China’s Hmong go uncounted

Hmong children playing on a hillside. In China, the Hmong language has not been used in primary and middle schools and its use is declining among the young. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sebastien Carrier, Stepping Stones China

In recent years Uyghur and Tibetan issues have captured most of the national and international attention granted to China’s minorities. Yet Uyghurs and Tibetans account for less than 15 per cent of China’s minority population of about 113 million. How have other large minority groups, such as the Hmong, fared politically, economically, and socially in the last decade? How well do the Chinese leadership’s strategies and policies address ethnic minority challenges? Read more…

Economic reform in Jokowi’s Indonesia

Indonesian drivers line up at a gas station in central Java on 17 November 2014 to fill up their tanks before fuel prices rose from 6500 to 8500 rupiah per litre at midnight, marking a crackdown on fuel subsidies. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Creina Day, ANU and Yose R. Damuri, CSIS Jakarta

The first 100 days of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and his government have been distinguished by historic reforms to fuel subsidies, social assistance to the poor, streamlined investment licensing and virtually no new restrictive regulations on foreign trade. Fuel subsidy reform has given the government fiscal space for infrastructure development. Read more…

The changing landscape of who owns what in Indonesia

Indonesian walk pass the trade monitor at Indonesia Stock Exchange in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Richard Carney, ANU; and Natasha Hamilton-Hart, University of Auckland

The financial and political crises of 1998 brought about significant changes in Indonesia’s corporate landscape. The proportion of Indonesian firms with political connections remains relatively high but is declining, as modes of political engagement are becoming increasingly varied. Read more…

Local innovation vital to sustain Thailand’s growth

Thailand's manufacturing sector relies upon foreign technology and low labour costs. But Thailand needs to transition to a knowledge economy. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Nonarit Bisonyabut and Chatra Kamsaeng, TDRI

Thailand’s current development model may not be able to sustain growth in the long term. Thailand needs to make the shift to a knowledge-based, innovative economy — and this means that policy settings will need to change. Read more…

What the AIIB can learn from World Bank shortcomings


Author: David Dollar, Brookings Institution

To understand the impetus for launching the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), look no further than China’s concern that the governance structure of existing international financial institutions was evolving too slowly. An important agreement to increase the resources of the International Monetary Fund and to raise the voting shares of fast-growing emerging markets, ratified by other nations, has been stalled in the US Congress. Read more…

Vietnam’s democratisation movement

Civil society advocates contend that democracy also requires citizens knowing how to express themselves, listen to others, negotiate, and compromise. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet, ANU

Since the mid 1990s, public criticism of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) government has expanded to involve thousands of citizens across the country. From this ferment of criticism numerous individuals, networks and organisations have emerged that oppose the present regime — which many call authoritarian or dictatorial — and advocate democracy. Read more…

China needs to strengthen its AIIB balancing act


Authors: Kai He, University of Copenhagen; and Huiyun Feng, DIIS.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has become part of Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese Dream’ of national rejuvenation. The United States’ failure to block other developed economies from joining the AIIB seems to have brought this part of the ‘Chinese dream’ closer to its realisation. But it is way too early to celebrate. Read more…