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

Singapore’s uphill battle to maintain ASEAN unity

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong smiles during the Closing Ceremony of the ASEAN Summit and Related Summit in Singapore, 15 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Joel Ng, RSIS

Singapore’s year as the ASEAN chair was marked by several milestones in the deepening of regional peace and security. Ahead of the 33rd ASEAN summit from 11–15 November 2018 that finished with Singapore’s official handing over of the chairmanship to Thailand, Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan stated that ASEAN ‘actually achieved far more than I dared to anticipate’. Read more…

Enforcement undermines Xi’s monopoly on policy

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top leaders attend a tribute ceremony ahead of National Day marking the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in Beijing, China, 30 September 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee).

Author: Alex He, Centre for International Governance Innovation

President Xi Jinping has brought significant institutional changes to policymaking processes in China since he came to power in 2013. Since the 1980s, the Politburo and its standing committee (the PBSC) were the peak decision-making bodies under China’s party-state dual-governance structure. The State Council was the highest administrative agency managing economic and other affairs on a daily basis, Read more…

Tackling Asia’s new middle-income challenge

Cars are seen stuck in traffic in Bangkok, Thailand, 12 September 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha

Author: Ganeshan Wignaraja, LKI

Decades of sustained economic growth have left the Asia Pacific with few lower-income countries. Absolute poverty levels are and will continue to keep falling. This is cause for celebration. But it also requires a new partnership between countries and development institutions to tackle the challenges that arise as Asia becomes an upper middle-income continent. Read more…

Indonesia’s Widodo plays the Islamic card

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his running mate in next year's presidential election Islamic cleric Ma'ruf Amin attend a ceremony at the election commission headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, 21 September 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan).

Author: John McBeth, Jakarta

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is the favourite to win a second and mandated final term in the legislative and presidential elections on 27 April 2019. But to secure re-election, Widodo must find a way to appeal to all voters in a country increasingly divided along religious lines. Read more…

Korea’s Moon is waning in the face of vested interests

South Korea's Moon Jae-in attends the ASEAN-ROK Summit in Singapore, 14 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Sang-young Rhyu, Yonsei University

It is approaching two years since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office. During this period, Moon’s democratic leadership style and spirit of service have lifted public morale and salved past wounds. His efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula are enthusiastically welcomed. Institutional reforms are also being steadily promulgated to enhance the transparency and accountability of large conglomerates. Read more…

Opportunity for Japan as APEC stumbles  

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walks down steps as he leaves the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 18 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Toshiya Takahashi, Shoin University

The 2018 APEC summit in Port Moresby foreshadows an uncertain future for the forum. Due to disagreement between the United States and China, the meeting concluded without a joint communique — something unprecedented in APEC history. Without leadership, APEC risks becoming little more than a regional showcase for US–China rivalry. Read more…

The demise of local policy innovation in China

A man looks at a local government notice board in the settlement of Dajing in rural Shaanxi province, China, 11 June 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Sue-Lin Wong).

Author: Jessica Teets, Middlebury College

Despite playing a key role in enacting economic reforms and ensuring the Chinese Communist Party’s regime durability, there has been a noted reduction in local policy experimentation in China since 2012. The number of provincial-level policy pilots has dramatically declined from 500 in 2010 to about 70 in 2016. Over the same period, the share of national regulations with experimental status fell from nearly 20 per cent to about 5 per cent. Read more…

Moon’s North Korea policy in danger

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers his speech on the government's 2019 budget proposal during a plenary session at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, 1 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool).

Author: Eun Hee Woo, Freie Universität Berlin

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s much praised North Korea policy is in jeopardy. Moon’s North Korea policy has been widely deemed a success. But unless he gets a handle on his country’s many domestic economic woes and boosts his approval rating, further progress with North Korea will be almost impossible. Read more…

China’s playbook for economic success

A man works on unloading imported timber from a truck inside a timber processing industrial park in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province, China, 16 September 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Yang Yao, Peking University

China’s economic growth since 1978 has been nothing short of a miracle. Most explanations of this economic take-off have focused on what China has done right in terms of economic policy and institutional reform, rather than on the fundamental reasons for China adopting good economic policies and implementing institutional reform in the first instance.

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The G20 must not become just a backdrop for the US–China stoush

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri arrives at the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 20 March 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Argentine Presidency/Handout).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

The symbolism of Argentina hosting the G20 summit this week should be lost on no one. Argentina spent 2018 managing a crisis. Investors fled the country. Its currency collapsed. It was only through global cooperation with its trading partners and the IMF that Argentina was able to break out of a dangerous downward economic spiral.

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The G20 must not surrender to bilateral bullying

A woman walks by a signboard showing flags of the participating countries for the then-upcoming G20 Seoul summit at the venue of the summit in Seoul, South Korea, 4 November 2010 (Photo: Reuters/Truth Leem).

Author: Adam Triggs, ANU

US President Donald Trump is no fan of the G20. His extreme views and unreasonable demands mean G20 meetings have quickly become the ‘G19 versus one’. Bilateral deals are a tactic to help him avoid this problem. So it is no surprise that Trump has made his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping the centre of attention at this year’s G20 meeting in Buenos Aires.

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The G20 at 10

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri speaks during a meeting of the G20 conference for private sector leaders in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 5 October 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Argentine Presidency/Handout).

Author: David Gruen, PM&C

The upcoming G20 Buenos Aries summit at the end of November 2018 will mark 10 years since the G20 became a meeting of leaders. In those 10 years, something impressive has happened to global governance. Read more…

Access denied: Beijing reasserts control over Hong Kong’s borders

Pro-China protesters raise their flags right in front of pro-democracy protesters holding posters as two groups face in central Hong Kong, China, as the city marks the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from British to Chinese rule, 30 June 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Damir Sagolj).

Author: Stephan Ortmann, City University of Hong Kong

On 6 October 2018, the Hong Kong government denied Financial Times Asia news editor Victor Mallet a working visa. On 9 November, Mallet was denied entry even as a tourist. As the voluntary head of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), Mallet had allowed Andy Chan Ho-tin — head of the now banned Hong Kong National Party — to give a speech. Despite coming under heavy criticism from both the Hong Kong and Chinese governments for this, the FCC asserted that it had the right to allow people of different opinions to speak. Read more…

Is BIMSTEC re-modelling for a bigger role?

Leaders from the South and Southeast Asia pose for a group photo during the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit in Kathmandu, Nepal, 31 August 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar)

Author: Nazia Hussain, RSIS

BIMSTEC, officially known as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, held its first ever military exercise in September 2018 in Pune, India. The transnational exercise aimed to boost inter-operability among forces and exchange best practices in counter-terrorism. Read more…

Russia looks further east

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Singapore, 15 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Alexei Druzhinin).

Author: Chris Cheang, RSIS

Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first-ever state visit to Singapore on 13 November 2018. Coinciding with the 33rd ASEAN summit, 3rd ASEAN–Russia summit, 13th East Asia Summit (EAS), and 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Singapore, the visit marks an important step in Russia’s efforts to broaden its pivot to the East. Read more…