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

China should be wary of US proposals to protect the Hormuz Strait

Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz, 21 December 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed).

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

The United States is proposing a ‘coalition of the willing’ to protect ‘freedom of navigation’ in the Strait of Hormuz. But participation by some countries — such as China — could undermine their position on maritime legal issues. Read more…

Negotiating an effective China–ASEAN South China Sea Code of Conduct

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) prepares to transit alongside the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8) during a replenishment-at-sea during routine patrols in international waters of the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands, 9 May 2015 (Photo: Conor Minto/Handout via Reuters).

Author: Nguyen Minh Quang, Can Tho University

In August 2018 a single draft negotiating text for a South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) was first put forward with an agreement reached by China and ASEAN to finalise the COC within three years, starting from 2019. Having faced frequent tensions in the South China Sea, the agreement demonstrates that an effective diplomatic mechanism to manage the South China Sea dispute is possible. Read more…

Mainstreaming gender in India’s climate-smart agriculture policy

Women carry empty pitchers as they walk to collect drinking water from a well at Karondewala village in the northern Indian state of Punjab, 22 August 2009 (Photo: Reuters/Ajay Verma).

Author: Nikhila Menon, Ministry of Finance, India

India needs to adopt a climate-smart agriculture policy that includes a ‘gender lens’. Since most Indian agriculture is rain-fed, the intensifying effects of climate change — changing rainfall patterns, drought, flooding and the geographical redistribution of pests and diseases — are impacting agricultural productivity and rural livelihoods in India. Read more…

Should Asia have a regional currency?

Authors: Namsung Kim and Yasuto Watanabe, AMRO and Hiro Ito, Portland State University

In May 2019, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stated that East Asia should ‘adopt a common trading currency, not to be used locally but for the purpose of settling of trade’ that would be pegged to gold. His intention is to create a currency that replaces the US dollar as the region’s vehicle currency in regional trade and investment. Read more…

Is Russia flexing its muscles in Asia?

Russian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, tours an exhibition of military transport and equipment as he visits a Defence Ministry’s flight test centre in the town of Akhtubinsk in Astrakhan Region, Russia, 14 May 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky).

Author: Anthony Rinna, Sino-NK

On 23 July, a Russian air force A-50 surveillance aircraft entered the airspace near the Liancourt Rocks, which are administered by South Korea under the name Dokdo and also claimed by Japan under the name Takeshima. The South Korean air force fired several hundred warning shots at the Russian aircraft in response. Read more…

The next head of the IMF should come from Asia. But will they?

A facilities maintenance staff member cleans signage at the International Monetary Fund headquarters building in Washington DC (Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

Do you have a ‘distinguished record in economic policymaking at senior levels’? What about a ‘firm commitment to, and appreciation of, multilateral cooperation’? If so, there’s a job going in Washington DC that may interest you.

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Look beyond Europe for the IMF’s new leader

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters building in Washington DC, 8 April 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas).

Author: Shinji Takagi, Asian Growth Research Institute

The nomination of Christine Lagarde to succeed Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank (ECB) has created an unexpected vacancy at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Lagarde was the first woman to lead the institution, and is widely credited with raising its global profile and relevance through her tireless advocacy of trade, global growth that aids the poor and middle classes, and women’s empowerment.

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Cambodia’s electric Chinese aid and investment affair

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Ng Han Guan).

Author: Shahar Hameiri, University of Queensland

The debate about China’s rapidly growing global investment and development financing footprint has focused on deciphering Chinese intentions — whether China aims to revise or maintain the US-led ‘liberal international order’. A manifestation of this approach is the controversialdebt trap diplomacy’ trope — the idea that China is using its money to ensnare recipients in unequal relationships that secure Chinese geostrategic interests. Read more…

The challenge of India’s growing inequality

Demonstrators listen to a speech as they participate in a march demanding jobs and better education facilities, in New Delhi, India 7 February 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis).

Authors: Gaurav Datt and Ranjan Ray, Monash University

The Economic Survey of India for 2018–2019 projects India’s ‘real GDP growth at 7 per cent for the year 2019–20, considering the expected pickup in the growth of investment and consumption’. Though this is a downgrade of previous growth rate figures, India is still one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Read more…

Working with China on humanitarian aid in the Pacific

Members of the Chinese People Liberation Army Navy stand at the China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy hospital ship Peace Ark, 22 September 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Manaure Quintero).

Author: Denghua Zhang, ANU

China’s fast-growing foreign aid programs have led to grave concerns from traditional donors. Development cooperation is becoming a new area of strategic competition as traditional donors, such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand, have pledged to increase aid spending in the Pacific region in response to China’s growing presence. Despite competition in areas such as infrastructure development, there is potential for cooperation in humanitarian aid between China and traditional donors.

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Time to rethink Vietnam’s drug policies

An investigator shows seized hashish to Vietnam's then deputy minister of Public Security Le The Tiem (centre) at a police station in Hanoi, Vietnam, 14 May 2008 (Photo: Reuters/Tuoi Tre Newspaper).

Author: Hai Thanh Luong, RMIT

Vietnam faces renewed threats from drug dealers who seek take advantage of Vietnam’s location to transport drugs to surrounding countries. But government moves to re-criminalise drug use risks failing to address the root causes of the problem.

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Abe and the LDP remain dominant after Japan’s Upper House elections

Japanese Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Shinzo Abe pins a rosette on the list of his party candidates in the Upper House election at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo on 21 July, 2019. (Reuters/ Photo by Yoshio Tsunoda/AFLO)

Author: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and junior ally Komeito secured a solid majority in the House of Councillors — Japan’s Upper House of the National Diet — at the first Reiwa-era national election held in July 2019. Read more…

Trump’s incomplete Asia strategy

US President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan. 29 June 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Author: Nick Bisley, La Trobe University

It took some time, but the United States has officially embraced a new approach toward Asia — the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ (FOIP) strategy. First named during US President Donald Trump’s speech at APEC in late 2017, the strategy remained little more than an idea for nearly 18 months. FOIP has finally been fleshed out through a US Department of Defense report released on 1 June as well as the actions of the United States in the region.

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Four hurdles to brighter India–US relations

Author: Dhruva Jaishankar, Brookings India

India has denied US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that he had been asked to be a ‘mediator or arbitrator’ in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. India’s position has long been that the issue has to be resolved bilaterally. So it is no surprise that the media reaction in India has been critical, much as it was when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited New Delhi in June and Trump met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka.

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Duterte’s federalist project indefinitely on hold

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his fourth State of the Nation Address at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines 22, July 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Author: Julio C Teehankee, De La Salle University

Speculation was rife that a big push for a federal form of government would finally gain traction after political allies of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte won big in the May 2019 midterm elections. Pro-Duterte parties are expected to cobble up ‘supermajorities’ in both chambers of Congress — the body officially mandated to amend or revise the Constitution. But this speculation was quashed by no less than Duterte himself who publicly declared, ‘If you do not want federalism, fine, but change the constitution that would change this nation’. Read more…