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

Do China’s new missiles change the game?

Soldiers fire a surface-to-air missile on a wheeled armoured personnel carrier during the opening ceremony of four contests hosted by Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) as part of International Army Games 2019 in Korla, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, 3 August 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Tsuyoshi Minami, Shanghai Normal University

On 1 October 2019, China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic with a military parade through Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Among the modern weapons displayed were 580 vehicles, 160 airplanes and a nuclear and conventional missile that many analysts believe to be one of the reasons the United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, though the United States announced that Russia’s treaty-violating new ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) the R-500 Iskander–K was the reason. Read more…

United Southeast Asian front against China unlikely

Indonesian Airforce's F-16 Jet Fighter flies over Indonesian navy warship during an operation in Natuna, near the South China Sea, Indonesia, 10 January 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Antara Foto).

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

According to the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency, in late December 2019, 63 Chinese fishing boats escorted by two Chinese Coast Guard vessels entered Indonesia’s claimed Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the south central part of the South China Sea. Indonesia protested vehemently, sending warships and jet fighters to the area. Some analysts are predicting that Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and maybe even the Philippines will form a united front that actively opposes China’s claims in the South China Sea. Read more…

China’s vetoes during the Syrian conflict

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem (L) shakes hands of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) after a press conference at Diaoyutai state guesthouse, Beijing, 18 June 2019 (Reuters/Fred Dufour).

Author: Rosemary Foot, Oxford

With the internationalised civil war in Syria entering its ninth year, the north-western part of the country is experiencing ‘massive waves of civilian displacement and major loss of civilian life’, induced by Russian-backed Syrian government air and ground strikes against rebel forces. Read more…

The European Commission’s palm oil conundrum

An aerial photo of a palm oil plantation in Batanghari, Jambi province, Sumatra island, Indonesia, 28 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Antara Foto/Wahdi Septiawan).

Author: Naila Maier-Knapp, University of Rostock

With new regulatory changes now taking place on the basis of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) II of 2018, Indonesia and Malaysia are trying to come to terms with the implications for their global palm oil market strategy and domestic production. They are mobilising intra-regional support from ASEAN and its members and even considering bringing their case forward to the WTO. The prospect of a considerable dip in palm oil exports to the European Union has become very real. Read more…

Malaysia’s foreign policy progressing within limits

Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato' Saifuddin Abdullah speaks with member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China Yang Jiechi (not pictured) during a meeting in Beijing, China September 12, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Verdelli).

Author: Bunn Nagara, Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia

Malaysia’s 14th general election was held in May 2018 and was the first time that Barisan Nasional had been ousted from federal government at the ballot box in 61 years. General and sweeping expectations of change soared with the unprecedented Pakatan Harapan (PH) victory, particularly in regards to domestic policy, but very little has changed.

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Turbulence on the horizon in the South China Sea?

The Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan operates with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Izumo in the South China Sea, 11 June 2019 (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Shicun Wu, National Institute for South China Sea Studies

The South China Sea remains a focal concern within the international community, grabbing headlines and placed firmly on the agendas of many bilateral and multilateral political and academic summits. While likely to remain relatively stable in 2020, worrying developments and uncertainties are on the rise. Read more…

The muffled sound of peace drums in Afghanistan

An Afghan National Army soldier inspects passengers at a checkpoint in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, 23 February (Photo: Reuters/Parwiz).

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, Singapore

A seven-day ‘reduction in violence’ deal between the United States and the Afghan Taliban took effect on 21 February. During this time, the two antagonists will refrain from attacks and military operations to facilitate a peacemaking process that may — if successful — lead to the signing of an agreement on 29 February. But this would be just one of many steps that must be taken to bring peace to Afghanistan. Read more…

Has the internet helped China contain the coronavirus?

A woman wearing a face mask looks at her phone while riding an escalator, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, in Beijing, China 23 February, 2020 (Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Mu Li, Sydney University

China is still facing the spread of the novel coronavirus (now known as COVID-19). On 30 January, the World Health Organization (WHO) convened the second meeting of the Emergency Committee under International Health Regulations regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in China and its movement across borders. Following recommendations from the Emergency Committee, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

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India’s 2020 budget falls short of expectations

A customer hands a 50-Indian rupee note to an attendant at a fuel station in Ahmedabad, India, 5 October 2018, (Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave).

Author: Alok Sheel, ICRIER

India’s 2020–21 federal budget was presented on 1 February against the backdrop of six successive quarters of declining growth. Continuing frictions in the financial system have clogged the channels of monetary policy. This means that fiscal policy and structural reforms now have a critical role in stimulating the slowing economy and putting it back on a high growth trajectory. But the budget falls short of expectations in both areas. Read more…

PNG needs to prepare for Bougainville negotiations

Officials count ballots in Buka, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, in this undated picture obtained December 11, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Jeremy Miller).

Author: Shane McLeod, Lowy Institute

The 2019 Bougainville referendum result is a clear and unambiguous statement: 97.7 per cent of Bougainvilleans see their political future as independent from Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Peace Agreement that has guided the process to this point sets out consultations between the two governments as the next step in responding to the referendum outcome. Read more…

Xinjiang and the South China Sea complicate Malaysia–China relations

A worker adjusts his safety helmet at the tunnel constructions site of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project in Dungun, Terengganu, Malaysia, 25 July 2019 (Photo:Reuters/Lim Huey Teng).

Author: Ngeow Chow Bing, University of Malaya

After a historic 2018 election victory, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad and his Pakatan Harapan coalition seemed to be rolling back Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deals forged under his predecessor Najib Razak. Mahathir suspended the mostly China-financed US$20 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and several similar smaller projects. Foreign pundits quickly lauded Malaysia’s apparent pushback against China’s BRI. Read more…

Little Britain post-Brexit

A man holds a dog on a leash with clothes on and a sign on Brexit day in London, Britain, 31 January 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

The United Kingdom has exited the European Union. It has unshackled itself from European regulations and standards and in doing so has put up barriers to commerce and the free movement of people with the major economic bloc on its doorstep.

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The United Kingdom’s uncertain post-Brexit economic relations with Asia

Boris Johnson shakes hands with a humanoid robot Wabian2 at Research Institute for Science and Engineering at Waseda University's Kikuicho Campus in Tokyo, Japan (Photo: Reuters/Eugene Hoshiko/Pool).

Author: David Vines, Oxford

Brexit has happened. But the United Kingdom still faces two major choices over the coming year. How will it align its domestic economy with Europe? And how will it continue its global role? The new UK government is still deeply conflicted on these choices. Only when they are made will it know how to conduct its future relations with the Asia Pacific.

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Trump’s visit to India all hat and no cattle

People pose for a picture in front of a hoarding of the 'Namaste Trump' event ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit in Ahmedabad, India, 22 February 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis).

Author: Aman Thakker, CSIS

On 24 February, US President Donald Trump will become the fourth consecutive US president to visit India. Over the past two decades, US–India relations have deepened and expanded as successive US and Indian administrations have placed emphasis on substantive initiatives aimed at deepening collaboration amidst rapid geopolitical changes. This summit between Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is shaping up to depart from tradition, emphasising optics over substance. Read more…

A high-optics, low-outcome Trump trip to India

Painting US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a wall along the route that Trump and Modi will take during Trump's upcoming visit, Ahmedabad, India, 17 February 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave).

Author: Bharat Karnad, Centre for Policy Research

It’s unclear what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said to US President Donald Trump when the former called the White House on 11 February. Reportedly what sealed the presidential trip to India was Modi’s promise that some 5–7 million people would be lining the route from Ahmedabad airport to the new stadium in Motera to greet him.

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