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Asia-Studies Full-Text Online is the premier database for the study of modern Asia Pacific. As the exclusive licensee for many of the region's most prestigious research institutions, Asia-Studies.com brings together thousands of full-text reports covering 55 countries* on a multitude of business, government, economic, and social issues.

 
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We index full-text journals with open access platforms in our Asia-Studies Full-Text Plus section. Here is the list of journals available.

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

July, 2021 Current Topics

 

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High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecasts Current Quarter Model: 2021Q3, July 2021. Hong Kong’s economy was disrupted by the
COVID-19 pandemic, with GDP shrinking by 6.1% in the year of 2020. The economy has improved markedly in 2021. Boosted by the vibrant external demand, economy has bounced back with real GDP growing by 7.9% in 21Q1. Starting from 21Q2, economic recovery will be broad-based. Driven by the growth of domestic demand, Hong Kong’s real GDP is forecast to grow by 8.1% in 21Q2, slightly faster than 21Q1. Along with the widespread vaccination programme and the global economic recovery, strong rebound is expected to continue. Unemployment is expected to go down rapidly to 5.1% in 21Q3 from the 7.2% peak in February 2021...

 

HKU

The Dawn of the Digital Yuan: China’s Central Bank Digital Currency and Its Implications, June 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven digital innovation and proved to be an enabling episode for the technology industry; the growing focus on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) comes within such a context. China has rushed to the forefront of the CBDC race to lay the foundation of the widespread implementation of its Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system. Although over 80 percent of the world’s central banks are engaged in CBDC research and 40 percent are working on pilot programs, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) leads in this domain.  After being engaged in cryptocurrency research since 2014, China launched the digital yuan in 2020 with the aim of achieving its extensive circulation domestically by the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The coming year is therefore set to be a critical period for the DCEP, as China aims to emerge as a leader in the space and gain dominance over the US in their great power competition. The coming year is therefore set to be a critical period for the DCEP, as China aims to emerge as a leader in the space and gain dominance over the US in their technological great power competition...

 

ISDP

Mitigating the Risk of a China–India Conflict, June 2021. More than a year has passed since Chinese troops began to occupy previously Indian-controlled territory on their disputed border in Ladakh. The crisis has cooled and settled into a stalemate. This report warns that it could escalate again, and flare into a conflict with region-wide implications. The report assesses the risk of conflict by analysing its likelihood and consequences. A possible war would be costly for both India and China. But a possible war could also risk stirring Indian distrust of its new partners, especially in the Quad – Australia, Japan, and the United States. The report outlines some conditions under which a war would disrupt or dampen those developing partnerships...

 

ASPI

To Deter the PRC, June 2021 . This Strategic Insights report is the first in a series of essays, workshops and events seeking to better understand the nature of deterrence, particularly from the viewpoint of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The series is a joint project between the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the US China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI). Over the coming months, ASPI and CASI, along with our research associates, will examine the concept of deterrence, how both democratic countries and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) approach deterrence, what liberal democracies are doing to deter China and what China is doing to deter them, and assess the impacts of those efforts...

 

ASPI

France’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and Its Overseas Territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans: Characteristics, Capabilities, Constraints and Avenues for Deepening the Franco-Australian Strategic Partnership, June 2021. The report analyses France’s military capabilities and cooperation activities in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, underlining its strengths and limitations. In terms of its economic presence and official development assistance commitments, it is clear that the French strategy suffers significant limitations. However, these may be offset by a growing commitment from the EU and through strategic partnerships allowing France to pool efforts at all levels to meet regional and global challenges.

 

ASPI

What if …? Economic Consequences for Australia of a Us-China Conflict Over Taiwan, June 2021. What if China were to attempt to seize Taiwan by force and the US and allies responded militarily? One consequence would be the disruption of China’s trade with many countries, including Australia. While strategic analysts have been working over such scenarios for years, there’s been little study of the likely economic consequences. This study is focused on the short-term shock to Australia’s economy. The objective is to contribute to an understanding of the nature of Australia’s economic relationship with China and the likely paths of adjustment should that trade be severed. It also explores the options available to the Australian Government to ameliorate the worst of the effects of what would be a severe economic shock...

 

ASPI

Mapping China's Tech Giants: Reining in China’s Technology Giants, Published 2021. Since the launch of ASPI ICPC’s Mapping China’s Technology Giants project in April 2019, the Chinese technology companies we canvassed have gone through a tumultuous period. While most were buoyed by the global Covid-19 pandemic, which stimulated demand for technology services around the world, many were buffeted by an unprecedented onslaught of sanctions from abroad, before being engulfed in a regulatory storm at home. The environment in which the Chinese tech companies are operating has changed radically, as the pandemic sensitised multiple governments, multilateral groups and companies to their own critical supply-chain vulnerabilities...

 

ASPI

Mapping China's Tech Giants: Supply Chains & The Global Data Collection Ecosystem, Published 2021. Most of the 27 companies tracked by our Mapping China’s Technology Giants project are heavily involved in the collection and processing of vast quantities of personal and organisational data— everything from personal social media accounts, to smart cities data, to biomedical data.Their
business operations—and associated international collaborations—depend on the flow of vast amounts of data, often governed by the data privacy laws of multiple jurisdictions. Currently, however, existing global policy debates and subsequent policy responses concerning security in the digital supply chain miss the bigger picture because they typically prioritise the potential for disruption or malicious alterations of the supply chain...

 

ASPI

Jagged Sphere: China’s Quest for Infrastructure and Influence in Mainland Southeast Asia, June 2021. Mainland Southeast Asia is a region characterised by a vast asymmetry, between the state destined to become the world’s largest economy — China — and three of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This means the region risks being drawn into a Chinese sphere of influence. The connective infrastructure being developed across China’s borders and traversing mainland Southeast Asia has the potential to reshape strategic geography, as well as the regional economic landscape. Closely tied to state interests, China’s investment is carving out new transport routes to the sea — in the form of road, rail, and waterways — and establishing new nodes of control in the form of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). This paper assesses progress on these lines and nodes and finds a mixed picture. While the weaker governance of Laos and Myanmar means they are attracted to SEZs and vulnerable to Chinese investment and erosion of sovereignty, transport corridors are progressing more slowly...

 

Lowy

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #13: Widodo’s Employment Creation Law, 2020: What Its Journey Tells Us about Indonesian Politics. On 12 February 2020, the Indonesian government sent a draft for a Bill, the Cipta Kerja Bill, to the Indonesian parliament. Soon afterwards the RUU Cipta Kerja Working Committee (Panitia Kerja, or PANJA) was established with representatives from all parties sitting in the committee, except the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS). The PANJA Committee was headed by a member of Gerindra Party, with a deputy chairperson from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). This committee would prepare material for the various stages of the House of Representatives consideration of the Bill...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #12: From Pakatan Harapan to Perikatan Nasional: A Missed Opportunity for Reforms for East Malaysia?. Sabah and Sarawak formed the Malaysian Federation together with Malaya and Singapore in 1963. Instrumental to the formation of the new Federation was an international treaty called the Malaysia Agreement 1963, signed in London by the British and Malayan Federation governments, and political representatives from Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. The Malaysian Agreement guaranteed a special position as demanded by the East Malaysian political elites in the areas of religion and language, finance and tax, judiciary and immigration...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #11: The Growing Salience of Online Vietnamese Nationalism. A multinational fashion retailer. The prime minister of Singapore. A COVID-19 patient who is the daughter of an ultra-wealthy Vietnamese family. They have all been the targets of online Vietnamese nationalists under different circumstances. Indeed, recent manifestations of potent online nationalism in Vietnamese cybersphere have forced the authorities to become acutely wary of, sensitive to and even accommodating of it. This marks a significant development in the social media landscape...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #10: Digital Mediatization and the Sharpening of Malaysian Political Contests. The emergence of digital media in the Malaysia was due to the government’s initiative to tap into the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in an effort to open up new economic frontiers. The introduction of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) in 1996 was an attempt to lure world-class multinational technology companies into Malaysia to boost the local digital industry...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #9: Centre-Periphery Relations in Myanmar: Leverage and Solidarity after the 1 February Coup. The 1 February 2021 coup in Myanmar has forced a reckoning over how to build solidarity across difference, including across ethnic divides. Days after the coup, protesters thronged the streets of major cities. Although they were united by a desire to fell the State Administration Council (SAC) junta, their demands diverged in other respects. In predominantly Bamar areas such as Yangon and Mandalay, protesters wore red, symbolizing the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD)...

 

ISEAS

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

Latest ADB publications:  

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deterrence Through Denial: A Strategy for an Era of Reduced Warning Time, May 2021. Australia now needs to implement serious changes to how warning time is considered in defence planning. The need to plan for reduced warning time has implications for the Australian intelligence community, defence strategic policy, force structure priorities, readiness and sustainability. Important changes will also be needed with respect to personnel, stockpiles of missiles and munitions, and fuel supplies. We can no longer assume that Australia will have time gradually to adjust military capability and preparedness in response to emerging threats. In other words, there must be a new approach in Defence to managing warning, capability and preparedness, and detailed planning for rapid expansion and sustainment...

 

ASPI

North of 26 Degrees South and the Security of Australia: Views From the Strategist Volume 3, May 2021. It is an all-new series of articles by a range of authors exploring the continued importance of Northern Australia to national security and defence strategy. This Volume’s contributions were written over a year in which increased strategic uncertainty and an unprecedented global pandemic have collectively generated an interest in revisiting old policy assumptions. Right from the start, it was clear that we need to think of the north as the middle of the region, rather than the edge of Australia, and reflect that critical role in Australia’s political, military and economic strategies moving forward...

 

ASPI

Stronger Together: US Force Posture in Australia’s North—a US Perspective on Australia’s Strategic Geography, May 2021. This report argues why, and analyses how, Australia’s defence force capabilities and strategic geography can enable US force posture initiatives in the Indo-Pacific to promote greater regional cooperation in ways that advance US and Australian national interests. Lieutenant Colonel Hanks writes that there are ‘practical and tangible areas for US-Australia cooperation and growth which include: 1) expanding the Australian defence industrial base while securing and hardening supply chains; 2) increasing US Army force posture in northern Australia; 3) increasing multinational training opportunities; and 4) in conjunction with Australia, expanding the defence partnership with Indonesia.’...

 

ASPI

Somebody Might Hear Us: Emerging Communications Security Technologies, May 2021. Militaries have been trying to keep their communications safe from prying eyes for centuries. But they have also sought to be able to communicate as quickly as possible and as widely as possible with their own forces. Those requirements are in tension with one another. Today, militaries can communicate globally over increasingly capacious data pipes. But the same technological evolution that allows them to do that has also given would-be eavesdroppers new and powerful tools to collect and exploit signals. In this report, author Dr Andrew Davies explains the principles of secure communication and uses some examples of emerging technologies to illustrate what the next generation of secure communications might look like...

 

ASPI

Australia's South China Sea Challenges, May 2021. Australia’s current South China Sea policies are under strain from two sides. On the China side, Beijing will not agree to any Code of Conduct that is consistent with the arbitral tribunal ruling it rejects. If the ASEAN member states agree to such a Code of Conduct, Australia cannot support it. On the US side, there is an increasing likelihood that the Biden administration will place more pressure on Australia to conduct freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in support of the 2016 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruling, forcing Australia to choose between damaging our relations with China or rejecting a request from the United States...

 

Lowy

Countering China’s Adventurism Over Taiwan: A Third Way, May 2021. Faced with the possibility of another Taiwan Strait crisis, more and more observers in Washington and elsewhere are making the case for an unambiguous US commitment to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. This essay contends that the United States has options between total commitment and abandonment. There is a prudent middle way in which the United States, while reserving the right to intervene if it so chooses, focuses on helping Taiwan to defend itself while building a menu of options for deterring and punishing Beijing’s aggression without fighting.This essay first argues that the case for Taiwan’s strategic significance is often overdrawn. Any Chinese attack would be a tragedy and a crime, and the United States should make clear that such a step is unacceptable and would destroy the Chinese Communist Party’s ambitious development plans...

 

Lowy

The Crisis After the Crisis: How Ladakh Will Shape India’s Competition With China, May 2021. In May 2020, China launched several near-simultaneous incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, into territory hitherto controlled by India. Both sides reinforced their positions with tens of thousands of troops, engaged in a deadly skirmish, and reportedly came close to war. An agreement to disengage troops was announced in February 2021, but implementation has been halting. Regardless of how disengagement progresses, the crisis poses significant challenges for India’s long-term strategic competition with China. As a result of the Ladakh crisis, India faces a new strategic reality in which China is a clear and abiding adversary. For India, the political relationship is now defined by hostility and distrust, and the LAC will remain more heavily militarised and violence-prone...

 

Lowy

Hun Sen's Mistake? The Domestic Political Ramifications of His Chinese Shelter, May 2021. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s close relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has led scholars and policymakers alike to suggest that Beijing’s backing will keep him in power. While Hun Sen himself seems to believe this to be true, his reliance on China is actually enflaming Cambodian discontent to such an extent that his planned patrimonial succession is at risk. Given the fragility of regimes mid-succession, Hun Sen’s Chinese shelter is augmenting the potential of his clan’s fall. Yet as Hun Sen faces increased domestic opposition, he will only further deepen ties with China in hopes of remaining in power, thereby creating a vicious cycle from which escaping will prove difficult.

 

EWC

Improving Land Connectivity Around the Bay of Bengal is Essential for Integration, May 2021. Facilitating cross-border movement by road is the most critical element of any strategy for greater economic integration among BIMSTEC countries. Cross-border road freight can facilitate even a small consignment to be delivered directly across the border with cost-effectiveness; unlike a full railway rake or even a coastal short-sea feeder vessel which require some level of aggregation of consignments into a larger parcel of goods. Direct road services also reduce multiple handling and trans-shipment requirements...

 

EWC

Sri Lanka’s Asia-Centric Focus in a Contested Bay of Bengal Region, May 2021. The Bay of Bengal – home to one of the world’s pre-eminent historic trading networks – is once again at the nexus of rising regional and global rivalries. A multiplicity of port developments along the Bay of Bengal littoral underscore the tussle for control of maritime connectivity and trade—as well as diplomatic and defense advantage. Against the backdrop of a weakened post COVID-19 global economy, and as countries seek every possible advantage, the probability of competing tensions spilling over into outright confrontations and tit-for-tat retaliatory measures is high...

 

EWC

Dealing with Coronavirus Pandemic in the Bay of Bengal Region, May 2021. The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the health and economies of countries in the Bay of Bengal. India, Bangladesh, and Nepal are the region’s most affected countries in terms of COVID-19 cases and deaths, followed by Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It seems that Bhutan and Thailand, the least affected countries in the region, have successfully escaped the brunt of the pandemic. All these countries implemented strict lockdowns as early as March 2020, and the region’s recovery rates have been relatively high. However, the devastation from the pandemic did not reach its peak until after the lifting of lockdowns. The economic costs of the pandemic have soared and are still climbing...

 

EWC

Making BIMSTEC a Regional Vehicle for Nepal’s Economic Growth, May 2021. Recently, the government of Nepal, led by Nepal Communist Party Chairman KP Sharma Oli who ascended to power in 2018, came up with an integrated foreign policy that reflects rapid changes in both the domestic and geopolitical spheres. The new foreign policy has shifted from a traditional course to a modern one with “Economic Diplomacy” as the main driver. With the slogan of “Happy Nepali, Prosperous Nepal”, Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has prioritized engagement with regional groupings. It is in this context that the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation or (BIMSTEC), established in 1996, with a permanent secretariat in Dhaka, Bangladesh, could serve as an important platform in achieving Nepal’s foreign policy goals of development and prosperity...

 

EWC

Harnessing Inland Waterways for Inclusive Trade Among Bay of Bengal Countries, May 2021. The transboundary rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna along with their tributaries and distributaries create a vibrant water grid connecting their riparian countries. Historically, these rivers have played a prominent role in shaping the economy of the Indian sub-continent as a major means of trade and transportation. In the post-colonial era, new political boundaries between countries mostly cut off these riverine networks because the priority of the newly-established countries and their governments was to develop road and rail networks for internal consolidation and integration more efficiently. Hence, waterways connectivity among new regional countries was comparatively neglected...

 

EWC

Importance of the Bay of Bengal as a Causeway between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, May 2021. The core Bay of Bengal countries today account for a population of almost 1.78 billion, while adjacent states with interest account for an additional 490 million. The “core states” (X, Y, Z) have a combined GDP of approximately $7.5 trillion, while adjacent states with interest add another $811 billion. While SAARC countries’ total intra-regional trade accounts for only 5% of their total global trade, ASEAN has a more respectable 25% intra trade while EU and North America boast 40-50%. One may reasonably imagine an economically and ecologically integrated Bay of Bengal community to increase SAARC’s current comparatively low figure, given their advantage in population, demography, and entrepreneurial vigor...

 

EWC

Forging a Bay of Bengal Community is the Need of the Hour, May 2021. The Bay of Bengal, the world’s largest Bay, is strategically located in the Indian Ocean. On its western rim, lies the coastline of the Indian Peninsula and to its south, the island nation of Sri Lanka. To the east the bay connects key parts of Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand as well as the Andaman Sea and the Malacca straits. At its very northern cusp lies Bangladesh, which is also the delta of the great rivers of Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. These rivers connect the Bay in a unique “mountain to sea” ecosystem with natural connectivity to the Bay for the landlocked states of North Eastern India and the Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan. In turn, the monsoon currents which regulate the climate of the Bay of Bengal gather moisture from the bay and dictate precipitation patterns in the mountains and plains in the hinterland...

 

EWC

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #8: The Serious Social Impact of Non-violent Extremism in Indonesia. The rise of religious extremism in public discourses is a cause for concern for government officials and moderate Muslims. While a substantial body of research on violent extremism is available, the issue of non-violent extremism remains neglected by scholars. Although exposure and subscription to non-violent extremism do not automatically lead to violence, it still needs to be curbed because it can fan hatred that in turn can lead to physical violence and repression of human rights. Non-violent extremism also boosts polarization in the community. Given this potential impact, the government needs to pay more attention to the dissemination of non-violent extremist public discourses, especially on social media. It could work together with influential religious organizations which possess immense religious authority and legitimacy.

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #7: How Generation Z Galvanized a Revolutionary Movement against Myanmar’s 2021 Military Coup. On 1 February 2021, under the command of General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s military initiated a coup, apparently drawing to a close Myanmar’s ten-year experiment with democratic rule. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were arrested along with other elected officials. Mass protests against the coup ensued, led by Gen Z youths who shaped a values-based democratic revolutionary movement that in character is anti-military regime, anti-China influence, anti-authoritarian, anti-racist, and anti-sexist...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #6: The Military in Burma/Myanmar: On the Longevity of Tatmadaw Rule and Influence. The Myanmar military has dominated that complex country for most of the period since independence in 1948. The fourth coup of 1 February 2021 was the latest by the military to control those aspects of society it deemed essential to its own interests, and its perception of state interests. The military’s institutional power was variously maintained by rule by decree, through political parties it founded and controlled, and through constitutional provisions it wrote that could not be amended without its approval. This fourth coup seems a product of personal demands for power between Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Aung San Suu Kyi, and the especially humiliating defeat of the military-backed party at the hands of the National League for Democracy in the November 2020 elections...

 

ISEAS

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

Latest ADB Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 Crisis Response Offers Insight into Evolving U.S.-Cambodia Relations, April 2021. Last year’s MS Westerdam cruise ship fiasco - in which 1,455 passengers and 802 crew were turned away from five different ports before being welcomed by Cambodia - raised many questions regarding how governments and the international community can improve their responses to global health crises. It also offers a window into the Cambodian government’s response to a global health crisis in the context of an important bilateral relationship — U.S.-Cambodia relations. Shortly after 700 new passengers boarded the Westerdam in Hong Kong on February 1 the cruise ship found itself stranded in the Indian and Pacific oceans ping-ponging between Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and Thailand until February 13, when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen allowed the Westerdam to dock in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The incident serves as an interesting window into how domestic regime security considerations combined with mixed motives in international relations influenced Cambodian decision making...

 

EWC

After XI: Future Scenarios for Leadership Succession in Post-XI Jinping Era, April 2021. After nearly nine years in office, Xi Jinping now stands as the overwhelmingly dominant figure in China’s political system, having gained command of the military, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) apparatus, and diplomatic and economic policymaking, all while sidelining or locking up rivals to his leadership. His drive for power, however, has destabilised elite political consensus and dismantled power-sharing norms that evolved since the 1980s. By removing de facto term limits on the office of the presidency — and thus far refusing to nominate his successor for this and his other leadership positions — Xi has solidified his own authority at the expense of the most important political reform of the last four decades: the regular and peaceful transfer of power. In doing so, he has pushed China towards a potential destabilising succession crisis, one with profound implications for the international order and global commerce...

 

Lowy

Chinese-Australians in the Australian Public Service, April 2021. Chinese–Australian communities are invaluable sources of China-related expertise, yet their people are underrepresented in the country’s public service roles. Possible reasons include limited recruitment efforts, problems with gaining security clearances, failure to match existing skills with public service roles, and preconceptions based on perceived security risks. Where China literacy does exist in the Australian Public Service (APS), it is often underutilised or undervalued. The dearth of China capability means the public service is not drawing on an important source of talent, skills, and advice to develop Australia’s policies on China...

 

Lowy

Gamechanger: Australian Leadership for All-Season Air Access to Antarctica, April 2021. Next year, the Australian Government will decide on whether to commit funding for a proposed year-round, paved aerodrome near the Australian Davis research station in East Antarctica. An all-weather, year-round, paved runway near Davis would have huge positive impacts on Antarctic science and logistics in East Antarctica, where there are no equivalent facilities. It would be the only paved runway in Antarctica. As with any major piece of infrastructure development, there’ll be inevitable environmental impacts from the construction and operation of the Davis aerodrome. However, we believe that with care, it should be possible to design, construct and operate a facility that satisfies both operational requirements and environmental obligations under the Madrid Protocol and relevant Australian legislation...

 

ASPI

Next Step in the Step-Up: The ADF’s Role in Building Health Security in Pacific Island States, April 2021. The ADF has long had an important role in providing humanitarian assistance to Pacific island countries (PICs). The force has extraordinary capabilities—people, expertise, training and equipment—in delivering necessary assistance quickly and efficiently. From Australia’s perspective, the ADF is one of our most important agencies in engaging with our PIC partners, particularly in helping them to develop capabilities to address a range of security challenges. In Australia’s new strategic environment, the ADF can also play an important role in helping to build regional health security as part of a new phase in Australia’s Pacific Step-up...

 

ASPI

The Rapidly Emerging Crisis on Our Doorstep, April 2021. This Strategic Insight report warns that within a decade, as the climate continues to warm, the relatively benign strategic environment in Maritime Southeast Asia - a region of crucial importance to Australia - will begin unravelling. Dr Robert Glasser, Head of ASPI's new Climate and Security Policy Centre, documents the region’s globally unique exposure to climate hazards, and the increasingly significant cascading societal impacts they will trigger. Dr Glasser notes that hundreds of millions of people living in low-lying coastal areas will not only experience more severe extremes, but also more frequent swings from extreme heat and drought to severe floods. The diminishing time for recovery in between these events will have major consequences for food security, population displacements and resilience...

 

ASPI

Island Voices and COVID-19: Vulnerability and Resilience Views From the Strategist, April 2021. This Strategic Insights report is being published as part of an ASPI project that focuses on the vulnerabilities of Indo-Pacific island states in the Covid-19 era. It presents a series of views on ways that insiders and external observers have viewed the vulnerabilities and resilience of island countries in the Pacific and Indian Oceans in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. All of these contributions have appeared as posts on The Strategist. They don’t try to offer a sequential account of events or perceptions but represent a collection of responses to the crisis. The authors were not asked to address a single issue but, rather, were encouraged to focus on issues of relevance to them. The result is a mosaic rather than a portrait of nearly a year of living with the tensions posed by the pandemic. Two key themes do tend to dominate this mosaic. One concerns the way vulnerabilities are expressed as challenges. The second identifies the opportunities that resilience can create.

 

ASPI

The Impact of Quantum Technologies on Secure Communications, April 2021. It provides an overview of the key technologies and the status of the field in Australia and internationally (including escalating recent developments in both the US and China), and captures counterpart US, UK and Canadian reports and recommendations to those nations’ defence departments that have recently been released publicly. The report is structured into six sections: an introduction that provides a stand-alone overview and sets out both the threat and the opportunity of quantum technologies for communications security, and more detailed sections that span quantum computing, quantum encryption, the quantum internet, and post-quantum cryptography...

 

ASPI

Cracking the Missile Matrix: The Case for Australian Guided Weapons Production, April 2021. Last year’s war between Azerbaijan and Armenia was short, sharp and decisive. By effectively employing precision guided weapons, the former rapidly forced the latter to capitulate and accede to its political demands. The conflict confirmed the centrality of guided weapons to modern war fighting and showed how small states can now master the technologies and techniques needed to use them. Last year also witnessed the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the supply-chain crisis it triggered. That provoked much soul-searching from governments and companies about how to manage the risks presented by modern just-in-time supply chains that span the globe...

 

ASPI

Counterterrorism Yearbook 2021. The 2021 yearbook provides a comprehensive picture of the current global terrorism landscape. The yearbook's 29 authors found Covid-19—a key theme in most chapters—to have had an impact on global terrorism. However, pervasive online social media platforms have played a more significant role, increasing terrorists’ ability to radicalise and incite individuals to commit terrorist acts, as well as encouraging financial support to terrorist groups. The yearbook begins with an overview of current trends and the terrorism landscape in 2020 identified in the 8th Global Terrorism Index (GTI) produced by Australia’s Institute for Economics and Peace...

 

ASPI

Japan-UK: “Progressive” Ties and a Case for Britain in the CPTPP, April 2021. The UK’s entry into the landmark CPTPP agreement, led by Japan, could be a breakthrough in advancing Britain’s global ambitions as an independent trading nation and encourage a stronger cross-continental collaboration. It would not only act as a gateway for the UK to become an active player in the Indo-Pacific, but also substantiate the global overture of Japan-UK ties and strengthen their collaboration in the face of shared challenges. It can, in other words, help transform an already strong Japan-UK relationship into a global partnership.

 

ISDP

Xi Jinping’s Anti-corruption Struggle: Eight Years On, April 2021. Combating corruption has been an enduring priority for Chinese leaders who consider it crucial to safeguarding party-state legitimacy. Yet, despite repeated crackdowns over the past few decades, corruption is running rampant, becoming an institutionalized phenomenon that cripples China’s development prospects. Anti-corruption efforts have regained momentum under President Xi Jinping, who embarked on an ambitious mission to sweep through every corner of the party-state apparatus and ensnare corrupt officials. This paper assesses the factors and motivations underpinning this endeavor...

 

ISDP

Not a Sovereignty Issue: Understanding the Transition of Military Operational Control between the United States and South Korea, April 2021. The transition of operational control (OPCON) is of significant importance for the future development of the alliance of the Republic of Korea and the United States (KORUS). However, it will likely prove challenging as it is misunderstood by South Korean public opinion and political leaders as an issue of sovereignty. If this misconception is not addressed – there is an urgent need to inform not only the South Korean public but also political leaders and opinion makers – the alliance of South Korea and the United States risks being harmed, with potentially adverse effects on security on the Korean Peninsula. But if successful, the OPCON transition will manifest the maturation of the KORUS alliance, establishing a much more equal partnership.

 

ISDP

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

Journal of Global Buddhism, Volume 21, 2020  

JGB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecasts Current Quarter Model: 2021Q2, March 2021. Given the worst global recession brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong’s economy shrank by 6.1% in 2020. The tightened social distancing measures brought by the fourth wave of COVID-19 started in December 2020 heavily dampened Hong Kong’s domestic demand in 21Q1. Hong Kong’s real GDP is forecast to drop by 1.2% in 21Q1, less than the 3.0% drop in 20Q4. Along with the recovery of the economy in Mainland China and the implementation of the vaccination program, Hong Kong’s economic recovery is now under way. The rebound is expected to be intensive, especially when compared with a lower base...

 

HKU

The U.S.-Japan Relationship: Modeling New Frontiers in Subnational Diplomacy, March 2021. In our increasingly networked world, the international activities of states, cities, and other subnational actors are expanding rapidly. Their rising importance has spurred Congress to consider legislation establishing an Office of Subnational Diplomacy within the U.S. State Department that would institutionalize and support these initiatives, while better aligning them with national diplomatic strategies. Moreover, they offer opportunities for envisioning new foreign policy approaches that directly benefit U.S. communities. The U.S.-Japan relationship — with its robust history of subnational interaction, strategic global interests and increasingly integrated economies — offers a fertile environment for developing and implementing new models for subnational diplomacy, with global applicability...

 

EWC

United States-Japan Cooperation on Democracy and Equity Should Tackle Gender and Racial Justice, March 2021. The U.S.-Japan alliance is viewed as a cornerstone of stability, the rule of law, and promotion of democracy in the Indo-Pacific. The new U.S. administration presents an important opportunity to strengthen and refocus relationships and initiatives in the region as they aim to tackle the challenges of an assertive China. In the context of globalization and transnational social justice movements, there is no longer such a clear delineation between the politics of domestic issues, such as political underrepresentation and minority rights, and those affecting foreign policy. Under the new administration, the United States and Japan have ample opportunity to reinvigorate democratic advancement, especially on gender and racial justice. To this end, civil society and social movement groups play a key role in demonstrating why only democracy can ensure the sustainability of representative institutions, cohesive societies, and inclusive economies driven by innovation and opportunity...

 

EWC

Navigating the Rift Between Micronesia and the Pacific Islands Forum, March 2021. While the U.S. presidential election was garnering much of the world's attention, another acrimonious election was roiling the Pacific, causing the entire Micronesian bloc of nations to exit the region's leading policy-making body, the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). This is an opportune time to re-think the PIF and possibly realign Pacific regional architecture in preparation for future challenges. The Republic of Palau left the Forum on February 5, followed three days later by the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Republic of Kiribati, Republic of Nauru, and Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). That all five countries chose to leave the PIF was an act of remarkable Micronesian solidarity. The immediate reason for their departure was the February 4 election of a non-Micronesian as the PIF's new secretary-general...

 

EWC

Coming Ready or Not: Hypersonic Weapons, March 2021. This report analyses the future impact that hypersonic weaponery will have on global affairs. Hypersonic systems include anything that travels faster than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. We may be on the cusp of seeing hypersonic weapons proliferate around the world, with Russia, China and the US all in the process of developing and testing them. By 2030 they are likely to be in the inventory of all of the major powers. And Australia might well join them - we have some world class researchers and have been active in joint programs with the US for over 20 years. The government has added hypersonic weapons to its defence acquisition plan. It's a topic we should be interested in and better informed about...

 

ASPI

Strange Bedfellows on Xinjiang: The Ccp, Fringe Media and US Social Media Platforms, March 2021. This report explores how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), fringe media and pro-CCP online actors seek—sometimes in unison—to shape and influence international perceptions of the Chinese Government’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including through the amplification of disinformation. United States (US) based social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, along with Chinese-owned TikTok (owned by Chinese company ByteDance), are centre stage for this global effort...

 

ASPI

'High Rollers' a Study of Criminal Profits Along Australia’s Heroin and Methamphetamine Supply Chains, March 2021. This report helps develop an understanding of the quantum of profits being made and where in the value chain they occur. Australians spent approximately A$5.8 billion on methamphetamine and A$470 million on heroin in FY 2019. Approximately A$1,216,806,017 was paid to international wholesalers overseas for the amphetamine and heroin that was smuggled into Australia in that year. The profit that remained in Australia’s economy was about A$5,012,150,000. Those funds are undermining Australia’s public health and distorting our economy daily, and ultimately funding drug cartels and traffickers in Southeast Asia...

 

ASPI

The New Asia, February 2021. Current global health and economic crises mark another inflection point for a rapidly transforming Asia, which is characterized by the rise of a more geographically expansive, multi-polar, and polycentric regional order. This new Asian order breaks with previous predictions of Sino-centric regional development in important ways. However, it is also an order in which the United States will become a less pivotal, if still potent, player.

 

ISDP

Stable and in Control? China’s Party Regime and its Challenges, February 2021. Despite domestic and international difficulties, the survival and stability of the Chinese Communist regime does not seem to be severely threatened. China’s successful domestic handling of the pandemic and its quick economic recovery has served to reaffirm the confidence of the Chinese leadership in the superiority of their political-economic system and will have boosted the domestic standing of the regime...

 

ISDP

Water as a Political Security Tool: The Himalaya’s Strategic Conundrum, February 2021. Fresh water has no substitute, and its availability has been declining sharply around the globe. In Asia, China’s role as a multidirectional and trans-border water provider is debatable. Analysis of China’s behavior towards its trans-boundary rivers is, therefore, pivotal. This essay pits previously applied realist rationales against the more recent notion of de-securitization strategies. While de-securitization implies non- or de-escalation, it does not necessarily mean genuine long-term cooperation...

 

ISDP

The Changing Power-Relations in the Indo-Pacific: Decoding New Delhi’s Strategic Outlook, February 2021. The growing importance of the maritime sphere for trade and connectivity has made the seas and oceans arenas of stiff competition and contestation. There is intense tussle between the emerging and the established economies for greater control over the sea lanes and oceanic networks for resources, commerce, and connectivity. This has led to a dynamic shift in the focus towards security in the maritime domain. In the context of the evolving geo-strategic construct of the Indo-Pacific, it becomes important to understand the altering contours of rapidly changing power-relations in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions...

 

ISDP

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #5: Gaps and Opportunities in ASEAN’s Climate Governance. Although climate-linked impacts on ASEAN’s economy, increasing vulnerability to severe weather, and interlinkages to transboundary haze, health, security and marine pollution are evident, a recent survey by the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute reveals that Southeast Asians are ambivalent about ASEAN’s effectiveness in tackling climate change. All ASEAN Member States (AMS) are fully committed to accelerating reductions to global emissions under the Paris Agreement and demonstrate political will to set up intersectoral climate governance on renewable energy transition, agriculture and food security, forest and land use protection, disaster risk management, conservation on biodiversity, among many other measures...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #4: Vietnam-China Agricultural Trade: Huge Growth and Challenges. Agricultural products are one of Vietnam’s most important exports, contributing considerably to the overall export turnover of the country. Vietnam’s agricultural exports are easily affected by external factors. It is overly dependent on the Chinese market, and its agricultural products do not as yet meet strict global standards. Challenges facing Vietnam’s export of fruits and vegetables to the Chinese market include technical barriers, long risk assessment periods, restrictions on products exported through official quotas to the Chinese market, and frequent changes in China’s policy on border crossings...

 

ISEAS

Global Trends and Malaysia’s Automotive Sector: Ambitions vs. Reality, March 2021. The paper seeks to examine the development of the Malaysian automotive sector in the midst of rapid global changes in technology, consumer preferences and sustainability concerns. The sector represents a case of infant industry protection which includes, among its objectives, the state’s aspiration to nurture Bumiputera entrepreneurs as national champions for the sector. Despite close to three decades of protection, the two national car projects continue to depend on foreign partners for technology support. The National Automotive Policies (NAPs) strive to push the sector towards the technology frontier with foreign and domestic investments while seeking to be a regional hub and grooming national Bumiputera champions...

 

ISEAS

Using Regionalism for Globalisation: The ASEAN Way, February 2021. In assessing regionalism, it has become customary to look to the European experience to serve as a benchmark against which all other regional integration programs are judged. But ASEAN is different. Compared to Europe, it is outward- rather than inward-looking, market rather than government driven, and institution light rather than heavy. These differences reflect the very different motivations and objectives of the two regional programs. ASEAN’s success lies in its almost unique achievement of using regionalism for globalisation. The metrics that we use to assess regionalism must reflect true objectives, even if they lie below the surface. Widely used indicators such as shares of intra-regional trade and investment not only fail to capture the real story, but they can point in the wrong direction.

 

ISEAS

The Prospects and Dangers of Algorithmic Credit Scoring in Vietnam: Regulating a Legal Blindspot, January 2021. Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are transforming the credit market in Vietnam. Lenders increasingly use ‘algorithmic credit scoring’ to assess borrowers’ creditworthiness or likelihood and willingness to repay loan. This technology gleans non-traditional data from smartphones and analyses them through machine learning algorithms. Algorithmic credit scoring promises greater efficiency, accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and speed in predicting risk compared to traditional credit scoring systems that are based on economic data and human discretion...

 

ISEAS

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Asian Development Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2021 (Full Report):
This edition features studies on seasonal labor mobility in the Pacific as well as development issues relating to population aging, education, and the labor market in Asia.

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March, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan Can Remain an Important U.S. Ally Despite Demographic Challenges, February 2021. The world is aging. Some countries are not only aging, but their populations are shrinking as immigration fails to make up for rapidly falling birth rates. Many U.S. allies and security partners are among those beset by these trends. This raises questions about how decreasing fertility and increasing life expectancies will shape the future world order, and specifically the sustainability of U.S. alliances such as with Japan, whose aging and population decline will make it more difficult for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to compete for the best Japanese talent as the Japanese labor pool shrinks ever smaller, and Japanese tax dollars with which to hire military personnel grow ever scarcer. Unless SDF recruitment trends change dramatically, Japan's ability to participate in both technology-intensive and manpower-heavy alliance missions will decline over time...

 

EWC

The United States and Japan Should Cooperate to Include India in Indo-Pacific Economic Governance, February 2021. Both the United States and Japan consider India as an important strategic partner in their respective Indo-Pacific concepts. However, India still faces many domestic challenges as a developing country. India also has traditionally been reluctant when it comes to trade liberalization. U.S. bilateral trade negotiations with India, and Japan`s effort in promoting an East Asia regional trade agreement that includes India share objectives and interests and hence can be coordinated. On November 15, 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed by 15 countries with the glaring exception of India. RCEP is a regional free trade agreement (FTA) whose negotiations were initiated by ASEAN and six partner countries, namely Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India in 2012. The signing of RCEP finally came after eight years of negotiations, but India decided to pull out from the pact at the final stage of negotiations...

 

EWC

Increasing Support for U.S.-Japan Alliance in Okinawa is Not a Pipedream, February 2021. The ongoing political impasse between Japan’s central government in Tokyo and the Okinawa prefectural government over U.S. military basing threatens the long-term stability of the U.S.-Japan Alliance. In spite of the friction between the central government and the prefecture, and the much decried “burden” of U.S. bases on Okinawa there is relatively little deep-seeded resentment among the Okinawan people toward the U.S. military presence or the U.S.-Japan Alliance as a whole, especially among those born after the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty in 1972. Surveys also show that Okinawans desire more dialogue with U.S. service members based in Okinawa. But a fraught Okinawan history with mainland Japan and economic marginalization have so far undermined the strong potential for good-faith dialogue that could break the impasse...

 

EWC

A U.S.-Japan Dual-Citizen Arrangement Can Benefit Both Countries, February 2021. Although Japan does not recognize dual citizenship, the United States and Japan would both benefit from such an arrangement. A combination of on-the-ground realities of dual citizens in Japan, the emerging needs and capabilities of the Japanese state (namely digitalization of public services and taxation), and the interests of U.S.-based corporations operating in Japan should inspire the United States to encourage dual citizenship initiatives by the Japanese government. The driving forces of globalization and the benefits of exploring new avenues of U.S.-Japan relations combine with domestic developments in Japan to make dual citizenship a “common sense” goal for both countries, at both the institutional and person-to-person level of international diplomacy and mutual understanding...

 

EWC

Biden Must Assist Japan and South Korea with the History Issue, February 2021. he Biden administration's focus on allies and partners and the inability of democratic U.S. allies Japan and South Korea to move beyond historical pitfalls of apologies and treaties provides President Biden's team the perfect opportunity to show leadership by taking on a mediator role. By taking an active role, the United States can demonstrate that it is not a passive observer to would-be revisionists in the region, shore up its alliances, and signal to the world that the United States is still the leader in the promotion of human rights. Japan's colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945 was brutal. The Japanese military coerced between 10,000 and 200,000 women into sexual slavery and many more Koreans were forced to work in the Japanese war machine, the very one that annexed Korea in 1910...

 

EWC

Partisan Biases in U.S.-Japan Relations, February 2021. Japan will welcome the Biden administration with relief in the wake of what was perceived as Trump's bombast, threats, and unpredictability – but it will be mixed with apprehension (fair or not) that Biden's presidency will follow the Obama administration's perceived weakness, or even accommodation, toward China. It's a crude simplification, but Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party's relationship with U.S. political parties is roughly that they share preferences but not perceptions with Democrats, and share perceptions but not preferences with Republicans. In practical terms, this means that Japanese decision makers favor alliances and multilateral approaches over unilateralism and brinksmanship, but are more suspicious of China's intentions and behavior than they believe Democrats to be. Put more indelicately, the LDP prefers working with Republicans rather than Democrats...

 

EWC

Leaping Across the Ocean: The Port Operators Behind China's Naval Expansion, February 2021. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become increasingly willing to project military power overseas while coercing and co-opting countries into accepting the objectives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Beijing’s greater willingness to flex its muscles, both politically and militarily, is supported by its overseas investments in critical infrastructure, which provide the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with the logistical enablers needed to project military power beyond the ‘first island chain’ in the Western Pacific. ‘Controlling the seas in the region, leaping across the ocean for force projection’ (区域控海,跨洋投送) is the term Chinese naval commentators use when referring to the PLA Navy’s bid to project power across the world. Australia should build its research and analytical capacity to better understand the nexus between the CCP and SOEs. That due diligence, building on open-source research conducted for this report, will better illuminate the PRC’s global expansion, potential grey-zone operations and the companies and individuals involved.

 

ASPI

Eyes on the Prize: Australia, China, and the Antarctic Treaty System, February 2021. The Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) provides Australia with a peaceful, non-militarised south; a freeze on challenges to our territorial claim; a ban on mining and an ecosystem-based management of fisheries. But China wants to benefit economically, and potentially militarily, from Antarctica. It is increasingly assertive in the ATS, primarily over fisheries access, and active on the ice. Australia should front load its support for the ATS, increasing both the substance and profile of our Antarctic activities. We should emphasise ATS ideals rather than our claim to Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT). We should work hard internationally to dispel the myth that Antarctica’s resource wealth will be unlocked in 2048 on review of the Madrid Protocol. Inside the ATS, we should play to our strengths in multilateral diplomacy. Canberra should monitor Chinese activities in Antarctica and the ATS and step up its maritime awareness of the Southern Ocean, but refrain from geostrategic panic...

 

Lowy

The Next Generation Problem: The Ups and Downs of Sweden’s Huawei Ban, February 2021. After months of pending legal challenges, Sweden proceeded with the long-delayed 5G-frequency auctions in January this year, finally allowing Swedish telecom providers to continue the 5G-rollout; however, still without partnerships with Chinese 5G-equipment provider Huawei Technologies, which remains banned from Swedish networks on national security grounds. The ban was upheld in court on February 09 and has now put Stockholm on an open collision course with Beijing, which has threatened retaliation against Swedish businesses in China. In completely excluding Huawei, Sweden has, atypically, joined ranks with the U.S., the UK, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, willingly or not getting pulled into the fray of the Sino-American rivalry...

 

ISDP

Education and Development in North Korea: The Push for a “Science-Based Economy” Under Kim Jong Un, February 2021. This Issue Brief analyzes the development of education in North Korea with particular focus on the Kim Jong Un era and the recent government’s emphasis on scientific development. Once considered the flagship of the regime’s welfare system, education has shown signs of inadequacy before the mid-1990s crisis. Under the Kim Jong Un rule, the DPRK extended its schooling system to 12 years, pushing for faster and broader developments in ICT and STEM. However, the reform has not solved the problems left by the collapse of socio-economic structures in the 1990s. Private education has risen in parallel with grassroots marketization; the distance between Pyongyang and the provinces has widened, and the government may be unable to deliver on its promises of a prosperous future powered by technological advancements.

 

ISDP

The BRI vs FOIP: Japan’s Countering of China’s Global Ambitions, February 2021. With the Donald Trump administrated U.S. turning inwards, the world saw Japan taking a step forward on the global stage during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s tenure. Not only did the Abe administration take a more international stance, but it also took measures to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). What then, is Japan doing to counter China’s globally expanding power, and is it enough to compete with the world’s second-largest economy? This article attempts to answer these questions by mapping out Japan’s counterstrategy vis-à-vis China’s BRI, while excluding military cooperation aspects such as the “Quad”.

 

ISDP

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