By Rajaratnam School of International Studies
30 September 2015
Australia’s new government led by Malcom Turnbull will be very different from its predecessor, though of the same Liberal-National coalition. However residual conservative forces within its ranks mean that major changes in direction are unlikely in the short-term.
Australia’s new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull will lead a government that is very different from its predecessor though of the same Liberal-National coalition. Turnbull has described his government as one that will seize the opportunities of the future rather than one seeing only challenges ahead and seeking to preserve the order of the past. The government of his predecessor, Tony Abbott, had become derided for its reactionary mindset, including its failure to accept challenges of the 21st Century, such as climate change and the need for a constructive renewable energy policy.
By Institute of South East Asian Studies
14 September 2015
On 31st December 2015, the ten ASEANY member states will jointly announce the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). At present, these states have yet to fulfil all the stipulated targets stated in the AEC Blueprint. This Blueprint ultimately aims for an integrated market and a production base that allow for free movement of goods, services and skilled labour, as well as freer movement of capital.
One explanation for their shortcoming is the conflicting interests existing within the domestic economy. These generally involve technical, human and financial constraints; national priorities; bureaucratic complexities; preference for unilateral liberalization; differing interests among industry players; as well as lack of coherence in government policies.
What is needed to enhance the AEC beyond 2015 are improvements in four key areas: a) greater policy coherence in domestic economies; b) increased stakeholder consultation; c) identifying of winners and losers to mitigate the negative impact on domestic stakeholders; and d) overcoming resource constraints.
By Fraser Cameron, Director
27 August 2015
History and politics are more intertwined in East Asia than anywhere else in the world and rarely has a statement been more anticipated and digested than that by Japan’s Prime Minister Abe on 14 August to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Would he apologise for Japan’s aggression in Korea, China and elsewhere in Asia during the 1930s and 40s? Would he tackle the sensitive issue of the comfort women? How would Korea and China react to the statement? And what would be the political consequences?
By Michael McDevitt
10 July 2015
Because the multiple Spratly sovereignty claims largely overlap, attempting to unscramble these claims is generally considered too difficult. What follows is one way ASEAN claimants – the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei – could reconcile their competing claims in the Spratly Islands.
The reason for doing so is simple. It would set a positive example for subsequent resolution with China. It would also make it easier for ASEAN to speak with one voice to China regarding a resolution of overlapping claims, and would create a useful precedent for other maritime disputes in East Asia. It might also make it easier for each country to begin to exploit resources in their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).
By Jess,Xufeng JIA
22 June 2015
· Russia is increasingly turning towards China as a result of Western sanctions. But although there is much talk and diplomatic support there are few concrete results due to Russia’s structural economic problems.
· This short-term ‘axis of convenience’ could, however, develop into a more strategic alliance in the future given the right incentives on both sides.
· The EU has taken a relaxed position to this new relationship. This may not be possible in future and the EU should reflect on how closer ties between Russia and China might affect important EU interests.
By Centre for European Reform
28 May 2015
The security challenges facing EU member-states and south-east Asian countries are strikingly similar. Both regions have difficulties with their neighbours: assertive Chinese claims in the South China Sea are a less dramatic version of Russia’s annexation of Crimea; refugees in boats and illegal migration are creating humanitarian and security challenges, and piracy threatens sea-borne commerce. More co-operation between the EU and ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) on maritime security could help both of them, but it could especially contribute to south-east Asian security.
By Jess,Xufeng JIA
15 May 2015
China is steadily increasing its stock of ODI in Europe, from €6.1 to €27 billion between 2010 and 2014, a trend that is generally encouraged by EU governments affected by the financial crisis. The first quarter of 2015 witnessed a surge of Chinese ODI that suggests even stronger growth this year. Europe began to receive significant Chinese ODI from 2001, when China started to deregulate its overseas investment and to encourage its national champions to ‘go-out’. Chinese ODI in the EU can be roughly divided into the pre-crisis stage (2001-2008), the crisis stage (2009-2012) and the post-crisis stage. The first stage was the testing stage for Chinese companies and triggered by domestic deregulation and China’s accession to the WTO. The second stage started when the financial crisis hit the EU. The Chinese government encouraged and facilitated Chinese companies’ ODI ambitions in Europe and many member states viewed Chinese ODI as a potential economic saviour and competed to attract investment from China. The third and current stage sees a more selective approach from China focusing on quality infrastructure projects and brand names.
By International Crisis Group
7 May 2015
The South China Sea is the cockpit of geopolitics in East Asia. Five countries – Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam – plus Taiwan have substantial and competing territorial and maritime claims in a body of water that is both an important source of hydrocarbons and fisheries and a vital trade corridor. The recent history has been scarred by cycles of confrontation. Today, the clashes are becoming more heated, and the lulls between periods of tension are growing shorter. As the region continues to grow in influence and power, the handling of the competing claims will set the tone for relations within East Asia for years. The cost of even a momentary failure to manage tensions could pose a significant threat to one of the world’s great collaborative economic success stories. Despite China’s controversial development of some of the reefs it controls, the current relatively low temperature of the disagreement offers a chance to break the cycle, but it is likely to be short-lived. The countries of the region, supported by the wider international community, need to embrace the opportunity while it lasts.
By International Crisis Group
1 May 2015
Myanmar is preparing to hold national elections in early November 2015, five years after the last full set of polls brought the semi-civilian reformist government to power. The elections, which are constitutionally required within this timeframe, will be a major political inflection point, likely replacing a legislature dominated by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), established by the former regime, with one more reflective of popular sentiment. The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party of Aung San Suu Kyi is well-placed to take the largest bloc of seats.
There have been major improvements in election administration since the deeply flawed 2010 elections and the more credible 2012 by-elections. While the election commission is still widely perceived as close to the government and the USDP, the transparent and consultative approach it has adopted and the specific decisions it has taken suggest it is committed to delivering credible polls. This includes major efforts to update and digitise the voter roll; consultation with civil society and international electoral support organisations on the regulatory framework; invitations to international electoral observers for the first time, as well as to domestic observers; changing problematic provisions on advance voting; and reducing the costs of a candidacy.The broader political environment is also more conducive to credible elections, with a significantly freer media and much improved civil liberties.
By Fraser Cameron, Director
27 April 2015
It is impossible to escape history and this is especially true in 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Nowhere has history poisoned the contemporary political atmosphere more than in East Asia where China and Korea have criticised Abe for failing to come to terms with Japanese aggression in the 1930s. On the Chinese side the emphasis is on the occupation of Manchuria and the ‘rape of Nanjing’ while the Koreans have tended to focus on the emotive issue of ‘comfort women’. Abe will have several chances in coming weeks to deal with the history issue starting with this week’s visit to the US when he will be given the rare honour of speaking to a joint meeting of Congress. The major speech will be on 15 August, the anniversary of Hiroshima.