What can we learn from Abenomics?

The sweet taste of success: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (second from right) and members of Japan’s delegation show their jubilation at the announcement that Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Adam S. Posen, Peterson Institute of International Economics

One of the striking things about the past few decades of Japan’s economic history has been the fact that textbook macroeconomics could have predicted most of it. Back in the late 1990s, this was a controversial point of view. Many people spoke about the ‘specialness’ of the Japanese economy, just as they have about the ‘specialness’ of recent monetary policy. Read more…

Moving too slowly towards an ASEAN Economic Community

Container cargo ships unload containers at the Manila International Container Port in Manila, Philippines, 7 October 2014. Slow progress on the ASEAN Economic Community means it is unlikely to be established by the end of 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jayant Menon, Asian Development Bank

Launched as a political bloc and security pact in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, ASEAN has evolved to embrace an ambitious economic agenda. Its latest project is to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 31 December 2015. But is this likely? The blueprint for achieving the goal envisages the AEC standing on four pillars and meeting the deadline depends on progress on each of them. Read more…

Asian regionalism: How does it compare to Europe’s?

The ASEAN Economic Community Council Meeting earlier this year

Author: Giovanni Capannelli, ADB, Manila

Among the six Asian leaders (or seven if you include Australia) who attended the London meeting of the Group of Twenty (G20) on April 2 was the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—the first time ASEAN had been accorded this recognition in such a high-profile international forum. It was a telling indication of the increased importance of regional cooperation in Asia.

Asia is not yet adopting a common approach to tackling the ongoing global crisis—although neither, to be fair, is the more established European Union (EU). But by helping to form a consensus among their members, Asia’s regional groupings could help bridge the gap between national policies and global action, enabling them to tackle the global crisis more effectively.

This essay compares Asian regionalism with Europe’s. It contrasts their differing approaches to regional cooperation and integration and draws lessons for how they could address the global crisis and other common challenges.

Read more…

With Xi’s new power is collective leadership over?

Chinese president Xi Jinping leads the parade of present and past leaders, as they gather for the National Day reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 30 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Shen Dingli, Fudan University

There is currently much talk about whether China’s President Xi Jinping is shifting away from collective leadership. Western observers tend to conclude that, given his command of all powers since becoming Chinese communist party chief and state president, Xi is centralising power around himself. But that is a premature conclusion that bears more careful scrutiny. Read more…

Why Singapore will not replicate Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests

Pro-democracy protesters wait for the arrival of Letitia Lee See-yin, leader of the anti-occupy 'Blue Ribbon' group, in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on 7 October 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Dylan Loh Ming Hui, RSIS

On 27 September, hundreds of people staged a ‘Return Our Central Provident Fund’ (CPF) protest rally at Hong Lim Park, Singapore. Simultaneously in Hong Kong, the Occupy Central movement, combined with student-led classroom boycotts, morphed into a bigger and broader pro-democracy protest — paralysing key financial and administrative locations such as Admiralty, Civic Square and Harcourt Road. Read more…

Can South Korea and Japan resolve the ‘comfort women’ issue?

A former South Korean ‘comfort woman’, Lee Sun-duk, weeps during a press conference welcoming the passage of a resolution by the US House of Representatives calling on Japan to formally apologise to the victims and accept historical responsibility in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, 31 July 2007. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University

Japan’s relations with South Korea have reached a new low. Six issues continue to plague bilateral relations, exacerbating the divide on historical memory: a lack of trust between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and ROK president Park Geun-hye, the ‘comfort women’ issue, the Takeshima/Dokdo dispute, ROK judicial decisions on forced labour, Japanese politicians’ Yasukuni visits and Japan’s moves toward collective self-defence. The ‘comfort women’ issue may be the most serious bilateral friction point, but it also presents the greatest opportunity for a breakthrough. Read more…

The future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) speaks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang (R) after visiting an exhibition of innovative technologies at the Open Innovations Forum in Moscow, Russia, 14 October 2014.  (Photo: AAP).

Author: Swagata Saha, Observer Research Foundation

China recently reaffirmed that it backs India and Pakistan becoming members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). At the 14th meeting of the Council of Heads of States of SCO on 12 September, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for full membership for SCO observers, including India and Pakistan. Read more…

Where are all the women in China’s political system?

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Author: Jude Howell, LSE

In September 2014 the Inter-Parliamentary Union released its latest figures on the number of women in national parliaments. Rwanda topped the league with women accounting for 63.8 per cent of parliamentarians in the lower house (or its equivalent). China, however, ranked 62nd out of 189 countries, with women accounting for 23.4 per cent of representatives to the National People’s Congress (NPC) — China’s nearest equivalent to a parliament. Given that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long espoused the idea of equality between men and women and has a well-established, dedicated institution for protecting women’s rights and interests — the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) — it is curious that the figures are so unimpressive. Read more…

The puzzle of Chinese political power

Chinese President Xi Jinping gives a toast during the National Day reception in a banquet hall at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 30 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Peter Drysdale, EAF, and Ryan Manuel, ANU

When Xi Jinping ascended to the Chinese presidency, he, Premier Li Keqiang and their streamlined seven-person Politburo Standing Committee faced serious economic challenges at home as well as increasingly complex issues to manage abroad.

Domestically, the Bo Xilai affair hovered over the leadership transition ominously, underlining the need to deal with disquiet among the Chinese public over corruption and the relationship between the state and economic power. Read more…