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November, 2022 Current Topics

 

Source

 

 

 

 

Monetary Authority of Singapore: Macroeconomic Review, Volume XXI, Issue 2, October 2022 (Full Report):  

MAS

High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecasts Current Quarter Model: 2022Q4, October 2022. Dampened by the fifth wave of the epidemic, Hong Kong economy dropped by 2.6% in the first half of 2022. With the support of phase II of the government consumption voucher scheme and easing of social distancing measures, Hong Kong’s real GDP is estimated to revert to a 0.7% growth in 22Q3 compared to the same period last year. The job market will continue to improve with the unemployment rate dropping from 5% in the beginning of 2022 to 4% by the end of this year, returning to 21Q4’s level. Despite the significant drop of coronavirus infections in the second half of 2022, uncertainties brought by the global economic slowdown constrains output growth in the near term, especially in the external demand. Hong Kong’s GDP is expected to grow by 1.8% in 22Q4. For the year 2022 as a whole, Hong Kong’s real GDP is forecast to drop by 0.6%...

 

HKU

Chinese Coercion, Australian Resilience, October 2022. Australians have grown in confidence about the country’s ability to withstand economic coercion from China since the imposition of punitive trade measures in 2020. Beijing suspended high-level political exchanges and imposed a range of informal sanctions and trade blockages against Australia in the wake of a series of escalating disputes, culminating in Canberra’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of Covid-19 in April that year. Two years on, it is prudent to plan on the basis that it is still early days in China’s use of trade measure against Australia. Canberra and Beijing resumed ministerial-level dialogue after the election of the Albanese Labor government in May 2022...

 

Lowy

Frontier Influencers: The New Face of China’s Propaganda, October 2022. This report explores how the Chinese party-state’s globally focused propaganda and disinformation capabilities are evolving and increasing in sophistication. Concerningly, this emerging approach by the Chinese party-state to influence international discourse on China, including obfuscating its record of human rights violations, is largely flying under the radar of US social media platforms and western policymakers. In the broader context of attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to censor speech, promote disinformation and seed the internet with its preferred narratives, we focus on a small but increasingly popular set of YouTube accounts that feature mainly female China-based ethnic-minority influencers from the troubled frontier regions of Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia, hereafter referred to as ‘frontier influencers’ or ‘frontier accounts’...

 

ASPI

Deciding the Future: The Australian Army and the Infantry Fighting Vehicle, October 2022. The aim of this report is to inform government decision-makers and the public on the ability of Project LAND 400 Phase 3—the infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) acquisition—to meet the needs of Australia. I examine a number of factors that provide context for the government’s upcoming decision, whenever that may take place. Those include how IFVs fit into the Australian strategic environment, the ease with which the ADF can deploy them, their vulnerability to threats, and the ongoing utility of armour in the light of lessons unfolding from the ongoing Russian–Ukrainian War. To set the information into a useful context, this report explains the nature of contemporary land warfare and speculates how the Australian Army is likely to fight in a future conflict. To further assist those making the IFV decision, this report offers a number of scenarios that outline potential operations that the government may direct the ADF to undertake...

 

ASPI

Suppressing the Truth and Spreading Lies, October 2022. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is attempting to influence public discourse in Solomon Islands through coordinated information operations that seek to spread false narratives and suppress information on a range of topics. Following the November 2021 Honiara riots and the March 2022 leaking of the China – Solomon Islands security agreement, the CCP has used its propaganda and disinformation capabilities to push false narratives in an effort to shape the Solomon Islands public’s perception of security issues and foreign partners. In alignment with the CCP’s regional security objectives, those messages have a strong focus on undermining Solomon Islands’ existing partnerships with Australia and the US. Although some of the CCP’s messaging occurs through routine diplomatic engagement, there’s a coordinated effort to influence the population across a broad spectrum of information channels...

 

ASPI

The Gulf: Dragon on the Prowl, October 2022. The geopolitical sands are shifting in the Persian Gulf. Investments in critical infrastructure allow Beijing to project power, reap financial rewards, secure resources, expand markets, acquire strategically located bases, and undermine America’s security alliances. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has further brought into sharp focus simmering tensions and stresses and strains. Economic diversification, strategic hedging, pragmatism and “Look East” are the buzzwords. The Gulf sheikhdoms are on the cusp of history where choices made today will shape their future. Washington can no longer expect a monogamous relationship in a region ripe for polygamy with multiple suitors. Nonetheless, this paper argues that the logic of geopolitics dictates that China’s expansionist moves would prevent America’s retreat because the success of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy is linked to maintaining its presence in the resource-rich Gulf, and not letting China dominate it. Besides, when the chips are down, nearly all Gulf states still “Look West” for security against regional threats.

 

ISDP

North Korea’s Pandemic Conundrum: Self-Containment and Humanitarian Crisis, October 2022. North Korea acknowledged its healthcare crisis this May and retreated to the Zero-COVID policy under self-containment, which they adopted in early 2020. Pyongyang also perceived economic stresses when they decided to loosen border control on trade with China last autumn. Since Kim Jong Un and other leaders of North Korea declared an extreme national emergency regarding COVID-19 just after acknowledging the pandemic cases, a humanitarian crisis has loomed. To prevent the crisis, this issue brief posits that the international community should consider providing sufficient necessities to the North Korean people, despite resistance they may face from Pyongyang.

 

ISDP

Taiwan in the European Discourse: Toward Political Consensus? October 2022. The EU’s Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific recognizes that the display of force in the Taiwan Strait may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity. In this context, and in response to the military belligerence of the People’s Republic of China and its gray zone activities, Brussels elevated Taiwan into its political discourse. Yet, consensus on the role member-states want the EU to play in the Taiwan Strait remains a work in progress. In light of Beijing’s diplomatic support to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the EU has grown more aware of its own vulnerabilities. This issue brief discusses how Brussels must now start seeing Taiwan through the lens of security and work toward a credible EU-level strategy that contributes to preserving the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, deters PRC aggression, and protects the EU’s own interests.

 

ISDP

China’s Polar Silk Road Revisited, October 2022. China’s presence in the Arctic continues to garner international attention, not least since Beijing published its first Arctic White Paper in 2018. The prospect of improved economic opportunities caused by the melting of the Arctic ice cap, reduced shipping times, access to potentially large fossil fuel reserves, and opportunities to advance climate change research have led to numerous actors – China included – venturing further into the Arctic. China has been active in the northern polar region since the 1980s via scientific research. Yet, in tandem with Beijing concretizing its Arctic ambitions with its vanguard Polar Silk Road (PSR; 冰上丝绸之路), pushback against Chinese investments and activities grew stronger. Spearheaded by the U.S., opposition to China’s anticipated northward expansion further extended to include more Western countries (especially northern Europe and Canada). Exacerbating Sino-American tensions, in particular, have fuelled concerns that China’s Arctic ambitions may not be entirely benign, with some critical voices even suggesting that Chinese economic and research interests foreshadow a High North militarization...

 

ISDP

Trends in Southeast Asia 2022 #16: Freedom of Religion in Malaysia: The Situation and Attitudes of “Deviant” Muslim Groups. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), published by the United Nations in 1948, states that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Malaysia recently won its bid to sit on the United Nations Human Rights Council from 2022 to 2024. However, while the country’s constitution is progressive in underlining the rights of religious minorities, this is severely lacking in practice as it exercises heavy regulation on religion, combined with restrictions on the practices of certain faiths...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2022 #15: Concepts and Patterns of Chinese Migration, with Reference to Southeast Asia. Concepts and patterns of Chinese migration are often described with terms such as guigen (归根, return to one’s original roots), shenggen (生根, sprout local roots), shigen (失根, lose original roots), wugen (无根, without roots), and duogen (多根, many roots). These terms, linked to the Mandarin word gen (根, roots), carry various meanings including home, citizenship, ethnicity, as well as local language, culture and society. In Southeast Asia, the predominant patterns of migration are shenggen/shigen, guigen, shenggen/shigen, wugen and/or duogen. These concepts represent the mainstream patterns during various periods, which may admittedly exist concurrently. The pattern in each particular period is influenced by an array of internal and external factors, such as colonial and subsequently government policies directed at migrants, as well as forces and opportunities afforded by globalization...

 

ISEAS

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

Latest ADB Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:

 

 

ADB

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October, 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia’s Semiconductor National Moonshot, September 2022. Australia has recently been forced to cross a Rubicon. Its wholehearted embrace of global free trade and just-in-time supply chains has had to confront the hard reality of geopolitics. In many parts of the world, geopolitics is choking free trade, and China—Australia’s largest trading partner—has shown itself particularly willing to use trade coercively and abrogate its free trade commitments, not just with Australia, but with countries all around the world. Advanced technologies are at the centre of this geopolitical struggle, because of the risk that withheld supply poses to national economies and security. As Covid-19 disruptions have demonstrated, the risks are not even limited to deliberate coercion...

 

ASPI

The Geopolitical Implications of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, September 2022. The eminent Harvard University professor of Ukrainian history, Serhii Plokhy, observed that Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk in 2014 raised fundamental questions about Ukraine’s continuing existence as a unified state, its independence as a nation, and the democratic foundations of its political institutions. This created a new and dangerous situation not only in Ukraine but also in Europe as a whole. For the first time since the end of World War II, a major European power made war on a weaker neighbour and annexed part of the territory of a sovereign state. This unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine threatened the foundations of international order—a threat to which, he said, the EU and most of the world weren’t prepared to respond...

 

ASPI

Assessing the Groundwork: Surveying the Impacts of Climate Change in China, September 2022. he immediate and unprecedented impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent across China, as they are for many parts of the world. Since June 2022, China has been battered by record-breaking heatwaves, torrential downpours, flooding disasters, severe drought and intense forest fires. In isolation, each of those climate hazards is a reminder of the vulnerability of human systems to environmental changes, but together they are a stark reminder that climate change presents a real and existential threat to prosperity and well-being of billions of people. Sea-level rise will undermine access to freshwater for China’s coastal cities and increase the likelihood of flooding in China’s highly urbanised delta regions...

 

ASPI

ASPI AUKUS Update 2: September 2022—The One-Year Anniversary. Consistent with a partnership that’s focused on the development of defence and technological capability rather than diplomatic grandstanding, there have been few public announcements about the progress of AUKUS. That’s an observation we made in our first AUKUS update in May, and one we make again in this latest update, one year on from the joint unveiling of the partnership in mid-September 2021. Periodic press releases note meetings of the three-country joint steering groups—one of which looks at submarines and the other at advanced capabilities—but provide little hint about what was discussed. On Submarines, we shouldn’t expect to hear anything concrete until the 18-month consultation phase concludes in March 2022...

 

ASPI

Marles’s Defence Strategic Review—an Exploding Suitcase of Challenges to Resolve by March 2023, August 2022. The Review is to report before March 2023 so that the Albanese government can make decisions on it at the same time as they are deciding about the path that gives Australia 8 nuclear submarines within an AUKUS partnership that makes these safe and effective. Before they even get to thinking about their task – ‘to ensure Defence has the right capabilities to meet our growing strategic needs’ —Smith and Houston will need to confront the ugly fact that Defence’s current plans are already unaffordable despite the large and growing defence budget the Albanese government has committed to...

 

ASPI

Renewable Energy and Climate Action: The Future of Japan and Sweden Cooperation, September 2022. This joint publication of the Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP) and Kajima Institute of International Peace (KIIP) in Tokyo covers a solution-oriented approach to Climate Challenges that both Japan and EU/Sweden confront at large. This study covers many critical areas such as renewable energy, climate practices and the role of technology to mitigate climate challenges. Additionally, this Special Paper analyses the Climate change mitigation efforts which may lead to conflicts among countries. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis have strongly reminded the world of this point...

 

ISDP

U.S.-ASEAN Summit: Democracy Promotion on the Backburner, September 2022. As democracy comes under acute threat from rising authoritarianism across Southeast Asia, this issue brief explores whether there is a loss of U.S. leadership on democracy promotion in the region. A critical reading of the joint statement released after the ASEAN-U.S. special summit shows that the current U.S. administration has not followed through with the Obama-era practice of discussing democracy and human rights issues with Southeast Asian countries. Against the backdrop of China’s rising influence, this issue brief makes a case for the Biden administration to focus democracy promotion efforts on Southeast Asia while taking into account the political specificities of these countries...

 

ISDP

Enlarging Indo-Pacific into the Orbit of Euro-Atlantic: Implications for India, September 2022. Following the release of the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy that called for building bridges between the Indo-Pacific and the Euro-Atlantic, the idea of interlinking the two geopolitical theaters has gained significant currency, especially against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As China and Russia’s diplomatic and military cooperation deepened amidst the Ukraine crisis, the U.S. and some of its European and Asian allies declared that the security of the two geopolitical regions is indivisible and requires an inter-theater outlook. India, which is a major player in the Indo-Pacific region, has been lukewarm to such a strategic merger...

 

ISDP

EU-Taiwan Semiconductor Cooperation: Lopsided Priorities? September 2022. The European Union (EU) seeks de facto closer cooperation on chip production with Taiwan. This was underlined during Foreign Minister Joseph Wu’s Europe Tour in 2021 and by a more recent EU Parliament delegation to Taipei amid efforts to push for a bilateral investment agreement. Having announced the Chips Act in February 2022, the EU has since held its first high-level talks with a delegation from Taiwan’s Ministry of Economy. Meanwhile, reports emerged in 2021 that the world’s largest chip manufacturer –TSMC – has been in contact with European officials about setting up local production facilities in the EU...

 

ISDP

Trends in Southeast Asia 2022 #14: Thailand’s Economic Dilemmas in Post-Pandemic Asia. Thailand combines many recent economic trends facing Southeast Asia, while being immersed in the geopolitics of Northeast Asia and facing demographic conditions resembling those of Northeast Asian countries. Thailand continues to economically and politically manoeuvre around the tensions in intra-Asian relations. Over the past decade, Thailand has managed to balance many disparate competitors—attracting investments from China and Japan, welcoming military cooperation with both China and the United States, and hosting travellers from Russia, Ukraine, China, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran—with a goal of receiving benefits from engagement with many different sides and actors. Thailand’s economy suffered greatly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the Thai economy appears to be on a better footing than it was on two years ago, but with substantial long-term challenges that remain unresolved...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2022 #13: Health Security in Indonesia and the Normalization of the Military’s Non-Defence Role. Military engagement in non-military affairs in response to global health threats has become prominent since the outbreaks of poliovirus (2014–17), Ebola, and Zika (Carlin et al. 2021). However, military activism in non-defence arenas may have a negative impact on democratic governance, especially when soldiers are mobilized for domestic policing. But what is it that motivates leaders to mobilize military forces to deal with health crises? Likewise, what is it that motivates the armed forces to engage in public health control?
There are two views in discussing these questions. Some analysts argue that it is a matter of utility in a country where state capacity is limited. They argue that leaders, in order to effectively deal with the complex challenges of a health security crisis, must mobilize all available resources, civilian or military, to maximize the government’s performance (Chretien et al. 2007; Downie 2012; WHO 2021). According to this argument, the military obeys a call-out order as its professional commitment...

 

ISEAS

The Political Economy of Education in Myanmar: Recorrecting the Past, Redirecting the Present and Reengaging the Future, September 2022. Myanmar’s education sector has been consistently starved of investments and resources for many decades. Episodes of political turbulence have brought frequent crackdowns on students, with resultant damage to the education system. Myanmar’s 2021 military coup has had dramatic and adverse effects on education at all levels. Parallel educational systems — those of the coup regime, the rival National Unity Government, and ethnic organizations — now operate in Myanmar. The security of everyone involved in Myanmar’s education sector is at risk. As Myanmar moves beyond rentier status, the future of the country’s education sector will depend on forging an education sector compatible with diversity, access to modern technologies, and on educated Myanmar migrants in the diaspora.

 

ISEAS

Promoting Cross-Border Connectivity in Asia: The Role of the Asian Development Bank, September 2022. Improvements in all forms of connectivity increases a country’s competitiveness by reducing trade costs, which in turn affects trade and investment flows, and economic development. Despite significant progress, gaps in both hard and soft infrastructure remain in Asia. Cross-border connectivity (CBC) projects can generate significant benefits that cannot be realised through national initiatives alone. ADB and other international financial institutions (IFIs) have played a critical role in filling the gap. However, unless capacity utilisation is increased by software related improvements, the borrowings cannot be justified. The digital economy will also require new types of connectivity due to new modes of service delivery, and IFIs must respond.

 

ISEAS

Determinants of COVID-19 Vaccine Rollouts in Southeast Asia, September 2022. The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated the administration of safe and effective vaccines to achieve herd immunity. This paper examines the key determinants of vaccine rollout in Southeast Asia, using a supply and demand model. The supply of vaccines in each country depends on vaccine procurement, state capacity, and the logistics infrastructure while demand is driven by vaccine acceptance. All countries utilized a multiple sourcing strategy for procurement. Digital technology facilitated the roll-out of vaccination and the issuance of digital vaccination certificates. Nevertheless, logistic challenges and vaccine hesitancy continue to dog Indonesia and Philippines, so that both have yet to achieve the WHO targeted 70% vaccination rate by June 2022. Myanmar’s internal problems continue to hold up its vaccination rates.

 

ISEAS

Moving Forward Through COVID-19 in Singapore: Well-Being, Lessons Learnt and Future Directions, July 2022. This paper reviews the well-being of Singaporeans during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also examines Singaporeans’ outlook towards the future, such as emerging concerns and perceptions towards government leadership, as well as lessons learnt from the pandemic. We found that while the proportion of respondents who felt stressed from the pandemic has fallen since its earlier stages in 2020, it did not necessarily translate into respondents’ self-perceptions of better mental well-being. Specifically, the proportion of those who felt stressed has fallen from 50 per cent in W1 (21 April 2020 – 23 April 2020) to 31 per cent in W52 (24 June 2022 – 4 July 2022)...

 

IPS

Strengthening AML/CFT Practices for External Asset Manager, August 2022. This information paper sets out MAS’ supervisory expectations of effective anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) frameworks and controls for external asset managers (EAMs), also known as independent asset managers. The guidance is based on key findings from a series of thematic inspections and engagements conducted by MAS. EAMs should review their AML/CFT frameworks and controls against these expectations in a risk-based and proportionate manner. Where EAMs observe any gaps in their frameworks and controls, specific remediation/enhancement measures should be identified and implemented in a timely manner...

 

MAS

Operational Risk Management - Management of Third Party Arrangements, August 2022. Effective management of operational risk is fundamental to a financial institution’s (FI) holistic risk management framework. The nature and scope of operational risk have evolved over time, given trends such as the large-scale adoption of remote working and the adoption of new technologies. The increasing reliance on third party outsourcing and non-outsourcing arrangements (collectively, “third party arrangements”) has also prompted supervisory authorities to update their regulatory approaches. For example, the Financial Stability Board has published the responses to a consultation on “Regulatory and Supervisory Issues Relating to Outsourcing and Third-Party Relationships”, with suggestions to develop global standards on outsourcing and third party risk management, and to adopt consistent definitions and terminology...

 

MAS

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

Latest ADB Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Asian Development Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2022 (Full Report):
It hones in on trade to analyze how technology changes job markets in developing Asian economies, assesses e-commerce growth, and considers trade costs in the Philippines. Studies cover how farmers in Pakistan can increase productivity, delves into Nepal's fertilizer market, and asks whether the quality of ASEAN banks affects credit growth. Additionally, the edition explores COVID-19’s impact on Tajikistan's remittance-dependent households, and the outcomes of distributing nutritional information through conditional cash transfer networks in the Philippines.

 

  ADB

Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2022 Update: Entrepreneurship in the Digital Age (Highlights, Theme Chapter and Full Report). The region’s economy is expected to grow 4.3% this year, compared with ADB’s projection in April of a 5.2% expansion, while the growth forecast for next year is lowered to 4.9% from 5.3%. The downward revisions have been driven by increased monetary tightening by central banks, fallout from the protracted Russian invasion of Ukraine, and recurrent COVID-19 lockdowns in the People’s Republic of China. Inflation in developing Asia this year is likely to reach 4.5%, up from ADB’s earlier projection of 3.7%. The forecast for 2023 is 4.0%, up from 3.1%. While inflation in the region remains lower than elsewhere, supply disruptions continue to push up food and fuel prices...

 

ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September, 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Korean Food Insecurity: Is Famine on the Horizon? August 2022. North Korea is a complex humanitarian emergency with food insecurity at its core. Data on grain prices and quantities depict a deteriorating situation, made worse by the regime’s self-isolating response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The grain supply appears to have fallen below minimum human needs, but the situation is neither as dire as the 1990s famine nor as severe as conditions elsewhere in the world today. Food insecurity in North Korea is not only a humanitarian issue, but it is a strategic issue as well. From the perspective of donors, given the lack of regime accountability, at the present time aid is unlikely to be an effective lever in achieving other diplomatic goals, nor does North Korea appear to be the potential recipient of greatest need...

 

EWC

Ukraine Will Not Happen in Asia: America Seeks to Check China through Taiwan Visit and Quad Initiatives, August 2022. After leading a sanction-blitz against Russia and providing $8.7 billion worth of arms and equipment to Ukraine—including M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and M777 155mm Howitzers—the United States opened a pointed tactical political flank against China through the Quadrilateral Dialogue, or Quad, summit held in Tokyo in May. China vehemently condemned US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's August trip to Taiwan and conducted military drills and missile tests in the waters and airspace around the island...

 

EWC

Will the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment be a Game-changer in the Indo-Pacific? July 2022. The 2022 summit of the G7, a group of major industrialized countries, namely Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, was held on June 26 to 27 amid the unfolding Ukraine-Russia war. Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal, and South Africa were also invited, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part virtually. The Summit witnessed a significant focus on the war in Eastern Europe and its negative implications for global energy and food security. However, in an attempt to address the challenges brought by China’s rise and expanding economic clout, the G7 leaders unveiled the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)...

 

EWC

Australia in the Middle East: Enduring Risks, Interests, and Opportunities, August 2022. As Australia refocuses its foreign and defence policies on its near abroad, it must be careful not to allow ties with the Middle East to fall into neglect. This analysis examines the impact that two decades of security engagement in the Middle East have had on Australia’s relations with the region and argues that while Canberra may have largely ended the country’s military commitments in the Middle East, the region is more important in more ways to Australia than it was before that commitment got underway. An expanded Australian diplomatic footprint, growing economic ties, and more extensive people-to-people links with the Middle East means that the region and its security risks have greater domestic relevance for Australia than they did two decades ago.

 

Lowy

Wechat’s Role in Australian Democracy: A Grassroots View, August 2022. The social media messaging app WeChat is often portrayed in expert and media commentary as being inherently incompatible with democracy in Australia because the platform is subject to the scrutiny and censure of China, an authoritarian one-party state. This study provides the first in-depth snapshot of how politicians and everyday Chinese-Australians use WeChat at the grassroots level during council elections. It finds that WeChat, in these circumstances, can be broadly compatible with liberal democracy and significantly enhances democratic participation in a multicultural society. Using the December 2021 New South Wales (NSW) local elections as a case study, this paper analyses qualitative data collected from private group chats, interviews with Chinese-Australian politicians, and editors from media outlets on WeChat...

 

Lowy

‘Deep Roots’: Agriculture, National Security and Nation-Building in Northern Australia, August 2022. This report offers a multidisciplinary analysis of the various components that make up and influence the vast and complex agriculture industry network in northern Australia. It examines the economic and historical underpinnings of the agriculture industry we know today; the administration, direction and implementation of agricultural policy and funding across levels of government; the many and varied demographic and cultural characteristics of the northern Australian population; and the evolution of place-based physical and digital infrastructure. The role of infrastructure and infrastructure funding in northern Australia plays a key role in the report’s narrative...

 

ASPI

India’s Cyber Security Policy: Strategic Convergence and Divergence with Quad, August 2022. The rise in cyber-attacks across the Indo-Pacific and beyond has necessitated a robust and a common approach towards cyber-resilient information infrastructure in the region. The Quad has taken a good leadership role in this regard through the Joint Cyber Principles of Quad Cybersecurity Partnership. India has had a cyber-security policy since 2013 and has since been working to mitigate cyber threats at source. A nodal cyber-security agency, a strong regulatory framework, a center for protection of critical infrastructure, periodic audits, have all successfully built a strong cyber-security architecture in the country. The cyber-security policy of India shares many common principles with the Quad Joint Cyber Principles...

 

ISDP

Three Decades of India’s Eastward Engagement: China’s Perceptions and Responses, August 2022. This issue brief looks into China’s perceptions and responses to India’s Act East Policy. It argues that China sees India’s Act East Policy in three phases – the first two correspond to a period when both managed to establish an equilibrium and understanding, and when India desired to strike a balance between the US and China. The third phase corresponds to the ascendance of Prime Minister Modi to the Indian political scene – the time when the equilibrium was lost owing to the power shift favoring China, and China’s malevolent relations with India following frequent standoffs resulting in the Doklam and Galwan conflicts. India realigning its Act East Policy and sub-regional and multilateral mechanisms like BIMSTEC, SAGAR, IORA, and Quad, etc., have been pronounced as part and parcel of India’s Act East Policy serving the unstated goals of India’s Indo-Pacific strategy...

 

ISDP

Japan’s Historic Moment: Global Challenges Necessitate Policy Evolution, August 2022. As Japan’s power and importance in the regional and international domain continues to grow, this issue brief provides an analysis of the domestic and international threats that are challenging and shaping Japan’s historic moments. The piece asserts that while the assassination of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe showed that Japan is not immune to domestic threats, it is incorrect to connect it to threats to democracy or rule of law. However, challenges such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China’s belligerent actions, the growing US-Japan camaraderie, status quo changes in the Taiwan Strait as well as economic challenges such as Japan’s own new form of capitalism highlight that Japan’s national security and defense policy remains filled with symbolism...

 

ISDP

Japan in the Indo-Pacific: Investing in Partnerships in South and Southeast Asia, August 2022. Japan's interest in Southeast Asia and Southeast Asia have evolved over time. When Japan opened up to international trade in the Meiji period (1868), its interests revolved around resource acquisition, including natural resources and energy resources. This evolved towards securing sea lanes of communication (SLOCs) to ensure that Japan could get access to the critical natural and energy resources needed to fuel its modernization, growth during its imperial period and post-WW 2 reconstruction. Today, Japan looks at the Indo-Pacific region through the lens of Southeast Asia and South Asia rather than focusing on only securing natural and energy resources...

 

ISDP

Belt and Road Initiative: China’s Lending Hands Come with Claws, August 2022. With the economic crisis unfolding in Sri Lanka, there is a renewed interest in better understanding and analyzing the Belt and Road Initiative to prevent nations from both falling under China’s orbit and as a consequence to its “debt-traps”. This issue brief broadens the scope of analysis on the BRI by examining projects in South East Asia that may have greater geo-economic and geo-strategic significance than debt traps or deep sea ports or even power rivalry. While China has taken advantage of the infrastructure deficit in South East Asia as it has in other parts of the world, the old adage, ‘the devil is in the details’ is an appropriate characterization of the BRI in the region. This paper details the cost of roads laid per mile to the significance of special economic zones (SEZ) in the Mekong region in shaping the regional trade architecture.

 

ISDP

Chinese Influence Networks in Finland: A Preliminary Case Study, August 2022. China’s activities influencing opinion in the Nordic region have recently gained increasing attention among both scholars and journalists. Although Finland has remained on the sidelines, domestic discussion on China’s activities in Finland has also gained ground, especially after the spring of 2020, when various Finnish media reported on, among other things, the activities of Chinese united front groups in Finland. Preliminary findings suggest that although China’s influence activities in Finland seem rather mild compared to many other countries, their methods and techniques largely fit global patterns. This case study reviews Chinese activities in Finland by focusing on the recent attempts to establish networks of influence and intelligence in various socio-political domains...

 

ISDP

Clean-Energy Supply Chains in the Indo-Pacific: Prioritizing the Quad’s Role, August 2022. In recognition of the Indo-Pacific region being vital to the clean-energy transition, the ‘Indo-Pacific Clean Energy Supply Chain Forum’ was hosted in July 2022 by Australia with support from its Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) partners. The clean-energy transition is expected to gain momentum in the coming years as regional countries race to meet their climate targets and attempt to reduce their energy insecurity by ceasing the import of fossil fuels. However, while this acceleration of the green transition is certainly desirable, the present clean-energy supply chains are not stable enough to facilitate the shift. The transition will only move the region’s dependence on China for energy as a consequence of Beijing’s current near-monopoly over clean-energy supply chains, making them vulnerable to disruptions and weaponization for foreign policy gains...

 

ISDP

Quad 4.0? To Securitize or Not to Securitize, August 2022. From an ad-hoc body that emerged to coordinate a response to a devastating tsunami in 2004, the Quad has grown into a critical and formalized framework with a practical agenda. As the grouping has become an important and (in all likelihood) a permanent fixture in the Indo-Pacific region, debates on its nature and character, and where its priorities must lie have also grown. This paper addresses a key point of contention regarding the Quad’s future: Whether the grouping should move toward a rigid security treaty alliance by enhancing its security focus, or whether it should continue on its present trajectory and focus on becoming a public good provider in the region. This paper reflects on the Quad’s evolution thus far and aims to make a case as to why the Quad must cautiously stay removed from a reverting to its initial security focus and instead focus on achieving its vision of becoming a force for good in the region...

 

ISDP

Examining the Drivers of Changes in Mean Earning and Earning Inequality in Indonesia, August 2022. This paper examines the main drivers behind changes in mean earning and earning inequality in Indonesia between 2001/2 and 2018. During this period, there was an increase in workers’ education level, average age, job quality, and mean earnings. As more women participate in the labor market and women earn lower wages than men, higher female labor force participation lowered mean earning. For the overall period, the decline in educational returns at all levels of education contributed negatively to earnings. Gini index increased during this period, driven by education distribution effect and spatial location premium effect...

 

ISEAS

APEC Regional Trends Analysis, August 2022 Update: Future-Proofing APEC Amid Challenges and Uncertainties, August 2022. The APEC region is expected to significantly moderate in the near term to 2.5 percent in 2022 and 2.6 percent in 2023 following a 5.9 percent rebound in 2021, reflecting sharp downgrades in economic growth for all member economies, in tandem with the rest of the world. Already reeling from a pandemic that is marked with virus mutations, the world is also dealing with soaring inflation, a protracted war in Ukraine and heightened uncertainty...

 

APEC

Resiliency in a Post-Pandemic APEC: Approaches to Driving Growth in Digital Services, August 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on global trade; and services is arguably the hardest-hit sector. This is particularly true for services that traditionally have required in-person contact (e.g., professional and tourism services) since changing consumer preferences and government containment measures had made operations challenging during the pandemic. These difficulties prompted people and businesses to adopt new solutions at an unprecedented speed, including digitalizing services delivery...

 

APEC

Enhanced APEC Agenda for Structural Reform: Individual Action Plans. July 2022. This report is the collation of the IAPs submitted by APEC member economies as at 4 July 2022. The IAPs in this compilation reflect domestic initiatives of individual APEC member economies and the content of each economy’s IAP has not been endorsed by other economies. Economies are encouraged to continuously update their IAPs as living documents through to 2025. This report may be periodically refreshed to capture new or updated IAPs.

 

APEC

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ADB

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ADB

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ADB

Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2022 (Full Report):
  • Part I: Sustainable Development Goals
  • Part II: Regional Trends and Tables
  • Part III: Global Value Chains
  • Part IV: Harnessing Administrative Data for a More Resilient Data and Statistical Data

Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August, 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

India and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, July 2022. India’s decision to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) may have surprised many who have followed India’s recent record in joining bilateral and multilateral economic arrangements. In 2019, India announced that instead of signing the deal, it would leave the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a fifteen-member trade agreement in the Asia Pacific. In 2020, India and the United States’ effort to sign a bilateral trade and investment agreement stalled. In 2021, the United States and India announced that working towards a free trade agreement was off the table...

 

EWC

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EWC

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EWC

Special Series on The Pacific Islands:  

EWC

How to Make Indonesia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Work, July 2022. Indonesia has finally joined a long list of emerging economies with sovereign wealth funds. Indonesia Investment Authority (INA) was established in 2021 with the task of making long-term investments to support sustainable national development. INA’s immediate role is to purchase attractive assets from infrastructure-related state enterprises, which have built up large debts since the government actively mobilised them in the mid-2010s. Through this process, state enterprises will eventually be able to use the proceeds to strengthen balance sheets and conduct more development projects. Moreover, INA is searching for external co-investors. Since domestic financial resources are limited, foreign investment could contribute to accelerating the implementation of economic projects. While benefiting from co-investors’ large capital pool and know-how, INA, in turn, could help co-investors manage financial, political, and geostrategic risks. Although still at an early stage, talk on co-investment is progressing with diverse financiers...

 

Lowy

Japan’s Security Strategy, July 2022. This special report demonstrates the extraordinary proactivity of Japan towards issues of regional order-building, security and defence policy, and military capability development and teases out the implications for Australia as a closely aligned partner. The author collates and presents a wide range of disparate official source documentation and thematic analyses to render an appraisal of Japan’s security strategy in a comprehensive but digestible format. The report concludes that, while Japanese activity in the security sphere has been unprecedented and prolific, Canberra must also be aware of certain limitations in terms of resources, and political caveats to Japan becoming a ‘normal country’ or bona fide ‘great power’. Canberra, too, must be a creative, practical policymaker if the full benefits of the deepening special strategic partnership with Japan are to contribute to a truly free and open Indo-Pacific.

 

ASPI

North of 26 Degrees South and the Security of Australia: Views From the Strategist, Volume 5, July 2022. The Northern Australia Strategic Policy Centre’s latest report is a series of articles published in The Strategist over the last six months, building on previous volumes by identifying critical intersections of national security, nation-building and Australia’s north. This issue, like previous volumes, includes a wide range of articles sourced from a diverse pool of expert contributors writing on topics as varied as biosecurity, infrastructure, critical communications, cyber-resilience, maritime infrastructure, foreign investment, space, and Indigenous knowledge-sharing. It also features a foreword by ASPI’s new Executive Director, Justin Bassi. The 19 articles propose concrete, real-world actions for policy-makers to facilitate the development, prosperity and security of Australia’s north. The authors share a sense that those things that make the north unique – its vast space, low population density, specific geography, and harsh investment environment – are characteristics that can be leveraged, not disadvantages.

 

ASPI

Trends in Southeast Asia 2022 #12: The Halal Project in Indonesia: Shariatization, Minority Rights and Commodification. Discussions on halal are not newly invented in the context of Indonesia only since the formalization of the halal issue in the 1990s. The matter has been recognized since the coming of Islam to the archipelago. As with other religions such as Judaism, Islam also has regulations on the lawfulness and the unlawfulness of consuming and producing goods, which are classified as halal (permissible) and haram (impermissible or forbidden). In addition, halal and haram are considered important distinctions in Islam. Because halal and haram have doctrinal positions in Islam, all Muslims are committed to upholding that difference in their daily life. Other than taking part in mandatory prayers, Muslims are regulated in what is permissible and impermissible in eating, drinking and other behaviours. Those who do not obey are categorized as sinful Muslims...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2022 #11: Justifying Digital Repression via “Fighting Fake News” - A Study of Four Southeast Asian Autocracies. In mainland Southeast Asia, the governments of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam have been using the pretext of curbing “fake news” to control digital space. The phenomenon of “fake news” gained international traction in light of, among other things, the 2016 US elections and Brexit, in which false online information contributed to the rise of hate speech and extremism, political divides and the eroding of democracy. While these concerns are legitimate and have led to the implementation of various regulatory measures and content moderation policies, political leaders, especially autocratic ones, have found it useful to make policy responses to “fake news” as a means to stifle critics. This weaponizing of “fake news” allegations has served to tighten the regimes’ grip on information to the detriment of a healthy information environment...

 

ISEAS

Russian Foreign Policy under Putin: What Does it Mean for India? July 2022. The special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia has been under renewed scrutiny since the latter launched an invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. New Delhi has continued to carry out a fine balancing act in maintaining its engagement with Moscow while also managing close ties with its Western partners. Driven by national interests and geostrategic calculations, bilateral ties have remained strong despite a sense of stagnation in recent years. What factors account for this development, what are the opportunities and challenges, and how have Russian foreign policy decisions impacted its relationship with India? This issue brief traces the history of Indo-Russia ties in the 21st century to answer these questions and understand their current trajectory amidst the ongoing war.

 

ISDP

India’s Act East Policy: Finding Opportunities in Post-Pandemic Adversities, July 2022. India’s Act East Policy has fallen short of its promised potential due to factors like China’s increasing influence in the region, rising tensions between India and China, and India’s withdrawal from the RCEP. Since the end of 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has damaged economies, disrupted supply chains, interrupted services, and led to many more challenges. Despite such issues, the pandemic triggered a new urgency to re-imagine the cooperation and explore new avenues of collaboration under the Act East Policy. This issue brief discusses the new areas of cooperation – in health, digitalization, and the green economy – with India’s eastern neighbors.

 

ISDP

China in Sri Lanka and Solomon Islands: Role of Littorals in the Geopolitical Competition, July 2022. This issue brief discusses the growing Chinese sphere of influence in Sri Lanka and Solomon Islands, its impact on the region and on the regional powers, India and Australia. The Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka and Sogavare administration in Solomon Islands face significant geostrategic competition where security agreements and multiple infrastructure projects are carried out in the littorals by extra-regional powers. Both regimes faced public protest, and are seen as fragile democracies where Chinese maneuvers are visible. China is making inroads using the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to expand into Sri Lanka’s regional provinces. How do Sri Lanka and Solomon Islands threaten their immediate regional power? How can the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)/Quad help vulnerable nations to realign with a rules-based order? What is the role of littorals in the security balance?

 

ISDP

Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2022 Supplement: Recovery Faces Diverse Challenges. This Supplement revises the growth forecasts for developing Asia from 5.2% to 4.6% for 2022 and from 5.3% to 5.2% for 2023, reflecting worsened economic prospects because of COVID-19 lockdowns in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), more aggressive monetary tightening in advanced economies, and fallout from Russia’s protracted invasion of Ukraine. The inflation forecast for developing Asia is revised up, from 3.7% to 4.2% for 2022 and from 3.1% to 3.5% for 2023, amid higher fuel and food prices. Inflation pressures in the region are, however, less than elsewhere in the world...

 

ADB

Trade Interdependencies in COVID-19-Related Essential Medical Goods: Role of Trade Facilitation and Cooperation for the Asian Economies, July 2022. This paper empirically investigates the state of trade interdependency for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) essential medical goods—vaccines and their value chains, personal protective equipment, and diagnostic test kits—across 29 Asia and the Pacific economies. Expanding on Hayakawa and Imai (2022), the analysis investigates whether trade facilitation, proxied by membership in regional trade agreements (RTAs), can help mitigate any adverse impact on trade in essential medical goods...

 

ADB

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ADB

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APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July, 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippine Perspectives on the 75th Anniversary of US-Philippines Bilateral Relations, June 2022:  

EWC

The Australian Defence Force and Its Future Energy Requirements, June 2022. The global energy system is undergoing a rapid and enduring shift with inescapable implications for militaries, including the ADF. Electrification and the use of alternative liquid fuels are occurring at scale across the civilian economies. Despite that, fossil fuels, such as diesel and jet fuel, will be around for a long time to come, given their use in long-lived systems like air warfare destroyers, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 aircraft, M1A2 Abrams tanks, and in capabilities still in the design stage but planned to enter service beginning in the mid-2030s such as the Hunter-class frigates. Australian supply of these fuels is provided by globally sourced crude oil flowing through a handful of East and Southeast Asian refineries. Supply arrangements for these critical commodities are likely to become more fraught, however. This is already occurring because of the fracturing of global supply chains and the drive for national resilience in many nations, driven by Covid-19, the return of coercive state power and, of course, Putin’s war in Ukraine. Australia’s dependence on imports for liquid-fuel security, at least as it pertains to the ADF, extends well beyond insufficient reserves and refineries...

 

ASPI

Countering the Hydra: A Proposal for an Indo-Pacific Hybrid Threat Centre, June 2022. Enabled by digital technologies and fuelled by geopolitical competition, hybrid threats in the Indo-Pacific are increasing in breadth, application and intensity. Hybrid threats are a mix of military, non-military, covert and overt activities by state and non-state actors that occur below the line of conventional warfare. The consequences for individual nations include weakened institutions, disrupted social systems and economies, and greater vulnerability to coercion—especially from revisionist powers such as China. But the consequences of increased hybrid activity in the Indo-Pacific reach well beyond individual nations. The Indo-Pacific hosts a wide variety of political systems and interests, with multiple centres of influence, multiple points of tension and an increasingly belligerent authoritarian power. It lacks the regional institutions and practised behaviours to help ensure ongoing security and stability. And, because of its position as a critical centre of global economic and social dynamism, instability in the Indo-Pacific, whether through or triggered by hybrid threats, has global ramifications...

 

ASPI

Ukraine-Russia War: A Prelude to a Post-Western International Order? June 2022. This Issue Brief analyzes how the collective action of developed countries in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated just how dominant the so-called “Western” international order is. Instead of a post-Western international order emerging, the developed countries’ response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and concerns about China’s revisionist track record, reveals how so-called Western international order is adapting to outcompete and be resilient against revisionist states that chose to use military or other means to revise international order in their favor.

 

ISDP

Rethinking Greater Central Asia: New American and Western Approaches to Continental Trade and Afghanistan, June 2022. Greater Central Asia is reeling from the twin shocks of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The chaotic U.S. withdrawal risks postponing indefinitely Central Asian efforts to escape the region’s key geography-induced challenge – its landlocked status – as the prospect of building direct links to the world seas through that country now seem bleak. Russia’s aggressive behavior in Ukraine suggests it could be poised to assert itself in Central Asia as well, benefiting from Central Asia’s inability to connect directly to the world economy. These events, to which China’s growing role in the region should be added, suggest that U.S. and EU approaches to the region – governed through relatively recent strategy documents – must be rethought. The Afghan government formed in 2002 had worked with international funders and partners to reopen the ancient corridors to the South and to transform them into modern roads and railroads supplemented with pipelines for the east-west shipment of gas and north-south power lines for transmitting electricity...

 

ISDP

Political and Economic Reforms in Kazakhstan Under President Tokayev, November 2021. Kazakhstan’s leaders have long harbored ambitious visions for their country’s future. The country’s first President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, launched several far-reaching goals for the country’s development, most notably in 2012 the “Kazakhstan 2050” strategy, which aimed for Kazakhstan to take a place among the world’s 30 most developed states by mid-century. For a young country in the third decade of its independence, such lofty goals clearly required far-reaching reforms. Still, Kazakhstan’s leadership focused primarily on reforming the country’s economy. While acknowledging the need for political reforms, the leadership explicitly followed a strategy that prioritized the economy. President Nazarbayev on numerous occasions stated that “we say: the economy first, then politics.” But major shifts in the global political economy in the past decade forced a revision to this strategy. By 2015, it had become clear that a focus on economics alone would not be sufficient for Kazakhstan to reach its stated goals...

 

ISDP

After the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement: Assessing India’s Responsible Nuclear Status in Global Governance, June 2022. India has maintained a historical opposition to joining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), in arguing that both treaties create an unfair hierarchical system in global governance. However, in spite of contesting these norms that govern nuclear practices, India has been successful in gaining de facto recognition from the United States through a bilateral signing of the 123 Agreement. While examining this paradox, this paper argues that even with the rendered de facto recognition, India’s nuclear identity remains far from being normalized...

 

ISDP

Kazakhstan’s June Referendum: Accelerating Reform,  May 2022. The violence of January 2022 exposed both the demand for greater change in Kazakhstan’s society, as well as elite conflicts involving influential forces seeking to block President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s reform initiatives. As President Tokayev emerged from the crisis with greater authority over the country’s governing institutions, he fast-tracked a political reform package planned for later in the year, and submitted it to a nationwide referendum scheduled for June 5. The changes envisaged accelerate the pace of reform in the country, but remain within the fundamental paradigm of top-led gradual change to the system that has been Tokayev’s intention since his election in 2019. Conditions for their implementation will not be easy, given a difficult economic and geopolitical environment. Still, these reforms represent a shift: while earlier reforms sought to build participatory and competitive politics only very slowly at the local level, the current reform package envisages a gradual liberalization of the political system at all levels in order for the system to maintain its legitimacy.

 

ISDP

Trends in Southeast Asia 2022 #10: Muslim Sectarianism versus the De-escalation of Sectarianism in Malaysia. In 1992, a group of academics from the National University of Malaysia (UKM) organized a seminar titled “Seminar Ahli Sunnah dan Syiah Imamiyyah” (“Seminar on Ahl al-Sunnah and Imami Shi’ism”) in Kuala Lumpur. The two-day event arguably aimed to demonize the Shi’a sect and its adherents, as evident from the content of the presentations which will be discussed below. Among the various presenters was Wan Zahidi Wan Teh (1992, pp. 1–34), a lecturer from the Department of Shariah who presented a paper on “Ahlul Bait Menurut Pandangan Sunnah dan Syiah” (“The Prophet’s Household According to Sunnis and Shi’as”). After a lengthy explanation of his own understanding of the Ahlul Bait, he argued that Shi’as should not have the right to talk about the Ahlul Bait, and he dismissed them as a movement founded by Jews. He then quoted the founder of Wahhabism, Imam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, and referred to Shi’as as apostates (ibid., p. 30). Proclaiming himself as adefender of Islam, he concluded that the goal of Shi’as in Malaysia...

 

ISEAS

Attitudes towards Work and Workplace Arrangements Amidst COVID-19 in Singapore, April 2022. This paper presents the attitudes and perceptions of Singaporeans towards work and workplace arrangements amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. It also examines their work experiences, beliefs and aspirations, as well as their well-being during this period. The pandemic has pushed both employers and employees to consider new ways of work. While many employers, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been slow in initiating flexible working arrangements, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of such practices. Indeed, the world’s biggest experiment on remote working has proven that employees generally remain productive even when they are not on-site. A major draw of flexible working arrangements has been its potential to allow greater work-life harmony. For working parents, especially females who typically carry a heavier caregiving burden, flexible working arrangements has allowed them to work while taking care of their children. It has also given more opportunities for men, who otherwise would have been confined to the office, to better share in domestic work...

 

IPS

Precarity in Platform Work: A Study of Private-Hire Car Drivers and Food Delivery Rider, February 2022. Since 2019, aided by a Social Science Research Council Thematic Grant, researchers from the Institute of Policy Studies began research to understand the experiences of platform workers, specifically the experiences of private-hire car (PHC) drivers and delivery riders. This research was complemented by a collaboration with technology super-app Gojek which started in January 2021 and ended in April 2021. While planned before the COVID-19 pandemic and extended well into the current times, the studies were conducted against the backdrop of increasing economic and social uncertainty and work precarity; conditions that have existed before the pandemic but further amplified since then. We were interested in areas such as the profile of these workers, the reasons for their joining and/or leaving (if at all) platform work, financial and physical health, job protections and precarity, future job prospects and to discover other job-related insights to obtain a better appreciation of these workers, as well as their contexts. This working paper reflects our ongoing work in this area...

 

IPS

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ADB

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APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June, 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

China's Military Advances Make Case for Strategic Stability Talks, May 2022. China has long sought to distinguish its nuclear posture and force structure from those of Russia and the United States. However, its recent military advances and shifts in arsenal size, mating posture, alert status, dual-capable systems, and machine learning and autonomy demonstrate an ever-growing degree of convergence with these two countries. While introducing the potential for arms races or crises, these developments also increase the impetus for strategic stability dialogues. Unlike arms control negotiations, which tend to concentrate on limits to weapons development and numbers, strategic stability dialogues are broader and focus on weapons employment and escalation. Though past efforts to engage in such talks have met with challenges, the appeal of strategic stability talks may be growing.

 

EWC

NATO’s Asia-Pacific Partners & Their Ukraine Response: Why Global Partnerships Matter for America, May 2022. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is traditionally thought of as a military alliance between 28 European member states and 2 North American member states (Canada and the United States). However, NATO has been stepping up engagement with its four “Asia-Pacific partners” (Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand) since December 2020, when these four countries participated for the first time in a NATO Foreign Ministerial Meeting. But these four countries have been involved with NATO as “partners across the globe” for decades — Japan since the early 1990s, South Korea and Australia since 2005, and New Zealand since 2001...

 

EWC

Turning Point? Putin, Xi, and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, May 2022. At their Beijing summit in February 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed a “friendship without limits”. Yet Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and the Chinese response to it, has exposed the limitations of the Sino–Russian partnership. Far from being an “axis of authoritarians”, this is a traditional great power relationship centred in strategic calculus. Chinese and Russian interests diverge in key respects, and the war has highlighted contrasting visions of global order and disorder. Xi Jinping has attempted to steer a “neutral” course that preserves the partnership with Russia while protecting China’s global interests. This balancing act will become harder to sustain as the war in Ukraine drags on. Beijing’s default position is still to lean towards Moscow. For both sides, the partnership is too important to fail. But over time, its quality will erode. As China and Russia follow different trajectories of development, the commonalities between them will become fewer. The relationship will become increasingly unequal and dysfunctional, and be defined principally by its constraints...

 

Lowy

China’s Messaging on the Ukraine Conflict, May 2022. In the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, social media posts by Chinese diplomats on US platforms almost exclusively blamed the US, NATO and the West for the conflict. Chinese diplomats amplified Russian disinformation about US biological weapon labs in Ukraine, linking this narrative with conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19. Chinese state media mirrored these narratives, as well as replicating the Kremlin’s language describing the invasion as a ‘special military operation’. ASPI found that China’s diplomatic messaging was distributed in multiple languages, with its framing tailored to different regions. In the early stage of the conflict, tweets about Ukraine by Chinese diplomats performed better than unrelated content, particularly when the content attacked or blamed the West. ASPI’s research suggests that, in terms of its international facing propaganda, the Russia–Ukraine conflict initially offered the party-state’s international-facing propaganda system an opportunity to reassert enduring preoccupations that the Chinese Communist Party perceives as fundamental to its political security...

 

ASPI

The Transnational Element of a ‘Domestic’ Problem: Policy Solutions to Countering Right-Wing Violent Extremism in Australia, May 2022. The rise of right-wing violent extremist (RWE) ideas bursts to the forefront of public attention in flashes of violence. Shootings and vehicular attacks perpetrated by individuals motivated by hateful views stun the public. They have also sharpened government attention to and galvanised action on addressing such violence. These incidents of violence and these disturbing trends call for renewed vigilance in confronting RWE, which ASIO has since classified as ‘ideologically motivated violent extremism’ (IMVE), in Australia’s security agencies’ policy and law enforcement responses. As governments respond to IMVE, it is important to nuance how they conceptualise the challenges posed by RWE and, therefore, scope their solutions...

 

ASPI

AUKUS Update #1: May 2022. On the 16th of September 2021, the leaders of Australia, the UK and the US announced the creation of a new trilateral security partnership called ‘AUKUS’—Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The three national leaders stated, ‘We will foster deeper integration of security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains. And in particular, we will significantly deepen cooperation on a range of security and defense capabilities.’ At a time of rapidly increasing strategic uncertainty, when it’s increasingly clear that authoritarian regimes are willing to use military power to achieve their goals, it’s important to monitor the implementation of AUKUS so that governments and the public can assess whether it’s achieving the goal of accelerating the fielding of crucial military technologies...

 

ASPI

Understanding the Price of Military Equipment,  May 2022. Confusion reigns in discussions about the cost of the Department of Defence’s equipment projects. Whether we’re talking about media articles, parliamentary committee hearings, letters to the editor, duelling internet commentators or any other forms of discourse that address Defence acquisitions, the only thing that’s clear is that we’re almost always talking past each other when it comes to the cost of military equipment. Defence doesn’t help when it releases only a bare minimum of information. This sorry state of affairs reached its peak several years ago, when it turned out that when Defence said that the cost of the Attack-class submarine was $50 billion it really meant that the cost was somewhere around $90 billion. The situation gets even murkier when commentators compare the cost of military acquisition projects here in Australia with ones overseas. It’s very rare that we can make a direct, apples-to-apples comparison between local and overseas projects, and very often it’s more like apples-to-orangutans. Being completely unaware of the basis of the costs they’re comparing doesn’t stop some commentators from making strong claims about the rapacity of foreign arms companies or the competence of the Australian Defence Department...

 

ASPI

India and the Persian Gulf: Bilateralism, Regional Security and the China Factor, May 2022. This issue brief discusses how regional security in the Persian Gulf is vital for the international oil and gas market, and maritime security in the western Indian Ocean. For India, the region is additionally significant for the presence of its large expatriate population in the GCC and as an “extended neighborhood.” For three decades, India’s policy towards the Gulf and wider West Asia/Middle East region has been marked by bilateralism within the broader framework of a multi-aligned foreign policy. India eschews taking sides in regional disputes as it can harm its primary interests pertaining to trade, commerce, business, security and
defense cooperation. However, the developments in the Indo-Pacific, deterioration of Sino Indian relations, the expansion of China threat perception to western Indian Ocean, and the convergence on the China factor with the US and European countries is pushing India to recalibrate its regional approach as noticeable from three recent events.

 

ISDP

South Korea’s Foreign Policy in Changing Times: Reversing Course?  May 2022. The tragedy currently unfolding in Ukraine may be a symptom of new dynamics in global geopolitics. The changing balance of power epitomized by the rise of China and the shrinking American interest and resolve in asserting its traditional global role has emboldened Putin’s ambition to restore the past glory of the Russian empire. The same dynamics have also made geopolitics acuter in East Asia, from which South Korea can never be free. The COVID-19 pandemic since 2020 has only accelerated the competitive nature of international power dynamics. Faced with the broader shift in world order, how will South Korea’s foreign policy under the new government unfold? This policy brief attempts to explain the main objectives of the incoming government’s foreign policy and how these might be implemented. In so doing, it evaluates the new government’s view of the past five years of South Korean foreign policy under outgoing President Moon Jae-in – a policy which it seeks in part to reverse.

 

ISDP

Trends in Southeast Asia 2022 #9: Financial Technology Adoption in Greater Jakarta: Patterns, Constraints and Enablers. The COVID-19 pandemic has arguably accelerated changes in consumer behaviour, leading to more people performing economic activities online. One important change is the adoption of fintech as a preferred transaction and payment method. This trend is driven by a significant proportion of the unbanked population and the lower-income segment in urban areas. New fintech start-ups such as ShopeePay (E-wallet), Shopee Paylater (Buy Now Pay Later or BNPL) and Kredivo (Online Lending Service) and Bibit (Mutual Fund Invesment) have all introduced innovative ways to offer online financial services in Indonesia’s rapidly growing digital economy. Fintech enterprises offering E-wallet, BNPL, Online Lending...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2022 #8: Understanding and Reducing Methane Emissions in Southeast Asia. The Global Methane Pledge was ratified at the end of 2021. While intense discussion of its significance dominated the climate discourse in North America and Europe, the reception of the Pledge in Southeast Asia was lukewarm. This paper aims to help the policy community understand four major aspects concerning methane emissions: basic science, global ambition, regional trends, and sector challenges. In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its First Assessment Report, in which scientists stated with certainty that human-caused greenhouse gases were accumulating in the atmosphere. One of these significant gases was methane. Since then, global methane emissions have increased by 17.4 per cent, reaching 8.3 billion tCO2e in 2018...

 

ISEAS

Monetary Authority of Singapore: Macroeconomic Review, Volume XXI, Issue 1, April 2022 (Full Report):  

MAS

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