Will Pope Francis affect the position of Catholics in China?

A statue of Jesus on the cross is displayed as Li Shan, the Chinese archbishop, performs the Christmas Eve mass at a Catholic church in Beijing early on December 25, 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Paul Farrelly, ANU

Reflecting on a letter he wrote to Xi Jinping on his election to the papacy, Pope Francis said of China ‘the relationships are there. It’s a big country that I love deeply’. Since his papacy began, Pope Francis has made headlines for shepherding the Catholic Church along a relatively more liberal path. Does this mean that reconciliation with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) might be possible? Read more…

China’s digital dilemma

A picture made available 20 November 2014 shows Wang Xiaochu, Chairman and CEO of China Telecom, attending the first World Internet Conference in Wuzhen town in Tongxiang, Zhejiang province, China, 19 November 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Greg Austin, EastWest Institute

In February 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping was appointed Chair of the Central Cybersecurity and Informatization Leading Group, an agency which coordinates China’s cybersecurity and ‘informatisation’ policies. The move reflected deep dissatisfaction within the leadership of the pace of innovation in the country. Xi’s appointment reflects China’s willingness to change this — but only to an extent. Read more…

Abe must raise taxes to save Abenomics

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talks to voters during his election campaign tour in front of a local fishery association branch at a fishery port in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, 2 December 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Yukinobu Kitamura, Hitotsubashi University

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the lower house of the Diet on 21 November and called a snap general election on 14 December. At the same time, Abe announced that he would postpone the second hike of the consumption tax rate from 1 October 2015 to 1 April 2017. Read more…

Time to rethink economic policies in Indonesia

An Indonesian employee fills a car with subsidised fuel at a petrol station in Jakarta, Indonesia, 24 November 2014. Incoming President Joko Widodo has lowered fuel subsidies but, like Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has not removed them altogether or linked to global prices. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ross McLeod, ANU

Economic performance in post-Suharto Indonesia has been inferior to that achieved during the previous three decades, with economic growth slower and income inequality increasing. With the recent election of a new president, now is a good time to focus on improving the quality of economic policymaking.

To begin, how should Indonesia make use of its rich natural resources? Read more…

Japan’s demographic challenges are also an opportunity

Generations united by fashion: models young and old wait to strut the catwalk at a grandmother and granddaughter show in tokyo in 2014. Despite all the perceived problems, dealing with the challenge of ageing can also be a source of innovation. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hiroshi Yoshikawa, University of Tokyo

Japan’s ageing, shrinking population will cause serious problems for the country throughout the 21st century. Although the fertility rate has recovered to 1.39, this is still very low by international standards. Current official projections estimate that Japan’s present population of 120 million will decline to 40 million by 2110. Read more…

What should US policy be in the South China Sea?

A printing 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 factory in south China's Hunan province on 27 June 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Michael McDevitt, CNA

The South China Sea is not the central strategic element in the overall US–China relationship. It was clearly not a centrepiece of the November 2014 Obama–Xi summit in Beijing. Climate change, North Korea, Iran, Taiwan, trade, intellectual property theft and cyber security are all more important bilateral issues. 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…

Abe takes his electoral ‘chance’

A man walks past posters of Japanese prime minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Shinzo Abe displayed at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo on 4 December 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

As the official election campaign rolled out last week, the media are still trying to get a handle on what the upcoming Japanese election is all about. This is ‘the election Japan didn’t need to have’ or the election ‘that’s not about anything in particular’, except securing Prime Minister Abe’s and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) survival in the longer term. Read more…

Snap election belies Japan’s weak politics

Japan's Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Shinzo Abe greets supporters after his election campaign speech for the 14 December lower house election. Abe's ruling party is on course for a landslide win in the upcoming general election, opinion polls showed. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

The incumbent Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) seems to be cruising towards a victory in the snap election to be held on 14 December. But beware of interpreting this as a ringing endorsement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Instead, the likely result shows just how weak Japanese politics has become. 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…

Tough times ahead for China–Japan–South Korea joint FTA

Chinese, Japanese and South Korean officials attend the Fifth Round of China-Japan-Korea FTA Negotiations in Beijing, China, 1 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jing Li, CASS

The fifth round of the China–Japan–South Korea Free Trade Agreement (CJK FTA) negotiations concluded in Beijing on 5 September. The three countries hope the negotiations will finish in 2015, but this partly depends on the progress of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Read more…

Managing Malaysia’s education crisis

Malaysian school children wave national flags as they wait for the arrival of the Malaysian Prime Minister at a stadium in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: AAP).

Author: M Niaz Asadullah, University of Malaya

The Malaysian government should look to civil society for support in strengthening the nation’s education system.

Evidence can be seen in the 2014 UNESCO Global Monitoring Report on teaching and learning. Read more…

Why Asahi bashing reveals the weakness of the Japanese left

Asahi Shimbun President Tadakazu Kimura, bows in apology during a press conference at its head office in Chuo Ward, Tokyo on 11 Sept 2014. The Asahi Shimbun admitted that its May article on the so-called Yoshida file concerning the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was incorrect and retracted the article. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Katsuyuki Hidaka, Ritsumeikan University

One of Japan’s biggest left-leaning newspapers, Asahi Shimbun, has recently come under fire for having published erroneous reports about the wartime ‘comfort women’ and the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In a series of articles about the ‘comfort women’ issue Asahi Shimbun published the testimony of a former Japanese soldier, known as Seiji Yoshida, which was later found to be false. Read more…

What can India learn from its investment treaty with the UAE?

Indian commuters wait on an over-crowded platform to board a local train at a suburb railway station in Mumbai, India, 8 July 2014. Indian Railways is to request government permission for private investment, both domestic and foreign, to help expansion and improve safety and amenities. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kavaljit Singh, Madhyam

In December 2013, despite an ongoing official review of its existing agreements, the Indian government signed a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with the United Arab Emirates. Information on the deal was recently made public by the Ministry of Finance after persistent efforts by civil society groups. Read more…