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

5G in Singapore: Is the tide turning against Huawei?

A Huawei employee showcases their facial recognition technology at their booth at Interpol World in Singapore, 2 July 2019 (Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Amalina Anuar, RSIS

Amid the ongoing US–China technological and geopolitical rivalry, decisions to award 5G contracts to Huawei — or to their competitors Nokia and Ericsson — continue to garner much press. In Singapore, Huawei was edged out after Singtel and the Starhub–M1 joint venture decided to partner with Ericsson and Nokia respectively to build the city-state’s standalone 5G network. Along with other countries also opting for non-Chinese 5G equipment, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared this as evidence of Washington’s anti-Huawei campaign bearing fruit. Read more…

Indonesia’s garment industry in crisis

Workers produce protective suits at a textile factory which usually produces jeans trousers before amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Malang, Indonesia, 6 April 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Antara Foto/Ari Bowo Sucipto).

Authors: Deasy Pane, Bappenas and Donny Pasaribu, ANU

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a slowdown in all parts of the world, but its impacts on exporters of textiles and textile products are hitting developing countries hard. The sector is one of the main exporters for many developing countries because its production process is generally labour-intensive and requires little formal training. The effects of the pandemic on the textile industry are especially concerning because the sector is a large source of employment in developing countries, including in Indonesia.

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Populists in a pandemic

US President Donald Trump speaks with President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, Philippines, 13 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

When the former mayor of the southern city of Davao, Rodrigo Duterte, surged ahead of his establishment rivals in the 2016 presidential elections, some western media fell back on labelling him the ‘Trump of the East’. Read more…

Rodrigo Duterte’s war on many fronts

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his State of the Nation Address at the plenary hall of the House of Representatives in Quezon City, Philippines, 27 July 2020 (Photo: Presidential Photos via Reuters).

Author: Julio C Teehankee, De La Salle University

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his penultimate State of the Nation Address as the onslaught of COVID-19 pandemic continues. Instead of providing a concrete plan to address the rise and spread of the virus, he used the opportunity to attack his political enemies and reiterate his declaration of a war on many fronts. The populist president vowed to ‘fight this pandemic with the same fervour as our campaign against illegal drugs, criminality, insurgency, and corruption in high places and entrenched parochial interests’. Read more…

Why a ‘Nixon moment’ in India–China relations is unlikely

China's President Xi Jinping and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive for a signing ceremony during Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China, 10 June, 2018 (Reuters/Aly Song).

Author: Raj Verma, Huaqiao University

India–China relations have hit a nadir after the recent clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley. Although disengagement and de-escalation is underway, tensions remain high. Some argue that there has been a Chinese and Indian leadership failure in ensuring amicable ties, pointing to ‘a historical failure on both countries’ parts to initiate a Nixonian moment in their relationship’, a reference to the former US president’s promoting pragmatic coexistence with China. Read more…

Vietnam rejects Chinese aggression in the South China Sea

Vessels from the U.S. Navy, Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Philippine Navy sail in formation at sea, in this recent taken handout photo released by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on 9 May 2019 (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Nguyen Khac Giang, Victoria University of Wellington

As countries in the region are busy dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, China is stirring the pot in the South China Sea. This includes harassing other claimants’ normal economic activities, conducting large-scale drills, consolidating military bases on artificial islands, and sending research ships into other countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). Vietnam — as one of the claimants and perhaps the most stubborn — has become the chief target.

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How global value chains will evolve in the post-COVID-19 economy

Workers are busy at assembling a vehicle along the production line at a workshop of Shandong branch of Chinese state-owned automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturer JAC Motors, Qingzhou county-level city, Weifang city, east China's Shandong province, 31 May 2020 (Reuters).

Author: Satoshi Inomata, IDE-JETRO

According to traditional trade theory, the direction and magnitude of product flows are principally determined by the comparative advantages of trading countries. These comparative advantages depend on endowments of production factors: labour, capital (including human capital) and land (or natural resources). Forces integrating the different factor endowments of various countries — especially capital and technologies from advanced economies and cheap labour from developing countries — drive the development of global value chains (GVCs). Read more…

India’s statistical system just doesn’t add up

Migrant workers crowd up outside a bus station as they wait to board buses to return to their villages during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, 28 March 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis).

Author: Vikas Kumar, Azim Premji University

A series of economic shocks — including the demonetisation of high denomination currency notes in 2016, the introduction of Goods and Services Tax in 2017 and the COVID-19 lockdown — have exposed the growing incapacity of India’s official statistical system to meet the requirements of policymaking. Read more…

Lifting the veil on Thailand’s COVID-19 success story

A promoter wears a face shield during the 41st Bangkok International Motor Show, after the Thai government eased measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bangkok, Thailand, 15 July, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Silva).

Author: Wannaphong Durongkaveroj, ANU

Thailand has been internationally praised for avoiding a COVID-19 disaster. Despite recording the first case of the virus outside of China on 13 January 2020, Thailand managed to avoid its first death until almost seven weeks later. Its peak of new daily COVID-19 cases was 188 in late March — a low figure compared to many Western countries.

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The COVID-19 squeeze on South Korea’s labour market

South Korean medical staff members wearing facemasks and protective clothing while on duty at Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital in Daegu, South Korea, 19 March 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak (Photo: Reuters/Lee Young-ho).

Author: Vladimir Hlasny, Ewha Womans University

In the densely populated South Korea, just a hop away from China, COVID-19 hit early and strongly. By mid-February, South Korea had the second highest number of infections in the world. Since then the number of cases has been slowed down to a trickle — but clusters keep resurfacing in blind spots such as church congregations, fitness classes, night clubs and warehouses.

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IA-CEPA will not solve Indonesia’s FDI problem

Stacks of containers are seen at Tanjung Priok port amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia, 3 August 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana).

Authors: Krisna Gupta and Andree Surianta, ANU

The Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) came into effect on 5 July 2020. It is intended to facilitate less restrictive movement of goods, services and investment between the two countries. As attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) is a top priority for Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, a freer flow of investment from Australia is certainly welcomed. But while IA-CEPA holds promise for trade, there are issues that will undermine its effectiveness in helping Indonesia attract increased FDI. Read more…

Political crackdowns follow Cambodia’s COVID-19 lockdown

An activist is detained by police during a protest where activist groups urged the government to release and drop charges against a union leader Rong Chhun who was arrested last week in Phnom Penh, Cambodia 3 August, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Lach).

Author: Sorpong Peou, Ryerson University and Emma-Jane Ni, McGill University

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia is enjoying considerable success compared to its Southeast Asian neighbours despite its relatively poor healthcare system — recording just 240 cases and no deaths by early August. While critics argue that these remarkably low numbers are due to underreporting, the government’s restriction measures for public safety have genuinely succeeded in containing the pandemic. Its crackdowns on the opposition, on the other hand, remain problematic.

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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…

US–China scientific cooperation faces an uncertain future

Chinese and US flags flutter near The Bund, Shanghai, China, 30 July 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Aly Song).

Authors: John P Haupt and Jenny J Lee, University of Arizona

Geopolitical tensions between the two largest scientific knowledge producers in the world are intensifying, and the Trump administration is now scrutinising scientific collaboration with China as a potential threat to US national security and economic prosperity. Chinese researchers and graduate students are being portrayed as potential spies who may steal intellectual property, while China’s ‘Thousand Talents’ program is characterised as a scheme allowing China to acquire US technology, intellectual property and know-how.

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Strengthening the Philippines’ approach to maritime security

A Philippine flag flutters from BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999 and became a Philippine military detachment on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea, 29 March 2014 (Reuters/ Erik De Castro/File Photo).

Author: Ellaine Joy C Sanidad, Philippine National Coast Watch System

Over the last decade, a lack of expertise among countries in managing their maritime domain has allowed lawlessness and crime on the seas to proliferate. Emerging criminal networks have become more complex and harder-to-quell. The relationship between various security threats, such as maritime piracy and terrorist financing, is also becoming increasingly interconnected. Read more…