A year of relative stability for Central Asian regimes

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov inspect an honor guard before their meeting at the Kuksaroi Presidential Residence in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 10 December 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Dr Kirill Nourzhanov, ANU

By local standards, 2014 was a reasonably successful year for the leaders of Central Asian countries. There were no revolutions, insurgencies or mass protests threatening their grip on power. Incumbent heads of state carried out regime maintenance in their customary manner: focusing primarily on managing the inner circle of the ruling elite. Read more…

Sri Lanka chooses changes

New Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena hands a letter of appointment to Mangala Samaraweera as the Minister of Foreign Affairs during the swearing-in of the new Cabinet in Colombo, 12 January 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Razeen Sally, NUS

The recent election of President Maithripala Sirisena heralds a golden opportunity for Sri Lanka to heal old wounds and to open up its economy — and for the West, India and even East Asian countries to re-engage.

In November 2014 the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, called an early election in the hope it would be a cakewalk. Read more…

Why Japan should follow Germany’s lead on war history

A group of Japanese lawmakers follow a Shinto priest to pay respect for the war dead at Yasukuni Shrine during an annual autumn festival in Tokyo, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The shrine enshrines war criminals, including wartime leader Hideki Tojo, among the 2.5 million war dead. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Jean-Pierre Lehmann, IMD

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. How does Japan and Germany’s postwar behaviour compare?

The ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings (D-Day) united not only the leaders of the allied powers, but also German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Read more…

Vietnam’s careful dance with the superpowers

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Author: Phuong Nguyen, CSIS, Washington DC

US–Vietnam military relations have improved remarkably in recent years but talk of an enhanced alliance between Washington and Hanoi overlooks important geopolitical and historic nuances. Defence relations between the two countries turned a page in the early 2000s, when both countries moved beyond the legacy of the Vietnam War. Both countries began to actively explore new ways to work together. Read more…

Vietnam’s leaders look to consolidate gains in 2015

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Author: Thomas Jandl, MRTJ Asia Consulting

For Vietnam’s leadership, 2014 was another year of growing into a role as an increasingly active international player, both diplomatically and economically. Two events — the Haiyang 981 oilrig incident and TPP accession negotiations — gave Vietnam a place in the spotlight and shed light on a continued path for 2015. Read more…

Mongolia’s unexpected 2014

Excavation continues at the Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi coal mining facility in southern Mongolia on 6 July 2012. Mining will be vital to ensuring Mongolia’s economy recovers in 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Julian Dierkes, UBC

It was meant to be a relatively quiet year for Mongolia. There were no parliamentary or presidential elections and most observers expected that some of the economic troubles Mongolia has been facing would be resolved. But the year brought foreign policy turmoil and a continuing economic crisis, and is now ending amidst domestic political chaos. Read more…

Putin supports Xi’s new diplomatic strategy to put China centre stage

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting held at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, on Tuesday, Nov 11, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Rebecca Fabrizi, ANU

China is working to make the international order suit its interests better and put China front and centre in global affairs. Xi Jinping’s new diplomatic focus on multilateral diplomacy includes giving new profile to existing arrangements where China can lead, such as the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). He is also pushing his own initiatives, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, while pursuing economic reform and military modernisation. Read more…

ASEAN labouring under outdated migration policies

A foreign worker is given medicine and marked on her arm during a health check at a foreign workers registration one stop service post for Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos nationals, in a park in Bangkok, Thailand, 16 July 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Giovanni Capannelli, ADB

By the end of 2015, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is expected to establish a single market and production base in the region. With an ASEAN overall workforce of more than 300 million people, the AEC will have strong implications in terms of labour migration and human resource development. Read more…

Australia needs to refocus on ASEAN

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott holds hands ASEAN leaders during the ASEAN–Australia 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 12 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Gareth Evans, ANU

Things just haven’t clicked the way they should have in the Australian–ASEAN relationship. We seem far removed from the time when as Australia’s Foreign Minister I had no counterparts anywhere in the world with whom I felt more close and comfortable. Read more…

Will China accept international law in the South China Sea?

A worker holds a new officially approved map of China that includes the islands and maritime area that Beijing claims in the South China Sea, at a printing factory in Changsha in south China's Hunan province. China has again rejected an attempt by the Philippines to challenge its territorial claims over the South China Sea through international arbitration. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Donald R. Rothwell, ANU

The ongoing disputes between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea are about to reach a critical point. In January 2013 the Philippines activated procedures under Article 287 and Annex VII of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) over a dispute about the validity of China’s ‘nine-dash line’ in the South China Sea. Read more…

Modi’s new diplomatic instruments for a new India

A crowd listens to Narendra Modi deliver a speech in Australia during a recent visit. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide and Tridivesh Singh Maini, O.P. Jindal Global University

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking new ways to enhance India’s global diplomacy. Modi is pursuing two paths largely overlooked by analysts of India’s foreign policy: to connect with the Indian diaspora and to encourage links with subnational governments at state and city levels. Read more…

Is RCEP just the same old trade paradigm?

Workers contruct the foundation at a new construction site for an office high-rise building in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta on September 5, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sanchita Basu Das, ISEAS

What will it take to change the way Asia thinks about trade strategy?

As the negotiators of the RCEP agreement are meeting in New Delhi, India, from 1–5 December 2014, attention is turned to the question of whether this mega-regional represents a ‘new paradigm’ of regional trade agreements or not. Read more…