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

What’s happened to the Philippines–Vietnam strategic partnership?

Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc as they meet at Phuc's Cabinet Office in Hanoi on 29 September 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Hoang Dinh Nam/Pool).

Author: Mico A Galang, NDCP

In November 2015, former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III and former Vietnamese president Truong Tan Sang witnessed the signing of a joint statement on the establishment of a strategic partnership between their two countries. The pact signaled the intent of the two ASEAN members most vocally against China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea (SCS) to enhance security cooperation in the region. Read more…

Inefficiency is metastasising in China’s healthcare system

A woman from Beijing receives an injection of the Gardasil 9 human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which, according to local media, is the first in mainland China, at a hospital in Boao, Hainan province, China 30 May 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Chelsea C. Chou, National Taiwan University

Maintaining a sound healthcare system is now at the centre of China’s political agenda. In Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ideological directive, national health is a prerequisite for the ‘Four Comprehensives’ to build a moderately prosperous society. Under this framework, the Politburo launched the ‘Healthy China 2030 Plan’ in 2016. Read more…

Trading in old tensions for new ties at the Trilateral Summit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as South Korean President Moon Jae-in looks on, at the end of their joint news conference following the seventh Japan-China-South Korea trilateral summit talks in Tokyo, 9 May 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kimimasa Mayama).

Author: Takashi Terada, Doshisha University

On 9 May 2018, leaders from China, Japan and South Korea gathered together for the first time since November 2015 to attend the Trilateral Summit in Tokyo.

The tripartite meeting was originally established in December 2008 as an annual event. But Japan’s strained bilateral relations with China and South Korea — concerning persistent historical and territorial disputes — have hampered China and South Korea from keeping their commitments to trilateral cooperation. Read more…

China and the Korean Peninsula: Kim holds the cards now 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping, in Dalian, China in this undated photo released on 9 May 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Korean Central News Agency).

Author: Jeongseok Lee, Princeton University

Amid the surprising diplomatic breakthrough on the Korean Peninsula, there have been dramatic changes in China’s relations with North and South Korea.

Around this time last year, China was imposing economic sanctions against both Koreas. Pressured and alarmed by US President Donald Trump’s threat to unleash ‘fire and fury’, China has taken tougher economic measures against North Korea despite Pyongyang’s blatant criticism that Beijing was ‘crossing the red line’. Read more…

Japan open for arms business

Sailors stand on the deck of the Izumo warship as it departs from the harbour of the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama on 25 March 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter.)

Author: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide

Since Tokyo relaxed its five-decade-old restrictions on arms exports in 2014, the Japanese government and defence industry have expressed considerable interest in selling their products in the international market. The latest attempt is by Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which aimed to sell its P-1 submarine patrol aircraft to a French–German project that is developing a new generation of marine surveillance aircraft. Read more…

Will the Trump administration get serious on human rights in China?

US President Donald Trump at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during his visit to China on 9 November 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter.)

Author: Thomas E Kellogg, Georgetown University

Newly confirmed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived for his first day on the job in late April promising to bring back ‘swagger’ to a State Department decimated by waves of departures of senior staff and plagued by crushingly low morale within the rank-and-file. Read more…

Can Malaysia’s new government deliver?

Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad attends a press conference after the general election, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia on 9 May 2018.(Reuters/Lai Seng Sin).

Author: Jayant Menon, ADB and ANU

The world has seen a number of unexpected electoral outcomes lately, the most widely reported being Brexit in Europe and the election of President Donald Trump in the United States. But the ouster of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government in Malaysia was not only unexpected; it was amazing. Even the winners could hardly believe that they had won, while the losers took an ungraciously long time to accept defeat. With probably the worst gerrymander in history, the incumbents technically required only 16.5 per cent of the vote to win, but still lost.

Read more…

The US–China phoney trade war

A microphone hangs over the table as US President Donald Trump holds a meeting on trade with members of congress at the White House on 13 February 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

For now, a trade war between the world’s two largest economies and two largest traders may have been avoided.

Read more…

How Trump is losing the high-tech fight with China

A sign of ZTE Corp is pictured at its service centre in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 14 May 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Andrew Kennedy, ANU

The high-tech rivalry between the United States and China is getting ugly. So far in 2018, the Trump administration has blocked high-tech acquisitions by Chinese firms, complained about Chinese technology licensing practices at the World Trade Organization and threatened tariffs on Chinese high-tech imports. Read more…

China’s integral role in Korean War peace talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with China's President Xi Jinping, in Dalian, China in this undated photo released on 9 May 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) (Photo: KCNA/via Reuters).

Author: Quinn Marschik and Min hee Jo, Center for the National Interest

The Inter-Korean Summit on 27 April 2018 made history when North Korea and South Korea agreed to negotiate a peace treaty to end the Korean War through talks that will include the United States and possibly China. The United States may prefer to limit China’s role in future negotiations as much as possible. But the Trump administration should examine what China brings to the table considering its historical relationship with North and South Korea, its past role in international negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and its power. Read more…

A ‘new normal’ in the South China Sea?

Warships and fighter jets of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy take part in a military display in the South China Sea, 12 April 2018 (Photo: China Stringer Network via Reuters).

Author: Mark J Valencia, National Institute for South China Sea Studies

The United States and China have apparently reached a tacit agreement to disagree and maintain a leaky status quo in the South China Sea. Not coincidentally, relations on this issue between ASEAN claimants and between ASEAN and China are more or less at the same place. Read more…

Far from plain sailing on the Maritime Silk Road

A man takes pictures as the sun sets in front of the Chinese invested Colombo Port City project in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 22 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte).

Author: Sinderpal Singh, RSIS

China’s South Asian ambitions for its Maritime Silk Road (MSR) have hit foul waters. On the one hand, the MSR must navigate the strategic competition between India and China, and on the other it needs to satisfy the divergent interests of Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (the South Asian countries on the MSR). Its growth in the region is not likely to be smooth. Read more…

What’s behind Southeast Asia’s high military spending?

Indonesian marine soldiers sit on amphibious vehicles during celebration of the 72nd anniversary of Indonesia military in Cilegon, Indonesia Banten province, 5 October 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).

Author: Shang-su Wu, RSIS

Southeast Asian countries’ historically high defence budgets are the sum of various national considerations: financial self-sufficiency, territorial control, expansion of capabilities, peacetime missions and the development of the local defence industry. The threat of China plays a limited role. Read more…

How to reform Indonesia’s deradicalisation policy

Author: Chaula R Anindya, RSIS

The Surabaya church bombing attack is the deadliest attack so far by groups affiliated with the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Indonesia, with 13 people dead and  43 others injured. The attackers were a group of family members that included four children. Read more…

America’s weak case against China on trade

Robert Lighthizer speaks after he was sworn as US Trade Representative during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, United States, 15 May 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).

Author: Stephen S Roach, Yale University

On the surface, United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer appears to have made an ironclad case against China in the so-called Section 301 report issued on 22 March.

Laid out in a detailed 182-page document, the USTR’s indictment of China seems both urgent and compelling in its charges of unfair trading practices regarding technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation. Read more…