Concerns over judicial independence in Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste's Foreign Affairs minister Jose Luis Gutierrez attends an audience of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, on January 20, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Michael Leach, Swinburne University of Technology

The parliament of Timor-Leste passed a motion on 24 October announcing the government’s intention to dismiss the contingent of foreign judicial officers working in its legal system. Citing concerns over recent tax cases against foreign oil companies operating in the Timor Sea, which have gone against the government, Timor-Leste’s leaders called into question the competence and integrity of foreign judges and prosecutors, accusing them of not complying with East Timorese law. Read more…

PNG’s exchange rate policy hurting the poor

A Papua New Guinean woman and her children dry coffee beans outside their house in the Western Highlands, Nebilyer Valley. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Paul Flanagan, ANU

Earlier this year, Papua New Guinea moved away from a market-based exchange rate. It seemed just a technical announcement at the time. The central bank indicated that the exchange rate would float within a narrow band around the interbank exchange rate. However, this seemingly innocuous announcement has major implications for PNG’s future development. Read more…

Is Vietnam in denial on military strategy?

A Chinese coast guard vessel near the area of China's oil drilling rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea, off shore Vietnam, 14 May 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Shang-su Wu, RSIS

Vietnam’s recent, and significant, investment in military hardware is aimed at coping with a changing strategic environment. But will it make any significant difference in balancing against China’s military might in the South China Sea? Read more…

Sino–Japanese relations 120 years after the war

APTOPIX Japan Military

Author: Liu Jiangyong, Tsinghua University

The year 2014 marks 120 years since the First Sino–Japanese War. While the two nations have enjoyed several decades of peace, there is an uneasy feeling in China that recent developments and revisions to the Japanese constitution draw parallels with the decade prior to 1894. Read more…

After historic IPO, where to from here for Alibaba?

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Author: Mark J Greeven, Zhejiang University

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has a track record of breaking records. It not only operates the world’s largest online business-to-business platform, but also the world’s largest online consumer marketplace. In 2004, it had the largest initial public offering (IPO) since Google on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In 2014, Alibaba had the biggest IPO in US history with its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on 19 September. Read more…

What to expect from the new US–Japan Defense Guidelines

Ships from the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, including the George Washington Strike Group, steam together after the conclusion of exercise Keen Sword, a biennial exercise between Japan and the US, 16 November 2012. (Photo: US Pacific Fleet/Flickr).

Author: Ken Jimbo, Keio University

When the current Guidelines for US–Japan Defense Cooperation were released in 1997, the core strategic impulse of Washington and Tokyo was to deal with potential armed contingencies in Northeast Asia, namely regarding the Korean peninsula and Taiwan. As the US Asia strategy emphasised deterrence of and response to these contingencies, Japan reconfigured its alliance strategy from predominantly territorial defence to proactive cooperation with the US in ‘situations in areas surrounding Japan’. Read more…

Continuity the key to New Zealand’s regional participation?

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key celebrates a decisive election victory with family in Auckland, 20 September 2014. New Zealand’s regional engagement did not feature highly in election debates, argues Gary Hawke. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Gary Hawke, NZIER

New Zealand’s approach to regional affairs is unlikely to change with the recent re-election of Prime Minister John Key. The election, held on 20 September, provided a clear mandate for Key’s National Party. The routine three-yearly election was brought forward by a few weeks to provide certainty about who would represent New Zealand at the end-of-year meetings of APEC, the East Asia Summit, and the G20. Read more…

Is that as good as it gets for Abenomics?

An eclipse over Tokyo: has Abenomics done its dash already? (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tobias Harris, Teneo

As the second year of Abenomics progresses, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s program of coordinated monetary and fiscal stimulus and structural reform has lost some of its lustre. Not only have Abe’s approval ratings fallen below 50 per cent for the first time since he took office in December 2012, but a recent poll in the right-wing Sankei Shimbun found that, for the first time, disapproval of Abe’s economic policies had exceeded its approval ratings, with 47 per cent opposed and 39 per cent in favour. Read more…

Asian cooperation hanging on a handshake

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and other regional leaders look on as China’s President Xi Jinping shakes hands with former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at last year’s APEC meeting in Indonesia. This year there is intense focus on the APEC opportunity to begin to fix the political relationship between China and Japan. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

The APEC summit is just over a week away and all stops are out in Beijing to make it an economic and diplomatic triumph, despite the huge underlying challenges in managing China’s relations with the region. The primary goals and foundations of APEC are economic — delivering on Asia’s economic development ambitions within the framework of the rules-based global economic system. Read more…

New rules for China’s war on terror?

Armed Chinese People's Liberation Army take part in a training session at the foot of Tianshan Mountains in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Kendrick Kuo, Johns Hopkins

After a very violent year, officials in China’s western province of Xinjiang announced in March 2014 that they were considering an anti-terror law for the region. The law would ostensibly fill the gaps in the national criminal law by addressing the unique challenges of terrorism. But do laws really matter in an authoritarian state and in a region as militarised as Xinjiang? Read more…

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…