Compromise essential to resolve Myanmar’s minority conundrum

Karen people crossing from Myanmar to a clinic in Thailand. There are still no peace agreements in place between major ethnic groups and the government. (Photo: William Daniels / Panos Pictures).

Author: Nicholas Farrelly, ANU

Four decades civil wars have raged along Myanmar’s ethnic fault lines.

In the official count the country tallies up 135 different ‘national races’. The majority Bamar people, who drive national expectations of language, culture and politics, make up around 60 per cent of the population. The minority groups, most with their own distinct tongues, customs and clothes, make up the rest. Read more…

China–US economic relations no zero-sum game

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping drink a toast at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 12 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Li Shengjiao, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China

The ‘China threat theory’ is once again in vogue, as US President Barack Obama pushes to overcome domestic resistance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Read more…

The quest for Asian pluralism

Hmong children. The Hmong are a recognised ethnic minority in many countries, including Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, but not China. (Photo: Jeremy Horner / Panos Pictures).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

A defining characteristic of the Asian continent is its pluralism. The vast Chinese civilisation on one side and the civilisation of the Indian sub-continent on the other each embraces its own rich cultural, social and ethnic diversity around a dominant cultural stream. Read more…

Making progress on Tibet

Looking homewards: novices at a Tibetan monastery in Mustang, Nepal. Many Tibetan exiles are banking on reforms in China to resolve the dispute. (Photo: Bartosz Hadyniak, iStock).

Author: Robert Barnett, Columbia University

The Chinese authorities last met with representatives of the Tibetan exile leadership five years ago. Since then, no progress has been made towards a resolution of the China–Tibetan dispute. Meanwhile, protests against Chinese rule have continued, with over a hundred self-immolations by Tibetans. Read more…

Detecting electoral fraud in Japan

People walk past posters of candidates for the Kawasaki City Assembly in Kawasaki, suburbun Tokyo, on 12 April 2015. The nationwide local elections were partially seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to boost the country's economy with upper house elections due next year. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Yusaku Horiuchi, Dartmouth College

It may seem fairly obvious, but only those people who fulfil particular requirements are given voting rights in an election. In Japan, voters must be Japanese citizens aged 20 or over and have a registered address in a municipality within a relevant electoral district for more than three months. Read more…

Regional strategic context improves Australia–Vietnam relations

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott shake hands during a joint press conference, 18 March 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Derek McDougall, University of Melbourne

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to Australia in mid-March 2015 has highlighted how Australia–Vietnam relations relate to the broader strategic picture in the Asia Pacific. Read more…

Indonesia’s long road to economic stability

Indonesia moved to a floating exchange rate system in 1997 and has been targeting soft inflation since 2005. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Anwar Nasution, University of Indonesia

Indonesia has come a long way since former president Suharto adopted a new economic stabilisation policy in 1996. But the country must take steps to improve infrastructure and enhance data measurement if it is to realise its economic potential. Read more…