East Asia Forum

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Analysis of economics, politics and public policy in East Asia and the Pacific.

China Unhappy over the PCA South China Sea Ruling

Date: 25 July 2016

China’s reaction to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s relatively harsh ruling against it on the South China Sea has been angry. The court upheld nearly all of the 15 points on which the Philippines approached the Court in 2013. China boycotted the proceedings, questioning the Court’s jurisdiction and publicly claiming historic rights to the South China Sea and its resources. The Court rejected this claim, concluding ‘there was no legal basis for China to claim historical rights to resources’.

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India's Rexit - RBI Governor Rajan Leaves

Date: 25 July 2016

June suffered from an excess of exits. However, none of them lived up to forecasts of dire consequences, at least for India. For now, Indian markets have shrugged off both Brexit and Rexit — the exit of Governor Raghuram Rajan from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In addition, the forward-looking nature of markets implies they do not foresee problems due to these exits.

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Taking Steps Toward Inclusive Growth in Asia

Date: 22 July 2016

Asia’s successful economic performance has lifted millions out of poverty. Because the region’s high population countries such as China, India and Indonesia grew particularly fast, poverty declined substantially for the region as a whole. Nineteen out of 33 economies more than halved their extreme poverty rate in the same period.

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We're Japan, and We're Here to Help

Date: 21 July 2016

Foreign aid is a key instrument of international engagement in Japan’s foreign policy toolkit. Although Tokyo is no longer the world’s top aid donor that it once was in the 1990s, it still was the world’s number four aid donor in 2015 with close to a US$10 billion annual budget.

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Making Sure All Indians Participate in Economic Growth

Date: 21 July 2016

India is set to become the world’s fastest-growing major economy this year. However, as the nation of 1.2 billion grapples with how to achieve rapid and sustainable economic growth, it must also ensure that such growth is inclusive — a task that will require much-needed reform.

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The Philippines and China Look to the AIIB

Date: 20 July 2016

The Philippines’ new President Rodrigo Duterte has indicated that China could play a key role in developing the Philippines’ infrastructure. Even before the election, Duterte announced that he is willing to back down on the South China Sea dispute with China if it can build railway systems in the Philippines within his six-year term. So could infrastructure investment offer a way forward for the China–Philippines relationship?

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South Korea's Bridge Between the U.S. and North Korea

Date: 20 July 2016

US and North Korean diplomats attended the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD) in Beijing on 22 June. Despite having talked at dinner, the US State Department insisted they did not ‘meet’ with North Korean officials. Also in June, Han Song-ryol, Director-General of the department of US affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, reportedly met with retired US ambassador Thomas Pickering in Sweden. So do these diplomatic movements mean we should expect some change on the Korean peninsula? Unfortunately, they do not.

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Changing Russia and Japan's Status to Friends

Date: 19 July 2016

According to conventional wisdom, regarding Russia–Japan relations there is no prospect for the resolution of the territorial dispute between these ‘distant neighbours’ over the Northern Territories/southern Kuril Islands. However, the words and actions of both countries’ leaders in recent times may be cause for optimism.

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China's Ageing Population could Hinder Per Capita Income Growth

Date: 19 July 2016

In East Asia, rapid income growth in the second half of last century has produced unprecedented and rapid population ageing. Rising living standards and incomes tend to induce longer lifespans and fewer births per woman, leading to dramatic increases in the proportion of old people within the total population. Where it took France 115 years to double the share of its population that is 65 years and over from 7 to 14 percent, the same shift in China will take just 25 years.

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Japan's Military 'Gender Perspective'

Date: 18 July 2016

On 4 November 2014, Lieutenant-Colonel Chizu Kurita of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force became the first Japanese military officer to be attached to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) headquarters in Brussels. As advisor to the NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security in the office of the Secretary General, she has been primarily advising the body on the how to better integrate a ‘gender perspective’ into its policies and activities.

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Can The Hague's South China Sea Ruling be Enforced?

Date: 18 July 2016

Southeast Asia has descended into a maritime insecurity spiral since the April–June 2012 standoff at Scarborough Shoal between Chinese maritime security forces and the Philippine Navy, which motivated Manila to initiate legal arbitration proceedings in The Hague.

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North Korea is the Thorn in Russia and China's Side

Date: 18 July 2016

On 25 June 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing to discuss expanding the China–Russia strategic partnership. Much of their efforts in this direction so far have entailed taking steps to promote bilateral cooperation on economic issues and security. However, beyond this bilateral arrangement a recurring theme in the China–Russia rapprochement in recent years has been the need to balance out a unipolar US-centric global order.

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South Korea's Social Demands Outpace Social Spending

Date: 18 July 2016

South Korea’s economic rise since the 1960s could be attributed to many factors: its geographic position, a homogenous and hard-working population, sound economic governance exercised by authoritarian governments, and a conducive geopolitical environment. It has economically matured, having raised its per capita income fivefold since the 1950s, when it was estimated to be lower than India’s.

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Does Taiwan's President Provoke China or Her Party?

Date: 15 July 2016

Taiwan’s new president Tsai Ing-wen faces a dilemma. If she continues her Kuomintang (KMT) predecessor Ma Ying-jeou’s rapprochement with Beijing, she risks enraging independence-minded members of her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The alternative is grimmer — provoking China after years of cordiality.

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Is China's South China Sea Stance Moving Closer to UNCLOS?

Date: 14 July 2016

Beneath its surface-level bluster, China’s authoritative response to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitration this week contained welcome hints that China may be subtly, and under cover of a strong stance on its South China Sea territorial sovereignty, bringing its South China Sea maritime rights claims into line with UNCLOS.

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North Korea's Collapsing Command Economy's Affect on Women

Date: 14 July 2016

Important changes are taking place inside North Korea. The collapse of the command economy, and the emergence of capitalism in its place, is ongoing. A burgeoning moneyed elite and increasing exposure to foreign pop culture are transforming how North Korean femininity is conceived. These changes are reaching far beyond Pyongyang to affect many, if not most, women in the country.

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Countering 70 Years of U.S.-Japan Relationship Building, Trump Presses On

Date: 13 July 2016

Donald Trump has defied all expectations about the US presidential election by emerging as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. For Japan, his extreme rhetoric brings to the fore a fundamental question as to the future of the US alliance system and its global leadership: will US alliance relationships be weakened as part of the retreat to isolationism espoused by Trump? Or will those alliances be reconfigured to reflect the shifting geopolitical landscape?

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China was a Regional Preeminent Power for Centuries, and it is Trying Again

Date: 13 July 2016

Most of us have never known a world where the United States was not the preeminent power. Now things are starting to look rather different. Not only is much of the global economy stuck in an underperforming rut, but there is also an alternative, seemingly more successful, model of economic development on offer in the so-called ‘Beijing consensus’.

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How to Successfully Wield a Supermajority

Date: 12 July 2016

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, have won 70 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the upper house triennial elections held on Sunday 10 July. The seats obtained in the upper house are not only many more than the ruling coalition’s 61 seat target, but deliver a two-thirds majority in the upper house for constitutional revision when taking into account other pro-revision political parties.

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