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

Rural Taiwan’s community cooperation against COVID-19

A woman wears a face mask as a mandatory precaution for riding on public transportation amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Taipei, Taiwan, 30 April, 202 (Photo: Reuters/Wang).

Author: Hung-yu Liu, National Chung Cheng University

Many countries now realise the crucial importance of information transparency, testing, contact tracing, timely treatment and social distancing in the fight against COVID-19. The media coverage has been primarily centred on urban cities where information and services are more accessible. These urban areas are the frontlines of the war against COVID-19. But the Taiwanese government’s focus on the frontline battle in urban areas leaves rural communities — already less equipped to contain an outbreak — vulnerable. Read more…

Residence permit points systems widen China’s class divide

A woman stands at the balcony of her house which will be demolished to build new apartments in downtown Shanghai, China, December 1, 2010. Picture taken 1 December, 2010 (Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria).

Authors: Yiming Dong and Charlotte Goodburn, King’s College London

In 2014, China’s State Council set out ground-breaking household registration (hukou) system reform policies aimed at ensuring that 60 per cent of the population lives in cities by 2020. Read more…

Malaysia beats brutal COVID-19 expectations

Commuters are seen wearing face masks in an almost empty SBK train as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Photo: Reuters/Hazim Mohammad).

Author: Stewart Nixon, ANU

To the casual observer, Malaysia’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak may seem bungled. Media reports highlighted a mass religious gathering later linked to thousands of infections and the Ministry of Women’s advice that wives maintain a presentable appearance and avoiding nagging and sarcasm under lockdown. Read more…

From pandemics to the climate crisis

Firefighters try to extinguish forest fires at Sebangau National Park area in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia, 14 September 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan.

Author: Darshan Joshi, REFSA

There is a growing need for governments to balance economic needs and environmental concerns. An important lesson of COVID-19 is the need to coordinate mitigation and response frameworks to tackle issues that ultimately transcend national interests. Read more…

Triple-headed crisis calls for global cooperation

People wearing face masks, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, make a line to enter an office building in Beijing, China is 28 April, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins).

Author: Ye Yu, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies

COVID-19 is still raging around the planet without any signs of retreat. Worryingly, despite the belated commitment of G20 and G7 leaders to act together, in reality every country is still only looking out for itself. Europe’s union is fractured now that it has been an epicentre of the epidemic and the embattled relationship between China and the United States has been further poisoned by COVID-19. Read more…

ASEAN, 5G and the great tech game

A woman using her mobile phone walks past a vehicle covered in a China Unicom 5G advertisement in Beijing, China 17 September, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Amalina Anuar, RSIS

For many economies, 5G innovation promises an opportunity to scale the economic ladder in a technological arena that will undergird the connectivity-based and data-driven Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). But for major powers, 5G innovation is an emerging battlefield for technological, economic and military domination. For all its economic promise, this next-generation technology has the potential to be a nightmare in the making for ASEAN — an organisation that lists choosing sides between major powers as one of its most prominent concerns.

Read more…

Japan’s timid COVID-19 response

People wearing face masks are seen crossing the street at Akihabara district amid the coronavirus pandemic on Friday 24 April, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a State of Emergency on April 7th to stop the spread of the coronavirus throughout the country. (Photo: Reuters /Richard Atrero de Guzman).

Author: Shinji Takagi, Asian Growth Research Institute

The world is facing a major pandemic, the scale of which we have not seen in at least a century. There has been a sharp contraction of economic activities across the globe as countries successively shut down schools, business establishments and public gatherings. There is talk of relaxing strict lockdown measures in some places, but the full resumption of economic activities will not occur until a vaccine is developed or an effective treatment is found. Read more…

Containing COVID-19 in Bangladesh

Homeless and impoverished Bangladeshi people receive food provided by volunteers during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 27 April, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Suvra Kanti Das).

Authors: Asad Islam, Gaurav Datt and Sisira Jayasuriya, Monash University

COVID-19 is now in Bangladesh. It is one of the world’s most densely populated countries with poor healthcare infrastructure, weak logistical facilities, widespread poverty, and inadequate safety nets and income transfer mechanisms. It has not faced a crisis of this magnitude in its five decades as an independent country. Read more…

Organising the post-COVID-19 world and technology

U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres speaks while sitting next to Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during an update on the situation regarding the COVID-19 (previously named novel coronavirus) at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 24 February 2020. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Pool via Reuters).

Authors: Heather Smith, Canberra and Allan Gyngell, ANU

In 1941, even before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Paul Hasluck, then a public servant and later an Australian Liberal Party foreign minister, recommended the establishment in the Australian Department of External Affairs of a Post-Hostilities Section. Read more…

Seoul’s top-down approach to Pyongyang

A South Korean soldier watches a TV showing a file footage for a news report on North Korea firing a missile that is believed to be launched from a submarine, in Seoul, South Korea, 2 October 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji).

Author: Lauren Richardson, ANU

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program remains one of the key challenges to regional security in Asia. Dealing with this predicament has been the major foreign policy focus of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration since its inauguration in 2017. Initially he conducted crisis diplomacy aimed at de-escalating the surging tensions between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. This was a natural response to the rhetorical threats exchanged between the pair that ostensibly brought the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war. Read more…

Saving Southeast Asia from another economic crisis

A view of almost empty main road amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Jakarta, Indonesia, 31 March 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan).

Author: Andrea Goldstein, OECD and Giulia Ajmone Marsan, ERIA

The apparent success of China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan in de-escalating the COVID-19 crisis contrasts with experiences in Europe and the United States where casualties have grown rapidly. Among various explanations, one is cultural: compared to the West, collective interest trumps individualism in the East. Read more…

Dealing with the United States as it is

US President Donald J. Trump (L) gestures beside US Vice President Mike Pence (R) during a tree planting ceremony to commemorate Earth Day and Arbor Day, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 22 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

The United States under President Trump has been focussed on making America great again. It is doing so by driving division, domestically and internationally. Power over others.

Read more…

How COVID-19 is testing American leadership

US President Donald Trump holds up a swab for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, US, 19 April 19 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Al Drago).

Author: Joseph S Nye, Harvard University

Under the influence of the information revolution and globalisation, world politics has changed in a way that means that even if the United States remains the largest power, it cannot achieve many of its international goals acting alone. But the Trump administration is failing this test. Its national security strategy (and budget) is focussed almost entirely on great power competition, particularly with China.

Read more…

Asia will fall with the multilateral system unless it now springs to its defence

A police officer wears a mask as he walks in front of the Oriental Pearl Tower in Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 5 February 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Aly Song).

Authors: Alex Rouse and Adam Triggs, ANU

The COVID-19 pandemic is a test for the multilateral system — one that could not have come at a worse time. The multilateral system is vital to keep supply chains open, allow medical supplies to flow freely, resist trade protectionism, deal with the international economic and financial repercussions and coordinate financial assistance to countries in need.

Read more…

The China lesson

Fresh chrysanthemum flowers, a traditional Chinese funeral flower, lie on the banks of the Yangtze River on the eve of the Tomb-sweeping Festival in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicentre of China's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, 3 April 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Aly Song).

Author: Wang Gungwu, NUS and ANU

In the months since the Wuhan lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, there is reason to feel sadder if not wiser. How quickly the Beijing government gathered its national resources to help the province of Hubei was impressive. Having delayed some weeks before the officials responsible began to take the virus seriously, they used all the resources available to make up for earlier mistakes. This included alerting the rest of the world of the emergency measures taken.

Read more…