East Asia Forum

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East Asia Forum
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Analysis of economics, politics and public policy in East Asia and the Pacific.

Old Urbanization Patterns Won't Help a New China

Date: 30 August 2016

China’s unprecedented growth since reforms began in the late 1970s has been accompanied by an equally transformative process of urbanisation. China’s urbanisation rate increased from 17.9 to 54.8 percent between 1978 and 2014, which represents the largest peacetime population movement in human history. The transfer of labour from the agricultural sector and rural areas to non-agricultural sectors and urban areas in China underwrote the world’s fastest sustained period of economic growth in the past three decades.

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Complex, Obscure Financial Transactions behind 1MDB

Date: 30 August 2016

Malaysia’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal reached a crescendo in July 2016. The US Attorney General claimed that more than US$3.5 billion belonging to 1MDB was ‘allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates’ between 2009 and 2015. The case is officially closed in Malaysia, but Prime Minister Najib Razak’s difficulties remain.

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Another Shot at Global Governance Reform

Date: 30 August 2016

At the end of the twentieth century, China was an observer of global governance, on the sidelines of the G7 and not yet a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Encouraged by Western countries to embrace global governance, China has become much more proactive in pushing global cooperation since the G20 was founded. As president of the G20 for 2016, China has an unprecedented opportunity to provide impetus to global development.

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China in the G20 Spotlight

Date: 30 August 2016

The G20 has become the key vehicle for implementing and promoting global economic governance. China is set to host this year’s G20 summit in Hangzhou on 4–5 September.

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Indonesia's Jokowi Relying on Military Leaders

Date: 29 August 2016

Without networks within the military, and having no effective power over the political parties, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has been constrained in his political manoeuvres. To combat this, Jokowi has installed retired army generals to important civilian posts as coordinating ministers, defence minister and head of state intelligence.

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Separating Politics from International Law

Date: 26 August 2016

Analyses of state responses to the South China Sea arbitral award often frame the issue as a binary choice between a rules-based or power-based approach to international relations. However, states are unlikely to view the matter this way, because international law is not autonomous from politics.

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Japan's Myanmar Bet Payoff

Date: 26 August 2016

After over 20 years of sanctions and international pariah status, Myanmar has begun to come in from the cold. It has taken the 2010 elections, a new ‘civilian’ president and the by-elections of early 2012 to convince the international community that the transition to democracy is ‘real’.

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Is ASEAN Sinking in the South China Sea?

Date: 25 August 2016

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) judgement on the South China Sea ruled that there is no legal basis for Chinese ‘historical rights’ within its claimed nine-dash line. China did not accept the judgement and has instead continued its maritime and aerial activities in the region.

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There is Something in the Water in China

Date: 24 August 2016

Water and energy are indispensable inputs to modern economies. However, in China these are both under threat. China’s per capita quantity of fresh water is only one-quarter of the global average and its sparse water resources are unevenly distributed across the country.

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The Complex Nature of a Nuclear Pledge

Date: 24 August 2016

Barack Obama began his presidency with a dramatic gesture, which captured the world’s imagination and won him the Nobel Peace Prize. Speaking in Prague in 2009, he declared that the United States would work towards abolishing nuclear weapons. Since then, for over seven years, nothing has happened. Now that might be about to change.

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China's G20 Mission should be Clear

Date: 23 August 2016

In December 2015, China announced that its priorities for the upcoming G20 Hangzhou summit were to make the global economy more innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive. However, China is struggling to deliver practical outcomes in these areas because many of them are challenging domestic issues that lack a global focus.

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Jokowi's Mulyani Appointment a Step in the Right Direction

Date: 23 August 2016

Once again, President Joko Widodo has reshuffled his cabinet. One pleasant surprise is the return of Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who until recently was Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank. She accepted the offer to serve as the Minister of Finance, replacing Bambang Brodjonegoro who now leads the Ministry of Planning.

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How China's Soft Budget Constraint Created Zombie Firms

Date: 22 August 2016

This year began with international media attention drawn to the weakness of China’s economy. This prediction was validated on 9 May 2016 when the People’s Daily ran on its front page an article written by President Xi Jinping that expounded on the need for ‘supply-side structural reform’.

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Can Philippine President Duterte's War on Drugs Last?

Date: 22 August 2016

Duterte is gaining in the war on drugs, but at a terrifying cost to Filipino society.  The Philippines is drowning in a wave of killings as the government of the newly proclaimed President Rodrigo Duterte combats the illegal drug trade. Except for a few human rights advocates, there has been no outcry from the population.

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Indonesia's Jokowi Makes a Questionable Appointment

Date: 22 August 2016

In July, Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo courted controversy by appointing a former New Order general who has been accused of human rights abuses, Wiranto, as Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs. As security and human rights have come to dominate the political dynamic in West Papua, the new appointment to the third most powerful position in Indonesia’s Cabinet raises new questions for Indonesia’s restive eastern province.

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Japan's Government Accelerates Market-Oriented Agricultural Reforms

Date: 19 August 2016

In 2015, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spearheaded a series of unprecedented amendments to the 1947 Agricultural Cooperative Law. These changes will loosen the stifling controls of the national and prefectural organisations of Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) over local co-ops and farmers.

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Key Ingredients for ASEAN Enterprise Success

Date: 19 August 2016

ASEAN member states do not count for much in the global economy on their own. Indonesia, the biggest economy in Southeast Asia, has a GDP of US$861 billion, but that is still smaller than the economy of Tokyo.

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South China Sea Relations Complicated by Pesky Geography

Date: 18 August 2016

Despite the old adage that ‘good fences make good neighbours’, sometimes it is impossible, for a variety of reasons, to build good ‘fences’ in the sea. This is certainly the case in the South China Sea, where territorial claims are complicated by geography.

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The Other Steeltown...in China

Date: 18 August 2016

China’s steelmaking capacity has expanded rapidly since the beginning of the 21st century. The scale of this expansion is unprecedented in the history of industrialisation in Europe, North America and East Asia.

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