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

South Korea can help drive Asia’s recovery post-COVID-19

People wearing face masks to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19 in Seoul, South Korea, 22 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Heo Ran).

Author: Choong Yong Ahn, Chung-Ang University

Having been hit early by the COVID-19 crisis, some East Asian economies are also recovering early — including South Korea. The early movers should work together to achieve regional economic reconstruction and eventual global recovery. Prioritising the exhaustive prescriptions of the Asian Strategy for Recovery and Reconstruction after COVID-19, released by the ANU’s Asian Bureau of Economic Research (ABER), could be a start.

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The end of ‘one country, two systems’?

Demonstrators protesting the proposed extradition bill aim their flashlights towards riot police as they are chased through the streets of Hong Kong, China, 25 August , 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kurniawan).

Author: Joseph Yu Shek Cheng, Hong Kong

In May 2020, China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) passed a resolution to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. Chinese leaders defended the move as essential for China’s security — closing a gap that could be exploited by hostile countries to introduce a colour revolution to China. Hong Kong’s Basic Law allows the NPC to introduce legislation for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), to be attached to Annex III. This provision allows Chinese authorities to retain final legal control.

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Back to square one for inter-Korean relations

South Korean soldiers take part in a live fire exercise near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, 23 June, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji).

Author: Scott Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations

On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, the two Koreas face a dramatic breakdown in relations. Tensions rocketed on 16 June when North Korea demolished a liaison office that had stood as a symbol of hope for improved communications. For the South Korean Moon administration, the re-establishment of inter-Korean summitry in 2018 represented an historic step toward establishing a permanent peace, coexistence and economic integration on the Korean Peninsula. Read more…

Low levels of digitalisation are a barrier to telework in Japan


Author: Hiroaki Richard Watanabe, University of Sheffield

Despite its ‘high-tech’ image, Japan is in many ways relatively ‘low-tech’. While companies and governments in many countries shifted to ‘telework’ or ‘work from home’ to cope with the spread of COVID-19, many Japanese companies and government offices have been unable to adapt. Read more…

What does Moon’s election victory mean for South Korean democracy?

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks on the occasion of the third anniversary of his inauguration at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, 10 May 10 2020 (Kim Min-Hee/Pool via Reuters).

Author: WooJin Kang, Kyungpook National University

On 15 April 2020, the legislative elections to choose the 21st National Assembly were held in South Korea. President Moon Jae-In’s ruling Democratic Party (DP) was elected in a landslide victory, winning a total of 180 out of 300 seats. The DP won 163 out of 253 directly contested seats (49.91 per cent of votes) and 17 out of 47 proportional representation (PR) seats (33.35 per cent of votes) through its satellite party. Read more…

The global pushback against China’s overreach in Hong Kong

Supporters of Hong Kong anti-government movement gather at Liberty Square in Taipei, Taiwan, 13 June, 2020 (Reuters/Wang).

Author: Andreas Fulda, University of Nottingham

On 28 May 2020, with a vote of 2878 to 1, China’s rubber stamp National People’s Congress passed and enacted its new controversial Hong Kong national security legislation. It sent a clear message to the international community: Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ model is history. But the process of hollowing out Hong Kong’s autonomy started much earlier.

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Vietnam’s judicial system on trial

Vietnamese policemen stand guard outside a courtroom in Hanoi, Vietnam 8 January 2018, Picture taken January 9, 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Duy Dinh, IHEID

On 14 January 2008, two female postal workers were found murdered inside a small post office where they also resided in Vietnam’s Long An province. Ho Duy Hai was detained two months later by the police and it was reported that he admitted to committing the crime. He inexplicably declined lawyers contracted by his family and only accepted the lawyer appointed by the investigative agency. No one was allowed to visit him until the trial day. Read more…

South Korea’s digital quarantine success

A woman wearing a mask to prevent the coronavirus uses her mobile phone at a shopping district in Seoul, South Korea, 24 February, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kim).

Author: Hyung-A Kim, ANU

Worldwide demand for South Korea’s ‘drive-thru’ COVID-19 test kits and other precision contact tracing methods boosted the country’s image as a leading global health care and technology powerhouse. Early success in managing the pandemic also gave South Korean voters more confidence in President Moon Jae-in’s administration. On 15 April, Moon’s public approval rating reached a 17-month high of 54.4 per cent and his Democratic Party won a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections.

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COVID-19, economic crisis and gender equality in Asia

Women are pictured wearing a protective face mask and face shield as the Indonesian government eases restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia, 8 June 2020 (Reuters/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana).

Authors: Elizabeth Hill and Marian Baird, Sydney University

The global research evidence is clear: economic crises exacerbate pre-existing inequalities, damaging the employment opportunities and economic security of women more than men. The 1980s debt crisis, the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis all provide stark warnings to governments and businesses that recent efforts to promote gender equality and economic empowerment will be undone unless women are prioritised in COVID-19 recovery planning and policymaking. Read more…

The impacts of COVID-19 on Vietnam and ways to move forward

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

Author: Minh Cuong Duong, UNSW

The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Vietnam are much lower than in most countries worldwide due to early and aggressive anti-pandemic response. But this does not mean that the impact of the pandemic on Vietnam is less severe. Read more…

Hong Kong autonomy and the National People’s Congress

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk after Lam took her oath, during the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from British to Chinese rule, in Hong Kong, China, 1 July 2017 (Reuters/Bobby Yip/File Photo).

Author: Jocelyn Chey, Sydney University

Hong Kong’s future is gloomy, but it should not be written off yet. It plays a vital role in the interface between the China and the rest of the world. Its future is not and never could be autonomy and most Hongkongers understand that. It may be that outside forces have prompted some to make such demands and exacerbated tensions. Local protests continue, including observance of the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Read more…

South Korea and Japan’s COVID-19 image war

South Korean President Moon Jae-In is welcomed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his arrival for a welcome and family photo session at G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, 28 June, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kim).

Authors: Sarah A Son, Sheffield University and Juliette Schwak, Franklin University Switzerland

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, countries are investing in strategic narratives to tell the world their version of the crisis and present themselves as safe, efficient and reliable actors. South Korea and Japan — two early victims of the virus — are no exception to this trend. Yet their efforts to broadcast the success of their approaches in managing COVID-19 are succumbing to both countries’ tendency to draw direct critical comparisons with one another.

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Historic opportunity to create a more sustainable East Asia

A floating solar energy farm at a photovoltaic power station in Hongze district, Huai'an city, Jiangsu, China, 18 May 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Wang Kaicheng).

Author: Christopher M Dent, Edge Hill University

History shows that the deepest economic and social changes occur in the aftermath of major crises, catastrophes or conflicts. They have catalytic, disruptive effects on existing orders, creating new realities and different ways of thinking about the future. East Asia is now in an important phase of its history.

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Time to work with Asian partners on a global COVID-19 recovery strategy

Thai Airways idle airplanes are seen parked on the tarmac of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand 25 May, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Silva).

Authors: Peter Drysdale, ANU and Chatib Basri, University of Indonesia

As the world contemplates the savage impact of the COVID-19 virus on the global economy, there’s need to seize initiative in global cooperation to escape the slump caused by the health lockdown. International economic cooperation will be vital to managing the crisis and to supporting the recovery through trade, stabilising markets, faster reopening of business supply chains and international travel. Without it, the world is facing a prolonged health crisis and lasting economic stagnation on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.

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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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