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May, 2021 Current Topics

 

Source

 

 

 

 

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

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ADB

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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

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

Latest ADB Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

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.

  ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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ADB

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ADB

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ADB

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APEC

Philippine Institute for Development Studies - Development Research News:  

PIDS

Philippine Institute for Development Studies - Research Paper Series:  

PIDS

Latest Philippine Institute for Development Studies - Policy Notes:  

PIDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legal Identity and Statelessness in Southeast Asia, January 2021. Millions of people worldwide are stateless or do not have proof of their legal identity. As a result, they face daily obstacles from lack of access to a range of social, political, and economic rights. Around 40 percent of the identified stateless population live in the Asia Pacific region, with the majority of them residing in the countries of Southeast Asia. While some of these people are refugees or migrants, most belong to minorities living in the country where they were born. Their lack of proof of nationality or other forms of legal identity poses significant challenges to human rights, governance, and development. International conventions aim at improving their status, but have been poorly subscribed. Much of the work to solve the problems will have to be done at the national level, where interest is increasing. Since the forced mass exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar, many have reached the shores of Malaysia and Indonesia, driving home the implications of unresolved situations of statelessness.

 

EWC

Timor‐Leste's ASEAN Membership Prospects in a Time of Geopolitical Ambiguity, January 2021. Timor-Leste is a small democratic country in an increasingly strategic region. Since gaining independence in 2002, Timor-Leste has made remarkable progress as Asia’s youngest democracy, but it has a long way to go in improving its economic and political situation. ASEAN membership for the Timorese is viewed as a way to reconcile economic, security, and geopolitical interests, while carving out a regional identity. Timor-Leste’s push for ASEAN membership started in 2011 and intensified during the latter half of 2019 when Foreign Minister Dionisio Babo Soares visited all ten ASEAN capitals in the summer followed by ASEAN fact finding missions in Dili in the fall. While Timor-Leste’s response to COVID-19 is impressive, the economic toll continues to be severe. Therefore, ASEAN membership is a comparatively lower priority this year, but is still under consideration by members, based on Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s speech during the recent ASEAN Summit...

 

EWC

US-India Cooperation on Clean Coal, July 2020. One of the essential elements in the US-India bilateral relationship on energy has been cooperation on the use of coal in a clean manner. Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Energy (DOE), laboratories, and utilities in the United States, the core of clean coal activities in India over the past several decades has been to introduce, demonstrate, and commercialize new technologies and practices to promote better utilization of coal in order to lower greenhouse gas and other pollutant emissions while promoting energy security. Starting in the mid-1980s, the US team, in partnership with the Indian Ministry of Power, NTPC (previously, the National Thermal Power Corporation, India's largest state-owned utility), and several state utilities, has worked to improve the operations and performance of India's power plants. These have included coal beneficiation, heat rate improvement, optimal blending techniques, and the introduction of best Operations and Maintenance (O&M) practices...

 

EWC

China and International Law: History, Theory, and Practice, January 2021. The current contours of China’s economic growth and political influence have given rise to interests in and concerns about China’s global profile as well as its strategies of International Law. China’s stance and tactics in International Law are, however, rooted in its unique historical development and the consequent theoretical framework, which provide guidance to its practice in international affairs, transactions, and interstate relations. This paper aims at providing an overview of China’s approach to International Law with respect to the history, theory, and practice.

 

ISDP

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #3: Will Pakatan Harapan’s Hold on Selangor Continue?. When the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government fell in February 2020, PH also lost control over the states of Johor, Malacca, Perak and Kedah. In Sabah, PH-aligned Warisan was replaced by the PN-aligned United Alliance of Sabah. PH maintained its hold on three states—Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan. Selangor’s position is of unique interest, given the largest share of PH assemblypersons comprising members from the People’s Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat, or PKR), the party which has faced significant elite splits in 2020. The present stability of PH’s survival in Selangor can be accounted for by the sheer majority it possesses within the legislative assembly, comprising forty-one out of fifty-six state seats. Unless a significant share of assemblypersons were to defect, the change in state government would be highly unlikely...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #2: Urban Transition in Hanoi: Huge Challenges Ahead. Vietnam is in the midst of one of the world’s most rapid and intensive rural-to-urban transitions. In Hanoi, heritage preservation has gained significant policy attention over the last decades, but efforts continue to focus on the Old Quarter and Colonial City to the exclusion of collective socialist housing complexes and former village areas, and natural features such as canals and urban lakes. Parks and public spaces are urgently needed to offset the high residential densities and to improve the quality of life of residents. Motor vehicles continue to fuel the growth in transportation. Significant efforts were recently made to establish a mass transit system, but progress there is slow. More attention should be paid to improving the existing transportation system and to reduce dependence on fossil fuels...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #1: Non-State Chinese Actors and Their Impact on Relations between China and Mainland Southeast Asia. International relations scholarship and the popular media tend to portray China as a great power with hegemonic designs for Southeast Asia. Moreover, studies on Chinese influence in Southeast Asia predominantly focus on the Chinese state. This paper argues that Chinese non-state actors and their daily encounters with local communities in Southeast Asia deserve equal attention as these interactions evidently produce friction at both the society-to-state and state-to-state levels. The influence of Chinese non-state actors in Southeast Asia can be illustrated with three examples, namely, Chinese tourism operations in Thailand, Chinese market demand and agricultural transformations in Myanmar, and Chinese gangs within the casino economy in Cambodia...

 

ISEAS

GVCs and Premature Deindustrialization in Malaysia, December 2020. Malaysia has experienced premature deindustrialization since the early 1990s. The decline in the relative contribution of manufacturing to the economy has been underpinned by changes in the key component industries of the electronic, electrical and machinery industries. The relative decline in manufacturing has also been accompanied by a decline in the country’s participation in global value chains (GVCs). This is particularly true for backward GVC participation. Macro-level evidence suggests that the decline in export growth is likely amplified by reductions in the foreign value added in the manufacturing sector. Micro-level evidence points to weaknesses in terms of human capital and technology.

 

ISEAS

International Journal of Korean Studies, Volume XXIII, Number 1, 2019  

IJKS

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

Latest ADB Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Next Generation Practices for Services Authorization in the Asia-Pacific Region, January 2021. This study looks beyond the APEC Non-Binding Principles on Domestic Regulation of the Services Sector to additional practices that support the establishment of sound regulatory environments in the APEC region that allow for the successful development of domestic and international trade in services markets. It sets forth conceptual examples of “next generation” regulatory practices that are new, interesting, and/or innovative; that are resource-saving and suited for developing economies; and that may be an indication of future best practices. Further, this report presents economy case studies highlighting next generation regulations that are currently in practice, emphasizing the beneficial aspects of these practices, and suggesting their appropriateness for adoption in other APEC economies.

 

APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippine Diplomacy and Foreign Policy: “Quo Vadis?”, December 2020. In the last week of July, 2020, an “online war” arose between Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein over a simple tweet from the U.S. Embassy in Manila, regarding a donation from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to returning Filipino repatriates “from Sabah, Malaysia.” The tweet sparked an enraged response from Secretary Locsin, who replied that “Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines.” Two days later, Minister Hussein tweeted that “Sabah is, and will always be, part of Malaysia”, qualifying Secretary Locsin’s tweet as an “irresponsible statement that affects bilateral ties.” While the two parties have summoned each other’s representatives for an explanation on the matter, the case of Sabah raises fundamental questions about the direction of the country’s foreign policies...

 

EWC

A Search for Independence in President Duterte’s Foreign Policy, December 2020. The Duterte administration’s move toward favoring non-traditional partners above other equally valuable—and perhaps more beneficial—trade and development partners, such as the United States and the European Union, has significantly changed the direction of the country’s foreign policy and impacted its national security. While the government maintains that it is pursuing an “independent foreign policy”, many experts have criticized the administration’s supposed strategy for its lack of clarity and position. In the absence of clear guidelines and a well-defined vision, the administration has merely pivoted away from one superpower, its treaty ally in the US, to global superpowers China and Russia...

 

EWC

"Diplomacy" with China Made the Philippines a COVID‐19 Hotspot in Southeast Asia, December 2020. When the news of a mysterious illness in mainland China came to light in late December 2019, some states treated it seriously and acted with urgency to mitigate potential transmission of the disease and its harmful impacts on economic and social security. For instance, the Vietnamese government recognized the coronavirus outbreak as a threat early on. In a statement on January 27, 2020, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc likened the fight against the coronavirus to “fighting against enemies” and stressed that “the Government accepts economic losses to protect the lives and health of people”. Three days after the pronouncement, Vietnam closed its shared borders with China and banned flights to and from its neighbor. Vietnam adopted these measures despite the fact that its economy is closely linked to China, its largest trading partner...

 

EWC

The New Normal of President Duterte’s Independent Foreign Policy, December 2020. Since his election to office in 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has tested the country’s foreign policy to its very seams. Early into his term, Duterte made an indelible impression on the international community for his fiery rhetoric and remarks owing to, some would argue, his unique brand of public relations. Coming from the mayorship of his hometown of Davao, his style of governance has translated into how he handles the day-to-day politics of national government. Features of this leadership style are now evident in his foreign policy. The institutional context of the Philippines’ foreign policy is found in the 1987 Constitution. Article II, Section 2 explicitly renounces the use of war as a means to an end, and gives due deference to international law...

 

EWC

U.S. Policy Toward Cambodia Requires Nuance, December 2020. On November 16, a number of U.S. lawmakers, including Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to “address the alarming deterioration in human rights protection and democratic rule in Cambodia” by imposing sanctions on senior government and security officials. This was only the most recent congressional request for action. The Gardner-Markey Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018 imposed human rights and democracy-related conditions on U.S. assistance to Cambodia. The Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019 sought to freeze assets of and restrict visas for Hun Sen’s senior officials. During the Trump administration, these requests have found purchase, with the White House condemning Hun Sen’s crackdowns and curtailing some aid programs...

 

EWC

Can ASEAN Expand Vocational Training to Help Workers Survive Automation and AI? December 2020. The countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have cumulatively vaulted from the world’s seventh-largest economy to the fifth, in 2019, in only three years. But several challenges threaten future economic growth. Chief among them is demographic change: populations across ASEAN are aging and birthrates are declining. One outcome will be labor shortages. The shrinking labor pool could serve as a strong driver for automation. But while automation may reduce input costs and boost growth, it could change the skills employers desire, resulting in the obsolescence of many low-skilled jobs, leaving current workers without the skills necessary to obtain work. Upskilling labor through vocational education and related programs is the obvious response. But ASEAN education systems have never included significant vocational opportunities. With technological change accelerating, ASEAN states will need help with the herculean task of rapidly remodeling their education systems.

 

EWC

Kazakhstan's Role in International Mediation under First President Nursultan Nazarbayev, November 2020. In the past decade, Kazakhstan has emerged as an important player in the world of mediation of international disputes. Its role in convening the Astana talks on Syria are the most well-known example, but Kazakhstan’s activity goes far beyond this. In fact, involvement in international mediation has emerged as yet another facet of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy, alongside its high profile in multilateral organizations. In fact, Kazakhstani mediation builds on two aspects of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy: the country’s multi-vector foreign policy and its activism in international institutions. Landlocked, surrounded by large powers and closely tied to Russia by economics and demographics, Kazakhstan’s efforts to assert its independence have always been a balancing act. Kazakhstan’s First President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, established the country on the international scene in the 1990s primarily by his historic decision to renounce Kazakhstan’s nuclear weapons, and his careful efforts to build independent statehood in the political realm while simultaneously working to restore economic integration among former Soviet states...

 

ISDP

The Question of Guam: A Pivotal Island’s Changing Realities, December 2020. For decades, Guam has played an important role in U.S. military strategy. The two main military bases in the island, Anderson Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam, have been elevated as strategic hubs in the U.S.’ Indo-Pacific strategy. However, a rapidly changing security environment which in many parts rests upon a perceived increase in Chinese military capabilities pressured Washington to modernize and upgrade U.S. defense capabilities on Guam. However, the ambiguous political status of Guam, which forms the very base of the U.S.’ military engagement on the island, severely limits the local population’s input in decision-making processes. This Issue Brief seeks to explain the importance of Guam in U.S. military thinking, take stock of the changing security environment and its implications for the Pacific island as well as address the situation and role of the local population...

 

ISDP

China’s Urbanization: Hukou Reforms and Social Justice, December 2020. This paper explores the socio-economic impacts of the Household Registration System (Hukou) and the delicate interplay between migration policies and urban development in China. Despite several rounds of relaxation in recent years, the system has exacerbated socio-economic inequalities between the rural and urban population, generating a dual society that prevents the full integration of rural migrant workers in the cities. The legacy of this system poses major obstacles to Beijing’s new development priorities, in particular achieving inclusive and sustainable urbanization. While current efforts to reform the Hukou have made some positive advances, policy changes aiming at restructuring other key administrative structures are necessary to achieve a real “citizenization” of Chinese migrant workers...

 

ISDP

Avoiding a Pacific Lost Decade: Financing the Pacific's COVID-19 Recovery, December 2020. The Pacific faces a potential ‘lost decade' owing to the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and an inability to finance the scale of government largesse needed to limit the damage. A multi-year ‘recovery package’ of at least US$3.5 billion (A$5.0 billion) is needed for the Pacific to fully recover from the pandemic. This should be funded by the region’s official development partners. Australia should establish a US$1.4 billion (A$2 billion) COVID-19 Pacific recovery financing facility, and advocate for other parts of the international community to follow its lead in contributing to the Pacific’s economic recovery. Once Australia has stepped up its own Pacific recovery financing contribution, it will be in a much stronger position to call on other development partners to do the same.

 

Lowy

Devolved Data Centre Decisions: Opportunities for Reform? December 2020. Data has been referred to as the ‘new oil’ or ‘new gold’, but it’s more than that. Most organisations can’t function without it. That applies equally to government. Government data creation, collection, storage and analysis has grown and continues to grow, as does government reliance on it. With continued government policy directions promoting increased outsourcing of data storage, processing and cloud storage, the value and protection that disaggregation and diversification generate may be lost in the absence of appropriate oversight. In this report, ASPI’s Gill Savage and Anne Lyons provide an overview of the current state, the implications of the panel arrangements and the resulting challenges...

 

ASPI

Indo-Pacific Election Pulse 2020: Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, Myanmar and the United States, December 2020 . The ‘Indo-Pacific Election Pulse’ is an annual project examining the most consequential elections in the region and the most important for Australia’s strategic environment. In what was an ‘unprecedented’ year, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, Myanmar, and the United States braved the challenge of conducting elections under the shadow of a pandemic. This diverse collection of views – from experts from different countries and fields – looks at how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the key elections in our region. A key challenge faced this year included countering misinformation, disinformation and cyber-enabled attempts at foreign interference, as in-person campaigning was restricted, and the virus forced campaign activities online...

 

ASPI

#Whatshappeninginthailand: The Power Dynamics of Thailand’s Digital Activism. Decembe 2020. Thailand's political discourse throughout the past decade has increasingly been shaped and amplified by social media and digital activism. The most recent wave of political activism this year saw the emergence of a countrywide youth-led democracy movement against the military-dominated coalition, as well as a nationalist counter-protest movement in support of the establishment. The steady evolution of tactics on the part of the government, the military and protesters reflects an increasingly sophisticated new battleground for democracy, both on the streets and the screens. Understanding these complex dynamics is crucial for any broader analysis of the Thai protest movement and its implications...

 

ASPI

‘Thinking Big!’: Resetting Northern Australia’s National Security Posture, December 2020. This report highlights the vast economic opportunities in northern Australia and how they can contribute to our national security. The author makes the case that, while defence spending is vital to northern economies and nation building, it’s focused more on the Defence organisation’s more narrowly conceived portfolio capital investments in defence establishments and facilities rather than on much-needed broader national security and economic decisions. Instead, there’s a need for the federal government and the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australian governments to take a more holistic perspective on northern Australia’s critical economic and national security role. The cities of Townsville, Cairns, Darwin and Katherine are vital to our defence, but also to our financial and national security. They’re most definitely more than home bases for the ADF.

 

ASPI

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #18: The Making of Anwar Ibrahim’s “Humane Economy”. Anwar Ibrahim, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, 1993–98, and Opposition Leader, 2008–15 and since March 2020, is associated with two lasting, seemingly contradictory images. Those were of the young Anwar as a radical Islamist for whom economics seemed not to matter, and as a pro-market reformer during the 1997 East Asian financial crisis for whom Islam no longer mattered. Yet there was economics in the young Anwar’s Islam and, conversely, Islam in the mature man’s economics. Between them lay certain “moral ambivalences” that occupied Anwar during the pre-crisis period when economic growth, prosperity and ambitions were dogged by rent-seeking, corruption and institutional degradation...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #17: Malay Politics: Parlous Condition, Continuing Problems. In late February 2020, the Mahathir Mohamad-led Pakatan Harapan (Harapan, or Pact of Hope) government ended abruptly. Amidst ensuing confusion, Muhyiddin Yassin led defecting Harapan Members of Parliament, joined by UMNO and PAS, in an ad hoc Perikatan Nasional (PN, or National Alliance) coalition to form a “backdoor government”. The PN protagonists cast themselves as a “Malay-Muslim front” for preserving Malay dominance. Yet they unwittingly exposed the parlous state of their “Malay politics”, as shown by an absence of “Malay unity”, strongly contested claims to represent the Malays, intense party factionalism, and subverted leadership transitions...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #16: Minding the Grassroots: Celebrating 70 Years of Sino-Indonesia Relations amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. The 70th anniversary of Sino-Indonesia bilateral relations is marked by issues alongside the coronavirus pandemic, such as medical cooperation, the import of Chinese workers, and confrontation in the Natuna waters. Since the first case of coronavirus was identified in Wuhan in late December 2019, Indonesia has been generously assisting China in coping with the pandemic. In return, when the outbreak occurred in Indonesia, China also rendered support to its strategic partner. The collaboration occurred at government-to-government (G-to-G) level (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence), business-to-business (B-to-B) level (state-owned companies and private companies), and people-to-people (P-to-P) level (ethnic Chinese associations, philanthropic institution). However, both Indonesia and China have not optimized on the P-to-P or grassroots interaction...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #15: Challenges in Tackling Extremism in the Indonesian Civil Service. In his second term (2019–24), President Joko Widodo remains committed in combating radicalism. Anti-radicalism measures such as the banning of radical organization Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), anti-radicalism policies at schools and universities and the deradicalization of terrorists have been expanded to include the Indonesian civil service that currently employs over 4.2 million people across the archipelago. In November 2019, a joint decree was signed by eleven government and state institutions to formalize the new anti-radicalism policy. This paper argues that some challenges arose during the process of implementing the policy including the lack of cooperation from Personnel Development Officers (PPK) in imposing disciplinary actions recommended by the task force...

 

ISEAS

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APEC

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ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADB Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Hmong Studies Journal, Vol. 21 and 22, 2020  

HSJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

  

 
 

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