East Asia Forum

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East Asia Forum
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Analysis of economics, politics and public policy in East Asia and the Pacific.

Brothers in Energy

Date: 30 September 2016

China used to call Russia its ‘older brother’. However, never again since the fall of the USSR. In an effort to portray its status as a less powerful yet assuredly more senior neighbour, Russian officials have recently begun referring to their country as China’s ‘elder sister’. The new term has proven less popular in China.

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Move Over Oil, It's LNG

Date: 29 September 2016

During this year’s G7 summit, Japan announced its vision of creating a LNG market to meet increasing energy demand. Natural resource markets are a foundation for trade and economic development. What is less well known is the close link between the natural resource markets and the currency markets.

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Does Japan's Democracy Have Room for Women and Children?

Date: 29 September 2016

A wave of political activism has animated East Asian politics: Taiwan’s Sunflower Student Movement in 2014, South Korean 2015 street protests against President Park’s new labour law, and protests in Japan in 2015 against Prime Minister Abe’s security bills. Youth activism was common to all these movements.

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Japanese Businesses Express Concern about the Chinese Relationship Direction

Date: 27 September 2016

The Japanese business community is increasingly pessimistic about the Japan–China relationship. For the past three years the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Japan-based Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) have surveyed Japanese business people about their attitudes to the bilateral relationship with China.

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Singapore Maintains the Appearance of Democracy

Date: 27 September 2016

When Lee Hsien Loong collapsed during the National Day Rally speech on 21 August 2016, it shocked not only many Singaporeans, but also leaders from around the world. Although he recovered quickly and was able to finish his speech after a short break, the incident drew attention to the issue of leadership succession in a country that has long experienced predictable politics with little change.

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TPP Passage Less Likely

Date: 27 September 2016

When President Barack Obama said, ‘The TPP means that America will write the rules of the road in the 21st century’, he was not speaking metaphorically. Large passages in the final text were lifted verbatim, sometimes en masse, from past US free trade agreements (FTAs).

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Natural Disasters could Trash ASEAN

Date: 23 September 2016

The recently concluded 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits in Vientiane, Laos again saw ASEAN give a muted response to the more contentious issues facing member states. This is largely a result of conflicting national interests between members in the absence of a cohesive framework to deal with such issues.

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Is India any Cyber-Safer?

Date: 23 September 2016

Recently, technical and operational specifications of the Scorpene class submarine that India is buying from DCNS — a naval shipbuilder two-thirds owned by the French government — were leaked to The Australian newspaper. The incident follows the Modi administration’s launch of an AU$150 billion (US$113 billion) program to modernise the armed forces. It is a timely reminder of a basic flaw in India’s weapons acquisition and digitisation: a lack of expertise in cyber security and data encryption.

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When did Australia's Pacific Influence Begin to Slip?

Date: 23 September 2016

Australia has vastly more material resources than its Pacific neighbours. It represents 94.5 percent of the region’s GDP, 98 percent of defence and security spending and contributes 60 percent of total development assistance. Based on a simple comparison of size and material resources, it has been claimed that Australia has ‘a natural right to lead’ in the Pacific and is effectively a ‘great power’ or a ‘regional hegemon’.

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Japan's LDP could Use Some Competition

Date: 21 September 2016

For close to 40 years after 1955, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) dominated Japan’s competitive party system. Opposition parties were not able to mount a successful challenge to LDP rule at the national level, but they had an important impact on policy and the political process. Japan had one dominant party but not a one-party system.

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Indonesia and Singapore need to Think Long Term

Date: 20 September 2016

Relations have been good between Singapore and Indonesia, but challenges still lie ahead. The upcoming leaders’ retreat for Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Indonesian counterpart, President Joko Widodo, will coincide with the golden anniversary (50 years) of formal diplomatic ties between the two nations. Considering how far bilateral relations have come, this is certainly an occasion for celebration.

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Japan Challenges China's African Influence

Date: 20 September 2016

Africa is becoming a new strategic playground where economic and geopolitical rivalry between Asian powers compels Japan to compete in a contemporary struggle for influence. Japan’s decision to hold the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) on African soil in August 2016 — for the first time in TICAD’s 23-year history — is just one example of its invigorated engagement with the region.

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Canada's Trudeau Gets the Balance Right with China

Date: 16 September 2016

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s eight-day official visit to China in August 2016 was, by most accounts, full of substance and style. The Trudeau government portrayed the visit as part of a refocus to China after a somewhat tumultuous previous relationship.

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A Missed Opportunity for Indonesia

Date: 16 September 2016

As ASEAN meetings in Vientiane concluded in September 2016, an air of anxiety was already beginning to settle over the Southeast Asian nations. Further resistance against China’s maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea is proving increasingly futile.

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What will be Left of Obama's Asian Policy after His Presidency?

Date: 15 September 2016

On rare occasions, international issues are resolved by a dramatic, decisive development. Much more often, progress is incremental. As United States President Barack Obama has said, an administration hits more singles and doubles than home runs. This has certainly been the nature of the United States’ recent achievements in Asia.

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Malaysia's Next Election Sure to be a Bit of a Mess

Date: 15 September 2016

On 29 June this year, Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister of Penang state and Secretary General of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), was arrested and charged with two counts of corruption and abuse of public office.

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China's Growth Augmented by the Diaspora

Date: 15 September 2016

In 1995, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade published a 350-page report on overseas Chinese business networks, calling them ‘one of the main forces driving the dynamic growth that characterises the region’. This interest reflected the economic clout of the then 50-odd million diaspora Chinese — living mostly in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia. In the early 1990s, this diaspora was described as rivalling Japan as a business influence across Asia, with a collective wealth comparable to China’s GDP.

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China's Eventual Leadership Role

Date: 14 September 2016

For a great power to lead the world there are a few qualities that it should bring to the table. These include, but are not limited to, material strength, an aspiration for recognition, and sufficient international support. Does China currently possess these qualities?

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A Malaysian Odd Couple

Date: 14 September 2016

On Monday 5 September 2016, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad did the unthinkable. He turned up at the High Court for Anwar Ibrahim’s filing of an interim injunction to stop the enforcement of the newly passed National Security Council (NSC) Act.

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Going Global with the Renminbi

Date: 13 September 2016

Germany and Japan didn’t want their currencies to go global, fearing appreciation and the resulting blow to their manufacturers’ competitive edge. China, in contrast, seeks to turn the renminbi (RMB) into a major global currency. To do this, it has created a global network of trading institutions, an offshore RMB market that trades outside China’s capital controls and a policy of gradual market opening.

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