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.

China's Latest Attempt to Clear the Air

Date: 13 September 2016

The picture of Presidents Xi and Obama, beaming as they shake hands after jointly announcing their ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement on the eve of the G20 summit, is even more striking when one considers just how far apart the two countries were on the issue of climate change as recently as 2012.

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Building a Single ASEAN Food Sector

Date: 13 September 2016

The food sector has the potential to benefit greatly in the new ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). However, because food products attract higher levels of regulation, which often varies between member countries, a significant number of non-tariff measures (NTMs) remain. Such regulatory heterogeneity creates challenges for increasing food trade, harmonising standards and ultimately creating an integrated ASEAN single market.

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Is the IMF International Enough?

Date: 13 September 2016

The global financial crisis raised critical questions about how international policy frameworks monitor, regulate and manage global liquidity. Liquidity is a public good and the international financial system is immediately affected by its excessive volatility. The G20 has been struggling for some time to come up with answers.

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Could THAAD Backlash Derail Regional Harmony?

Date: 9 September 2016

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s unilateral decision to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence system has sparked serious backlash and protests at home. Many South Korean voters argue that the THAAD’s powerful radar system would make the country a key military target.

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Did the EEC Push Russian-Japanese Territorial Issues Forward?

Date: 8 September 2016

For two days at the start of September, the centre of East Asian politics moved to Russia’s main city on the Pacific coast. Vladivostok hosted the Eastern Economic Forum, an annual event designed to pitch the Russian Far East to domestic and international investors.

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Can Duterte's War on Drugs Succeed Where Thailand's Failed?

Date: 8 September 2016

The Philippines has scaled up its war on drugs with devastating consequences. President Rodrigo Duterte’s tough talk and anti-drug platform has led to a staggering number of vigilante killings and the mass incarceration of people associated with drug use and its trade. However, we’ve seen this before. 12 years ago, Thailand launched a bloody and ultimately futile war on drugs.

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Having the Renminbi in the SDR Club

Date: 7 September 2016

On 30 November 2015, the IMF announced that the Chinese renminbi (RMB) was to be included in its special drawing rights (SDR) currency basket. Joining the SDR — the IMF’s chief international reserve asset for member states — meant that the RMB had been deemed ‘freely usable’.

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New RBI Governor Patel Faces Many Challenges

Date: 7 September 2016

Urjit Patel took over as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 4 September 2016. At 52 years of age, he is among the youngest to be appointed to the position. Hopefully this is indicative of a broader trend of appointing younger Indians to senior policymaking positions — in line with the nation’s youthful demographic profile.

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How is China's Low-Carbon Transformation Progressing?

Date: 6 September 2016

China was responsible for 25 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2012. According to World Bank research, cities consume more than 65 percent of global energy and emit some 70 percent of greenhouse gases. Transforming cities into ‘low-carbon cities’ will therefore be an important policy tool in mitigating climate change.

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Is China's Gender Equality Movement Taking a Backseat to Economic Growth?

Date: 6 September 2016

One of the distinctive features of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Mao era was its commitment to women’s liberation. In April 1949, six months before the declaration of the People’s Republic, the first national women’s conference was held and the All-China Federation of Women was established.

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Hollowing Out of ASEAN is the Latest Risk

Date: 6 September 2016

Vientiane will host the 28th ASEAN Summit this week, with the summit documents rotating around the same themes that ASEAN has been promoting for decades: unity and centrality. The worry, both at the upcoming summit and beyond, is that there is little effort to put substance into these goals.

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BRICS Governance through the G20

Date: 6 September 2016

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) have existed as a coherent economic group since 2009. They represent approximately 40 percent of the world population, generate approximately 20 percent of world output, have accounted for 50 percent of global growth since the end of 2009 and play a crucial role in developing industries dominated by global value chains.

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After a Symbolic Visit, what is next for US-Singapore Relations?

Date: 5 September 2016

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid an official visit to the United States at the invitation of outgoing US President Barack Obama from 31 July to 5 August 2016. Apart from the symbolic significance of the trip — which included the rare honour of a state dinner to commemorate 50 years of their diplomatic ties — the visit capped efforts by both countries to strengthen their strategic partnership during the two terms of the Obama administration.

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Indonesia Still Finding its Sea Legs

Date: 2 September 2016

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.

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One Belt, One Road, Many Factors

Date: 2 September 2016

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’.

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Encouraging Japanese Board of Director Diversity

Date: 1 September 2016

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.

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Is China's World Order Role Exaggerated?

Date: 1 September 2016

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.

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'No First Use' Fallout

Date: 31 August 2016

Hugh White’s views on the dangers of the United States moving to a ‘No First Use’ nuclear posture are inherently unpersuasive. The virtues of a ‘No First Use’ policy have been crisply spelled out by Ramesh Thakur, for instance, in recent pieces in The Strategist and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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Can Thailand's Latest Constitution Last?

Date: 31 August 2016

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.

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