Bright signs on the horizon for the Philippines


Author: Cesar Virata, Manila

The economy of the Philippines hit some rough patches in 2014. The outlook for 2015, on the other hand, is fairly strong.

GDP growth slowed down to about 6 per cent. This was because government spending — in particular, infrastructure spending — did not meet its targets. Read more…

The new normal of Chinese growth


Author: Wang Yong, Peking University

The Chinese economy is widely perceived to have entered a ‘new normal’ — annual GDP growth has slowed to between 7 per cent and 7.5 per cent from the double-digit levels of previous years. This was something that policymakers expected: an inevitable result of economic restructuring. Read more…

Vietnam’s careful dance with the superpowers


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…

People power trounces Sri Lanka’s war winning President Rajapaska


Author: Saman Kelegama, IPS

Two months before the Sri Lankan presidential elections, few thought that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would lose. There was no formidable opponent from the opposition to challenge him. Since his re-election after the war victory in 2009 for a second term in 2010, his party had won all the Provincial Council elections — except for the Northern Province — held on a staggered basis. Read more…

Getting Chinese reforms in the zone

Night view of an installation for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone at the Waigaoqiao area in Pudong, Shanghai, China, September 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Bo Chen, SUFE

Since the release of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone blueprint in September 2013, plans for similar reforms in the rest of China have emerged — and are to be implemented within the next three years. Read more…

Australia’s economy in need of reform in 2015

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is greeted by Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Jamie Briggs, and Federal member for Macarthur Russell Matheson, as he arrives to announce the start of the upgrade to Bringelly road, in Sydney, 20 January 2015. The Australian government’s focus on putting its budget on a ‘credible path back to surplus’ over the medium term, appears to rule out any substantial infrastructure investment program as a form of stimulus. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Saul Eslake, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

For some time now, Australia’s economy has been underperforming its peers.

Since the end of 2012, Australia’s real GDP has grown at an annual rate of 2.3 per cent, 0.1 percentage points less than that of the United States, 0.2 percentage point less than those of the United Kingdom and Canada, and 0.3 percentage points less than that of New Zealand. Read more…

China and the final frontier of financial reform

A Chinese investor looks at stock indices at a stock brokerage house in Anhui province. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Yiping Huang, Peking University; Ran Li, Peking University; and Bijun Wang, CASS

In late 2013 the Chinese authorities put together a reform agenda for the financial sector, focusing on reducing entry barriers, liberalising market mechanisms and improving financial regulation. This could be the final frontier of China’s financial reform, which — according to the plan — should make critical progress by 2020. Read more…

Can Taiwan survive in the shadow of China?

Taiwanese students wear colourful hats during the national day anniversary in front of the Presidential Palace in Taipei on 10 October 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

In the past decade and a half, despite some ups and downs, economic and then political relations between Taiwan and mainland China have gone from strength to strength. The election of Chen Shui-bian as President of Taiwan in 2000 saw a period in which political relations were tense, even though trade shares multiplied rapidly. Read more…

Taiwan’s shifting political landscape

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou speaking at a campaign rally before Taiwan's local elections. President Ma resigned from his position as chairman of the Kuomingtang soon after the election results were confirmed, leaving the party in chaos. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Fu-Kuo Liu, National Chengchi University

The results of Taiwan’s local elections, held in November, came as a big surprise to many not only in Taiwan. The ruling Kuomingtang (KMT) was defeated by an unprecedented margin. The results were a sharp reversal from those of the 2012 presidential election, won by the KMT. Read more…

New Zealand deals smoothly with an ageing but diversifying economy

China's President Xi Jingping and New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key pose for a photo during a joint press conference at Premier House in Wellington on November 20, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Gary Hawke, NZIER

New Zealand obviously does not enjoy the economic growth rates of Southeast Asia, let alone China. Nonetheless, indications were during 2014 that New Zealand could sustain long-term growth of 3 per cent per annum without supply constraints and inflationary pressures. It had previously been thought that the limit was little more than 2 per cent. Read more…

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement ready to open for another storm

A paper umbrella and Christmas tree are displayed to decorate the last remaining pro-democracy protest site in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on December 22, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Courtney J. Fung, HKU

The Hong Kong Umbrella Movement, the city’s first significant and sustained extra-legal protest, provided a number of valuable lessons for the future.

The civil disobedience campaign began at the end of September 2014, but did not achieve its primary goal of universal suffrage for the upcoming Chief Executive elections. Read more…

Why China’s growing cities do not threaten farmland

A Chinese farmer drives a buffalo to plow his farm field in on the outskirts of Guilin city, southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 28 March 2011. (Photo: AAP)

Author: John Gibson, University of Waikato

China recently announced strict controls to stop big cities expanding on to neighbouring farmland. The Minister for Land and Resources Jiang Daming justified these controls by claiming that good farmland has been ‘eaten by steel and cement’. To safeguard food security, land on the outskirts of cities will be classified as ‘permanent basic farmland’ that can be used only for cultivation. Read more…

Change finally on the way for Cambodia


Author: Kheang Un, Northern Illinois University

Cambodia had a year of political reform in 2014, and observers are sceptical about how much change it will bring. But it might be premature to dismiss Prime Minister Hun Sen’s reform efforts as cosmetic. Read more…

Taiwan’s young rise up


Author: Jennifer Chen, Harvard Graduate School of Education

It has been widely argued that the defeat of Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party’s (KMT) in the ‘nine-in-one’ local elections revealed nationwide disillusionment with the government. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won 13 of the 22 cities and counties, and the KMT only managed to retain 6 of the 15 localities that they had previously held. Read more…