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…

Dialogue the key to resolving comfort women history wars

People protest against Shinzo Abe and the Japanese government for failing to deliver an apology over the 'comfort women' issue and other war crimes in World War II during his official visit to the US on 1 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mary M. McCarthy, Drake University

On 29 April 2015, Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to speak before a joint session of the US Congress. Japan watchers listened closely, hoping to hear a preview of his upcoming statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Of particular concern is whether the prime minister will take a step back from the historic apologies of the 1995 Murayama Statement and the 1993 Kono Statement. Read more…

Jokowi’s turn to solve the Papua question

Two members of Balim Petapa, the community security guards unit formed by the Papuan Tribal Council. gradual ‘Papuanisation’ has been under way during the past 15 years. (Photo: James Morgan / Panos Pictures).

Authors: Cillian Nolan and Sidney Jones, IPAC

Indonesia’s Papua, covering its two easternmost provinces, simmers with the highest levels of deadly violence — inter-ethnic, electoral, land-related and domestic — in the country. Home to a Melanesian and largely Christian indigenous population, it became part of Indonesia in 1969 after a highly contested referendum and has since been home to a low-level armed struggle for independence. Read more…

Thailand’s delicate dance with the major powers

Visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) stresses a point with Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (R) looking on during their joint news conference at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, 08 April 2015. (Photo: APP).

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

Thailand now stands on a tightrope among the major powers. Recently, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made a high-profile visit to Bangkok, hosted by the coup-appointed government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Medvedev’s visit suggests that Thailand is now strategically courting authoritarian major powers, namely Russia and China, in defiance of Western criticism of Bangkok’s coup and military regime.

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Getting trade and currency policy instruments and objectives mixed up

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on trade and the economy from in Oregon, USA, 8 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

Trade flows are clearly linked to the value of national currencies. This is the innocuous starting point that leads the political classes and lobbyists in America into a pickle over the incorporation of clauses that seek to protect against ‘currency manipulation’ into trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that is being pushed by the Obama administration as the economic arm of its pivot towards Asia. Read more…

Keep currency clauses out of the global trading system

People protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) gather as US President Barack Obama attends a fund raiser for the Democratic National Committee in Oregon, 7 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

Ever since the post-gold standard age of adjustable exchange rates was inaugurated in the mid-1930s to consensually engineer a negotiated depreciation, the question of exchange rates and of trade have been entwined and subject to international oversight. Read more…