China and Taiwan walking the line of rapprochement

Zhang Zhijun, head of Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, and his Taiwan counterpart Wang Yu-chi pose for media at the start of a meeting in Taoyuan, Taiwan, 25 June 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Justine Doody, Berlin

After more than six decades of conflict over the political status of Taiwan, Beijing and Taipei are taking significant steps toward rapprochement in their relations. Yet how much Chinese influence can Taiwan’s democracy tolerate?

On 25 June 2014, for the first time in over 60 years, China sent a ministerial-level figure on an official visit to Taiwan. Read more…

India and Japan boost cooperation, but no nuclear power deal

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is welcomed by his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the State Guest House in Kyoto, on 30 August 2014. Modi flew into Japan for a five-day official visit as their governments seek to boost security ties and counter a increasingly assertive China. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Pravakar Sahoo and Abhirup Bhunia, IEG

Modi’s visit to Japan from 31 August to 3 September was dubbed a success. But what has been achieved? And what do these achievements mean for both countries?

Modi’s visit assumed far greater significance than any previous visits by Indian prime ministers. This is because Modi has a powerful mandate and, of course, because of the reported bonhomie between Modi and Abe. When Modi was Gujarat’s chief minister, Japanese firms participating in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit invested between US$2–3 billion in various manufacturing and infrastructure projects in that state, in response to its investor friendly environment. Modi shares this business friendly attitude with Abe. Read more…

BRICS, banking on development

Night view of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in Shanghai, China, 30 July 2014. Shanghai will host the headquarters of the BRICS New Development Bank that will challenge for the first time the US postwar dominance of multilateral lending institutions. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Keshav Kelkar, UBC

The creation of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) to finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging economies is a landmark achievement. Developing nations have lost faith in the current system with its strict conditions on development finance and its inability to insulate countries from financial shocks. International observers have however expressed mixed views about the creation of the bank and what it represents for the nascent multilateral BRICS bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Read more…

Curbing volatility: the case for monetary policy coordination

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks to the media at IMF headquarters in Washington, 16 June 2014. The IMF, in its role as the guardian of the international monetary system, could foster an understanding of the spillovers resulting from unconventional monetary policies of advanced economies. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Rakesh Mohan and Muneesh Kapur, IMF

Since the onset of the North Atlantic financial crisis (NAFC) in 2008, central banks in the US and the other major advanced economies have pursued highly accommodative monetary policy, including through unconventional policy actions. Policy rates have been near zero in these economies for almost five years, and both short-term and long-term interest rates have touched historic lows. Read more…

Is bigger better for ASEAN in a mega-regional world?

This photo shows a view of a container port in Singapore. Singapore is part of negotiations in both RCEP and the TPP, two mega-regional deals involving ASEAN countries. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Razeen Sally, NUS

Big-block trade agreements or ‘mega-regionals’, revolving around one or more major powers, are the latest trend in trade policy negotiations. ASEAN is involved in two: the American-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Chinese-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Read more…

Can Nishikawa resolve Japan’s TPP agricultural impasse?

Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Koya Nishikawa speaks during a press conference at the official residence of the Japanese prime minister in Tokyo, 3 September 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s appointment of Koya Nishikawa as the new Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is a big plus for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Nishikawa is an executive of the so-called ‘agricultural tribe’ (norin zoku) in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Read more…

Latin America lures Asia’s big powers

Chinese president Xi Jinping reviews the guard of honour upon his arrival at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil at the start of his tour of Latin America, 17 July 2014 in Brasilia. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Juan J. Palacios, University of Guadalajara

Considered for most of the twentieth century as the United States’ backyard, Latin America is today a place where other major powers seek to exercise a growing influence and find a steady supply of energy and natural resources as well as markets and investment outlets. Read more…

India draws Japan closer as Modi embraces Abe

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a signing ceremony at Akasaka State Guesthouse in Tokyo on 1 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide

The unprecedented warm hug between India’s new prime minister Narendra Modi and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe when they met in Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto sent strong diplomatic signals across the region and beyond. This was Modi’s first stop in Japan on a five-day official visit beginning 30 August. In a rather unusual move, Abe went to meet Modi in Kyoto and together they visited a temple before their summit meeting in Tokyo. Read more…

Can Modi move India?

Indian revellers wave national flags during a ceremony to celebrate India’s 68th Independence Day on 15 August 2014. The honeymoon seems be over for the Modi government. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

A hundred days into the Modi prime ministership of India, the signals are mixed. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have taken a hiding in a series of state polls and by-elections. And supporters and critics alike are already baying about a massive electoral mandate that has been squandered.

The ‘honeymoon’ seems be over for the Modi government, but is this a sign of its prospects for the long term? Read more…

Modi’s first 100 days: big decisions but no big bang

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi waves during his recent visit to Tokyo, 2 September 2014. Despite difficult initial conditions, some hard decisions have been taken by Modi’s government during its first 100 days. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Rajiv Kumar, CPR

Those of us who had conjured up images of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi as a reformer in the Reagan-Thatcher mould, who would boldly move mountains within his first 100 days of office, must by now be disappointed. But this disappointment is self-inflicted. Modi’s style is cautious. He is not a believer in ‘big bang’ reforms. Read more…

Narendra Modi’s foreign policy — too early to judge?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi  and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe shake hands after a joint press conference at the in Tokyo on 1 September 2014. The two leaders reached to an agreement that both countries would promote security and economic relations. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tridivesh Singh Maini, Jindal School of International Affairs

The Narendra Modi government turned 100 days old on 3 September, and while it is too early to judge its performance on both the domestic and foreign policy front, its first few months have revealed some important features of the government’s foreign policy — both positive and negative. Read more…

Is Modi’s honeymoon over?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the audience before delivering a speech during a business event in Tokyo, 2 September 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Mahendra Ved, New Delhi

It has been just over 100 days since Narendra Modi took office amid global euphoria, but the ‘honeymoon’ period seems over for the Indian prime minister’s government and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As the media were dishing out the new administration’s ‘report card’, the party lost several state by-elections across the country. It raised the question of whether the ‘Modi wave’ is on the wane so soon. Read more…

Slow and steady approach needed for Burma reforms

Myanmar labourers unload pebbles from a ship, to be used at construction sites, in Yangon on 9 April 2013. A World Bank official said earlier this year that Myanmar has enormous potential as it undergoes reforms. (Photo: AAP).

Author: David Baulk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Even the most implacable sceptic would accept that looking at Burma today gives greater cause for optimism than was the case five years ago. Compromises which were once unthinkable have commendably been reached in recent years. But progress has also given rise to a Panglossian narrative about the increasingly liberal rulers’ prioritisation of social welfare and ‘inclusivity’. As a result, advocates of a cautious slow-and-steady approach to reform have been drowned out by those propounding a model of trickle-down economic development. Read more…

Indonesia’s manufacturing sector needs a new industrial policy

An Indonesian worker makes incense in Malang, East Java, 19 March 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Mohammad Zulfan Tadjoeddin, UWS

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have recently advocated the importance of Indonesia’s manufacturing sector. Manufacturing is considered a key sector for the advancement of the country’s overall economy and as an important source of formal employment. The reality on the ground since the 1997–98 economic crisis, though, reveals a troubling picture about the sector. Read more…

A long journey ahead for Myanmar’s foreign exchange market reform

People exchange US dollar and Myanmar currency at a black market in Yangon, Myanmar, 25 August 2011. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Koji Kubo, JETRO

In April 2012, by abolishing the official pegging of the Myanmar kyat to the Special Drawing Right (SDR) of the IMF, Myanmar terminated the decades-old de facto multiple exchange rate system and moved to a managed floating exchange system. While noteworthy in its own right, this is merely the first step in an arduous journey of foreign exchange market reform. The Central Bank of Myanmar is now facing two interlinked challenges: establishing the institutions for a formal foreign exchange market and transferring informal market activities into the formal market. Read more…