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


Concerning the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic.

What next for New Zealand in its post-COVID-19 era?

A bull statue with a mask covering its face is seen in a township called Bulls, near Palmerston North, on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, amid the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 12 July 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Praveen Menon).

Authors: Nick Wilson and Michael Baker, University of Otago

Having successfully eliminated COVID-19, New Zealand now faces the option of sitting tight or exploring various ways of loosening its stringent border controls. All these options involve complex health and economic trade-offs. Read more…

COVID-19 accelerates maritime insecurity

Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s guided-missile frigate Yueyang takes part in a China-Thailand joint naval exercise in waters off the southern port city of Shanwei, Guangdong province, China, 6 2019 (Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Asyura Salleh, Pacific Forum

COVID-19 is showing the world how a health crisis can exert disproportionate pressure on existing social and political fissures. The Asia Pacific maritime environment is no exception, with hybrid challenges persisting and non-conventional incidents on the rise. As state budgets adjust to accommodate the health crisis, non-state actors are escalating violence on land that is spilling over into the maritime domain. Read more…

US–China blame game grates on Southeast Asia

Medical officers prepare to send boxes with protective suits and masks as a donation for government, amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Konawe, Southeast Sulawesi Province, Indonesia, 14 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Antara Foto).

Author: Hunter Marston, ANU

2020 has been an extremely difficult year for Southeast Asia. Multiple countries are expecting an economic contraction as tourism and intraregional trade grind to a halt in the wake of COVID-19. China has donated enormous quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing equipment to the region, while the United States has directed roughly US$80 million in pandemic assistance to Southeast Asian countries. Read more…

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…

Debt relief boosts Myanmar’s COVID-19 recovery

Person waving a Myanmar flag at Kyite Ka San Football Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, 29 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

Author: Sean Turnell, Macquarie University

On 1 July 2020, the European Union and six of its member governments announced a moratorium on debt repayments due from Myanmar. The agreement allows Myanmar to ‘focus efforts on economic recovery from COVID-19’ and is worth almost US$100 million — 20 per cent of Myanmar’s current debt payments schedule.

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COVID-19 exposes India’s weak public healthcare

A doctor wearing a protective face shield uses an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of a child at his mobile health clinic, after his clinic and its adjoining areas were declared a micro-containment zone, after authorities eased lockdown restrictions that were imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ahmedabad, India, 15 June 15 2020 (Reuters/Amit Dave/File Photo).

Author: Ranjan Ray, Monash University

The number of COVID-19 cases in India is increasing dramatically — the country recently overtook Russia and is now behind only the United States and Brazil in the global rankings. While much of the discussion in India is dominated by the sudden lockdown and ensuing hardship for migrant workers, stories of patients being refused admission to hospitals are shifting attention to the nation’s inadequate public healthcare system. Read more…

Dark side of the Moon in South Korea’s COVID-19 response

Police officers form a police cordon in front of the Jesus Shincheonji Church in Daegu, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul. The church, in the center of the largest group infection in the country, has been subject to an administrative review by the authorities, Daegu, South Korea, 12 March 2020 (Reuters).

Author: Mason Richey, HUFS

South Korea’s public health-based response to COVID-19 has been rightly lauded as a successful model for other democracies. Seoul’s strategy of testing, contact tracing, isolation and treatment has become a gold standard for flattening the virus curve and bending it toward zero. Schools were closed, large gatherings prohibited, tele-working encouraged, masks ubiquitous and social distancing implemented. South Korea has avoided the harsh lockdowns adopted in other countries. Its economy is disrupted, but not so dramatically as in the United States and Europe. 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…

A collective ASEAN response to COVID-19

An official wearing a face mask looks on as Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attends a special video conference with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hanoi 14 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Manan Vatsyayana).

Author: Hsien-Li Tan, NUS

When COVID-19 cases first appeared in the ASEAN region early in 2020, there were fears that public health systems would be overwhelmed. Responses around the region have varied. After decisive action — and missteps — in the initial months, Vietnam, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore are now cautiously relaxing restrictions while working to avert a second wave. Indonesia and the Philippines continue to see significantly higher infection and death rates, leading to strong criticism against the Jokowi and Duterte administrations.

Read more…

COVID-19 punishes Indonesian commodity exporters

A worker prepares to label barrels of oil at the state oil company Pertamina's production facility in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia, 6 November 2017 (Photo: Antara Foto/Rosa Panggabean via Reuters).

Authors: Donny Pasaribu and Krisna Gupta, ANU

Predictions of recessions in countries affected by COVID-19 no longer surprise anyone, but the outlook may be getting even worse for commodity-exporting countries. The World Bank forecasts that the economies of commodity-exporting developing countries will shrink by 4.8 per cent, a much sharper decline than other developing countries. This is important for Indonesia, where natural resources — especially oil, gas, coal and palm oil — have an outsized role in the economy.

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COVID-19 taps the accelerator in Malaysian politics

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin reacts during a session of the lower house of parliament, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 13 July, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Huey Teng).

Author: William Case, University of Nottingham Malaysia

The COVID-19 crisis has served as a fierce accelerant in Malaysia’s politics. Amid the fog of pandemic, a trajectory of events that might have unfolded anyway has been catalysed. Malaysia’s new Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance) government has restored the country’s politics to old contours of party-state fusion and hybrid modes of authoritarian control.

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India’s COVID-19 balancing act

A healthcare worker checks the temperature of a woman using an electronic thermometer during a check up campaign for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a slum area in Mumbai, India 8 July, 2020 (Photo:Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas).

Author: Shamika Ravi, New Delhi

India has a federal governance structure where the delivery of healthcare services is primarily the responsibility of state governments. The central government formulated national policies to manage the outbreak of COVID-19, including instituting four consecutive national lockdowns and establishing testing protocols and travel advisories. But the experiences of individual citizens in India is largely a function of local state and district administrative capacities.

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India’s infodemic

Migrant workers cover their children with saris as they wait to board a bus on their way to their home state of eastern Bihar during a lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, Ahmedabad, India, 20 May 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave).

Author: Usha M Rodrigues, Deakin University

India is now the 3rd most impacted country by COVID-19, with cases nearing 900,000 and deaths surpassing 23,000 as of 13 July. India is also one of the leading nations when it comes to the sharing of ‘fake news’.

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Will Chinese students study abroad post-COVID-19?

Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) holds annual graduation ceremony in Guanggu Stadium, with around 300 graduates being on site, and thousands of students witness the ceremony online, and take photos with classmates through tablets, Wuhan City, central China's Hubei province, 21 June 2020 (Reuters).

Authors: Bingqin Li, UNSW, Qian Fang, UNSW, and Li Sun, University of Leeds

Western universities are confronting the looming challenge that students from mainland China may no longer desire to study abroad after COVID-19. To continue attracting Chinese and other international students, host universities will need to show that they care about the wellbeing of the students. But if student numbers stay low post-COVID-19, they will have to adapt and implement different strategies. Read more…

Trade, deglobalisation and the new mercantilism

A truck moves a shipping container at Pyeongtaek port in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, 9 July 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji).

Author: Razeen Sally, NUS

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating changes underway since the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2008. It is ushering in a new era of deglobalisation and protectionism — a new mercantilist world order. Three global shifts will likely shape international trade beyond the immediate crisis and into the ‘post-vaccine’ future. Read more…