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October, 2021 Current Topics

 

Source

 

 

 

 

High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecasts Current Quarter Model: 2021Q4, October 2021. The government consumption voucher scheme gave a strong boost in retail sales, with retail sales volume increased by 10.5% in August 2021, providing impetus in robust local demand growth. With vibrant external demand, Hong Kong’s economy is expected to expand. Hong Kong’s real GDP is estimated to grow by 6.9% in 21Q3, slightly slower than the 7.6% growth in 21Q2. Brought by the success of climbing vaccination rate and the second instalment of the consumption voucher, Hong Kong’s output growth is forecast to continue. The job market will continue to improve further, unemployment is expected to drop to 4.3% in 21Q4 from the estimated 4.6% in 21Q3. The economic deterioration by the pandemic has been arrested in 2021. Along with the broad-based economic recovery, Hong Kong’s GDP is expected to grow by 6.4% in 21Q4, and by 7.2% for the year 2021 as a whole...

 

HKU

Tokyo and Taliban 2.0: Gauging Japan’s Political Stake in Kabul, September 2021. Tokyo’s perspective on the Taliban is a critical chapter in Japan’s evolving approach to upholding ‘peace’ and ‘security’ in its post-war foreign policy thinking. Despite not being an immediate or major security provider in Afghanistan, Tokyo is a significant stakeholder as a major economic actor in the region and the country. Nevertheless, Japan’s outlook and stance vis-à-vis Taliban remains invariably dependent upon its national interests, alliance partnership with the US, and its ever-growing strategic rivalry with China. Japan’s security policy and regional (if not great) power identity have been, and remain, closely linked to Kabul since the September 11, 2001 attacks. However, growing Chinese interest and Beijing’s mercantilist approach to push forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Afghanistan continuously challenge Japan’s economic stakes in the region...

 

ISDP

Japan’s Multi-Domain Defense Force: The Space, Cyber, and Electromagnetic Domains, September 2021. This article sheds light on Japan’s “Multi-Domain Defense Force” formulated in the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) as well as the Medium Term Defense Program (MTDP) (FY2019-FY2023) approved by the Cabinet decision of December 18, 2018. In the NDPG, the Ministry of Defense sets forth a concept of “cross-domain operations” in which the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) conduct operations not only in the conventional domains (land, sea, and air), but also in new domains (space, cyberspace, and electromagnetic). The Japanese government thus decided to increase its annual defense budget for the fiscal year 2020 to create its Multi-Domain Defense Force in preparation for the cross-domain operations. Why does Japan seek to improve these three new security priorities? This article aims to clarify the nature of these three defense priorities in Japan’s security policy to adapt to today’s rapidly changing security environment.

 

ISDP

India-Nordic Engagement: A Veritable Strategic Partnership in Reimagine and Configure, September 2021. At a time when strategic partnerships are conceived, either at the altar of existential security-driven geopolitics, the cannibalized inevitability of transactional economics, or for that matter, transcendental narratives engendering notions of solidarity, the budding India-Nordics engagement in blossom is cut from a different cloth. A veritable ‘Strategic Partnership’, embodying dimensions of soft-sector infrastructure capacitation, exuding socio-economic beneficence and wellness, and inducing social capital enhancing civil society compacts, founded in an innovation and sustainability construct—its emblematic of a congruent convergence, around ‘values’ and ‘virtues’. A cogent shared commitment, to the trinity Ds of ‘democratic’ diversity and plurality, ‘demographic’ ingenuity, and ‘demand’ for skills-knitted scale of operation, is driving mutually productive endeavors, in fructifying the three Cs of ‘Connectivity’ across spatiality, the ‘Commerce’ of knowledge-driven entrepreneurship, and ‘Cultures’ of sustainable innovation and rules-based ordering for global commons development.

 

ISDP

China’s Health Diplomacy: Taking Forward the Health Silk Road in Southeast Asia, September 2021. Geopolitical competition over Covid-19 vaccines is at its peak. In the absence of a fair and equitable mechanism to coordinate vaccine access, procurement seems to be based either on nationalistic goals or on geopolitical favors. While the extent to which major powers like the US and China are using vaccine diplomacy to create long-term dependencies is yet to be seen, signs of it are already noticeable, for example, in Southeast Asia. China’s health diplomacy there is not new but has always been a major part of their strategic relationship and China’s Health Silk Road. Increasing spotlight on it has, however, invited an increased sense of fervor among the Western countries to also court the region. Engagements are already in full swing, and the ASEAN countries are adopting multilateralism to navigate these complex dynamics. So, this paper first seeks to trace the trajectory of China’s health diplomacy in Southeast Asia. Secondly, we shall see how the Chinese health silk road is opening doors to strategic vaccine diplomacy for China.

 

ISDP

A Changing Climate and Its Implications for Health and Migration in the Pacific: Examples from the Marshall Islands, September 2021. Climate change impacts--temperature and rainfall changes, extreme events, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification--are amplifying health risks in vulnerable populations throughout the Pacific Islands, and also influence their mobility. This nexus of climate change, health, and migration is evident in the experience of the Marshall Islands. The nation and its population are dispersed over almost two million square kilometers of ocean, with sizeable diasporas in the United States. Climate impacts in the Marshall Islands exacerbate ongoing health threats, such as limited drinking water supplies, inadequate nutrition, and poor infrastructure. The out-migration of Marshallese is largely motivated by health, economic, education, and environmental reasons; therefore, planning for migrant movements should include adaptation strategies that also reduce health risks. A better understanding of how health, mobility, and climate change interact will help shape policy responses and provide useable climate information for focused, timely interventions that maximize health and well-being among populations in motion.

 

EWC

Economic Coercion in Indo-Pacific Island States: Building Resilience, September 2021.  In this report, the authors examine four perceived examples of economic coercion within the region that challenge the Quad’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. China’s increasing interest in the island states of the Indo-Pacific has led to concern that the imbalance in those relationships is so large that both domestic and broader regional stability are at risk. This report offers a number of policy recommendations to protect Indo-Pacific island states from economic coercion, including:
  • Island states must be better invested in the rules-based international economic order;
  • Establishing codes of conduct to limit economic duress, limit undue economic influence and strengthen the rules-based international system;
  • Strengthening government institutions so they can resist economic coercion;
  • International partners should work with Indo-Pacific island states to help strengthen the ability of local businesses to take collective action against economic coercion.
 

ASPI

Iron Ore Futures: Possible Paths for Australia’s Biggest Trade With China, September 2021. The iron ore market is wrong-footing forecasters again, as it has throughout the last 20 years. Nobody expected the iron ore price to surpass US$200 a tonne as it did in May and no one predicted it would then plunge to less than US$100 as it has this week. This report argues that Australia’s troubled relationship with China will be influenced by which path the iron ore market takes over the medium term. China’s authorities are determined to reduce their dependence on Australian iron ore, both by seeking alternative supplies and by capping their steel production. However, China has been trying and failing to curb its steel production for the past five years, with many local governments ignoring central orders. In just the first six months of this year, 18 new blast furnaces capable of producing as much steel as Germany’s entire output were approved...

 

ASPI

The Pacific Fusion Centre: The Challenge of Sharing Information and Intelligence in the Pacific, September 2021.  The PFC was set up in 2019 as an outcome of the 2018 Boe Declaration with the mandate of providing strategic intelligence to Pacific Island states to assist in high-level policy formulation on human security, environmental security, transnational crime and cybersecurity. The report argues that the impact of these assessments may be limited, including due to the open-source nature of the information. There are also widespread misperceptions about the PFC’s role. Unlike regional information fusion centres elsewhere in the region, the PFC will not produce actionable intelligence on specific security threats. For example, identifying vessels that are engaged in illegal fishing or smuggling people, arms or drugs. The Pacific still sorely needs a regional centre to fuse and share actionable intelligence in the maritime domain. Australia needs to consider how it can best move to fill this important intelligence gap...

 

ASPI

New Beginnings: Rethinking Business and Trade In an Era of Strategic Clarity and Rolling Disruption, September 2021. Global economic integration has enabled the spread of ideas, products, people and investment at never before seen speed. International free trade has been a goal of policy-makers and academics for generations, allowing and fostering innovation and growth. We saw the mechanism shudder in 2008 when the movement of money faltered; the disruption brought about by COVID-19 has seen a much more multi-dimensional failure of the systems by which we share and move. The unstoppable conveyor belt of our global supply chain has ground to a halt. This time, what will we learn? ASPI’s latest research identifies factors that have led to the erosion of Australia’s policy and planning capacity, while detailing the strengths of our national responses to recent crises. The authors recommend an overhaul of our current business and trade policy settings, with a view to building an ‘agenda that invests in what we’re good at and what we need, values what we have and builds the future we want.’...

 

ASPI

Missing in Action: Responding to Australia’s Climate & Security Failure, September 2021. Climate change now presents a grave, and potentially existential, threat to society and human security. Today, unimaginable new climate extremes confront us: recordbreaking droughts and floods, cruel heatwaves, unstoppable bushfires, broken infrastructure, and coastal inundation. Worse is expected to come. In vulnerable countries, governments have collapsed and civil wars have erupted, forcefully displacing millions of people looking for a safe haven. Instability is on the march. A new insecurity shadows our lives and the relations between nations. Responding adequately to the climate threat is fundamental to the survival of the nation. But Australia has repeatedly ignored the risks and is illprepared for the security implications of devastating climate impacts at home and in the Asia-Pacific, the highest-risk region in the world. Unless rectified, this will place great pressure on the Australian Defence Force, and emergency and disaster relief agencies, to pick up the pieces in the face of accelerating climate impacts...

 

ASPI

Virginia Review of Asian Studies 2021

 

VRAS

How Do Natural Disasters Change Consumption Behaviour? Estimates and Policy Responses from Thailand and the Philippines, September 2021. This study examines the effects of natural disasters on consumption in Thailand and the Philippines, using three large natural disasters for each country. A decline in consumption is observed after natural disaster in Thailand. This decline stems from a reduction in expenditures of the service sector including recreation, restaurants, and hotels, though the decline is partially offset by increased spending on non-durable goods. For the Philippines, declines in overall consumer spending are observed in response to natural disasters with no specific sectoral responses in sample. The policy implications of natural disasters are then discussed in the final part of the paper...

 

ISEAS

Pandemic Fallout, Disruptive Technologies, and Divergent Demographics: Policy Challenges Facing Countries in the Indo-Pacific, August 2021. New variants of the coronavirus are producing the worst outbreaks in many countries in the Indo-Pacific. Progress with vaccine rollouts has been uneven, further contributing to inequality of outcomes. The pandemic could have lasting effects by reinforcing nationalism, protectionism, and other trends that are already undermining globalisation. The most serious challenge posed by a pandemic induced acceleration towards a digital economy is the disruption to labour markets, made worse by divergent demographic trends in the region. Policies that increase factor mobility can narrow differences in capital-labour ratios and assist in productivity catch-up to promote more inclusive growth. Since commodity movements can substitute for factor movements, regional initiatives that iberalise trade can also reduce adjustment costs. Investing in a skilled and flexible workforce remains the long-term remedy...

 

ISEAS

Fifty Years of Malaysia’s New Economic Policy: Three Chapters with No Conclusion, July 2021. The New Economic Policy (NEP) which focused on poverty reduction and social restructuring has transformed Malaysia since 1971. Pro-Bumiputera affirmative action was intensively pursued and has continuously faced pushback, with heightened debate at key junctures. The NEP was marred by gaps and omissions, notably its ambiguity on policy mechanisms and long-term implications, and inordinate emphasis on Bumiputera equity ownership. Broader discourses have imbibed these elements and tend to be more selective than systematic in policy critique. During the late 1980s, rousing deliberations on the successor to the NEP settled on a growth-oriented strategy that basically retained the NEP framework and extended ethnicity-driven compromises. Since 2010, notions of reform and alternatives to the NEP’s affirmative action programme have been propagated, which despite bold proclamations, again amount to partial and selective – not comprehensive – change. Affirmative action presently drifts along, with minor modifications and incoherent reform rhetoric stemming from conflation of the NEP’s two prongs...

 

ISEAS

Global Supply Chains and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership: Who Benefits? June 2021. The recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) promises to expand trade substantially for the 15 participating countries. This study unpacks the differential benefits of free trade agreements by drawing on insights from the emerging research program on the politics of global production networks and value chains. A firm’s ability to benefit from trade agreements is a function of the firm’s degree of supply chain linkages with partner countries. Leveraging on an original survey of more than 500 firms in China, the empirical analyses show that the more backward and forward supply chain linkages with RCEP countries a firm has, the more likely it is going to anticipate positive impact from the RCEP. Furthermore, these results hold even among exporters. These findings enrich our understanding on the political economy of preferential trade liberalization and global supply chains and offer policy suggestions for member countries hoping to maximize benefits for their businesses from the largest trade agreement in the world today...

 

ISEAS

Growth Resilience to Large External Shocks in Emerging Asia: Measuring Impact of Natural Disasters and Implications for COVID-19, May 2021. This study examines the extent to which Emerging Asian countries show resilience to large external shocks. Its main objective is to estimate the impact of large-scale natural disasters (LNDs). Recent large-scale natural disasters (LNDs) in four Emerging Asian countries: China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines are examined. LNDs have a large negative impact on GDP growth in India, Thailand and the Philippines, although the speed at which the impact wanes differs, with a more persistent impact in the Philippines. Growth resilience to large external shocks will be determined by economic systems and policy considerations. These analyses will provide a useful reference to consider the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

 

ISEAS

The Impact of the Rise in Chinese Imports on Firms’ Performance: A Case Study on Manufacturing Firms in Thailand and the Philippines, April 2021. The rapid rise of Chinese trade in the world today warrants an examination of its effects on firms’ performance. Using firm level data from Thailand and the Philippines, this study analyses the impact of an increase in Chinese import shares on the firms’ profitability, sales, costs, innovative activity and labour productivity. The results revealed a negative impact on the firms’ profitability, sales and costs. Additionally, labour productivity in terms of added value per cost of worker increased with higher import share. The impact on manufacturing firms alone was similar, except for a positive impact on productivity in terms of both added value and sales...

 

ISEAS

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest Monographs/Information Papers of Monetary Authority of Singapore:  

MAS

MAS Survey of Professional Forecasters, June and September 2021  

MAS

Monetary Authority of Singapore: Macroeconomic Review, Volume XX, Issue 1, April 2021 (Full Report):  

MAS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia and the Growing Reach of China’s Military, August 2021. As the international scope of China’s economic interests has expanded over time, China’s strategic horizons have broadened correspondingly, and so have its military capabilities. China is engaged in the largest and most rapid expansion of maritime and aerospace power in generations. Based on its scope, scale, and the specific capabilities being developed, this buildup appears to be designed to, first, threaten the United States with ejection from the western Pacific, and then to achieve dominance in the Indo-Pacific. Assuming ongoing US involvement and support, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is unlikely to be able to seriously threaten the environment in Australia’s immediate region, nor Australia’s sovereignty, in the immediate future. Absent assistance from allies and partners, China already possesses the capability to strike Australia from existing bases with bomber aircraft and long-range missiles. The expected introduction of additional PLA air and naval capabilities over time will worsen this asymmetry...

 

Lowy

Bridging Papua New Guinea’s Information Divide, July 2021. Papua New Guinea’s public broadcaster, the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), plays a critical role in connecting and informing the nation, especially those citizens without access to other forms of communication. However, the public broadcaster’s transmission infrastructure is degraded and fails to reach a national audience. This is a critical problem ahead of nationwide elections scheduled for mid-2022. Targeted investment by Australia and other international donors can re-establish an effective nationwide radio service in time for the 2022 elections by contracting offshore shortwave broadcasters to retransmit NBC’s national service to the entire country. Further investment can re-establish critical onshore transmitters in time for the vote. Beyond the elections, NBC needs ongoing support to restructure its operations, and infrastructure to remain relevant, reliable, and able to fulfil its critical role informing and connecting all of the country’s citizens...

 

Lowy

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

 

Lowy

An Informed and Independent Voice. ASPI, 2001–2021. ASPI’s mission is to ‘contribute an informed and independent voice to public discussion’. That was the vision embraced by the Australian Government in creating ‘an independent institute to study strategic policy’, designed to bring ‘contestability’ and ‘alternative sources of advice’ to ‘key strategic and defence policy issues’. The story of how the institute did that job is told by ASPI’s journalist fellow, Graeme Dobell. He writes that ASPI has lived out what its name demands, to help deliver what Australia needs in imagining ends, shaping ways and selecting means. An informed and independent voice covers the terrorism era and national security; the work of the Defence Department; Australia’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the evolution of Australia’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific; relations with China and the US; cyber and tech; Japan, India and the Quad; Indonesia and Southeast Asia; Australia’s island arc—the the South Pacific and Timor-Leste; Northern Australia; Women, peace and security; Climate change; Antarctica; 1.5 track dialogues; the work of the digital magazine The Strategist; and ‘thinking the ASPI way’...

 

ASPI

Buying and Selling Extremism, 2021. As mainstream social media companies have increased their scrutiny and moderation of right-wing extremist (RWE) content and groups,there’s been a move to alternative online content platforms. There’s also growing concern about right-wing extremism in Australia, and about how this shift has diversified the mechanisms used to fundraise by RWE entities. This phenomenon isn’t well understood in Australia, despite the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) advising in March 2021 that ‘ideological extremism’ now makes up around 40% of its priority counterterrorism caseload. Research by ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has found that nine Australian Telegram channels that share RWE content used at least 22 different funding platforms, including online monetisation tools and cryptocurrencies, to solicit, process and earn funds between 1 January 2021 and 15 July 2021...

 

ASPI

Influence for Hire: The Asia-Pacific’s Online Shadow Economy, 2021. It’s not just nation-states that interfere in elections and manipulate political discourse. A range of commercial services increasingly engage in such activities, operating in a shadow online influence-for-hire economy that spans from content farms through to high-end PR agencies. There’s growing evidence of states using commercial influence-for-hire networks. The Oxford Internet Institute found 48 instances of states working with influence-for-hire firms in 2019–20, an increase from 21 in 2017–18 and nine in 2016–17. There’s a distinction between legitimate, disclosed political campaigning and government advertising campaigns, on the one hand, and efforts by state actors to covertly manipulate the public opinion of domestic populations or citizens of other countries using inauthentic social media activity, on the other. The use of covert, inauthentic, outsourced online influence is also problematic as it degrades the quality of the public sphere in which citizens must make informed political choices and decisions...

 

ASPI

Europe’s Involvement in the Indo-Pacific Region: Determined on Paper, Timid in Reality, August 2021. France adopted its Indo-Pacific strategy in 2018, Germany in 2020 and the EU in 2021. None of this comes a minute too soon as geo-political and geoeconomic competition in the Indo-Pacific Region is here to stay and rapidly intensifying. Much of this is due to China’s belligerent actions, for instance, its efforts in building civilian and military facilities on disputed islands in the South China Sea or turning the Indian Ocean into a ‘Chinese lake’, as policymakers in New Delhi fear. Amidst such postures, what role is Europe poised to play in the Indo-Pacific security landscape? Does it plan on taking a leadership role in the region...

 

ISDP

Cross-Strait Relations: A Conflict in Slow Motion? August 2021. Xi Jinping’s much-anticipated centennial speech left little doubt that it remains “an unshakeable commitment” for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to resolve the Taiwan issue. With the global pandemic creating new opportunities for international cooperation and Taiwan becoming a role model in effectively mitigating the effects of Covid-19 domestically, current President Tsai Ing-wen has been able to shore up considerable support. Meanwhile, Beijing’s relations with the international community have grown more strained and the new Biden administration doubled down on its security commitments to Taipei. With all eyes on the Taiwan Strait, the question will be whether tensions might escalate in the short term, or the threat perception is in fact overstated, with current developments resembling a new iteration of the late 1990s cross-strait crisis...

 

ISDP

The Covid-19 Pandemic in Singapore, One Year On: Population Attitudes And Sentiments, April 2021. This paper presents the attitudes and sentiments of Singaporeans on various social and economic issues amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We used data from Toluna’s online panel of Singaporean residents aged 21 years and older over 22 waves (April 2020 to March 2021). Each wave collected responses from over 500 respondents, whose profiles approximated the national population in terms of race, gender and housing type...

 

IPS

Towards a Unified Framework for Digital Literacy in Singapore, April 2021. The unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have brought to the forefront the critical nature of digitalisation. For individuals, businesses and economies, digital transformation is now a must-do and no longer a good-to-have. However, digital technology can both connect and divide. It can bring about tremendous benefits especially in times when safe distancing is mandatory, but it can also compound and worsen existing economic and social inequalities. In this working paper, we specifically address the second-level digital divide of digital literacy (the first level being physical access and the third level, participation)...

 

IPS

Public Debt and Intergenerational Equity in Singapore, February 2021. We explore the concerns of public debt and intergenerational equity in Singapore’s context. The central concern of our research is whether the Singapore Government can issue and manage debt while maintaining intergenerational equity. IPS Working Papers No. 32 (Shih, 2018) listed four principles of intergenerational equity relevant to Singapore’s fiscal management of reserves. From these principles, we infer that the Government’s current position on public debt follows that of the benefit principle of intergenerational equity...

 

IPS

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADB publications:  

ADB

Estimating Fiscal Multipliers in Selected Asian Economies, August 2021. This paper estimates fiscal multipliers using quarterly data for a panel of nine developing Asian economies, following a vector autoregression model specification, but using local projections to extract the impulse responses. We provide evidence that the 4-quarter and 8-quarter cumulative multipliers for general government spending range between 0.73 and 0.88 in baseline estimations, in line with recently reported estimates for developed countries but larger than those for developing countries. We also find that the corresponding tax multipliers range between –0.41 and –0.62, significantly smaller than recently reported estimates for developed countries but larger than those for developing countries. These results suggest that, without the stimulus measures introduced by countries around the world since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy would have suffered even greater output loss...

 

ADB

Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2021 (Full Report, and Special Supplement):

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, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

China’s Communist Party at 100: From Revolution to Rule, July 2021. The founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 was a turning point in the history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which celebrates its hundredth anniversary this year. Prior to 1949, the CCP was a revolutionary liberation movement, but since the founding of the PRC, its primary task has been to rule the country. The death of Mao Zedong in 1976 marked another turning point in the Party’s history. During the period 1949–1976, it had consistently held on to a socialist model of development with a centrally planned economy, collective and state ownership of the means of production, and a Leninist political model of party rule. However, after 1976, Deng Xiaoping’s (1904-1993) modernization program of reform and opening up meant a radical departure from the Mao era...

 

ISDP

Merkel’s China Legacy, July 2021. Angela Merkel’s time as the Chancellor of Germany is soon coming to an end. An unofficial mainstay of the European Union, she leaves office having helped put in place many of the structural aspects enabling the EU to function as a single actor. At the same time, Merkel leaves behind a legacy of Germany being at odds with many other member states with regards to a major challenge facing the Union: the rise of China as a systemic rival. When Merkel first took office, many Western countries looked to China with hopes of political liberalization, which might come about as a result of the country’s increasing economic growth. However, as she leaves office, China has turned towards more autocratic governance, and many European observers look to China with concern, not just for the sake of human rights but also as a systemic threat to Europe.

 

ISDP

Losing Our Agnosticism. How to Make Australia’s Foreign Influence Laws Work, July 2021. Country agnosticism, under which Australia’s laws treat all foreign influence efforts in the same way, regardless of their source country, is the key failing of Australia’s statutory response to foreign governments’ influence activities. It has imposed sweeping, unnecessary regulatory costs. It has caused waste of taxpayer-funded enforcement resources. It has diverted those resources from the issues that really matter. And it has brought unnecessary legal complexity. Yet for all that, nobody believes that the laws are truly country agnostic. Not the Australian media, which routinely describe them as ‘aimed at’ China. Nor, presumably, the media’s audience. Nor, certainly, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which regards itself as the target, explicitly citing the laws as a key grievance...

 

ASPI

‘Lead Me to the Harbour!’: Plotting Darwin Harbour’s Future Course, July 2021. In this report, authors Dr John Coyne and Dr Teagan Westendorf seek to move Australia’s public policy discourse on the future of Darwin Port beyond a binary choice. In doing so, they consider the Harbour’s history, the nature of its strategic importance to Australia and our allies, and opportunities for its future development. The report explores four potential options for the future development of the Port and Harbour. Rather than providing a specific policy treatment on the current leasing arrangements, this work focuses on promoting policy discourse on a unifying vision for the future of Darwin Harbour...

 

ASPI

An Australian DARPA to Turbocharge Universities’ National Security Research: Securely Managed Defence-Funded Research Partnerships in Five-Eyes Universities, July 2021. More than at any time since World War II, science and technology (S&T) breakthroughs are dramatically redesigning the global security outlook. Australia’s university sector now has a vital role to play in strengthening Australia’s defence. In this paper, we propose establishing a formal partnership between the Defence Department, defence industry and Australian universities. There’s a significant opportunity to boost international defence S&T research cooperation with our Five-Eyes partners: the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand. We outline how this can be done...

 

ASPI

Exfiltrate, Encrypt, Extort: The Global Rise of Ransomware and Australia’s Policy Options, July 2021. As the Covid-19 pandemic has swept across the world, another less visible epidemic has occurred concurrently—a tsunami of cybercrime producing global losses totalling more than US$1 trillion. While cybercrime is huge in scale and diverse in form, there’s one type that presents a unique threat to businesses and governments the world over: ransomware. Some of the most spectacular ransomware attacks have occurred offshore, but Australia hasn’t been immune. Over the past 18 months, major logistics company Toll Holdings Ltd has been hit twice...

 

ASPI

European Middle Powers in the Indo-Pacific amid Great-Power Strategic Competition, June 2021. European middle powers are not typically part of U.S. discussions of the Indo-Pacific. However, in an era of growing strategic competition, they are collectively and individually expressing stronger equities in the stability of the region. In May 2021, for example, the United Kingdom’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail for the first time on a tour that will take it to various locations, including to the Indo-Pacific region. The Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen, as well as a U.S. destroyer and aircraft, are also part of the carrier strike group. Thus, now is a good moment to step back and reflect on the role of European middle powers in the Indo-Pacific amid the backdrop of great-power, strategic competition...

 

EWC

India’s Options in a Contested Environment: Constraints and Prospects, June 2021. The past year has witnessed tumultuous and unforeseen changes in the global geopolitical landscape due to the pandemic. While India struggles to contain its devastating second wave, it is simultaneously confronted with a significant national security challenge from across the disputed Himalayan border with China. A skirmish along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that started in May 2020 escalated rapidly into a full-blown crisis, with clashes in Galwan on June 15, 2020, causing casualties on both sides. After multiple rounds of talks, the crisis remains unresolved and has starkly exposed India’s lack of credible deterrence that could either deny or punish China’s belligerence across the unsettled border...

 

EWC

In Its Hour of Need: India’s Covid-19 Crisis and the Future of The Indo-Pacific, June 2021. India struggled with an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. At its height, more than 400,000 new coronavirus cases were being reported daily. In many countries, the second wave was more virulent than the first, mirroring what happened in the fall of 1918, the second and deadliest phase of the Spanish influenza pandemic. Foreign aid poured into India, but the main challenge is to enable and fast-track partnerships and to ramp up vaccine production. Facing an acute situation at home, the Government of India suspended vaccine exports in late March. This was a major blow to countries who had either received doses as part of India’s vaccine diplomacy, or had placed orders with India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine producer. In total, India shipped 64 million doses of vaccines to 85 countries...

 

EWC

India’s Networking Response to the Chinese Threat, June 2021. India has experienced rising tensions with China in recent years, as demonstrated by two border crises in 2017 and 2020-21. The second event saw the death of some 20 Indian troops, and at least 4 Chinese soldiers, in hand-to-hand combat – the first fatalities in nearly half a century of periodic border face-offs. New Delhi’s policy response has spanned both internal and external balancing. The former has involved augmenting India’s capacity to engage in limited combat of the type that nuclear-armed states have occasionally fought, as did the Soviet Union and China in 1969 and India and Pakistan in 1999. The Indian military has bolstered its border by deploying combat troops, cruise missiles, and advanced combat aircraft. However, China has done much the same, putting pressure on India to upscale its military capabilities...

 

EWC

Re-thinking Coalitions: The United States in a World of Great Power Competition, June 2021. In 2018, the United States government released The National Security Strategy of the United States and its related National Defense Strategy. Each document identified key changes in the national security environment, focusing on the emergence of “great power competition” with both Russia and China. President Biden’s interim national security guidance, issued in March 2021, is more circumspect. The guidance avoids the term “great power competition” but points out China’s increased assertiveness and its potential to mount a challenge to the current international system, as well as Russia’s continued interest in expanding global influence. The US-China competition, in particular, is regularly compared to the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union...

 

EWC

Covid’s Impact on India’s Soft Power in the Indo-Pacific, June 2021. Understanding India’s soft power in the Indo-Pacific and the possible impact of its recent decline is essential to a well-informed American strategy in the region. As the world’s second-most populous country and largest democracy, India is an important power and American partner, as highlighted in President Biden’s March 2021 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which also identified the Indo-Pacific as vital to American national interests. The Great Power competition in the Indo-Pacific and India’s hard power has been analyzed in other articles in this series. As Joseph Nye pointed out in the 1980s, successful states require both hard and soft power–the wherewithal to coerce as well as the ability to entice and influence the behavior of other countries without force...

 

EWC

Three Dilemmas Facing the Indo-Pacific’s Regional Order, June 2021. For decades, an international order delivered security and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific. The order was based on U.S. military hegemony and alliances that preserved the strategic status quo and multilateral cooperation that enabled economic development and growth. That order is now under strain. The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging the order’s founding principles, prompting some regional states to limit their interdependency in certain sensitive sectors under the guise of supply chain resilience. The pandemic was not the first challenge to test the order; serious threats began to emerge over a decade ago, with the global financial crisis of 2008, and were sharply exacerbated by China’s economic rise and strategic revisionism, which threatens U.S. military and economic primacy and the territorial status quo...

 

EWC

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #16: Naquib Al-Attas’ Islamization of Knowledge: Its Impact on Malay Religious Life, Literature, Language and Culture. Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas (born 1931) is a Malaysian thinker who is world-renowned in the academic world and in the field of arts and culture. He received his higher education at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, and later at McGill University in Montreal as well as the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. His early writings mainly revolved around Sufism, and his most monumental work is The Mysticism of Hamzah Fansuri (1970)...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #15: The Unrealized Mahathir-Anwar Transitions: Social Divides and Political Consequences. The failure of two expected transitions of leadership from Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Anwar Ibrahim (in 1998 and 2020) are traceable beyond their personal entanglements to the social divides and political currents of their time. The unrealized transitions are symptomatic of a dynamic of “dysfunctional succession” that began in UMNO. Under Mahathir, the party split. Under Najib it was defeated. The condition persists in Perikatan Nasional as its head, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, has not even appointed a deputy prime minister after being in power for fifteen months...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2021 #14: 30 Years On: A Reflection on Southeast Asia’s Fight Against Communism During the Cold War Years. Communism was seen as a serious threat and a perennial concern in Malaya (Malaysia from 1963), Singapore, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia in the post-World War II period until the 1980s. Many people today, especially the younger generation, may not be aware of this. The communist parties of the Soviet Union and China had set up or abetted the setting up of communist parties in the developing world to foment communist takeover of these countries through political mobilization and violent revolution...

 

ISEAS

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APEC

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ADB

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ADB

Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021 Supplement: Renewed Outbreaks and Divergent Recoveries, July 2021. Recovery is under way in developing Asia, but with the growth projection for this year revised down slightly from 7.3% in Asian Development Outlook 2021 in April to 7.2% following renewed virus outbreaks in some economies. The projection for 2022 is upgraded from 5.3% to 5.4%. East Asia’s 2021 growth forecast is raised from 7.4% to 7.5%, reflecting a strong first quarter. Expansion in the People’s Republic of China is still projected at 8.1% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022 as favorable domestic and external trends align with April forecasts...

 

ADB

Asian Development Outlook 2021 Full Report, Highlights, Special Topic and Theme Chapter.  Economic growth in developing Asia is expected to rebound to 7.3% this year, supported by a healthy global recovery and progress on COVID-19 vaccines. Growth in developing Asia is gaining momentum, although renewed COVID-19 outbreaks could undermine the recovery. Regional growth in 2022 is expected to be 5.3%. Inflation in developing Asia is projected to fall to 2.3% from 2.8% last year, as food-price pressures ease in India and the PRC. Inflation is forecast to rise to 2.7% in 2022. Economic growth in developing Asia is set to rebound in 2021, supported by a healthy global recovery and progress on COVID-19 vaccines, according to ADB’s flagship economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021. The growth is forecast to moderate slightly in 2022. ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada says that while growth in the region is gaining momentum, renewed COVID-19 outbreaks could still undermine the recovery...

 

ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

HKU

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

 

ISDP

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

Lowy

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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APEC

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ADB

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ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

Lowy

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

 

Lowy

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

 

Lowy

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

 

EWC

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

 

EWC

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

 

EWC

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

 

EWC

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

 

EWC

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

 

EWC

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

 

EWC

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

 

EWC

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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ADB

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ADB

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APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

EWC

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

 

Lowy

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

 

Lowy

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ISDP

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

 

ISDP

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

 

ISDP

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Journal of Global Buddhism, Volume 21, 2020  

JGB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

HKU

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

 

EWC

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

 

EWC

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

 

EWC

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ASPI

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

 

ISDP

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

 

ISDP

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

 

ISDP

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

 

ISDP

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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

 

ISEAS

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

  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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