East Asia Forum
Stories by the author
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.
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.
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. Facing challenges in a stagnating economy, the younger generations have developed a deeper political awareness from a sense of marginalisation from political decision-making processes.
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.
Results from the most recent 2016 survey, released in July, reflect a Japan that has grave fears about the political, security and economic dimensions of the relationship with its most important neighbour.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.