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

Navigating global uncertainties in Australia’s region

The Sydney Harbour Bridge can be seen over Sydney Harbour and in front of the Sydney Opera House as it is lit by the setting sun, on a summer day in Australia, 24 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Martin Parkinson, Canberra

The strategic landscape, especially the US–China dynamic, is having a significant impact on the economies in the region, altering the context and environment in which governments, businesses and citizens make decisions. Three aspects of regional economics are of interest here: great power competition, technology and how Australia can position itself for advantage. Read more…

China’s achievement grounded in reform and openness

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

The revolution that saw the birth of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) seventy years ago has now come to define the parameters of most of the big economic and political choices in the world today. But that would never have been so had the PRC remained the convulsed, inward-looking communist state that tried to find its way without the rest of the world — including eventually its old ideological bedfellow, the Soviet Union. In its first three decades modern China had little impact on the world economy and was largely closed to global trade.

Read more…

After 70 years, it’s time to upgrade China’s economic reforms

Author: Yiping Huang, PKU

The seventy year history of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) can be divided into two periods in economic policy strategy. The first three decades were governed by the centrally planned system and the next four saw major market-oriented reform. In the pre-reform year, there was important progress in the form of infrastructure development, urban industrialization and human capital accumulation. But the achievement of catching up with the world’s most advanced economies was largely delivered during the second period when China’s annual GDP growth recorded an average of 9.2 per cent.

Read more…

China’s rise this time is different

Author: Wang Gungwu, NUS and ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

On 1 October China will be celebrating the 70 years of unification that followed Mao Zedong’s victory over the Nationalist regime in 1949. Many thought that had brought about the rise that the Chinese peoples had been waiting for since the beginning of the 20th century. But it was not to be. After the Great Leap Forward and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution had nearly destroyed all that Mao had established, there were doubts that China would ever rise.

Read more…

Abe, Modi and Morrison woo Trump, but to what end?

Author: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide

While many American commentators and politicians urge Congress to start the process of impeaching President Donald Trump, this has not deterred Indo-Pacific leaders from deepening their engagement with Trump. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison — the three key leaders of Indo-Pacific nations who together with the United States putatively form the ‘Quad’ — are all seeking ‘special’ relationships with Trump and, through him, with the United States.

Read more…

Timor-Leste’s ASEAN membership limbo

Timor Leste designated Representative Aurelio Gutteres, South Korea's President Moon Jae-In, Malaysia's former Prime Minister Najib Razak, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Myanmar's State Councellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, during the Opening ceremony of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Manila, Phillipines, 13 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Noel Celis/Pool).

Author: Maria Ortuoste, California State University

Another year, another rejection. Once again, ASEAN did not discuss Timor-Leste’s application for membership in its annual meeting. This delay is puzzling since Timor-Leste has made significant progress in meeting ASEAN’s requirements and current geostrategic trends necessitate greater ASEAN solidarity. Ultimately, Timor-Leste’s membership limbo says more about what ASEAN has become than about Timor-Leste’s ‘fitness’ for membership. Read more…

Trump’s electoral ambitions sway Japan trade negotiations

Newly manufactured cars of the automobile maker Subaru await export in a port in Yokohama, Japan, 30 May 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Toru Hanai/File Photo).

Author: Sayuri Shirai, Keio University

Japan and the United States have just concluded a trade agreement focussing narrowly on agricultural products and digital trade. Although the agreement represents some progress amid trade tensions, Japan made concessions and is hoping the United States reciprocates by cutting car tariffs in the near future — but this may prove difficult against US President Donald Trump’s overriding desire to win the 2020 presidential election. Read more…

India’s declining democracy

Author: Sten Widmalm, Uppsala University

On 5 August 2019, the constitutional autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked. The central Hindu nationalist government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah, withdrew the powers exercised by that state under Article 370 and converted it into two new Union territories with greatly reduced autonomy. The government declared that values relating to democracy, equality and peace were the prime reason for the measure. But it is the desire to build a Hindu Rashtra — a Hindu ethnic state — which is the underlying cause of recent developments. Read more…

Russia’s tilt to China threatens South Korea

Author: Anthony Rinna, Sino-NK

South Korea’s decision not to renew its participation in the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), a Japan–South Korea agreement, is magnifying the spectre of Chinese and Russian coaction in Northeast Asia. This is understandable given Seoul’s withdrawal from GSOMIA came shortly after a diplomatic spat with Russia following the Russian air force’s alleged incursion into South Korean sovereign airspace during a joint patrol with the Chinese air force.

Read more…

Global cooperation needed on rare earths

Workers transport soil containing rare earth elements for export at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China 31 October 2010 (Photo: Reuters/Third Party)

Author: Julie Klinger, Boston University

Today, as in 2010, the international discussion surrounding China’s dominance of the rare earth sector is partial and problematic. It is neither in China’s nor the international community’s interest for China to be responsible for supplying the majority of global demand for rare earth elements. In fact, in 2016, China released a Rare Earth Development Plan to protect domestic rare earth reserves while growing the domestic rare earth industry. Read more…

India’s new Kashmir policy challenges Pakistan and China

People carry an Azad Kashmir's flag as they listen to the speeches of the local political activists from Jammu and Kashmir Youth Forum, over India's decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, during a protest in Karachi, Pakistan 18 August 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro).

Author: P S Suryanarayana, RSIS

The reinvention of Jammu and Kashmir as a fully integral part of the Indian Union has received decisive parliamentary support at home but displeased factions within India and Pakistan, placing the future of India’s relations with neighbours China and Pakistan at stake. Read more…

Ageing right in Taiwan

Wang-Chen Bi-Jin, 91 years old, a member of the ‘Six Carat’ elderly Hip Hop dance group, reacts during dress rehearsal in Taichung, Taiwan 5 May, 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Siu).

Author: Wen-Chi Grace Chou, National Chung Cheng University

The world’s population is getting older and in some places — especially Taiwan — at a relatively quick pace. Nine per cent of the world’s population is over 65 years old. In East and Southeast Asia, that figure jumps to 11 per cent. In Taiwan, 14 per cent of the population is over the age of 65 and will reach 20 per cent by 2026. Meanwhile the working population, aged between 15–64 years, peaked in 2015 and began shrinking in 2016. The working-age population is estimated to shrink by 8.5 million over the next 40 years.

Read more…

Semiconductor tech war underlies the Japan–South Korea trade dispute

Author: June Park, American University of Beirut

Disputes over the historical legacy of Japanese colonisation of the Korean Peninsula have led to the deterioration of Japan–South Korea trade relations and a spiral towards decoupling. At the centre of this conflict is the advent of tech wars and the race for supremacy in the semiconductor industry in the age of artificial intelligence (AI). Read more…

Australia’s fear of China Inc needs a reality check

Workers remove the cloth covering iron ore from Australia while they prepare for transporting at a port in Tianjin, China, 29 March 2010 (Photo: Reuters/Vincent Du).

Author: Luke Hurst, Asialink Business

From iron ore to infant formula, Chinese-backed investment in Australia is increasingly being met with anxiety. This bubbling anxiety is indicative of the difficulty in understanding not just the amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Australia but also how it threatens national interests.

Read more…

Malaysia’s myriad reform challenges await action

A girl, face painted with national flag is seen during the 62nd Merdeka Day (Independence Day) celebrations in Putrajaya, Malaysia, 31 August 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng).

Author: Stewart Nixon, ANU

The triumphant optimism that accompanied Malaysia’s democratic revolution of May 2018 has faded against a lingering backdrop of unrequited expectations. Malaysians concerned with persistent cost of living pressures and rising inequality have felt little relief from populist adjustments to consumption taxes and fuel subsidies. Meanwhile an unnerving familiarity with the ousted regime is starting to take hold, with political defections, policy U-turns, rising ethnic politicking, a softening approach to China and the persistence of former government policies long slated for reform. Read more…