Filipino strongman Duterte not just talk

Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his final campaign rally in Manila, Philippines, 7 May 2016. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University

There may be more to the Philippines’ new president Rodrigo Duterte than his tough guy image indicates. In the populist theatrics that are Filipino politics, the overwhelming election of Duterte should not have come as a surprise, even with common, but inaccurate, comparisons to the US presidential candidate Donald Trump. Read more…

Turbulent times ahead for Tsai Ing-wen’s Taiwan?

Tsai Ing-wen waves to supporters during the last day of campaign rallying for the 2016 presidential election in Taiwan on 15 January 2016. Tsai was inaugurated as president on 20 May. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mark Harrison, University of Tasmania

On 20 May Tsai Ing-wen was inaugurated as president of Taiwan, following her sweeping victory in the January elections. Members of her party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), have already taken up their majority seats in the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament. Read more…

India buys into deeper, if restrained, US defence ties

Indian prime minster Narendra Modi speaks as US President Barack Obama looks on during a joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India on 25 January 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Editors, East Asia Forum

The dream of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ idea has been peddled around New Delhi over the past few years by military enthusiasts from Canberra to Washington. But the concept of extended US naval and military power stretching across the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, with a land-stop in Australia, augmented by quadrilateral partners and allies in the region was never an easy sell. Read more…

A swell in US–India defence cooperation

Then US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel inspects a Guard of Honour before a meeting with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi, India on 8 August 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Institute for China–America Studies

On 10–13 April, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter paid his third visit in just 30 months to India — the seventh by a US Defense Secretary since 2008. The frequency of high-level visits reflects the prominence accorded to New Delhi within the Pentagon’s emerging strategy towards the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Read more…

China divides ASEAN in the South China Sea

Author: Sampa Kundu, IDSA

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s whirlwind tour of Brunei, Cambodia and Laos during 22–24 April 2016 courted support for his country’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. But the issue of China’s policy in the South China Sea has created a fault line across ASEAN, complicating the unity and effectiveness of the regional grouping. Read more…

Talks on Russo–Japanese territorial disputes still going nowhere


Author: Dmitry Streltsov, MGIMO

On 6 May, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in Sochi in a bid strengthen trust between the two leaders. Russia and Japan still view each other from the standpoint of the Cold War: for Russia, Japan is first of all the ‘junior partner’ of the United States and a location for US military bases; for Japan, Russia is a permanent source of instability that is unwilling to return its native territories. Read more…

Will the TPP and OBOR challenge ASEAN centrality?

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Alice D. Ba, RSIS

In 2016, Southeast Asia has found itself engaged in proactive regional initiatives led by major powers. The recently signed, but still to be ratified, US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one attempt, while China’s land-based ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ — which together make up its ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative — puts Beijing’s proactive engagement and growing confidence on display.

Read more…