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

Why Jokowi wants to move the Indonesian capital

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo talks during press conference with then Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil as they announce the relocation of the country's capital city, at the Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, 26 August, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Antara Foto).

Author: James Guild, RSIS

When Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo announced earlier this year that he intended to relocate the nation’s capital from Jakarta to Kalimantan the claim was met with widespread scepticism. Jakarta is a polluted, congested and over-crowded city that is literally sinking into the ocean under the weight of numerous policy failures.

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Taiwan’s 2020 election isn’t just about the President

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attends a ceremony to sign up for Democratic Progressive Party's 2020 presidential candidate nomination in Taipei, 21 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu).

Author: Lev Nachman, UC Irvine

If Taiwan’s election were tomorrow, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would likely win. Recent polls show she is ahead of Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu by over 12 per cent. But it is far too early to assume the race is over — there is still over two months before the election, a lifetime in Taiwanese politics. Read more…

China’s complicated relationship with Central Asia

People protest against the construction of Chinese factories in Kazakhstan during a rally in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 4 September 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Pavel Mikheyev).

Author: Raffaello Pantucci, RUSI

The closure of a mine in Kyrgyzstan, protests on the streets in Kazakhstan. The grand guignol of menacing Chinese investment into Central Asia appears to be rearing its head in public discourse. Both fearful and grateful, the region is a paradox for China at the beginning of its Belt and Road. Hardly a week goes by without a senior Chinese visitor appearing somewhere in Central Asia, revealing a long-term influence game that Beijing is winning.

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Will Japan’s consumption tax hike fix its fiscal woes?

People shopping before tax increase at a local shopping arcade in Tokyos Oyama on Thursday, 19 September, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Sakai).

Author: Masahiko Takeda, Tokyo

After two postponements resulting in a delay of four years, the Japanese government at last raised the consumption tax rate from 8 to 10 per cent as of 1 October 2019. The revenue from the consumption tax will be used exclusively to finance growing social security spending such as pensions, medical and old-age care and support for childbearing and childrearing.

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The failings of ‘one country, two systems’

Masked anti-government protesters react in front of the skyline during a protest at Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong, 27 October 2019, (Photo: Tyrone Siu/ Reuters).

Author: Alfred M. Wu, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

The ‘one country, two systems’ framework is coming under increasing pressure as unprecedented protests and months of unrest rock Hong Kong. Sustaining local autonomy against the background of an increasingly assertive Chinese centre has become a progressively tricky issue. Read more…

Why Asia needs to rethink the ‘sharing economy’

Abandoned shared bicycles randomly stacked, forming a ‘special cemetery,’ symbolising the final destiny of the bike-sharing system that was once popular, Fuzhou city, China, 25 August 2019 (Photo: Reuters/ Li Zuorong).

Author: Godofredo Ramizo Jr, Oxford

Once celebrated as exemplars of the ‘sharing economy’, China’s bike-sharing companies rapidly filled Chinese cities with bikes. But millions of abandoned bicycles now litter and clog public spaces. In the Philippines, enterprising Filipinos are buying new cars for ‘ride-sharing’. Car dealers even cite ride-sharing as the reason behind increasing car sales, which may conceivably worsen Manila’s traffic congestion. In Japan, international investors are buying properties to rent on Airbnb, even though many Japanese neighbourhoods have decried the intrusion of home-sharing guests into their residential areas.

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Redefining Japanese innovation

Japan's IT company Softbank Group president Masayoshi Son announces the company's first quarter financial result ended June in Tokyo on 7 August 2019. Softbank posted 1.12 trillion yen for net income for three months, a 257 per cent increase from the previous year (Photo:Reuters/Yoshio Tsunoda/AFLO).

Author: Ren Ito, Mercari Europe

Japanese innovation has long been synonymous with craftsmanship and design excellence, from the Sony Walkman and Nintendo game consoles to hybrid cars, futuristic toilets and high-speed rail. But a new and less tangible form of innovation is quietly taking hold — one that could transform Japan into one of the world’s most important drivers of the global technological revolution. Read more…

Beggars can’t be choosers: why the world needs to cooperate on 5G

Inside view of the exhibition hall of newly-launched 5G International Innovation Harbor in Shanghai, China, 11 September 2019 (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

If economists are correct that the long-run growth in living standards is driven by productivity (and they are), then the world has a big problem.

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Can cooperation prevent the descent of a digital Iron Curtain?

A Huawei mascot is seen in a Huawei store 14 July 2019 (Photo: REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido).

Author: Christopher Findlay, ANU

Fifth-generation mobile network technology (5G) offers higher speeds and greater capacity. This is critical for cutting-edge technologies such as autonomous vehicles and applications of virtual reality. The development of 5G is also expected to drive innovation towards many things not yet imagined. It is likely to be truly transformative.

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Great power rivalries push South Korea and ASEAN closer

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha meets Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the Government Office during the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hanoi, Vietnam, 11 September 2108 (Photo: Reuters/Kham Pool).

Authors: Nurliana Kamaruddin and Aaron Denison Deivasagayam, University of Malaya

South Korea has spent much of its history caught in the middle of external power struggles. China, Japan, Russia and the United States have all played a hand in shaping the country’s current geopolitical reality. South Korea’s ability to rise above these circumstances to achieve its current economic success makes the country’s continued growth quite exceptional.

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Sea change: Japanese leads on marine plastic litter

A boy rows his boat in the polluted waters of the Brahmaputra river on the occasion of World Water Day in Guwahati (Photo: Reuters).

Authors: Michikazu Kojima and Fusanori Iwasaki, ERIA

Marine plastic litter has been recognised as one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges in recent years and several international forums have started to take action on the issue. In June 2019, G20 member countries agreed on the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision at the Osaka summit. Japan led the way in concluding the Vision, by which G20 countries aim to reduce additional marine plastic pollution to zero by 2050.

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Cambodia’s energy security woes

An electrician prepares electrical wires along a street in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 23 April 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Samrang Pring).

Author: Han Phoumin, ERIA

Economic growth in Cambodia is constrained by a lack of appropriate policy for electricity access and energy security. Only 50 per cent of Cambodia’s population had electricity access in 2016. Remarkably, by 2019, the number of households connected to grid electricity grew to almost 80 per cent. The challenge, however, remains for rural areas where certain remote areas have almost no electricity.

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Securing Japan’s FDI future

A worker operates machinery at a factory in Moriya, north of Tokyo, Japan, 21 December 2006 (Photo: Reuters/Kiyoshi Ota).

Author: Akinori Tomohara, Aoyama Gakuin University

The Japanese government is tackling the challenge of promoting inward foreign direct investment (FDI) as part of Tokyo’s structural Abenomics reforms. Inward FDI in Japan maintained record highs for four consecutive years, reaching 28.6 trillion yen (US$270 billion) by the end of 2017. FDI stock from Asia has increased tenfold since 2000. But the ratio of inward FDI to GDP is still very low at 5.2 per cent compared to 54.5 per cent in the EU and 36.2 per cent in the United States. Read more…

Cooperation and contestation between the ADB and AIIB

Jin Liqun, President of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), attends the ‘Belt & Road: Building "Road" for Globalization’ session during the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2019 at the BFA International Convention Center in Qionghai city, south China's Hainan province, 27 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Imagine China).

Author: Kearrin Sims, James Cook University

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has grown into a 100-member institution since its inception in 2016, with 45 projects operating across 18 member countries. The AIIB is the second largest multilateral development bank (MDB) by membership after the World Bank.

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Solving the Indian export puzzle

India's Ministry of Finance announces measures to boost housing and exports as economy loses steam, New Delhi, India, 14 September 2019 (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Biswajit Dhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University

On 14 September 2019, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to boost India’s faltering exports. In recent years, Indian exports have grown at an annual average of just 4 per cent. Growth of 8 per cent in 2018–19 indicated a recovery of sorts, but since April 2019 exports have declined by nearly 2 per cent on a year-on-year basis. With global economic prospects looking gloomy, Indian exporters may continue to face serious headwinds. Read more…