Asia Pacific

Developing Indonesia's Natuna Islands Should be a Priority for Jokowi


Indonesia’s Natuna Islands could become yet another security flashpoint in the South China Sea. The islands’ proximity to the disputed areas in the South China Sea, and isolation from Jakarta, makes it one of Indonesia’s most vulnerable regions. Any effective security and military presence in the area will depend on local economic and infrastructure development. How will Indonesia under President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) manage this potential point of contention with China?

Myanmar's Democratization Faces another Challenge


It’s election year in Myanmar, the big test for the country’s aspiring democratic transition. Among the spirited national debates, there are four controversial pieces of legislation currently under consideration in Myanmar’s Assembly of the Union parliament (the Pyidaungsu hluttaw). These reportedly aim to protect race and religion. But in truth, the bills represent a setback for religious freedom and women’s rights and — if adopted — are likely to deepen existing religious divides, threaten the reform agenda and stir violence prior to the elections.

Factors Surrounding Indonesia's Interest Rate Cut


Bank Indonesia (BI) surprised everyone when it eased monetary policy at its February meeting. Moving into line with global trends, it cut the policy interest rate by 25 basis points to 7.5 percent, even though analysts had predicted no change. While the change is surprising, it has a sound rationale but is not without risk.

Russian Army Attracts Tajikistan’s Unemployed


As of this year, there’s an army that’s ready to give a paying job to a few members of Tajikistan’s legion of unemployed men—Russia’s.

The 201st Russian Military Base in Tajikistan has long employed local soldiers. But they were prohibited from fighting under the Russian flag abroad. Now, a law signed by President Vladimir Putin on January 2 allows foreign citizens to fight for Mother Russia anywhere in the world.

China's Economic Crossroad


China’s GDP growth rate is decelerating, due to international headwinds, property markets and local debt. Nevertheless, China’s long-term potential remains impressive, as reflected by the new growth target.

As the 5,000 members of the two sessions – the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – listened to Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, the message was clear.

Indonesia's Jokowi Heads Overseas and Leaves Domestic Tensions Behind


Indonesian President, Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) decision to embark on his first official overseas visit has been overshadowed by domestic controversy. The planned meet-and-greet with the leaders of Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines seemed to be a way of escaping the domestic tensions between two of the country’s key law-enforcement institutions: the police (Polri) and the anti-corruption commission (KPK).

China Flirts with a Middle Income Trap


As China appears to be flirting with the middle income trap, the old development model is becoming increasingly unworkable. In its place, the ‘new normal’ is emerging as a valuable notion. But to work it needs increased corporate competition, integrated labour markets, sharper land rights for farmers, and much less debt accumulation. On these points, Chinese policies fall short and are risk trapping China at middle income.

Modern Yoga in the Place of Yogis


In the past decade the worldwide yoga industry has become a multi-billion-dollar business. Yet, ironically, the one country where yoga does not yet thrive commercially is the very place from which yoga is thought to originate: India. Why should this be?

This paradox emerges, in part, because the practice known as ‘yoga’ around the world is a modern invention of the globalised and capitalist 20th century. A brief look at the history of yoga may help to explain why this industry has not had a straightforward development in India.