ASEAN’s uncertain stance in the South China Sea

This US Navy photo obtained November 4, 2015 shows the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)as it transits the South China Sea on October 29, 2015. Theodore Roosevelt is operating in the US 7th Fleet area of operations as part of a worldwide deployment en route to its new homeport in San Diego to complete a three-carrier homeport shift.  US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said he would visit the American aircraft carrier in the South China Sea on November 5, 2015 as US-Chinese tensions over the waterway escalate. Speaking after a regional summit November 4, 2015, Carter said he would fly out to the nuclear-powered USS Theodore Roosevelt, which "is conducting routine operations while transiting the South China Sea".  AFP PHOTO/US NAVY/ Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski  = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /US NAVY/ Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski " - 

Author: Chau Bao Nguyen, University of East Anglia

After months of speculation, the USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial Chinese island on 27 October 2015. In doing so, it completed the first in a series of planned freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea (SCS). The operation is the strongest assertion yet by the US Navy that it rejects Chinese reclamation projects, which could escalate tensions in the region. Read more…

The post-election future of Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar

Controversial Myanmar monk Wirathu attends a celebration of the MaBaTha organisation (Committee to Protect Race and Religion) in Mandalay, 21 September 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Matthew J Walton, University of Oxford

The last of the 2015 Myanmar election results have yet to be confirmed by the Union Election Commission, but it is clear that the National League for Democracy (NLD) has won an overwhelming victory.The NLD’s triumph is all the more remarkable given that the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Read more…

The political economy of land grabs in China and India

A farmer makes his way back home in the village of Wuwei, Anhui Province,  July 2002.  A full 20 years after the late patriarch Deng Xiaoping pushed through the decollectivisation of China's countryside, farmers in the rural reform laboratory of Anhui province say working the land alone is not enough for them to survive.    (Photo: AAP).

Author: Lynette H. Ong, University of Toronto

Behind the impressive growth of the world’s two largest emerging nations, China and India, land has been a key infrastructural resource as well as a major source of social conflicts. Laws in both countries have allowed the governments to take land away from agricultural communities for industrialisation and development, while offering little compensation or no resettlement alternative in return. Read more…

Abolishing China’s one-child policy won’t help

A young couple with a child visit Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on Nov. 17, 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Liu Lili, Chinese Central Party School

On 29 October 2015, the 18th central committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) issued a communiqué announcing that all Chinese couples will be allowed to have two children. The new policy will come into effect from March 2016 after formal ratification by the National People’s Congress. Read more…

Does APEC matter?

APEC leaders in Peru last year. (photo:

Authors: Peter Drysdale and Shiro Armstrong

This week Singapore hosts APEC and leaders from the 21 member economies. This year is APEC’s 20th anniversary, 20 years which have seen a remarkable transformation and growth of its East Asian member economies.

Did APEC have anything to do with East Asia becoming the most dynamic region in the global economy? Does APEC matter for its members? Does being a member of APEC, and associated with the growth of trade and investment in the most dynamic part of the world economy, make a difference? Read more…

Is RMB in the SDR a blessing for China?

China will deliver a slew of economic and financial reforms over the next five years, which will help the yuan become an international currency by 2020, according to Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Masahiko Takeda, Hitotsubashi University

On 13 November 2015, the IMF’s Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, released a statement that an IMF Executive Board meeting will be held on 30 November to decide whether to include the Chinese reminbi (RMB) in the Special Drawing Rights’ (SDR) valuation formula. She said: ‘IMF staff assesses that the RMB meets the requirements to be a “freely usable” currency and, accordingly, the staff proposes that the Executive Board … include it in the SDR basket’. Read more…

The Philippine economy is powering into 2015

A boy walks on one of the trusses of the Quezon Bridge in Manila. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Gilberto M. Llanto, PIDS

The Philippines never had it so good. But with a slowing global economy and an election coming up in 2016, what can it expect from the future? Read more…

What does the TPP mean for Japan’s agricultural sector?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a meeting in Manila on 18 November, 2015, with his counterparts from 11 other countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The issue of liberalising Japan’s agricultural market presented a major, if not the major hurdle to the Abe administration’s agreement with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal struck in Atlanta on 5 October 2015. Read more…

Where to now for ROK–China–Japan trilateral relations?

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang,and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a news conference after trilateral summit at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, 1 November, 2015. The leaders of South Korea, China and Japan met Sunday for their first summit talks in more than three years as the Northeast Asian powers struggle to find common ground amid bickering over history and territory disputes. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Soyen Park, Korea University

On 1 November 2015, the leaders of East Asia’s three main powers gathered together to hold the sixth Republic of Korea–China–Japan (KCJ) Trilateral Summit in Seoul, the Republic of Korea (ROK). It was not only the first trilateral summit since the leadership changes in all three countries, but also Read more…

India’s population in 2050: extreme projections demand extreme actions

Indian women travel in a crowded coach on a train at a railway station in New Delhi on February 26, 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ranjit Goswami, IMT, Nagpur

In 2050 India’s population is projected to be 1.69 billion — China’s will be 1.31 billion.

India has experienced extraordinary population growth: between 2001 and 2011 India added 181 million people to the world, slightly less than the entire population of Brazil. Read more…