Indonesia Still Finding its Sea Legs

Implementing Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) vague ambition to become the maritime power connecting the Pacific and India Oceans — a so-called ‘global maritime fulcrum’ (GMF) — will be an enormous challenge for Indonesia. Making matters worse, since the announcement of the GMF, there has been no detailed policy blueprint, even though efforts to realise the vision have been underway.

One Belt, One Road, Many Factors

Since 2013, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative has become the centrepiece of China’s economic diplomacy. The essence of OBOR is to promote regional and cross-continental connectivity between China and Eurasia. The ‘One Belt’ and ‘One Road’ refer to China’s proposed ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and ‘Maritime Silk Road’.

The Congo and the Cold War

During World War II the US sought to secure all the uranium from the Shinkolobwe mine in present-day Democratic Republic of Congo for its atomic bomb project. The ore was the richest in the world. The US, determined to prevent any of it reaching Nazi Germany or later falling into the hands of the Soviet Union, took every precaution – including dispatching spies – to secure the supply of uranium. The story of this race for the ore is told in a newly published book, Spies in the Congo.

How will Africa Handle New Trade Deals?

The last few months have seen some significant developments for African trade and integration. These advances come at a crucial time for African countries, which have been particularly hard hit by the slump in commodity prices, China’s economic downturn, and higher external borrowing costs. This has resulted in slower GDP growth than expected, currency fluctuations and reduced investment – particularly in resource-rich countries.

Encouraging Japanese Board of Director Diversity

The current potential growth rate of the Japanese economy is estimated to be less than 0.5 percent. Given Japan’s rapidly declining working-age population, it will be critical to increase the labour participation rate of women and elderly people in order to promote economic growth. The ‘new three arrows’ of Abenomics stress the need for Japan to ensure the ‘dynamic engagement of all citizens’ in the economy.

Is China's World Order Role Exaggerated?

China’s status within the prevailing global order has sparked one of the most contested debates in international affairs. For some, it evokes their worst fears over a rising revisionist power; for others it creates inflated expectations over what the Chinese leadership is willing to commit to within the global arena.

UK Manufacturing's PMI Upside Surprise

The new month has begun with a couple of surprises.  The biggest surprise has been the record jump in the UK manufacturing PMI to 53.3 from 48.3.  A much smaller rebound was expected in August after the Brexit shock drop in July.

Maybe Third Times a Charm for Rajoy?

There is a small chance that the political deadlock in Spain will be resolved this week.  Despite the agreement on some 150 policy points, the Popular Party and Ciudadanos, the new center-right party, they will not secure a majority without the tacit support of some members of either the Socialists or the new left party Podemos.   

Can Thailand's Latest Constitution Last?

The result of the Thailand’s recent referendum appeared to show an easy win to the ‘yes’ camp. Sixty-one percent of voters approved the draft constitution while 39 percent voted ‘no’. Fifty-eight percent also approved a second question, inserted at the last minute, on whether a non-elected prime minister could be appointed by a joint sitting of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Yet the result of the referendum is less conclusive than it would appear.