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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.

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

November, 2020 Current Topics

 

Source

 

 

 

 

The Point of No Return: The 2020 Election and the Crisis of American Foreign Policy, October 2020. In his first term, President Donald Trump tried to overturn key principles of American foreign policy since the Second World War — alliances, free trade, and support for democracy and human rights. His effort was blunted by members of his own administration and Congress. But we are now at the point of no return. If Trump is re-elected, he will be vindicated and emboldened. He will surround himself with loyalists and will act without constraint. The world may be irrevocably altered — alliances may come to an end, the global economy could close, and democracy could go into rapid retreat...

 

Lowy

2020 Asia Power Index Key Findings Report. The annual Asia Power Index — launched by the Lowy Institute in 2018 — measures resources and influence to rank the relative power of states in Asia. The project maps out the existing distribution of power as it stands today, and tracks shifts in the balance of power over time. The Index ranks 26 countries and territories in terms of their capacity to shape their external environment — its scope reaching as far west as Pakistan, as far north as Russia, and as far into the Pacific as Australia, New Zealand and the United States. The 2020 edition — which covers three years of data — is the most comprehensive assessment of the changing distribution of power in Asia so far. Among other things, it aims to sharpen the debate on the geopolitical consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic...

 

Lowy

The East-West Center - October Asia Pacific Bulletins:

 

EWC

Next Steps for US-Japan Collaboration on Energy Infrastructure, October 2020. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has re-centered discussion of geopolitical competition in Asia around infrastructure. Responding both to BRI and the region’s well-known infrastructure gap, the United States has launched efforts to unlock US private investment for infrastructure. Japan’s engagements in the region emphasize high-quality infrastructure and best practices (an implicit criticism of China’s sometimes less rigorous standards). The foreign policy approaches of the United States and Japan dovetail nicely and have led to many new initiatives and institutional partnerships, as well as the quality-focused Blue Dot Network. But despite the two countries’ intentions to work collaboratively, their efforts have been held back by differences in organizational practices, the lengthy overhaul of US financing, and a lack of immediate movement from US-Japan consortia...

 

EWC

Cyber-Enabled Foreign Interference in Elections and Referendums, October 2020. Over the past decade, state actors have taken advantage of the digitisation of election systems, election administration and election campaigns to interfere in foreign elections and referendums.Their activity can be divided into two attack vectors. First, they’ve used various cyber operations, such as denial of service (DoS) attacks and phishing attacks, to disrupt voting infrastructure and target electronic and online voting, including vote tabulation. Second, they’ve used online information operations to exploit the digital presence of election campaigns, politicians, journalists and voters. Together, these two attack vectors (referred to collectively as ‘cyber-enabled foreign interference’ in this report because both are mediated through cyberspace) have been used to seek to influence voters and their turnout at elections, manipulate the information environment and diminish public trust in democratic processes...

 

ASPI

The Cost of Defence 2020–2021, Part 2: ASPI 2020–2021 Defence Budget Brief, October 2020. The big defence news in the past year was in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update (DSU) released by the Australian Government on 1 July. Despite the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the DSU ended speculation about the defence budget and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the robust funding line presented in the 2016 Defence White Paper (2016 DWP). It also extended that funding line for a further four years. Part 1 of this year’s The cost of Defence focused on the DSU. It noted that the defence budget is projected to grow past 2% of GDP, and at a faster rate than before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, potentially to around 2.4% of GDP. Measured from a starting point in 2019–20, the budget is planned to grow by a remarkable 87.4% over the coming decade. Part 2 of The cost of Defence, this one, focuses on the 2020–21 defence budget, the release of which, along with the rest of the Budget, was delayed from May to October due to the pandemic...

 

ASPI

Critical Technologies and the Indo-Pacific: A New India-Australia Partnership, October 2020. This report by ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre and India’s Observer Research Foundation argues that as the India-Australia bilateral relationship continues to grow and evolve, both governments should invest in the construction of a new India–Australia partnership on technology. The foundation for such a partnership already exists, and further investment areas of complementary interests could stimulate regional momentum in a range of key critical and emerging technology areas including in 5G, Artificial Intelligence, quantum technologies, space technologies and in critical minerals. The report contains 14 policy recommendations that will help build this new technology partnership...

 

ASPI

Economic Coercion: Boycotts and Sanctions-Preferred Weapons of War, October 2020. This report argues that the growing use of economic coercion by both China and the United States is an emerging risk for business and undermines the world trading system. Australian businesses that have in good faith taken up the opportunities offered by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, signed in 2015, now find themselves facing the potential loss of market access as the Chinese administration retaliates over Australian government policies on a coronavirus inquiry and the next generation internet network. Australian businesses are not the targets of US sanctions, but US extra-territorial reach means they are at risk of serious collateral damage if they even inadvertently transact with any individual or organisation that is...

 

ASPI

The Flipside of China’s Central Bank Digital Currency, October 2020. China’s central bank digital currency, known as ‘DC/EP’ (Digital Currency / Electronic Payment), is rapidly progressing and, if successful, would have major international implications that have not yet been widely considered by policymakers. DC/EP would have ramifications for governments, investors, and companies, including China’s own tech champions. It has the potential to create the world’s largest centralised repository of financial transactions data and, while it may address some financial governance challenges, such as money laundering, it would also create unprecedented opportunities for surveillance. The initial impact of a successful DC/EP project will be primarily domestic, but little thought has been given to the longer term and global implications. DC/EP could be exported overseas via the digital wallets of Chinese tourists, students and businesspeople...

 

ASPI

Taiwan-Paraguay Relations: Convergent Trajectories, October 2020. Paraguay is Taiwan’s last remaining diplomatic partner in South America and one of a mere 15 states worldwide to still officially recognize the Republic of China (ROC). As Beijing’s efforts to reduce Taipei’s international space have grown, intense lobbying to review diplomatic policy has also been felt in Asunción. Especially after El Salvador cut ties with Taipei in 2018, concerns grew as to whether the days were also likely numbered for Taiwan’s only South American stronghold. Yet the administration of President Mario Abdo Benítez has remained committed to a diplomatic relationship with Taipei. Soon after Salvador’s realignment towards China, Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen met with Benítez during which the Paraguayan president referred to Taiwan as “an eternal brother.”...

 

ISDP

Fijian Leadership in the Pacific: Charting a New Course? October 2020. Amidst a changing geopolitical environment, issues of domestic politics, social concerns, as well as climate change related risks, the Pacific island nation of Fiji has set out on a path to reconcile its troubled past with ambitions of achieving regional leadership. The message seems clear: Suva will neither recede from seeking a leading role in the Pacific region nor will it be a pawn in a game of great power competition despite the growing economic pressure it faces...

 

ISDP

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #12: Federal-State Relations under the Pakatan Harapan Government. On 9 May 2018, Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional (BN) government lost the country’s 14th general election (GE14). Replacing it was the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, made up of four parties, three of which had had experience cooperating with each other for a decade, namely Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah). The fourth was the new Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The election also saw equally significant changes at the state government level. PH now controlled seven states in total, up from two, while BN went from controlling ten states to retaining but two...

 

ISEAS

Latest ADB Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecasts Current Quarter Model: 2020Q4, October 2020. Disrupted by the COVID-19, Hong Kong’s economy dropped by 9% in the first half of 2020. With the arrival of the third wave of pandemic in 20Q3, Hong Kong’s real GDP is estimated to remain subdued, but with a lesser drop of 6.5%, compared to the same period last year.With the pandemic receding recently and with continued government stimulus packages, the drop is expected to narrow further. The economy is estimated to drop by 4.5% in 20Q4. Unemployment rate is expected to slightly worsen to 6.4% in 20Q4, from the estimated 6.2% in 20Q3. Hong Kong’s GDP is expected to shrink by 7.2% for the year 2020 as a whole, representing a 1.7 percentage points downward revision from our previous forecast...

 

HKU

China's Pandemic Policy, September 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic threatened to damage China’s international reputation just as the Chinese government under Xi Jinping was peaking in its promotion of China as a model political system and superior international citizen. Beijing launched a massive diplomatic effort aimed at both foreign governments and foreign societies. The goal was to overcome initial negative publicity and to recast China as an efficient and heroic country in the eyes of international public opinion. The crisis created an opening for China to make gains in its international leadership credentials as the world saw the superpower United States falter. Ultimately, however, Chinese pandemic diplomacy contributed to a net decrease in China’s global prestige, largely because domestic political imperatives motivated behavior that generated international disapproval and distrust for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government...

 

EWC

The United States and Fiji Reaffirm Security Assistance Cooperation, September 2020. The United States and Fiji continue to strengthen security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Ties between the regional partners endured throughout Fiji’s 2006 military takeover and resultant domestic political challenges. During this period Washington’s engagement with Suva included humanitarian assistance/disaster response, maritime security, law enforcement cooperation, counter-narcotics, and anti-trafficking of vulnerable populations. The United States also supported Fiji’s participation in existing United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. In turn Fiji continued to support U.S. initiatives regarding United Nations General Assembly resolutions and kept doors open for development aid and private sector investment opportunities...

 

EWC

Japan’s Counter-Strike Debate Amid the Post-Prime Minister Abe Leadership Race, September 2020. Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono on June 15 announced the cancellation of the planned procurement of two Aegis Ashore systems from the United States. The cancellation, which reportedly was discussed and decided only by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in advance, left a gap in the country’s missile defense against the growing missile threats from its neighbors. The Aegis Ashore decision prompted the government to revise the National Security Strategy (NSS) within 2020. As the NSS is the basis for the National Defense Program Outline (NDPO), the latter is also being revised. Kono in the Lower House Committee on Security on July 8 testified that policy considerations by the government would include possession of “enemy base strike capabilities.”...

 

EWC

The Australia-India Strategic Partnership: Accelerating Security Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, September 2020. After five decades of testy or distant strategic relations, India and Australia began in the early 2000s to forge an increasingly cooperative defence and security partnership. The primary drivers were similar concerns about China’s rise, behaviour, and assertiveness, as well as converging views about the regional strategic landscape. The decreasing salience of their divergences — Cold War-era geopolitics, India’s nuclear status, strained people-to-people ties, and shallow economic and trade links — also helped create more favourable conditions. Starting slowly in 2000, and accelerating in 2006 and 2014, the Australia–India strategic relationship began to involve policy dialogues, military exercises, defence exchanges, and security arrangements of greater frequency and sophistication...

 

Lowy

Ensuring a Trusted 5g Ecosystem of Vendors and Technology, September 2020. 5G will be the next generation of mobile telecommunications. There are differing views on how quickly it will become commonplace and exactly what form it will take, but it will ultimately transform much of what we do and how society functions. The trustworthiness, security and resilience of 5G networks will therefore be critical. A key part of this will be the partnerships that network operators form with vendors to provide and maintain the network infrastructure. There’s now a good understanding that 5G will underpin critical national infrastructure in a way that previous telecommunication technologies don’t, and that supply-chain trust and security are key national security issues. Australia and some other countries have eliminated specific vendors from their 5G supply chains, but the space is globally contested and there is no consensus on what happens next...

 

ASPI

After COVID-19: Australia, the Region and Multilateralism (Volume 2), September 2020. The global Covid-19 crisis continues to dominate the international strategic environment, fuelling uncertainty about the future. The only thing that’s certain is that this pandemic will be with us for some time yet, meaning that Australia, like other nations, needs to be prepared to manage its response to the pandemic while simultaneously focusing on the future.This volume of After Covid-19 builds on volume 1 and identifies some of the future challenges and opportunities as they relate to Australia’s role in the region and the multilateral system.

 

ASPI

Covid-19 Disinformation & Social Media Manipulation, September 2020. A range of actors are manipulating the information environment to exploit the COVID-19 crisis for strategic gain. ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is tracking many of these state and non-state actors online, and will occasionally publish investigative, data-driven reporting that will focus on the use of disinformation, propaganda, extremist narratives and conspiracy theories by these actors. The bulk of ASPI’s data analysis uses our in-house Influence Tracker tool - a machine learning and data analytics capability that draws out insights from multi-language social media datasets. This new tool can ingest data in multiple languages and auto-translate, producing insights on topics, sentiment, shared content, influential accounts, metrics of impact and posting patterns...

 

ASPI

TikTok and WeChat: Curating and Controlling Global Information Flows, September 2020. While most major international social media networks remain banned from the Chinese market in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Chinese social media companies are expanding overseas and building up large global audiences. Some of those networks—including WeChat and TikTok—pose challenges, including to freedom of expression, that governments around the world are struggling to deal with. The Chinese ‘super-app’ WeChat, which is indispensable in China, has approximately 1.2 billion monthly active users worldwide, including 100 million installations outside of China. The app has become the long arm of the Chinese regime, extending the PRC’s techno-authoritarian reach into the lives of its citizens and non-citizens in the diaspora...

 

ASPI

The Chinese Communist Party’s Coercive Diplomacy, September 2020. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is increasingly deploying coercive diplomacy against foreign governments and companies. Coercive diplomacy isn’t well understood, and countries and companies have struggled to develop an effective toolkit to push back against and resist it. This report tracks the CCP’s use of coercive diplomacy over the past 10 years, recording 152 cases of coercive diplomacy affecting 27 countries as well as the European Union. The data shows that there’s been a sharp escalation in these tactics since 2018. The regions and countries that recorded the most instances of coercive diplomacy over the last decade include Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and East Asia....

 

ASPI

Chinese Investments in Industrial Parks: Indonesia and Malaysia Compared, September 2020. Indonesia and Malaysia are keen to use Chinese investments in industrial parks to foster industrial development in their respective countries. This paper seeks to compare Chinese investments in two industrial parks. Specifically, it analyses changes made in the investment climate in each country to facilitate inflows of Chinese investments for the development of the Indonesian-Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) and the Malaysia-China Industrial Park (MCKIP). Investment climate refers to the FDI institutions in a country that are used for facilitating foreign investments. For Chinese investments in industrial parks, a pertinent question to ask is whether these investments are privileged in terms of FDI institutional arrangements and their differences from the existing investment institutional arrangements in a country. The paper finds that Indonesia and Malaysia made special arrangements to facilitate Chinese investments in the two parks although differences also abound in the way FDI is facilitated.

 

ISEAS

COVID-19 and the Poor, September 2020, September 2020. COVID-19 not only highlights existing inequalities, it exacerbates them. Not only do the poor have higher COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, they suffer disproportionately from curtailment measures. As governments try and flatten the infection curve, the misery curve measuring the loss of incomes, livelihoods and lives has been rising. These costs tend to accelerate the longer the lockdown is in place, contributing to an increase in violations that can reduce the effectiveness of the measure itself. In countries without broad-based safety nets, it is no longer a choice between lives and livelihoods because they are the same for the poor. While developed nations debate the trade-off between saving lives and destroying livelihoods, poor countries must consider the trade-off between lives lost through destroyed livelihoods and lives lost to the virus. These ground realities suggest that targeted, time-bound measures rather than prolonged general lockdowns should be considered in poor countries, should infections start rising, while increasing targeted testing.

 

ISEAS

Xi Jinping and the Administrative Hierarchy and Subdivisions in China, August 2020. China’s leadership under Xi Jinping has witnessed fundamental changes in its administrative hierarchy and subdivisions with a major focus on centralization. Xi’s consolidation of power and marginalization of factional voices within the government through initiatives such as the anti-corruption campaign have so far proven to be potent. His efforts to reassert central control are driving the administration to usher into a new era of industrialization and urbanization, enabling China to modernize and fulfil its two centenary goals of (a) establishing a moderately prosperous society by 2021 and (b) establishing a “strong, affluent and modern country” by 2049. At the same time, Xi’s efforts to focus on urbanization and industrialization is supporting economic development, which is allowing China to attain its core objectives, and the overarching goal often described as the “Chinese Dream” of national rejuvenation...

 

ISDP

Xi Jinping and Constitutional Revisions in China, August 2020. The Party Constitution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the “un-written” State Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) determine the legal developments that take place in the country while accentuating the already blurred lines between State and Party. How does the CPC, and President Xi Jinping, serve as the drivers of constitutionalism and transcend the theoretical and political powers of the State? This Focus Asia paper seeks to answer this question and offers an overview of the amendments to the State Constitution, while also highlighting changes made to the Party Constitution that have taken place under Xi Jinping, who serves as the General Secretary of the CPC, Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and the President of the PRC. The paper attempts to review the nuances attached to such revisions that are emblematic in an authoritarian system to uphold regime stability...

 

ISDP

U.S.-North Korea Denuclearization Negotiations: An Irresolvable Issue? June 2020. This essay is part of an ongoing series by ISDP’s Korea Center to provide different perspectives on peacebuilding on the Korean Peninsula. In so doing, it recognizes that peacebuilding is a long-term process and involves different dimensions, from the diplomatic and military to economic and societal. Despite previous efforts, the North Korean nuclear issue has remained unresolved for six decades since the country, with the assistance of the Soviet Union, began constructing nuclear facilities at Yongbyon in the early 1960s. Over the past decades, each U.S. administration, from Clinton to Trump, has concluded its own agreement either bilaterally or multilaterally with Pyongyang: notably the Agreed Framework of 1994, the Joint Statement of September 19 of the Six Party Talks in 2005, the short-lived “Leap Day Deal” of February 29, 2012, and the latest Singapore Joint Statement in June 2018. Despite these achievements, after extensive negotiations and partial implementation, eventually all past agreements collapsed...

 

ISDP

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

Asian Development Review, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2020 (Full Report):
It covers topics that include reducing arsenic poisoning, borrowing versus saving among migrant workers, the role of knowledge transfers in promoting balanced growth, and trade volatility.

  ADB
Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2020 (Full Report, and Special Supplement):
  • Part I: Sustainable Development Goals
  • Part II: Regional Trends and Tables
  • Part III: Global Value Chains

Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2020 covers 49 economies: Afghanistan, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Niue, New Zealand, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taipei, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, and Viet Nam.

 

ADB

Asian Development Outlook 2020 Update: Wellness in Worrying Times (Full Report. Theme Chapter and Highlights). As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt global economic activity, developing Asia's gross domestic product is now expected to contract by 0.7% in 2020. GDP is projected to grow by 6.8% in 2021. This is the region's first recession in nearly 6 decades. Excluding high-income newly industrialized economies, regional GDP is expected to contract by 0.5% this year before growing by 7.2% next year. Softening demand and subdued food prices will keep inflation benign. The inflation forecast is revised down from 3.2% to 2.9% for 2020 and maintained at 2.3% for 2021. The threat of a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and a return to more stringent containment measures is the main risk to the outlook. While economies in developing Asia remain resilient, continued policy support is needed to underpin recovery...

 

ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan’s Demographic Shifts and Regional Security Challenges Ahead, August 2020. Japan is one of the first major countries in the contemporary world to experience population decline. Today there are about one and a half million fewer Japanese than a decade ago, a decline in population that will dramatically intensify in the coming years; declining roughly eight million in the 2020s and ten million in the 2030s alone. Some, such as Brad Glosserman in Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions, argue that Japan’s changing demographics will lead to a more inward-looking Japan in the coming years...

 

EWC

Are America’s East Asia Allies Willing and Able to Host U.S. Intermediate-Range Missiles? August 2020. Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in early August 2019 frees it to deploy long-range, ground-launched missiles for the first time since 1988, when the now-defunct treaty entered into force. Russian violations prompted the U.S. to withdraw from the INF Treaty, but China’s unconstrained development of nuclear and conventional missiles played a supporting role in the U.S decision. As the United States and China sink deeper into confrontation and competition, debates over U.S. deployment of missiles in East Asia will become more pressing...

 

EWC

Mongolia’s Response to Increasing U.S.-China-Russia Rivalry in Asia, August 2020. In the midst of heightened tensions generated by renewed U.S.-China-Russia rivalry in Asia, the sparsely populated, landlocked state of Mongolia demonstrates creativity and flexibility in crafting its national strategies. But this is an old story for Mongolia. Historically, Mongolia was viewed as a pawn whose fate was determined by the nature of the Sino-Russian relationship. When its Soviet Union protector dissolved at the end of the Cold War, it had to define new national priorities beyond reliance on just one state and one ideology. It embraced a multi-pillared foreign policy called the “Third Neighbor” to balance its relations with border neighbors Russia and China by reaching out to other democracies, including the U.S., Japan, European Community, and South Korea, for political and economic support...

 

EWC

Cambodia’s State of Emergency Law and its Social and Political Implications, August 2020. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia passed a law which will have huge social and political ramifications for the country, its people, and its political development. The country reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case on January 27. Two months later the number of confirmed cases rose to around 100 and then quickly reached 122, and then no new cases were confirmed for five weeks between April 22 and May 20. By the end of May, Cambodia had three active cases but zero reported deaths from COVID-19. However, cases have spiked since then. As of August 4, there were 241 confirmed cases and no deaths from COVID-19. Of those confirmed, 200 patients (66%) have recovered...

 

EWC

US-Japanese Strategic Dissonance and Southeast Asian Infrastructure Finance, July 2020. U.S. policy in Asia under the Trump administration has sought to compete with China. This is particularly evident in the realm of development finance policy and energy infrastructure development in Southeast Asia. New initiatives include the BUILD Act, which reconfigured the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) as the Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the AsiaEDGE agenda, and the Blue Dot Network. Multilateral efforts such as the Japan-US Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP) and Japan-US Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP) have continued to promote a discourse of ‘quality infrastructure’ in Southeast Asia in accordance with G20 and OECD principles...

 

EWC

The Costs of Covid: Australia’s Economic Prospects in a Wounded World, August 2020. Australia is emerging from the pandemic sooner and at less economic cost than widely expected, but with higher unemployment and elevated debt. As the pandemic recedes, it is evident that global output and demand will recover slowly and unevenly. Major advanced economies have sharply increased government debt and their central banks have driven interest rates to rock bottom while buying big shares of additional government debt. At the same time, the US–China quarrel has become more intense, and Australia’s relationship with China has deteriorated. All these changed circumstances, much amplified and extended from their pre-pandemic appearances, limit Australia’s choices...

 

Lowy

The World Trade Organization: An Optimistic Pre-Mortem in Hopes of Resurrection, August 2020. For decades, multilateral trade rules operated to keep government protectionist impulses in check. They provided a foundation of openness for international commerce, as well as a framework for liberalisation and integration. With the trade rules as a guarantor, capital and value chains spread across the globe. The creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 saw these rules reinforced with a feature that is nigh unheard-of in international law: binding and non-optional dispute settlement. For the first time, an international panel of legal experts would have the final say on the legality of trade measures, whether those implementing them liked it or not. On 10 December 2019, a procedural blockade by the world’s largest economy, the United States, culminated in that 24-year experiment being put on hold, perhaps permanently...

 

Lowy

Global Order in the Shadow of the Coronavirus: China, Russia, and the West, August 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a harsh spotlight on the state of global governance. Faced with the greatest emergency since the Second World War, nations have regressed into narrow self-interest. The concept of a rules-based international order has been stripped of meaning, while liberalism faces its greatest crisis in decades. Western leaders blame today’s global disorder on an increasingly assertive China and disruptive Russia. Yet the principal threat lies closer to home. Western governments have failed to live up to the values underpinning a liberal international order — a failure compounded by inept policymaking and internal divisions. The actions of Donald Trump, in particular, have undermined transatlantic unity, damaged the moral authority of the West, and weakened global governance...

 

Lowy

Keeping Indonesia’s Economy Afloat Through the COVID-19 Pandemic, July 2020. Indonesia faces one of the most difficult outlooks in Asia amid the economic pandemic unleashed by COVID-19. The principal economic problem is not the old one of capital flight, but about funding the fiscal response necessary to address a massive once-in-a-lifetime shock. With little on offer from the international system, Indonesia is rightly looking to find its own way, including by having taken the unorthodox step of allowing the central bank to directly finance part of the budget deficit. To enable this, the central bank could establish a clearly defined policy of yield curve stabilisation — buying government bonds in the primary and secondary markets to stabilise bond yields close to ‘normal’ market rates, while providing a readily scalable amount of budget financing...

 

Lowy

Emerging from COVID: Policy Responses to the Pandemic, June 2020. Lowy Institute experts provide policy recommendations for Australia to address issues that are critical to the nation's — and the world's — successful emergence from the pandemic.

Table of Contents:

  • Changing Australia’s conversation about Chinese economic coercion
  • Shaping the US approach to China and the rules-based international order
  • Maintaining Australia's security as American power recedes
  • Strengthening the WHO by giving it legal teeth
  • Curing the G20's irrelevance
  • Forming a coalition of competent middle powers to lead on global health problems
  • Managing Australia's economic recovery
  • Assisting Indonesia through the economic pandemic
  • Stepping up in Southeast Asia
  • Helping the Pacific recover from COVID
  • Reviving Australia's aid program
  • Revaluing Australia's diplomacy
 

Lowy

Biodata and Biotechnology: Opportunity and Challenges for Australia, August 2020. This new ASPI report canvasses the extraordinary recent developments in genome sequencing and genetic engineering, which will transform all biological enterprises, including healthcare, among the most important parts of the global economy. It argues that there is a once-in- generation opportunity for Australia to play a leading role in a major economic and revolution with digital deliverables, capitalising on our high quality biomedical science, agricultural R&D and healthcare systems The report identifies a number of elements for Australia to realize this opportunity. First and foremost, a national strategic and action plan is required for the collection and integration of genomic, clinical and smart sensor data for healthcare, and the development of advanced analytical software and point-of-care reporting systems, which can be exported to the world. This plan needs to be resourced by the Australian government, as a major public good infrastructure project...

 

ASPI

Covid-19 Disinformation & Social Media Manipulation, August 2020. A range of actors are manipulating the information environment to exploit the COVID-19 crisis for strategic gain. ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is tracking many of these state and non-state actors online, and will occasionally publish investigative, data-driven reporting that will focus on the use of disinformation, propaganda, extremist narratives and conspiracy theories by these actors. The bulk of ASPI’s data analysis uses our in-house Influence Tracker tool - a machine learning and data analytics capability that draws out insights from multi-language social media datasets. This new tool can ingest data in multiple languages and auto-translate, producing insights on topics, sentiment, shared content, influential accounts, metrics of impact and posting patterns...

 

ASPI

Discovering Opportunities in the Pandemic? Four Economic Response Scenarios for Central Asia, July 2020. The COVID-19 crisis represents not only an unprecedented economic disruption but also an opportunity for Central Asia. A specific economic policy response may trigger either game-changing reforms that can facilitate the development of full-fledged market institutions or lead to a protracted crisis that would jeopardize almost 30-year long market economy transition progress. As it is rather unclear where the recovery pendulum will make its final swing, the current situation provides fruitful soil for various assumptions. This paper proposes and examines four scenarios of economic response strategies for the region as a whole, and for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in particular, that result in unique development trajectories...

 

ISDP

The Landscape of Pricing and Algorithmic Pricing, August 2020. Algorithmic pricing is the practice of setting prices using computer programs. Understanding the foundations of pricing practices is fundamental to an assessment of the nature and potential of algorithmic pricing. Prices can be set in a number of ways and the practice of price setting has been examined from different and sometimes overlapping disciplinary perspectives – economics, marketing and operations research. The three key activities in price setting are data collection, demand analysis and optimization. Computer algorithms are used in these activities but they may not be fully integrated in practice. The organizational adoption of algorithmic pricing may assume different forms depending on the cost-benefit calculus across different components of price-setting activities...

 

ISEAS

Enhancing Robustness of Enterprise-Wide Risk Assessment on Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, August 2020. MAS conducted thematic inspections on enterprise-wide risk assessment on money laundering and terrorism financing (EWRA) in 2020. This paper highlights inspection observations and MAS’ supervisory expectations of effective EWRA frameworks and processes that financial institutions should benchmark themselves against.

 

MAS

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ADB

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August, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southeast Asia’s Small Businesses Need Regional Readiness Boost in COVID-19 New Normal, July 2020. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses have faced significant impact and are critical to economic recovery. The ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently released a Policy Insight on boosting the resilience of MSMEs which is a critical and commendable effort to support small businesses in the region. The Policy Insight highlights how ASEAN can gain from sharing information and best practices in supporting MSMEs...

 

EWC

Tracking COVID-19 in the Age of AI and Tech Wars, July 2020. On June 15, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, 11 founding members – Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – came together to launch the first ever global regulatory regime on artificial intelligence (AI) called the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), hosted by the OECD as the Secretariat. The contactless environment propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly broken the ice on a long-awaited conversation. The launch, in the absence of China, came amid brewing tensions across the Atlantic in the digital realm...

 

EWC

Planning the Future of Korea's New Southern Policy, July 2020. In November 2017, South Korea declared the New Southern Policy (NSP) centered on the 3P: People, Prosperity, and Peace. President Moon Jae-in has visited all 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS) and India in the two and a half years since his inauguration. It is the first time that the Korean President has visited all 10 AMS and India within his term. Last November, the ASEAN-ROK Special Summit and the 1st Mekong-ROK Summit were successfully completed, presenting a cooperation blueprint with ASEAN for the next 30 years...

 

EWC

Korea's New Southern Policy: Diversifying Economic and Strategic Portfolios, July 2020. In recent years, Korea has found itself facing more foreign policy challenges than ever. These challenges include North Korea’s nuclear provocations, US-China geopolitical competition in Asia, and rising protectionism and uncertainty in the world economy. Upon taking office in 2017, President Moon Jae-in chose to meet those challenges with new and bold foreign policy initiatives, including the formulation of the New Southern Policy (NSP) toward the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Incorporating ASEAN into Korea’s foreign policy agenda is not new, having been attempted by preceding administrations as well...

 

EWC

A Need to Rethink Peace Cooperation in Korea's New Southern Policy, July 2020. In November 2019, the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Korea gathered in Busan, South Korea to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the ASEAN-South Korea relationship. The summit not only reflected on ASEAN-South Korea cooperation over the past three decades, but also highlighted achievements over the past two years of Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP) launched in November 2017. The Korean government is now preparing the second stage of the NSP, which will guide its approach to so-called ‘new southern countries,’ ASEAN and India, in the second half of Moon Jae-in’s government...

 

EWC

Korea's New Southern Policy: Progress, Problems, and Prospects, July 2020. Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP) of the Moon Jae-in government is the country’s first diplomatic initiative focused on Southeast Asia and India. Previously, Korea’s Asia initiatives were either Northeast Asia-focused or encompassed all of Asia. The NSP aims to elevate Korea’s ties with Southeast Asia and India to the level of its ties with the United States, China, Russia, and Japan — the four countries that have traditionally been most important to Korea. Despite high levels of economic ties and people-to-people exchanges, Korea’s relations with Southeast Asia and India receive disproportionately less recognition, both within Korea’s foreign policy hierarchy and in the public’s view...

 

EWC

China's Western Opportunities, June 2020. As the starting point for the novel coronavirus, China has faced unprecedented global criticism. Now, however, China is also emerging from the pandemic’s first wave to restart its economy before much of the rest of the world. In tandem, these circumstances have led Beijing to pursue an unusually aggressive diplomatic posture, counterpunching its critics and pressing its economic advantages. However, China’s current approach is unlikely to pay quick dividends in much of the developed world, especially in Western Europe or East Asia. Beijing’s approach is better placed to work in the regions on its western horizon, across the vast sweep of continental Eurasia that runs through parts of South and Central Asia, into the Middle East, and up to Europe’s doorstep...

 

EWC

The Risks of China’s Ambitions in the South Pacific, July 2020. Over the last two decades China has been steadily building its influence in the South Pacific. Many perceive this expansion to be growing at a rate much faster than what could be considered a natural reflection of China’s growing economic and geopolitical clout. This has left many analysts in the West to ask, what is China’s ambition in the South Pacific, and what risks does this create? In the past three years, China’s footprint in the South Pacific has become so large, and its behavior in other parts of the world so much more assertive, that alarm bells have started to sound in capital cities of the South Pacific’s traditional partners...

 

Lowy

China's Deep State: The Communist Party and the Coronavirus, July 2020. The emergence of a new, deadly virus in Wuhan in late December 2019 triggered multiple, cascading crises in China, from a collapse in the economy in early 2020 to a wave of foreign criticism of Beijing’s handling of the outbreak. Equally important, but less examined, has been how the ruling Communist Party managed the emergency — both internally and, once infections began falling in China, overseas — to corral its critics and limit any backlash at home and abroad. Democracies across the world have come under scrutiny over their capacity to enforce lockdowns, protect health systems, and manage their economies through sharp downturns after the virus spread within their borders...

 

Lowy

Demanding the Future: Navigating the Pacific's Youth Bulge, July 2020. In the Pacific Islands region, high population growth has generated a corresponding increase in the number of young people: at least half the region's population is aged under 23.[1] Of all the challenges the region faces, this ‘youth bulge’ will be one of the most significant. It will affect employment, health outcomes, and sustainable urbanisation, as well as peace and security. The impact of COVID-19 will only exacerbate the predicament. The associated political and social pressures are likely to be particularly acute in the most populous Melanesian island states of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, and Fiji...

 

Lowy

Clean Pipes: Should ISPs Provide a More Secure Internet? July 2020. One of the largest online challenges facing Australia is to provide effective cybersecurity to the majority of internet users who don’t have the skills or resources to defend themselves. This paper explores the concept of ‘Clean Pipes’, which is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) could provide security services to their customers to deliver a level of default security. The Australian Government looks to be implementing a version of Clean Pipes: on 30 June 2020 the Prime Minister announced a funding commitment to ‘prevent malicious cyber activity from ever reaching millions of Australians across the country by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed...

 

ASPI

Taiwan-Japan (Unofficial) Relations: In a Sea of Troubles, June 2020. Taiwan (The Republic of China, ROC)* and Japan have had a long and vacillating history of engagement mostly consisting of peaceful periods of cooperation yet beset by the Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan from 1895-1945 as well as the atrocities committed during the Second World War. The Taiwan-Japan relationship is a complex one unequivocally entwined with China (The People’s Republic of China, PRC), a country which has been trying to drive a wedge between them. Overall Taiwan-Japan relations remain positive, although they are both constrained by a reluctance to provoke China, which arguably is the single most important external actor in the bilateral relationship. This paper aims to take a closer look at the history of the bilateral and trilateral relations between the states mentioned and to examine in which way China has, and will continue to, influence relations between Taiwan and Japan...

 

ISDP

The Case for Multilateralism: The Korean Peninsula in a Regional Context, June 2020. The Korean Peninsula remains an enduring conflict hotspot and security challenge. Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, efforts to build a sustainable peace have been thwarted amidst a long history of tension, aggression, and broken promises; this despite periods of temporarily improved relations and détente. Conflict resolution impulses have been further hampered by the complexities of geostrategic tensions and power rivalry in the wider Northeast Asian region amidst the enduring absence of any formal regional security structure. With the exception of the ultimately failed Six-Party Talks (2003-09), the main focus of nuclear-related negotiations and agreements have been bilateral in nature, notably the 1994 Agreed Framework and the short-lived so-called 2012 Leap Day Deal between North Korea and the United States. However, breakthroughs have often failed to survive political transitions, geopolitical shifts, and the challenges of implementation...

 

ISDP

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #11: Renewable Energy: Malaysia’s Climate Change Solution or Placebo?. Malaysia pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 in relation to its 2005 GDP figure. The sectors listed as the main focus of this effort included: energy, industrial processes, waste, agriculture, land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). Several initiatives under myriad governments have been launched to reduce Malaysia’s climate change impacts; among those has been the emphasis on renewable energy (RE). Malaysia’s current energy mix relies heavily on coal and natural gas. Long-entrenched subsidies on these energy sources, coupled with greatly depreciating prices make it difficult for new RE producers to enter the market and increase their market share. This is in spite of positive developments in RE infrastructure and reduced RE material costs...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #10: Why Did BERSATU Leave Pakatan Harapan?. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition won Malaysia’s 14th general election on 9 May 2018, the first time a regime change took place in the country. However, it lost its majority in late February 2020, when Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (BERSATU) left the coalition. The four parties in PH had very different ideologies, especially when it comes to issues of race and religion. But despite taking various steps to create a coalition agreement, the more fundamental differences were never reconciled during the coalition’s time in power. PH won GE-14 with a relatively low level of support from the ethnic Malays, who perceived it to be a coalition dominated by the mainly Chinese DAP. Fearmongering about how PH and the DAP were a threat to Malay privileges further weakened PH while in government...

 

ISEAS

Changes in the Demographic Structure and Economic Growth, July 2020. The population of East and Southeast Asia has been ageing rapidly and will begin to decline ahead of other regions by 2040. By 2060, the elderly will comprise 40% of their total population, thus making them ‘super-aged’ societies. These regions are undergoing major demographic structure changes due to a rapid decline in birth rate and extension of life expectancy. While increased life expectancy and a lower percentage of youth population will have a positive impact on the economic growth in the short and long terms, a higher percentage of older people will have a negative impact in the long term. Additionally, growth in the labour force has a positive impact on the short-term and long-term economic growth. While ageing population will slow down economic growth in the long term, it is possible that this decline could be balanced by a higher labour force growth rate. Surviving in a super-aged society requires policies that proactively enhance economic growth...

 

ISEAS

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Virginia Review of Asian Studies 2020

 

VRAS

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