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

A chance for Chinese economic leadership

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 25 October, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Lee).

Authors: Peter A Petri, Brandeis University and Michael G Plummer, Johns Hopkins University

In late June 2020, 15 East Asian countries — representing nearly 30 per cent of the world’s economic output and population — committed to signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in November. This will be the largest free trade agreement ever and complements the 2018 Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

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COVID-19 undermines South Korean diplomacy

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, wearing a face mask, arrives at a briefing for foreign diplomats on the situation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the foreign ministry in Seoul, South Korea 6 March, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Jung Yeon-je).

Author: Jeffrey Robertson, Yonsei University

South Korea attracted global attention from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the BBC reported that Seoul’s ‘trace, test and treat‘ approach was saving lives while hospitals in Europe and the United States were overwhelmed. In April, the New York Times reported on South Korea’s capacity to hold democratic elections despite COVID-19, and by June, CNN reported on the lessons to be learned from South Korea’s public health success story. Read more…

The case for an East Asian ‘climate club’ led by Australia

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, United States, 25 September 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri).

Authors: John Mathews, Macquarie University, Elizabeth Thurbon, UNSW, Sung-Young Kim, Macquarie University and Hao Tan, University of Newcastle

The Nobel Prize-winning US economist William Nordhaus fired a salvo recently when he published an article on how to drastically revamp international efforts to deal with climate change. He argued that climate negotiations operate according to a deeply flawed structure that has no chance of success, with no penalties for free-riding and non-membership. Read more…

Japan needs to step up its COVID-19 testing capacity

Students wearing protective face masks amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, clap along instead of singing a song during a music class at Takanedai Daisan elementary school, which practices various methods of social distancing in order to prevent the infection, in Funabashi, east of Tokyo, Japan 16 July, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kim).

Author: Keiichiro Kobayashi, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research

As COVID-19 cases began to mount in Japan in February, it became clear that the government needed to respond with strong policy measures. It was crucial to increase testing capacity and adopt isolation measures to contain the virus and allow economic activity to resume quickly. The Japanese government needed to set and clearly announce a timeline and numerical targets for testing capacity and medical care provision. Read more…

A US vision beyond great power competition

A US flag is seen during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, 9 November, 2017 (Reuters/Peter).

Author: Adam Yang, American University

The 2017 US National Security Strategy (NSS) and the 2018 National Defense Strategy unilaterally declared the beginning of a new era in international relations. Together, these reports portend great power competition between the United States and China. The NSS demands that all federal agencies recalibrate their internal strategies accordingly and, more importantly, it serves as an ideological starting point for all US political interaction with China. But US grand strategy must move beyond ill-defined bilateral competition with China for the US to remain a global leader.

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Indonesia needs more than debts against COVID-19

A currency exchange service vendor wearing a protective face mask while waiting for consumers on the sidewalk in Bandung, Indonesia, 22 May, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Agvi Firdaus).

Author: Rainer Heufers, Center for Indonesian Policy Studies

Governments around the world have been borrowing money during the COVID-19 crisis to fund programs to protect vulnerable citizens. Additional debt is deemed acceptable because problems are not directly related to unsound economic policies but to a pandemic beyond government control. Yet sound policies matter more than ever. Read more…

Global value chains aren’t going anywhere

An employee wearing a face mask works on a car seat assembly line at Yanfeng Adient factory in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 24 February 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Aly Song).

Author: Christian Bachheimer, Singapore

Countries across the world are already attempting to decouple global value chains (GVCs) in preparation for the post-COVID-19 future. This is both motivated by security concerns brought about by COVID-19 and a continuation of the post-global financial crisis deglobalisation campaign. But are the forces of decoupling really operating unimpeded, or will GVCs prove too resistant? Read more…

Australia’s new defence geography

Commander Peter Lockwood from the Guided Missile Frigate HMAS Darwin watches from the Bridge as (L-R) HMAS Hobart, the New Zealand frigate HMNZS Te Mana, HMAS Arunta and HMAS Anzac sail out of Sydney Heads 28 February on their way to intensive warfare training off the coast of New South Wales (Photo: Reuters/Tan).

Author: Hugh White, ANU

In one of its bolder steps, Australia’s new Defence Strategy and Force Structure Review is proposing a radical redefinition of the geographical reach of Australia’s strategic priorities. It rejects the expansive view of Canberra’s last major defence policy statement — the 2016 Defence White Paper — which accorded equal priority to local, regional and global missions and commitments.

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Vigilance and civic responsibility critical to East Asia’s success in fighting COVID-19

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike announces the three-step road map for the easing of measures against the new coronavirus at the Tokyo Metropolitan government office in Tokyo, Japan, 22 May 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Yoshio Tsunoda/AFLO).

Authors: James Hou-fu Liu, MU, Chan-Hoong Leong, SUSS, Shu-yi Huang, NTUH, Sylvia Xiaohua Chen, HKPU, Hoon-Seok Choi, SKKU, Susumu Yamaguchi, UTokyo, I-Ching Lee, NTU and Yumi Inoue, CUHK

The COVID-19 outbreak that started in China’s central Hubei province is devastating the global economy. Yet some of China’s major trading partners — Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan — are avoiding the high levels of infection and death that plague China’s two largest trading partners in the United States and the European Union. Read more…

China–India relations plummet to new lows in the Himalayas

Demonstrators shout slogans as they burn an effigy depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping during a protest against China, in Kolkata, India, 18 June, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri).

Author: Manjari Chatterjee Miller, Boston University

The relationship between China and India has reached a dangerous low. The recent clash between Chinese and Indian troops resulted in the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers and the injury of many others. The conflict took place in the Galwan River Valley in the Himalayan border region of Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Read more…

Reimagining global value chains after COVID-19

Author: Shujiro Urata, Waseda University

COVID-19 is exposing the vulnerability of global value chains (GVCs). GVCs contribute to rapid economic growth by enabling multinational corporations to increase their efficiency through fragmented, task-based specialisation. But they are now quickly spreading the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 from China to many other countries. Read more…

Establishing humanitarian lanes during COVID-19

Essential workers have their noses swabbed before returning to the workforce at a regional screening center amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore 9 June, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Authors: Alistair DB Cook and Christopher Chen, RSIS

COVID-19 is severely impacting the humanitarian system. It has forced countries to focus on containing the pandemic with national lockdown measures — hindering humanitarian action and denying aid to many affected communities in the Asia Pacific. But countries in the region have begun negotiations to normalise international travel, with Australia and New Zealand being the first to initiate bilateral discussions over the establishment of a ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’ and a ‘humanitarian corridor’ to the Pacific during the pandemic. Read more…

Supply chain management and economic statecraft: a five-point agenda

COVID-19 has disrupted global supply chains that rely heavily on manufactures and factories in China. Cargo ships are seen at the Port of Oakland, California, 9 March 2020 (Photo: Reuters/ Yichuan Cao).

Author: Heiko Borchert, Borchert Consulting & Research AG

The COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown ordered by governments to contain its spread and the unexpected oil price drop in March 2020 have crippled the world economy. These multiple shocks were a harsh wake-up call illustrating inadequate levels of national preparedness.

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Asia is hurtling towards a fentanyl disaster

A fentanyl user displays a 'safe supply' of opioid alternatives, including morphine pills in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 6 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Jesse Winter).

Author: Pascal Tanguay, Bangkok

In May 2020, authorities in Myanmar seized a whopping 3700 litres of liquid fentanyl — equivalent to about 30 bathtubs’ worth — alongside other drugs, precursors and weaponry. The lethal drug is increasingly being found cut into common illicit substances as the opioid epidemic rages in North America and Europe. 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, its growing presence in Asian illicit drug markets will likely prove disastrous.

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Nationalism, heroism and media in Vietnam’s war on COVID-19

Health professionals perform medical check-ups on COVID patients at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, Vietnam on 9 June 2020.

Author: Lena Le, Vietnam National University Hanoi

While many countries around the world are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, 11 May 2020 marked the end of the ‘longest New Year (Tet) holiday ever’ for students in Vietnam. When the nationwide lockdown was lifted, Vietnamese students at all levels returned to school. Read more…