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

Two steps forward in Indonesia’s foreign worker policy?

Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo leaving a forum in Hong Kong, China. (Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip).

Author: Chris Manning, ANU

Controversy has surrounded revision of Indonesia’s foreign worker regulations ever since the Presidential Regulation (PP20) on the subject was issued on 26 March 2018. This is hardly surprising considering 2019 is an election year. Parties and potential presidential candidates are already looking for standout issues to garner public support. Read more…

Taking up the challenge in US–China economic relations

US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One to depart for Vietnam from Beijing Airport in Beijing, China, 10 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Author: Joshua P Meltzer, Brookings

During the US presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump singled out Chinese trade practices as a key concern. Once in office many of the threats he made against China, such as labelling it a currency manipulator and imposing 30 per cent tariffs, did not come to pass. But this is changing as dealing with China increasingly assumes centre stage for the administration.

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China’s insecure security men

Chinese President Xi Jinping presents a commemorative medal to a veteran Shi Baodong at a medal ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, for World War Two veterans, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 2 September 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee).

Author: Neil J Diamant, Dickinson College

China invests massively — both in terms of funding and human capital — in the ‘image management’ of its armed and security forces. Led or coordinated by the secretive Central Propaganda Department (also known as the ‘Central Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China’ in the English-speaking world), China drills home to one and all, at home and abroad, several messages: Read more…

The nationalist undertow in India’s politics

Volunteers of the Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) take part in the ‘Path-Sanchalan’, or Route March during celebrations to mark the Vijaya Dashmi in Ajmer, India, 30 September 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Himanshu Sharma).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

As the celebrations subsided on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election in 2014, many Indians might have been wondering, we then wrote, what they had done. Above all they voted decisively for change from the elitist Indian National Congress-dominated politics of the past and for a new openness in the hope that Modi would lift the country out of low-level growth and political scandal and corruption. Read more…

The BJP’s election machine powers towards 2019

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets school girls dressed as Hindu Lord Krishna after addressing the nation from the historic Red Fort during Independence Day celebrations in Delhi, India, 15 August 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).

Author: Katharine Adeney, University of Nottingham

India is the world’s largest democracy. It scores well on international democracy ranking measures, voter turnout rates have risen, and the electorate has become savvier at using the political system. This political empowerment has resulted in the proliferation of parties at the centre and the state level. But since the election of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi as head of a single-party government in 2014 (the first since 1984), many academics and activists have raised concerns about Hindu ‘majoritarianism’ and its challenge to democracy and the rule of law. Read more…

Does Australia need a lesson in Indian economic strategy?

Australian and Indian prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Narendra Modi arrive for a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, 10 April 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).

Author: Amitendu Palit, ISAS–NUS

The recently released Indian Economic Strategy to 2035 report outlines three core objectives for improving the Australia–India economic relationship. These include making India one of Australia’s top three export markets by 2035, making India the third-largest Asian recipient of Australian foreign direct investment by the same year and bringing India ‘into the inner circle of Australia’s strategic partnerships and with people-to-people ties as close as any in Asia’. Read more…

Building confidence in the South China Sea

Association of South East Asian Nations Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi is greeted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before a meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, China, 12 June 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Greg Baker).

Author: Aileen S P Baviera, University of the Philippines

During this year’s chairmanship of ASEAN, Singapore is expected to continue the association’s work in developing measures to help mitigate tensions in the South China Sea. In recent years, ASEAN and China have agreed to establish communication hotlines between their respective foreign ministries as well as to implement the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). CUES is intended to reduce incidents between the navies (and eventually the coast guards) of littoral states. Read more…

Foreign policy concerns swayed Malaysia’s voters

Malaysia's new government advisor Daim Zainuddin shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before proceeding to their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China Wednesday, 18 July 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Andy Wong).

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

Malaysia’s recent election on 9 May 2018 saw a dramatic result — the incumbent Barisan Nasional ruling coalition that had ruled Malaysia for 61 years crumbled, and Pakatan Harapan, a coalition of opposition parties, emerged victorious. One of the numerous reasons why the ruling party lost in the elections is that Malaysia’s foreign policy was perceived by a large segment of its people to be too cosy to China. Read more…

Too early for a Chinese victory lap on the Peninsula

US President Donald Trump shows the document, that he and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un signed acknowledging the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore 12 June 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Author: Mason Richey, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

There is a widespread perception among analysts of East Asian strategy that China — along with North Korea — is the big winner in the ongoing diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula. This is perhaps not surprising given recent trends in the regional and global balance of power. But it is still remarkable considering that Beijing was sidelined in the initial phases of inter-Korean diplomatic engagement. Read more…

China can’t just ‘pick and choose’ from the Law of the Sea

Ships of the US, Chilean, Peruvian, French and Canadian navies participate in a photo exercise in the Pacific Ocean, 24 June 2018 (Photo: Reuters/US Navy/Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Steven Robles).

Author: Tuan N Pham, Yokosuka (Japan)

Last May, Washington disinvited Beijing from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercise on the grounds that Chinese actions in the South China Sea run counter to the pursuit of free and open seas. Like RIMPAC 2014 and 2016, China dispatched a spy ship into the United States’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to monitor the world’s largest international maritime exercise. Read more…

Sowing the seeds for better food policy in Asia

Author: C Peter Timmer, Harvard University

Three processes drive modernisation: a structural transformation of the economy with agriculture playing a lesser role as the country gets richer, an agricultural transformation that raises the sector’s productivity and produces a more diversified output, and a dietary transformation that occurs when consumers become richer and can afford to choose from a greater variety of foods. That these three transformations are linked through economic, political and cultural forces complicates the task of designing sensible food policies for emerging economies. Read more…

Facility shopping is fanning financial risks

A demonstrator holds a sign that reads ‘IMF (International Monetary Fund), get out’ during a protest against the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 21 July 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Marcos Brindicci).

Author: Adam Triggs, ANU

Argentina has announced that it is seeking financial support from China to help manage its currency crisis. It is engaging in a process that has become known as ‘facility shopping’. Countries facing an economic crisis now have plenty of options for where they can get financial assistance. The goal of facility shopping is to obtain the largest amount of financial assistance possible without having to undertake difficult economic reforms in return. Read more…

Too early to tell if the Singapore summit was successful

US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un walk together before their working lunch during their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, 12 June 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Author: Charles K Armstrong, Columbia University

The 12 June US–DPRK summit meeting was vastly oversold, not least by US President Donald Trump. The day after the summit, Trump tweeted that the North Korean nuclear threat had been removed, even though Pyongyang had taken no verifiable action toward eliminating its nuclear program. Read more…

Ethnic diversity matters for decentralisation and development

A father walks his child to school near Sekolah Darurat Kartini, Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).

Authors: Kai Ostwald, University of British Columbia, Krislert Samphantharak, University of California San Diego and Yuhki Tajima, Georgetown University

Twenty years have now passed since the New Order regime was overthrown in Indonesia. This event triggered not only democratisation in Indonesia but also a remarkable experiment with decentralisation that saw significant power transferred from Jakarta down to the country’s many and diverse districts. Read more…

Cambodia’s growth metrics need nuance to uplift citizens

Women work on the production line at Complete Honour Footwear Industrial, a footwear factory owned by a Taiwan company, in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, 5 July 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Ann Wang).

Author: Sim Vireak, Phnom Penh

Cambodia’s fast growth rate over the past few decades has contributed to a rise in income levels and a drastic reduction in poverty in the country. All major financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecast Cambodia’s GDP growth to stand at around 6.9 or 7 per cent in the near term. Cambodia will likely transition out of its least developed country status after 2025 if it can maintain this growth rate. Read more…