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

Despite headwinds, China should stick to opening up

Souvenir plates featuring portraits of current and late Chinese leaders (Right to Left) Xi Jinping, Deng Xiaoping, Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong are displayed for sale at a shop next to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, 1 March 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee).

Author: Hu Shuli, Caixin Media

For the past 40 years, opening up to the rest of the world has driven China’s economic growth. In the years since reform and opening began in 1978, China’s economy has developed rapidly, thanks in large part to the information, capital, technology and management experience brought in from the rest of the world.

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The US could learn to like China’s new IP strategy

People watch a movie at a cinema in Wanda Group's Oriental Movie Metropolis ahead of its opening, in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, 27 April 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Aly Song).

Author: Gordon C K Cheung, Durham University

The protection of Intellectual property rights (IPR) was a taboo topic in China a decade ago. Counterfeiting and piracy were rampant — an inconvenient truth for the general public and an embarrassment for the local and central governments. But today, although IPR infringement is still a serious issue, Chinese policymakers have begun to recognise IPR protection as key to the success of China’s broader economic goals. Read more…

Getting SEZs right for development in Fiji

Fijian garment workers make clothing for export in a factory in the capital Suva, 26 July 2000 (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Neelesh Gounder, University of the South Pacific

SEZs have become common industrial policies with more than 3500 special economic zones (SEZs) in over 130 countries. Though widely seen as a means to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), their end goal is to support industrialisation and contribute to economic growth and development. Read more…

Chinese investors in Indonesia seem to be tightening their belts

Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) chairman Thomas Lembong speaks to the media on the sidelines of the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, 30 November 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Iqro Rinaldi).

Author: Pierre van der Eng, ANU

Are Chinese investors losing interest in Indonesia? The latest balance of payments data published by Bank Indonesia (BI) in late-August show that foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from China slowed during the first half of 2018. Just US$120 million has arrived — less than a quarter of the US$507 million received during the first half of 2017. Read more…

Is womenomics improving Japanese working women’s lives?

Women, dressed in ceremonial kimonos, smile in front of an electronic board displaying the Nikkei average as they pose after the ceremony which kicks off the first day of trading in 2018 at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo, Japan, 4 January 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon).

Author: Emma Dalton, RMIT

Womenomics is a bundle of policies aiming to empower Japanese women economically. It was implemented in 2013 as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s broader approach to boosting the economy — a set of policies known as Abenomics. Read more…

Legal mazes in the US–China IP dispute

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing, China, 28 August 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Roman Pilipey).

Author: Jeanne Huang, University of Sydney

China claims to be strengthening its domestic intellectual property (IP) framework. It has even invited Western companies to sue if they believe IP breaches have occurred within China. But these claims are not a substantial rebuttal to US criticisms of online IP infringement. There remain factors that discourage IP rights holders from bringing cases against IP infringers in the latter’s home country. And the implementation of the laudable Chinese E-Commerce Law still needs to be put to the test. Read more…

Japan is putting quality over quantity in the Mekong

People hold Cambodian and Japanese flags during the inauguration ceremony of the road N.1 build with Japan aid in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 13 March 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Samrang Pring).

Author: Fumitaka Furuoka, University of Malaya

Japan has revamped its strategy in the Mekong. Earlier this year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s diplomatic right-hand man Kentaro Sonoura delineated Japan’s foreign aid policy for the region, stressing the importance of the aid’s ‘quality’ rather than ‘quantity’. Accordingly, Japan has changed its strategy to focus on improving openness and transparency, human capital development, capacity building and environmental protection throughout its aid to Mekong countries. Read more…

Singapore’s PAP has little to fear from Malaysia’s political transition

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives for the National Day parade along Marina Bay in Singapore, 9 August 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Authors: Kai Ostwald, UBC and Steven Oliver, Yale-NUS

Pakatan Harapan’s recent defeat of Malaysia’s long-dominant UMNO-led coalition came as a near universal surprise, not least to the coalitions’ respective leaders Mahathir Mohamad and Najib Razak themselves. While the popularity of UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) had been in a decade-long decline, massive advantages in access to resources and a deeply biased electoral process seemed a sufficient guarantee of continuity. Read more…

Pakistan’s financing crunch starts to bite

Labourers, who set up the venue, sit under a wall with a billboard displaying a photo of Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party, as they listen to him during a campaign rally ahead of general elections in Karachi, Pakistan, 22 July 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro).

Author: Colin Cookman, United States Institute of Peace

Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party are settling into their position as Pakistan’s newest civilian government after elections were held on 25 July 2018. The PTI’s campaign during the election and in the years that preceded it focussed primarily on the alleged malfeasance of the former Pakistan-Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government and its ruling family. Outside of its promises to crack down on elite corruption, the PTI party’s economic program is much more loosely defined. Read more…

Can Abe kick two foreign policy goals in three years?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia 10 September 2018 (Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS Host Photo Agency/Pool via Reuters).

Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University

Shinzo Abe’s victory in the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election on 20 September 2018 qualifies him to maintain his position as Japan’s prime minister for another three years. Abe will be sure to continue giving real energy to accomplishing his foreign policy agenda over this time to strengthen his domestic position and further his legacy in Japanese politics. Read more…

Is China going green by dumping brown on its BRI partners?

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi walks outside a news conference to conclude the Belt andRoad Forum in Beijing, China 15 May 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee).

Authors: Dokku Nagamalleswara Rao and Atmaja Gohain Baruah, Jawaharlal Nehru University

The environmental impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been fraught with contradictions. While there are efforts to finance and promote green development through some BRI projects, other projects are raising serious environmental concerns. Read more…

Abenomics after five years

Women in formal kimonos pose after the ceremony at the Tokyo Stock Exchange on 4 January 2018 that began the year’s trading (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon).

Author: Yuri Okina, Japan Research Institute

More than five years have passed since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power at the end of 2012. Between then and now, Japan has seen steady economic growth and its unemployment rate fall by nearly half. Yet inflation remains low at 0.7 per cent and the ratio of outstanding debt to GDP has increased to 18 per cent. The potential growth rate — an estimate of how fast the economy would grow if it ran at full capacity — has barely moved.

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India’s cautious courtship with the US-led order in Asia

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) poses for a picture along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis before a meeting in New Delhi, India, 6 September 2018 (Photo: India's Press Information Bureau/Handout via Reuters).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

The origins of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ idea lie in US maritime security strategy and the ambition for naval dominance of the two great oceans that surround continental Asia. It has been part of US military security dialogue for some time. All coyness about these origins was cast aside when the US Armed Forces renamed its US Pacific Command in Hawaii US Indo-Pacific Command earlier this year.

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Does India endorse a US-led regional order?

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers the keynote address at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, 1 June 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Jagannath Panda, IDSA

Despite US President Donald Trump’s cold approach, the strategic partnership between India and the United States is deepening. The civil nuclear agreement signed in October 2008 marked a new beginning. And both the 2016 Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement and the 2018 Communication, Compatibility, Security Agreement have strengthened the relationship further. Read more…

ASEAN needs to unify its counter-terrorism strategy

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak delivers a speech at the opening of the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur 21 November 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Olivia Harris).

Author: Mathew Bukit, CISS

The threats posed to ASEAN by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) and by a significant upturn in global terrorist attacks since 2004 have led to increased attention towards ASEAN’s counter-terrorism policy. As many as 1000 ASEAN nationals are already among IS combatants, so efforts to stem future recruitment of fighters from ASEAN are already an important part of the bloc’s counter-terrorism strategy. Read more…