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

Hong Kong’s political impasse

Author: Peter TY Cheung, HKU

The Occupy Movement has seen the political awakening of a large segment of the Hong Kong community. The massive outbursts of political protests lasted 79 days and tested the limits and will of the Hong Kong people and government. Hong Kong–mainland relations have been pushed into a downward spiral of mistrust and confrontation, but movements towards reconciliation remain out of sight. Read more…

Korean reunification still on the agenda in 2015

Author: Jong-sung You, ANU

Disasters and political scandals dominated South Korean politics in 2014. And hopes for progress on North–South relations on the Korean peninsula were left unfulfilled.

At the beginning of 2014 — in Dresden, Germany — President Park Geun-hye had unveiled her government’s vision for Korean reunification. Read more…

A year of relative stability for Central Asian regimes

Author: Dr Kirill Nourzhanov, ANU

By local standards, 2014 was a reasonably successful year for the leaders of Central Asian countries. There were no revolutions, insurgencies or mass protests threatening their grip on power. Incumbent heads of state carried out regime maintenance in their customary manner: focusing primarily on managing the inner circle of the ruling elite. Read more…

What now for Abe third time round

Author: Nobumasa Akiyama, Hitotsubashi University

Shinzo Abe’s second term as prime minister of Japan, unlike his first, was a modest success through till 2014. But he will have to bring real and tangible outcomes for Japan and the Japanese economy if it is to succeed the third time round. Read more…

Bright signs on the horizon for the Philippines

Author: Cesar Virata, Manila

The economy of the Philippines hit some rough patches in 2014. The outlook for 2015, on the other hand, is fairly strong.

GDP growth slowed down to about 6 per cent. This was because government spending — in particular, infrastructure spending — did not meet its targets. Read more…

New Zealand deals smoothly with an ageing but diversifying economy

Author: Gary Hawke, NZIER

New Zealand obviously does not enjoy the economic growth rates of Southeast Asia, let alone China. Nonetheless, indications were during 2014 that New Zealand could sustain long-term growth of 3 per cent per annum without supply constraints and inflationary pressures. It had previously been thought that the limit was little more than 2 per cent. Read more…

Vietnam’s moderate diplomacy successfully navigating difficult waters

Author: Thuy T. Do, ANU

Vietnam’s diplomacy saw many successes in 2014, but also faced many challenges.

In early May, the country saw the worst maritime tension with China since their 1988 naval clashes in the South China Sea (SCS). Read more…

Change finally on the way for Cambodia

Author: Kheang Un, Northern Illinois University

Cambodia had a year of political reform in 2014, and observers are sceptical about how much change it will bring. But it might be premature to dismiss Prime Minister Hun Sen’s reform efforts as cosmetic. Read more…

Democracy is the biggest challenge for South Korea in 2015

Author: Kim Keeseok, Kangwon National University

It is not hard to list the domestic and international challenges for South Korea for 2015. There are many.

At the end of 2014, South Korea faces economic slowdown, an ageing population, worsening socio-economic inequality, rising youth unemployment, mounting household debt and a real-estate market slump. Read more…

Tentative but no fundamental change in Singapore

Authors: Mukul G. Asher, NUS, and Chang Yee Kwan, Independent

On the usual measures of economic prosperity, Singapore went from strength to macroeconomic strength in 2014. Real economic growth was between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent for the year. The world economy was forecast by the IMF in October to have grown at 3.3 per cent. Singapore continued to grow in importance as an ASEAN hub for RMB-denominated financial services, and was named, for the ninth year running, the best global location for business and enterprise. Read more…

Mongolia’s economic prospects turn sour from external pressures

Author: Tuvshintugs Batdelger, National University of Mongolia

Mongolia experienced drastic changes in its macroeconomic environment in 2014.

The economy is expected to grow by 7 per cent in 2014. This is a healthy pace. But the majority of this growth has come from the mining sector, which experienced a significant boost from the production ramp up in the first phase of the Oyu Tolgoi project. Read more…

The tricky economic tasks facing Najib Razak

Author: Shankaran Nambiar, MIER

After a year of solid achievement on the economic front, Malaysia’s leaders will face difficult circumstances as they implement reform in 2015.

One of the more impressive achievements of the Malaysian government in 2014 was the resolve it demonstrated in trying to balance the budget. Read more…

Vietnam’s leaders look to consolidate gains in 2015

Author: Thomas Jandl, MRTJ Asia Consulting

For Vietnam’s leadership, 2014 was another year of growing into a role as an increasingly active international player, both diplomatically and economically. Two events — the Haiyang 981 oilrig incident and TPP accession negotiations — gave Vietnam a place in the spotlight and shed light on a continued path for 2015. Read more…

No hope on the horizon for Pakistan’s myriad problems

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, NUS

Pakistan is in a state of discord. Its civilian governance structure is becoming corrupt and oligarchic. Its façade of democratic order belies a more tawdry reality characterised by money, patronage and cronyism, in which parliament exists to enhance the privileges of the few. Read more…

Japan’s politics shifting to the liberal centre in 2015?

Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University

The emphatic victory of Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the December 2014 lower house election masks a quiet power shift toward liberal-centre forces, away from nationalist right-wing forces. What this shift portends is a crucial question for the direction of Abe’s administration. Read more…