…

Australia and Vietnam tie the knot for strategic partnership

Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang welcomes Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the APEC Business Advisory Council dialogue during the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam, 10 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva).

Author: Luc Anh Tuan, UNSW Canberra

Australia and Vietnam upgraded their bilateral ties to a strategic partnership during Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to Australia from 14–18 March 2018. The move is not a surprise. As the Australian government states, this elevation ‘reflects Australia and Vietnam’s mature and diverse bilateral relationship’ Read more…

Sun setting on Timor-Leste’s Greater Sunrise plan

Logos of Woodside Petroleum are seen at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, 4 April 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Toru Hanai).

Authors: Clive Schofield, University of Wollongong, and Bec Strating, La Trobe University

On 6 March 2018, Australia and Timor-Leste signed a landmark treaty that draws permanent maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea. The treaty is the result of the United Nations Compulsory Conciliation (UNCC) processes that have facilitated negotiations between the two states for over a year. This represents an important symbolic victory for Timor-Leste, as Australia had been reluctant to establish permanent maritime boundaries. Read more…

New violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka has old roots

Sri Lanka's Special Task Force soldiers walk past a damaged houses after a clash between two communities in Digana central district of Kandy, Sri Lanka, 8 March 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte).

Author: Pravin Prakash, RSIS

On 5 March 2018, the Sri Lankan government mandated a state of emergency for ten days following riots and a wave of targeted violence against Muslims in the city of Kandy. The latest episode took place after a Sinhalese Buddhist truck driver engaged in an altercation with some Muslim youths and succumbed to his injuries. The altercation is not believed to have been racially or religiously motivated. Read more…

China and Russia’s uneasy partnership in Central Asia

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping attend a meeting with representatives of civic organisations, business and media communities at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 4 July 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool).

Author: Paul Stronski, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Bound by common resentment towards the overwhelming power of the West, China and Russia have grown increasingly close over the past decade. They enjoy compatible economies — Russia supplies hydrocarbons and other resources that fuel Chinese industry. They push back at the promotion of Western democracy and human rights, seeing them as threats to internal stability. Read more…

Redressing India’s health care maladies

People perform yoga during a four-day long camp by yoga guru Baba Ramdev ahead of International Yoga day in Ahmedabad, India, 19 June 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave).

Author: Raghbendra Jha, ANU

On 1 February 2018, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the central government’s budget for 2018–19. One of the highlights of the budget is the Ayushman Bharat program: an ambitious health protection scheme that aims to provide 100 million of India’s poorest households (approximately 500 million people) with up to Rs 5 lakh (US$7600) per year per household for medical costs. Read more…

Australia’s anticlimactic ASEAN Summit 

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shakes hands with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen before their bilateral meeting during the one-off summit of 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Sydney, Australia, 16 March 2018 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Nick Bisley, La Trobe University

The ASEAN–Australia special summit on 17–18 March 2018 concluded with the issuing of the grandly titled ‘Sydney Declaration’. The joint statement nods to many of the issues raised at the summit including security, trade, investment, rights and people-to-people links. Yet there was something anticlimactic both about the document and the summit as a whole. Read more…

Tenets of Thailand’s ASEAN engagement

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha arrives 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).

Authors: John Blaxland and Greg Raymond, ANU

ASEAN member states have different perspectives on the significance of the grouping. As one of the founder member states, the second largest economy and a leading state within ASEAN, Thailand’s view is important. Read more…

Maintaining momentum in Japan–China relations

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (L) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi before their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on 28 January 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Andy Wong).

Author: Madoka Fukuda, Hosei University

In January 2018, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono visited China, meeting officials including his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to confirm the importance of reciprocal visits by their leaders. Although the bilateral relationship has moved on from its lowest points in the 2010s, no state visits have taken place since 2011. Read more…

Success ensures ASEAN’s long-term importance to the United States

US President Donald Trump registers his surprise as he realises other leaders, including Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, are crossing their arms for the traditional 'ASEAN handshake' at the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Manila on 13 November 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, PIIE

At the APEC Summit in November 2017, US President Donald Trump declared, ‘We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore … I am always going to put America first’. Read more…

Trump’s tariffs a call to arms for global community

US President Donald Trump holds his signed memorandum on intellectual property tariffs on high-tech goods from China, at the White House in Washington, United States on 22 March 2018. (Photo: Reuters/ Jonathan Ernst)

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

American trade policy is being run by an administration that does not understand basic economics and it is a threat to global welfare. US President Donald Trump and his advisors are focussed on reducing a large trade deficit by putting up trade barriers. The main cause of a country’s trade balance is the domestic savings and investment gap, not trade policy — Americans don’t save enough compared to the amount they want to spend on private consumption, investment and government.

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Abe’s Moritomo scandal miseries

Yasunori Kagoike, administrator of Moritomo Gakuen, the academic organisation linked to a land sale controversy that has engulfed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie, speaks to media at an elementary school of the organization under construction in Toyonaka, Osaka prefecture, Japan, on 9 March 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Kyodo).

Author: Editorial Board, East Asia Forum

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led a rollercoaster, but often charmed, political life. After being forced to resign prematurely during his first stint as prime minister in September 2007 due to a stinging July 2007 upper house election defeat and a bowel illness, Abe managed a rare political comeback. In December 2012 he led his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to victory and back to government.

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School of hard knocks reignites Abe’s political woes

Protesters shout slogans and hold placards during a rally denouncing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Finance Minister Taro Aso over a suspected cover-up of a cronyism scandal in front of Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 14 March 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Issei Kato).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

Japanese politics has once again been rocked by the Moritomo Gakuen scandal, which threatens to take down the Abe government. The scandal appeared to have been shaken off last year, but this time round Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Finance Minister Taro Aso have been forced to come out swinging for their political lives. Read more…

The Rohingya crisis a test for Bangladesh–Myanmar relations

Rohingya refugees stand in a queue to collect aid supplies in Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, 21 January 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Author: Syeda Naushin Parnini, University of Malaya

Violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar’s north-western Rakhine state has generated a massive influx of refugees to Bangladesh that will test bilateral relations. Between August and November 2017, the Myanmar military’s ‘clearance operations’ forced more than 622,000 Rohingya to cross the border into neighbouring Bangladesh. Read more…

Strugglers: the new poor of the 21st century

A worker shovels ground plastic at Plastkom factory in Jesenice, Slovenia, 13 December 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Srdjan Zivulovic).

Author: Nancy Birdsall, Center for Global Development

Mohamed Bouazizi is the Tunisian street vendor whose protest by self-immolation sparked the Arab Spring in December 2010. Bouazizi was a typical ‘struggler’. In crude income terms, a struggler is a member of a group wedged between the world’s poor (those living on US$1.90 a day or less, the World Bank’s international poverty line) and the secure middle class (those living on at least US$10 a day in household income per capita terms according to purchasing power parity). The probability that a struggler will fall back into poverty is high. Read more…