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

China’s National People’s Congress: soft on the outside, hard at the centre

Chinese officials and delegates attend the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 21 May 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins).

Author: Kerry Brown, King’s College London

China’s convening of its annual parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), delayed due to COVID-19, finally took place from 22 to 28 May. It delivered predictably mixed messages. On the economic front, the tone was almost conciliatory and focussed on the tried and tested message of delivering growth, opening up to the world and regaining the momentum of reform. On the political front, however, the message on Hong Kong showed a totally different aspect. Read more…

The end of Hong Kong autonomy

Firefighters wearing gas masks check the chamber of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China, 28 May 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Jessie Pang).

Author: Jeppe Mulich, Cambridge University

After a year of protests and upheavals, Beijing is poised to put an end to Hong Kong’s autonomous status. The National People’s Congress (NPC) has approved a decision on new ‘Mechanisms for the Preservation of National Security’ in the Special Administrative Region.

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The role of the National People’s Congress in China’s party-state constitutionalism

Delegates wearing face masks following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, leave at the end of the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 22 May 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins).

Author: Baogang He, Deakin University

In recent decades, it has become customary for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to hold annual concurrent plenary sessions of its National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The ‘Two Sessions’ are normally held in March, but were delayed until May this year due to the COVID-19 crisis. Read more…

Will Taiwan’s COVID-19 response bolster its international recognition?

Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, parliament members and activists hold a news conference about Taiwan's efforts to enter the World Health Organization, Taipei, Taiwan, 15 May 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Ann Wang).

Author: Robert Joseph Medillo, Manila

Taiwan’s global efforts in the wake of COVID-19 have the potential to undermine China’s assertive ‘One China policy’ and realise a greater international acceptance of Taiwan’s de facto independence. Drawing from its COVID-19 experience, Taiwan can broaden its place in international cooperation.

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Track II diplomacy in solving Asia’s refugee crisis

A Rohingya refugee walks at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, 7 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Authors: Melissa Conley Tyler and Tiffany Liu, Asialink at the University of Melbourne

In February, experts from government, think tanks, civil society and academia met in Bangladesh for the ninth meeting of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration (ADFM) to address the challenge of people movement and displacement in the region. The dialogue has already seen some positive outcomes, and it highlights an important role for non-official actors in diplomacy.

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Rising nationalism tests China’s uneasy partnerships in Central Asia

China’s President Xi Jinping and Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbay Jeenbekov attend a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 13 June 2019 (Reuters/Vladimir Pirogov).

Author: Raffaello Pantucci, RUSI

Relations between Central Asian powers and China are brittle at the best of times. While at an official level both sides are eager to highlight their closeness, among the public it does not take long to find friction. Read more…

Rethinking state ownership after COVID-19

Sanitary workers wearing face masks following the COVID-19 outbreak are seen on Tiananmen Square before the closing session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, China, 27 May 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter).

Author: Meijun Qian, ANU

State ownership might be crucial for sectors that are vital for social stability. Over the last half century, the consensus among economists has been that state ownership is notorious for management inefficiency. Since the 1970s, there has been a wave of privatisation globally.

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Revitalising Korea’s United Nations Command

US General Robert Abrams, commander of the United States Forces Korea, United Nations Command and Combined Forces Command arrives for a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of Panmunjom declaration between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un which was held in April 27, 2018, at the southern side of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, 27 April 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Lee Jin-man).

Author: Anthony V Rinna, Sino-NK

Overshadowed by the glaring stalemate between Seoul and Washington over defence cost-sharing, the role of the United Nations Command (UNC) in South Korea is now receiving renewed attention. ‘Revitalising’ the UNC could provide advantages, but would also raise political complications. Read more…

The economy dominates South America’s relationship with China and Japan

Grain is loaded aboard ships for export at a port on the Parana river near Rosario, Argentina, 31 January, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Brindicci).

Author: Nobuaki Hamaguchi, Kobe University

The United States and Europe tend to associate South America with Amazon rainforest burning, pink-tide leftist ideology, drug trafficking, corruption and illegal migration. These issues oppose their values of justice, social stability and global order. For China, whose 2016 Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean states a position of ‘non-interference in each other’s internal affairs’, these are not of concern.

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Vietnam’s COVID-19 political gains

Residents celebrate after authorities lifted the quarantine in Dong Cuu village, the last Vietnamese quarantined village affected by COVID-19, outside Hanoi, Vietnam, 14 May 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Phuong Pham, Queen Mary University of London

Vietnam is handling the outbreak of COVID-19 relatively well. Vietnam has confirmed a total of 327 cases with 278 recovered and no deaths, which is fairly low given its proximity to China. Vietnam has earned international accolades as one of the most successful countries in Asia to contain the virus. But Vietnam may win more than international praise, especially in political terms.

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Reconfiguring India’s exports during COVID-19

A pharmacist checks weight of Paracetamol, a common pain reliever also sold as acetaminophen, tablets inside a lab of a pharmaceutical company on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, 4 March 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave).

Author: C Veeramani, IGIDR

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting world trade across all sectors, but it is having the biggest effect on industries where production processes are fragmented through global value chains (GVCs). GVCs in several industries are mainly controlled by multinational enterprises (MNEs) operating from countries significantly affected by the pandemic. Exports from almost all countries will decline due to the supply shock emanating from disruptions to GVCs. In the case of India, it is most affected by the demand shock arising from fall in consumption and investment spending across the world. Read more…

Myanmar’s unsteady exit from China’s orbit

Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Naypyitaw, Myanmar 17 January 2020 (Photo: Reuters)

Author: Thomas Bernhardt, Vienna

When Myanmar’s military regime began opening up the country politically and economically in 2010, one motive was to alleviate the country’s overreliance on China. Ten years down the road, in the context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the threat of new Western sanctions triggered by human rights violations against the Muslim Rohingya minority, China’s influence appears hardly diminished. Read more…

Re-energising Indonesia’s electricity policy during COVID-19

State Electricity Company officials stand between solar cell panels at the largest solar power plant in Indonesia, at Oelpuah village in Kupang, 20 July 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Anatara Foto).

Author: Abidah B Setyowati, ANU

Major disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic show how modern societies depend on access to electricity. With millions of people confined to their homes, distant modes of learning and working — as well as online streaming for entertainment — are now an everyday reality around the globe. Electricity is also critical to operating medical equipment to treat those badly infected with COVID-19. But the comfort of being able to work, learn and play from home should not be taken for granted.

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Shaping South Korea’s middle-power future

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in attends a press meeting at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden 14 June, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Montgomery).

Author: Leif-Eric Easley, Ewha Womans University

At the 2020 World Health Assembly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shared his country’s success fighting COVID-19 based on democratic institutions, science and technology. He has also pledged Seoul will become a world leader in human security cooperation. This reflects South Korea’s national identity as a rising middle power in Asia, in stark contrast to its colonised and war-ravaged past. Middle-power goals, such as strengthening diplomatic networks that implement multilateralism, are now a yardstick for South Korea’s foreign policy performance. Read more…

COVID-19 speeds up China’s ‘Health Silk Road’

A passenger plane filled with vital PPE from Singapore bound for London for the NHS, 22 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters/ Charles Price).

Author: Ngeow Chow Bing, University of Malaya

China’s Health Silk Road (HSR) first appeared in a speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016 in Uzbekistan. But the concept can be traced back to a document prepared by China’s health authorities in 2015. The document laid out a three-year proposal (2015–2017) to promote the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through cooperation in the healthcare sector.

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