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

Japan enters the Reiwa era with renewed hope

A woman silhouetted against a window overlooking skyscrapers at Shinjuku district, Tokyo, Japan (Photo: Reuters/Issei Kato).

Author: Nobuko Kobayashi, EY–Parthenon

Emperor Akihito’s abdication at the end of April marked the end of three decades of the Heisei era (1989–2019). And on 1 May 2019 Japan’s new Reiwa era began with Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne.

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Europe’s search for a China strategy

French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hold a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 26 March 2019 (Photo: Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters).

Author: Lucrezia Poggetti, MERICS

China’s rise and its geopolitical ambitions have started to manifest more clearly inside Europe, making the need for a China strategy ever more compelling. European unity is key to effectively addressing the challenges posed by Beijing. After years of closer trade and investment ties, the European Union is realising that close economic relations with China have brought about political and security challenges it was not prepared for.

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The United States is past engaging with China

A US dollar banknote featuring American founding father Benjamin Franklin and a China's yuan banknote featuring late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong among US and Chinese flags in this illustration. Picture taken 20 May 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee)

Author: Kanishka Jayasuriya, Murdoch University

The executive order by US President Donald Trump blocking Chinese tech giant Huawei from the United States is an aggressive unilateral step under the guise of national security. It deals another blow to China as a potential strategic technology competitor to the United States and follows in the wake of the 25 per cent US tariff on a broad swathe of Chinese goods.

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Making a multilateral Belt and Road

Visitors walk past a wall with a map showing the species of peony in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries, at horticultural exhibition Beijing Expo 2019. Picture taken 29 April 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Stringer)

Author: Bob Carr, Sydney

Between 2012 and 2030, China will add 850 million people to its middle class. This is unprecedented in human history, even exceeding the numbers of the European, North American and Japanese industrial revolutions. It is the biggest rolling back of poverty within any nation. Read more…

Commerce in the East and politics in the West for Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference following the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, 27 China April 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Aleksey).

Author: Artyom Lukin, Far Eastern Federal University

In his annual presidential address in February 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin put Asian countries first in the foreign policy section of his speech — ahead of Europe and the United States. Putin’s Asia policy is often dubbed a ‘turn to the East’. But Russia’s Asian pivot has two essential, albeit unspoken, qualifications. Read more…

South Korea’s overdue defence reforms

South Korean National Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo reviews an honor guard during an armed forces full honour arrival ceremony hosted by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis before the 50th annual ROK-US Security Consultative Meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, United States, 31 October 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts).

Author: Seong-ho Sheen, Seoul National University

‘Defense Reform 2.0’, announced in July 2018 by South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), represents South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s determination to conclude an ambitious initiative to restructure and modernise South Korea’s defence forces. Slated for implementation over five years, the plan aims to create the foundations for an upgraded South Korean military. Read more…

Australia votes for the fossil option

Author: Mark Fabian, ANU

Australia’s Liberal–National Party (LNP) coalition government seems to have limped its way to re-election despite a string of corruption scandals, ideological infighting that has seen three different leaders since 2015, and almost no policies offered in the election campaign. Read more…

Triage care for the WTO 

A logo is pictured outside the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters next to a red traffic light in Geneva, Switzerland, 2 October 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse).

Authors: Weihuan Zhou, UNSW Sydney and Colin B Picker, University of Wollongong

The ongoing crisis in the dispute settlement mechanism (DSM) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is approaching a critical point. This is a result of the US blockage of the appointment of members to the WTO’s highest court, the Appellate Body (AB). Read more…

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill steps down

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill speaks to China's President Xi Jinping during a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, 21 June 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Fred Dufour).

Author: Ronald May, ANU

On 26 May 2019 Peter O’Neill announced that he is ‘standing down’ as Papua New Guinea’s prime minister and handing over the office to former prime minister Sir Julius Chan. This announcement raises some significant questions about procedures. Read more…

Can Abe’s ‘hug diplomacy’ mollify Trump and calm the chaos he has created?

US President Donald Trump talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, 26 May 2019 (Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Pool via Reuters).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pulling out all the stops for US President Donald Trump. After Abe visited Trump in Washington on 26–27 April, Trump is in Tokyo now for a four-day state visit. This makes Trump the first foreign leader to meet with Japan’s newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito. Trump also presented the winner of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament with a newly made ‘Trump Cup’ trophy. The accordance of these honours to Trump would suggest the unwavering strength of the US–Japan relationship. But the optics obscure a complicated and still chaotic reality.

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Abe–Trump meetings get personal

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump upon his arrival at Mobara Country Club in Chiba prefecture, Japan, 26 May 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Author: Fumiaki Kubo, University of Tokyo

Private sources close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office have reported that he often has to repeat arguments to US President Donald Trump, even though they have spoken many times. It is unclear whether this repetition is because of Trump’s forgetfulness or his intentional shrewdness as a dealmaker. Whatever the answer, Trump’s apparent inattention to Japanese interests has caused unimaginable concern for the Japanese government.

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EU’s China policy is no longer just carrots

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pose with hinese Minister of State Administration of Market Regulation Zhang Mao, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, Zhang Jianhua, Chinese Minister of Energy and European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete after the signing ceremony at a EU-China Summit in Brussels, Belgium, 9 April 9 2019. (Photo:Stephanie Lecocq/Pool via Reuters).

Author: Justyna Szczudlik, Polish Institute of International Affairs

March 2019 saw Chinese President Xi Jinping journey to Europe, specifically Italy, Monaco and France. Meanwhile the European Council met to work out a joint stance for the EU–China summit that took place on 9 April. The following month saw the eighth China–Central Europe (16+1) summit in Dubrovnik and the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. Have these diplomatic meetings and summits tangibly developed China–EU relations or the EU’s stance on China? Read more…

Settling investor–state disputes, Asia Pacific style

A billboard displays an Australian koala and a statement declaring Australia's support for Papua New Guinea a day after the Asia PacificEconomic Cooperation (APEC) forum ended, in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 19 November 2018. (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Luke Nottage, University of Sydney

Host states are increasingly adding investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions to investment treaties alongside inter-state arbitration provisions. They require investors to commit to substantive obligations such as non-discrimination, fair and equitable treatment and adequate compensation for expropriation. Read more…

The standoff at Sandy Cay in the South China Sea

A Filipino soldier patrols at the shore of Thitu Island (Photo: Reuters/Ritchie B. Tongo).

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

The appearance of a new natural feature in the Spratly Islands — Sandy Cay — is causing a dangerous standoff over its ownership.

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Lessons from AANZFTA for regional integration

A crane unloads containers from a ship at the Port Botany container terminal in Sydney, Australia, 6 July 2017 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Melissa Conley Tyler, Asialink

At the end of April 2019, ASEAN officials descended on Melbourne to discuss AANZFTA: the ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, which turns 10 years old in 2019. What has AANZFTA achieved? And what lessons does it have for other regional negotiations such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)?

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