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  • Author: Natasha Kassam, Richard McGregor
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China has lost the battle for public opinion in Taiwan. Saturday’s elections are likely to reflect strong anti-Beijing sentiment China is already looking past the elections to weaken the island’s democracy through overt and covert means Whatever the result, Beijing will increase pressure on Taipei to open talks on unification
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: David Orsmond
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China’s economic growth has fallen to its slowest rate since 1990, and this deceleration looks set to continue unless China implements the kinds of deep reforms behind the successful economic transitions of Japan and Korea. China’s economic growth has fallen to its slowest rate since 1990, and this deceleration looks set to continue. Key factors include weakening demographics, inefficient investment, maturing export markets and declining productivity growth rather than the current trade dispute with the United States. To reverse that trend, China will need a wide-ranging policy approach that mimics the policies implemented by Japan and Korea at a similar economic stage. While there are considerable political and economic obstacles to such reforms, if it manages to continue its rapid catch-up to advanced economy incomes the potential returns for both China and the world are significant.
  • Topic: Reform, Economy, Economic growth, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Elina Noor
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Malaysia’s foreign and security policy faces myriad challenges, but not much is likely to change under Mahathir Mohamad’s ‘New Malaysia’ framework. The return of Mahathir Mohamad to the prime ministership of the country he had previously led for 22 years has raised questions about the direction Malaysia’s foreign and security policy might take. While there may be some course-corrections in foreign and security policy under Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan government, it will not stray far from the approach of previous administrations. Continuities will include its non-aligned status, its pragmatic dealings with both the United States and China, its focus on ASEAN centrality and Malaysia’s economic development through trade. Malaysia will revisit its earlier “Look East” policy; it has plans to upgrade its defence capabilities in the South China Sea; and it will take a more consultative approach to foreign policy-making.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia
  • Author: John Edwards
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The outlines of a trade deal between the United States and China are there. But without a return to the negotiating table, the dispute could rapidly escalate, magnifying the damage to world growth. With the Osaka G20 meeting looming, Chinese analysts and policymakers visited in Beijing are pessimistic about the prospects for a trade deal with the United States. If they are right, global financial markets are in for a much wilder shock than anything yet seen in this quarrel. Yet much of a deal has already been agreed, while the consequences of not reaching a deal have become increasingly dire.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Roland Rajah
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: East Asia is no longer reliant on US or Western markets to fuel its growth, giving it more room to manage amid global trade tensions. Heightened global trade tensions and the US desire to ‘decouple’ from the Chinese economy for national security reasons pose significant risks to East Asia’s export-driven growth model. However, the latest data suggests East Asia is no longer so dependent on exporting to the West, with China in particular eclipsing the United States as the leading source of ‘final demand’ for the rest of the region’s exports. This gives East Asia much greater room to manoeuvre, as regional integration is now a more viable platform for growth while US decoupling efforts will likely struggle to find traction in the region.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Global Markets, Exports
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Euan Graham
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump–Kim summit is a distinct new phase in the dramatic cycle that defines the North Korea nuclear issue and the peninsula’s highly theatrical brand of geopolitics. Now that North Korea has finally reached the threshold of a nuclear missile capability to directly threaten the US mainland, its scripted brand of hyperbole and brinksmanship is encountering a different sort of melodrama: the political theatre of Donald Trump. The North Korean nuclear issue cannot be understood without an appreciation of the fundamental tension within inter-Korean relations. There is no precedent for a minor, revisionist power developing an asymmetrical nuclear deterrence relationship with the United States. The result is unlikely to be stable.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Weapons , Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Rosser
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Indonesia’s education system is low in quality and the underlying causes are political. Indonesia’s education system has been a high-volume, low-quality enterprise that has fallen well short of the country’s ambitions for an “internationally competitive” system. This outcome has reflected inadequate funding, human resource deficits, perverse incentive structures, and poor management but has most fundamentally been a matter of politics and power. The political causes of poor education performance include the continued dominance of political, bureaucratic, and corporate elites over the education system under the New Order and the role that progressive NGOs and parent, teacher, and student groups have had in education policymaking since the fall of the New Order, making reform difficult.
  • Topic: Education, Government, Politics, Children, Youth, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, Australia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Thibaud Voïta
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: During its two sessions (lianghui) in March 2018, the National People’s Congress (NPC) announced China’s most important institutional reforms in the last 30 years. These changes occurred right after Xi Jinping consolidated his power and at a time when stakeholders working in the energy field were expecting more clarity on policy orientations. Though the reforms are in line with those initiated since the 2000s, the energy sector is likely to be deeply affected by the new institutional setting, which reflects China’s energy policy path with a strong emphasis towards low-carbon technologies and a rise in importance of environmental issues, alongside Xi’s institutional modernization through greater centralization and control. Nevertheless, it is too early though to judge whether this will effectively impact the balance of power with the fossil fuel related institutions and policies. The day Environment became more important than energy The environment sector is at the core of the reforms, which probably reflects the will to put environmental protection ahead of energy issues. The latest reforms established a Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) which gathers climate and environment responsibilities, that used to be spread between a number of bodies. Unveiled in April, the MEE is now in charge of managing most environmental issues, and theoretically able to draft and empower regulations. In addition, it now represents China in international climate negotiations. In order to manage these new duties, MEE staff increased from 300 to 500.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Governance, Xi Jinping
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Matthew Busch
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Despite impressive economic performance, Vietnam’s strong trade and investment gains have yet to fully overcome the vestiges of its economic past. Economic restructuring and greater integration with the international economic system has brought Vietnam impressive gains in wealth, trade, and investment. Such efforts have not, however, resolved Vietnam’s ‘missing middle’ or the lack of a productive domestic private sector and the continued dominance of the state-owned sector. While these challenges represent a risk to Vietnam’s future growth potential, initiatives such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership provide an opportunity for further trade and investment expansion.
  • Topic: Economic growth, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Investment, Trade, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Asia, Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sam Geall
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: President Trump’s retreat on climate change put China ‘in the driver’s seat’. But to really demonstrate leadership, China needs to green its overseas investments. President Trump’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Agreement shone a light on China’s efforts to fight climate change, which are as much about economics and technology as environmental responsibility. Longer-term technological and economic change may lead China to eventually show greater diplomatic ambition on climate. China cannot assume an international leadership position on climate until it deepens its domestic energy transition and greens its overseas investments.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Treaties and Agreements, Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Aaron L. Connelly
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Donald Trump has put US policy in East Asia on autopilot. But that could leave the United States far off course — and in a crisis, Trump will be required to fly the plane. Despite President Donald Trump’s promise to adopt an America First foreign policy, US policies in East Asia — on issues from trade, to diplomatic engagement, to the North Korean nuclear crisis — now more closely resemble those of Trump’s predecessors than his campaign vision. There are few advisers around President Trump with the necessary expertise, experience, and inclination to implement an America First foreign policy in Asia. Most principals hold conventional Republican views, and lead institutions that have advanced conventional policies. As a result, US policy in East Asia is on autopilot. The greatest risks are not a deliberate crash, but that of a crisis, in which the autopilot will disengage and President Trump will be required to fly the plane; or that the United States will drift far off course before a qualified pilot can retake control.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Peter Engelke
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: An insecure supply of clean water raises the dangers of economic disruption, social tension, and even conflict over water resources at both the domestic and international levels. These dangers are highest where water is scarce and governance (at the domestic or international levels) is poor. Asia provides the most powerful illustration of water security risks, with significant challenges that affect both the water supply and demand sides, as well as important governance shortcomings. While there are enormous disparities across Asia in terms of this issue, the continent’s overall water outlook is discouraging. Much of Asia suffers from the consequences of investments in supply-side water infrastructure projects that have emphasised gigantic scale over the efficient use of water. These investments have often been made without adequate consideration of their economic, social, diplomatic and environmental costs, nor with much concern for long-term impact. The rapid pace and massive scale of Asian urbanization are placing new stresses on water demand, because city dwellers consume more water than their rural counterparts. Water experts and practitioners across Asia are fully aware of the continent’s many problems and are diligently working to overcome them. There will be no easy fix, however, because of Asia’s massive scale plus significant financial, political and institutional obstacles. As in other domains, there is no substitute for good governance. Widespread progress on the continent will occur when local, regional, and national leaders use good data and information to make the right decisions to manage water resources smartly and cooperatively over the long run.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Water, Food Security
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Luba von Hauff
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The security risks of post-Soviet Central Asia are pronounced and therefore pres- ent on the agendas of most international actors, including the US, Russia, and China. The EU is also concerned, although it has hitherto not been known for political success in the region, especially in terms of security. Indeed, the EU’s approach to the region – oriented toward transformation, liberalization, and de- mocratization – has been largely labeled a failure, with minimal impact and prog- ress. Against this background, this article will review and discuss the nature of the threats to Central Asia’s security, establish the extent of the EU’s actual “failure” by examining the distinct characteristics of the EU’s security approach, and, finally, reflect on how European policy can have an impact on the local security situation in the future.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia