State-owned enterprises finding bigger role in global investment

A security guard stands next to a branch of Everbright Securities Co., Ltd. in Shanghai, China, 20 August 2013. China Everbright Ltd. rose to the highest since 2011 in Hong Kong trading after government entities signed an agreement that is part of the restructuring of the China Everbright group of state-owned companies. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Michael V. Gestrin, OECD

State-owned enterprises have played a relatively minor role in the era of investment-driven globalisation that began in the 1970s. As recently as 2007, when annual flows of foreign direct investment by multinational enterprises reached a record US$2 trillion, state-owned enterprises were sitting on the sidelines, accounting for only 3–4 per cent of international mergers and acquisitions, the main vehicles multinational enterprises use to acquire and control international operations. Read more…

Japan’s snap election won’t ease Abe’s woes

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Author: Corey Wallace, ANU

When Abe dissolved the lower house on 21 November 2014 and called a snap election for December, top leaders in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito identified keeping 270 seats as the low-water mark, which would represent a loss of 56 seats. Given current economic conditions and the state of public opinion, a unified and confident opposition would probably extract such losses and would challenge the LDP–New Komeito coalition’s majority. But the opposition is still struggling to unify, so Abe and the coalition look reasonably safe. Read more…

Sri Lanka tilts to Beijing

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Author: David Brewster, ANU

A sea change is occurring in Sri Lanka’s strategic orientation. Recent developments suggest that Sri Lanka is becoming China’s new best friend and security partner in the eastern Indian Ocean. This would represent a major change in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy and could have significant consequences for regional security. Read more…

China’s aspiring global leadership

US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping look at each other during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during APEC, 12 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

This geopolitical summit season has consolidated ongoing trends in international affairs. A still-rising China with global leadership aspirations, a resurgent Russia bent on restoring its superpower status, and sclerosis and dysfunction in Western countries is likely to dominate international politics for at least the next 20 years. In fact, we might only be at the beginning in this long time span where seismic global power shifts are taking place. Read more…

Japan’s unnecessary election

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, 18 November 2014. Abe called a snap election for December and put off a sales tax hike planned for next year until 2017. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Prime Minister Abe is subjecting his ruling coalition — and his nation — to an unnecessary election on 14 December 2014. Abe claims his decision is all about policy, but in reality it is all about politics. His stated rationale for calling the election is the need to secure voters’ endorsement of his administration’s decision to postpone the consumption tax rise to 10 per cent until April 2017. But his real reasons are based on cold calculations of political self-interest. Read more…

A new vision for Australia-India relations

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Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

Australia and India have not always been the best of friends.

Seven Indian prime ministers from across the political spectrum and spanning three decades have come and gone without paying a state visit to Canberra, a record broken only now with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Australia following the Brisbane G20 Summit. Four unreciprocated visits were made by Australian prime ministers during the latter half of this period. Read more…

The new nuance in Chinese diplomacy

China's President Xi Jinping during his recent visit to Australia and New Zealand, 21 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

Much energy has been expended on projecting the impact of the rise of Chinese economic power on its political and military might and the strategic contest with the United States. Read more…

China flexes its muscles at APEC with the revival of FTAAP

United States President Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing at the APEC CEO Summit on 10 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mireya Solís, Brookings Institution

The 2014 APEC leaders’ summit witnessed a string of successes in Chinese trade diplomacy. Key among these successes was the endorsement of China’s signature trade initiative as APEC host: the realisation sooner rather than later of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). Read more…

A good week for global governance

US President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands prior to the G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia on Nov. 16, 2014. The three leaders agreed to deepen their security cooperation. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Alan S Alexandroff, University of Toronto, and Yves Tiberghien, UBC

For global governance watchers, this was the big week of the year. Between 7 November and 16 November, the world witnessed an APEC meeting in Yanqi Lake near Beijing complete with a bilateral China–Japan ‘breakthrough’ and a major US–China climate deal; an historic ASEAN and East Asia Summit held in Naypidaw, Myanmar; and a colourful G20 meeting in Brisbane, Australia.

Notwithstanding the chorus of those announcing growing disorder, global order seems better off after these summits. Read more…

Where are Hong Kong’s moderate democrats?

A protester rests after they tried to break into the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, 19 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Steven Yet, University of Toronto

After weeks of protests, the protracted stalemate in Hong Kong doesn’t appear to be over. While the Occupy Central movement has brought together civil society groups to protest for democratic change, the movement lacks active participation from the political side. Read more…

Why the AIIB presents an opportunity for New Zealand

China's President Xi Jinping walks with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key after attending a meeting with the New Zealand-China Council in Auckland on November 21 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Cassandra Shih, Victoria University of Wellington, and Benedict Xu-Holland, ANU.

So far 20 countries have taken up China’s open invitation to found the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Notably absent at the signing were Australia, Indonesia and South Korea, who did not definitively respond to the invitation. Until a week before the signing it seemed likely that Australia would join, but it eventually withdrew, citing ongoing transparency concerns similar to those voiced by US officials. The US likely sees the new bank as a threat to the US and Japan’s status as the regional norm-shapers of development finance. Read more…

Political Islam in Bangladeshi democracy

Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, acknowledge their leader during a rally in Dhaka, 4 February 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mubashar Hasan, Griffith University

Recently Bangladesh was side-tracked from an electoral democracy. Earlier this year, the ruling party Awami League formed government after a one-sided election. Bangladesh’s major opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), boycotted the election on the grounds Read more…

South Koreans defend their rights in cyberspace

A woman uses a smartphone before the city skyline in Seoul at dusk on 21 March 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Eun Jeong Soh, ANU

Over 3 million South Koreans have downloaded a Germany-based smartphone messenger app, Telegram, while 400,000 users of Kakao Talk — the nation’s most widely used messenger app — terminated their account, in protest against government attempts to crackdown on dissenters. Read more…

Uncertainty at home brings calm to the Thai–Cambodian border

Thousands of anti-government protesters march in front of anti-riot policemen on a main road during a massive rally in central Bangkok, Thailand, 11 November 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Nicole Jenne, European University Institute

Domestic uncertainties in Thailand and Cambodia have hindered progress along the heavily militarised border and the Preah Vihear temple dispute.

Between 2008 and 2011 the border around the ancient Khmer temple of Preah Vihear (Phra Viharn in Thai) was the site of repeated clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops. Open conflict was put on hold when Cambodia submitted the dispute to the International Court of Justice in 2011. Read more…

Remembrance, reconciliation and the East Asian memory wars

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Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

‘The past’, as William Faulkner once wrote, ‘is not dead, it isn’t even past’. Nowhere is this more true than in today’s East Asia. The recent ‘memory wars’ between the countries of the region — particularly (though not exclusively) between Japan and its neighbours China and Korea — are eloquent testimony to the power of the past to haunt the present and influence the course of domestic and international politics. Read more…