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

A new direction for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa waves at his supporters as he leaves the presidential swearing-in ceremony in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, 18 November 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte).

Author: Dushni Weerakoon, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s much anticipated presidential election in November 2019 was won convincingly by Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The presidential win is expected to boost the fortunes of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka People’s Front), the breakaway new political party fronted by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, at the forthcoming parliamentary elections in early 2020.

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Thailand’s military-proxy government remains fragile

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha arrives at Government House to attend a weekly cabinet meeting as the junta marked the third anniversary of a military coup in Bangkok, Thailand, 23 May 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva).

Author: Greg Raymond, ANU

The Thai military used the 24 March 2019 election to embed itself even more deeply in governance. Though there is now a functioning parliament, the democratisation achieved after 1992 has been wound back, lending credence to the judgement that the 2014 coup was a coup of the army, by the army, for the army.

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Modi’s project to make a Hindu India

Author: Ramesh Thakur, ANU

An enduring puzzle in world affairs is the failure to impress upon nationalistically inflamed consciousness the enormous disparity between the goals envisioned, the means used, the results achieved and the price paid. Some of the most ardent nationalists do some of the gravest damage to their imagined nations. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatens to become the latest to make the same tragic mistake.

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Hong Kong’s crisis drags on

Protesters clash with police outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, 17 November 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

It’s been over six months since peaceful protests started in Hong Kong in response to a proposed extradition treaty with China. The situation continues to deteriorate as episodes of violence spiral out of control.

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Everything remains up for stakes in Hong Kong

Anti-government protesters gather at Lion Rock, in Hong Kong, 13 September 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha).

Author: Kerry Brown, King’s College London

This year was a torrid time for the city of Hong Kong and one where the year’s end brought only a little respite. The complacent image of Hong Kong being a place of political passivity conveyed throughout the period under British colonial rule up until 1997 had been dispelled long ago by major protests in 2003 and then the Occupy Central movement in 2014. Yet, the events of 2019 offered something of an order of magnitude distinctly different from anything that had occurred before.

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Weaponising trade in the Japan–South Korea dispute

South Korean President Moon Jae-in answers reporters' question during his New Year news conference at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, 10 January 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji).

Author: Kazuto Suzuki, Hokkaido University

Japan’s decision to remove South Korea’s ‘white country’ status and shift the licensing arrangement of three chemical products critical to South Korea’s semiconductor industry is seen as a ‘weaponisation of trade’ by some, and a ‘Trumpianisation of the Abe administration’ by others.

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China’s incomplete financial reform

Headquarters of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, is pictured in Beijing, China, 28 September 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee).

Author: Meijun Qian, ANU

China has experienced phenomenal economic growth since 1978 when it opened up to the outside world. Fundamental changes have occurred in China’s economy, institutions and markets. Financial reforms have also been profound and have a unique relationship with China’s economic growth.

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German unification is a cautionary tale for Korea

Je Yong-Sam (front L), captain of a South Korean workers' soccer team gives a Korean unification flag to Kang Jin-Hyuk, captain of a North Korean workers' soccer team before their inter-Korean friendly soccer match at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, 11 Aug 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Lee Jae-Won).

Author: Max Nurnus, Seoul National University

In November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. Less than a year later, in October 1990, West Germany and East Germany became one country. The unification of the two German states has been held as an example for North and South Korea. In the words of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, ‘the experience of Germany’s unification gives hope for unification, and at the same time shows us the path that we need to follow’.

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Progress and challenges for science and technology in China

Author: Cong Cao, University of Nottingham Ningbo China

China’s science and technology (S&T) development has been on an upward trajectory. This is evidenced by the improving quality of its large talent pool, the expansion of higher education and the rise of publications in leading international journals and of patenting activities both domestically and abroad. Together with increased foreign direct investment for innovation and industrial upgrading, China has flourished as the world’s manufacturing centre with modern world-class facilities and an increasingly technologically-sophisticated society. Read more…

Moon’s populist politics and its effects

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in speaks at the 8th trilateral leaders' meeting between China, South Korea and Japan in Chengdu, in southwest China's Sichuan province 24 December, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Zhao).

Author: Hyung-A Kim, ANU

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a meeting at the Blue House that his administration had produced ‘miraculous change in the situation on the Korean Peninsula’. But Moon’s praise of his government’s performance does not appear to be well-founded, as his politics have generated public anxiety about not only the North Korean nuclear threat — exacerbated by continued tests in December — but also about the country’s ongoing political and economic crises.

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Fiscal sustainability necessary for inclusive growth in Malaysia

A general view of the Central Bank of Malaysia (Bank Negara Malaysia) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 31 July 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng).

Author: Hidekatsu Asada, Saitama University

Promoting inclusive growth is a priority policy issue in Malaysia and will continue to be a central policy pillar. Malaysia’s increasingly precarious fiscal situation presents an obstacle to the promotion of inclusive growth by expanding the government’s role in income redistribution and social protection. But with the right policy mix, enhancing fiscal discipline and promoting inclusive growth need not be incompatible.

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Iran turns to China and India in the face of US sanctions

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) holds hands with Indian President Ramnath Kovind (L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rouhani's ceremonial reception in New Delhi, India, 17 February 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).

Author: Mohammad Soltaninejad, University of Tehran

In the face of the United States withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and adopting a ‘maximum pressure’ policy against Iran, Tehran is turning to China and India to circumvent US sanctions. In response, the United States is trying to deny Iran’s access to Chinese and Indian resources to pressure Iran into returning to the negotiation table.

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Taiwan’s new place in the world

Supporters of Daniel Han Kuo-yu, Mayor of Kaohsiung, give support for Taiwan Presidential election next January in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan on 21 December, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/ The Yomiuri Shimbun).

Author: Roy Chun Lee, CIER

It has been another challenging year for Taiwan filled with both excitement and concern. Two key factors shaped the development of 2019 were the US–China trade war and the upcoming Taiwan presidential election.

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Central Asia’s domestic conundrum

Author: Paul Stronski, Carnegie

Almost 30 years after the collapse of the USSR, Central Asian citizens are growing tired of stagnating economies, rampant corruption and their governments’ empty promises. In 2019, they made it clear they want something better — improved services, more transparency in decision-making and better opportunities for themselves and their children. Like many others across the globe, Central Asians are also demanding fresh leaders, solutions to their problems and a chance for their opinions to be heard. Read more…

Back to the future in Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare attends a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 9 October 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter).

Author: Jon Fraenkel, Victoria University of Wellington

One could be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu in the Solomon Islands. In elections held in April 2019, Manasseh Sogavare returned as Prime Minister for a fourth non-consecutive term. In the aftermath of those elections, riots broke out in the capital, Honiara, just as they did 13 years earlier. In 2006, rioters targeted Chinatown and the Pacific Casino hotel. In 2019 they did so again, but this time the Australian-equipped and retrained Royal Solomon Islands Police Force was able to suppress the rebellion and confine disturbances to the Burns Creek area of eastern Honiara.

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