No good time for Xanana Gusmão to let go

East Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao briefs Australia's then Foreign Minister Bob Carr with a map of East Timor during their meeting at the government palace in Dili on 13 December, 2012. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University

Timor-Leste’s prime minister, Xanana Gusmão, has deferred his decision to step down as his country’s leader until April 2015. He had announced earlier this year that he intended to leave office firstly in September, then in October. He has since said that he wishes to stay on to oversee negotiations with Australia over a resolution to the Timor Sea dispute. Read more…

Taiwan’s Ten Thousand Double-Edged Swords

Two locally made Indigenous Defense Fighters release the flares during a demonstration at Chiang Chin-kuo air foce base in central Taichung on January 13, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Che-Yu Ou, Waseda University

Procuring the Ten Thousand Swords missile system is a blunder for Taiwan; it aggravates the security dilemma between it and the PRC. For its own security, Taiwan should deter threats from the PRC by manufacturing weapons with exclusively defensive capabilities. Read more…

Infrastructure spending is the medicine Thailand’s insecure economy really needs

Thai military junta head and new Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha greets in the traditional Thai way as he leaves after a meeting of the instruction on the procedures of members of the national reform council at the Army Club in Bangkok, Thailand, 4 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Pisit Leeahtam, Chiang Mai University & Cynn Treesraptanagul, Chiang Mai

In May 2014, the Thai army, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) staged a coup d’état to prevent civil war breaking out after months of political deadlock and administrative paralysis. Since then, the interim constitution has been enacted, the new cabinet has received royal endorsement, and the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Council have been established. Read more…

Renminbi stepping in right direction toward internationalisation

View of a branch of China Construction Bank (CCB) in LinAn city, east Chinas Zhejiang province, 1 September 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Thierry de Longuemar, ADB

Over the past several decades, we have seen how China’s high economic growth and increasing economic integration with other countries have led to a dramatic increase in its clout in global output and trade.

Just look at the facts. China is now the world’s second largest economy, accounting for 12 per cent of global gross domestic product in 2013. Read more…

Looking for a plus-one, Japan turns to Vietnam

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to their talks at Abe's office in Tokyo on 10 October, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kensuke Yanagida, Japan Institute of International Affairs

As Japan seeks to diversify its investments beyond China, an opportunity arises for Vietnam to attract greater international investment.

Over the past few years, firms invested in China have started diversifying their investment destinations and reducing their overreliance on China, in what is called the ‘China Plus One Strategy’. Read more…

Business as usual in post-election Suva?

fiji election

Author: Nicole George, UQ

Fiji’s new parliament, led by Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, was sworn in on 6 October. In 2006, Bainimarama led the military coup that rendered the parliament inactive for eight years. Back then, Bainimarama promised that Fiji would return to electoral democracy, but not to the allegedly corrupt and ethnically discriminatory governance practices of the past. Rather, the new post-coup government would work to undo the relationship between the church, the state and indigenous customary authority, which has shaped Fiji’s political landscape since the country achieved independence. Read more…

Why ‘womenomics’ is the way forward for Japan

Graduates ready to plunge into the world of work. Labour market reform is critical to letting young women fully use their abilities. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Naohiro Yashiro, International Christian University

‘Womenomics’ is a key pillar of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic growth strategy. In 2013, just 64 per cent of Japanese women aged 15–64 were participating in the labour force — a low rate by OECD standards. As Japan’s labour force is already in decline, it is wasteful that women, and particularly those who have a higher education, have been underutilised. To address this, Abe has set a target to increase the ratio of female managers to over 30 per cent by 2020. Read more…

Balancing the short and long term in Indonesia fuel subsidy debate

Indonesian motorists wait for their turn to fill up their motorbikes with subsidised fuel at a gas station in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 27 August 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Keoni Indrabayu Marzuki, RSIS

Despite having won the president and vice-president posts respectively, Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla will possess little control, if at all, on the formulation of the next Indonesian budget for fiscal year 2015–16. One particular issue that concerns the new administration is the large portion of funds for energy subsidies, particularly fuel subsidies. Read more…

Very few limits in tough Australian anti-terror laws

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis at a press conference. (Photo: AAP).

Author: George Williams, UNSW

Australia, like other nations, is facing an enhanced threat to its national security from citizens who travel to conflicts in Iraq and Syria, and then return home with a radical outlook and training in terrorism. This has led the government to raise the nation’s terrorism public alert level to ‘high’, which indicates that a ‘terrorist attack is likely’. Read more…

Reconciling Japan’s security policy with Northeast Asian stability

Nationalist protesters with Japanese flags and Japan's naval ensign march through a Tokyo street to denounce privileges for Koreans residents in Japan as riot police line up along the street. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

On 1 July 2014, the Abe government made a cabinet decision to reinterpret the Article 9 peace clause of Japan’s constitution to recognise the exercise of collective self-defence under limited circumstances. While the scope of the proposed changes are an evolution rather than a revolution in Japanese security policy, especially due to the tough negotiations with Abe’s coalition partner New Komeito, furore and misconception have surrounded the move. 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…

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…

Modi’s UN speech shows his foreign policy will walk a well-worn path

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, 27 Sept, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Krishnendra Meena, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Many have hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly as a historic shift away from the speeches of past Indian heads of government. But in reality, Modi’s speech is more a continuation of the Indian government’s stance on many international issues, albeit with more flourish and charisma, which comes naturally to Modi when he speaks in Hindi. Read more…

Vietnam’s education system: still under construction

Vietnamese school pupils cheer as they release balloons during a ceremony held to mark the new school year. Debates on the quality of the country's education system continue. (Photo: AAP).

Author: David Brown, California

For Vietnamese youth, a university degree is the entry ticket to the middle class and a promise (often unfulfilled) of an urban professional job. Enrolment in higher education has grown from 162,000 in 1992 to over two million last year, some 25 per cent of the nation’s college-age population. 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…