East Asia Forum Quarterly (EAFQ)



EAFQ has grown out of East Asia Forum (EAF) online, a platform for the best in Asian analysis, research and policy comment on the Asia Pacific region in world affairs. EAFQ aims to provide a further window into research from leading research institutes in Asia and expert comment on key areas of regional policy. Each issue is focused around a specific topic of relevance and is published by ANU E Press.

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Vol.6 No.2: April - June, 2014
The G20 summit at five

About this issue

The formation of the G20 is a major achievement, perhaps even the most important achievement of international economic diplomacy in recent times. With its elevation to a leaders’ summit five years ago, the G20 is now the premier forum for global economic governance. Most observers believe that this initiative made a decisive difference in preventing the global financial crisis from developing on a scale that threatened to have consequences as damaging as the Great Depression of the 1930s. But what is the G20’s role now that the global economy appears on the mend? The G20 summit brought a fundamental change in the structure of global economic governance. The inclusion at the table of five asian economies, in addition to Japan, recognised the shift in the structure of economic power that made the old order, dominated by the G7, obsolete. The essays on the G20 in this issue of EAFQ are based on the book The G20 Summit at Five: Time for Strategic Leadership, the product of a major ANU–Brookings Institution project in the lead-up to the next G20 summit, to be held in Australia in november. The challenge now is to create sustainable global growth based on real productivity gains and new long-term jobs in the value-added chains of the products and services of the future. above all, G20 leaders have to ensure that key global economic institutions are robust and able to withstand unexpected shocks if and when they occur. Leaders can add value, for example, in addressing big questions about whether the global trade regime is headed in the right direction and how to shape the investment regime. This issue of EAFQ also launches a new feature: four essays on major trends and developments in the region. This feature, asian Review, will be a regular in the EAFQ alongside its coverage of a particular theme of importance about Asia’s place in the world.

Vol.6 No.1: January - March, 2014
On the edge in Asia

About this issue

What is happening to Asia’s edges—spatially, metaphorically, economically? This issue of the EAFQ examines the prospects of places that tend to be overlooked by many international policy specialists. These essays have been selected for their potential to illuminate Asia in four important ways. Sitting next to the region’s great powers can be tricky. Today both Myanmar and Mongolia are steering economic, political and diplomatic development alongside their giant neighbours. For Mongolia, its relationships with China and Russia have motivated a bold and inclusive foreign policy, one that has successfully cultivated new ties from western Europe to Australia. In the case of Myanmar, the post-dictatorship government is using its fresh democratic credentials to escape the suffocating embrace of China. We look to places where edges mean borders and frontiers. In Bangladesh and northeast India the management of cross-border issues is enduringly problematic. and as the tragic experience of Bhutan’s minorities show, the edge can be a profoundly unhappy place. Being on the edge in Asia also can imply a heightened sense of anxiety. Issues explored in this Quarterly—from dam developments on the Mekong and land disputes in Cambodia to the parlous security situation in Pakistan and the dangers of North Korean brinksmanship—all give extra reasons to worry. It is unclear that Asia has the institutional structures or the unanimity of purpose to support long-term solutions. Finally, at the edge we should be getting ready for the next big thing. Post-conflict development remains a major challenge in a number of countries. Vietnam has shown the way. Sri Lanka and Myanmar aspire to such success. The lessons they can all learn from the resource-rich states of central Asia should not be ignored. For now, the edges of Asia are where we can judge the early indications of the most overwhelming changes. In the countries adjacent to China and India, the 21st century will present disorderly opportunities, grave possibilities and the chance of something better.

Vol.5 No.4: October - December, 2013
Indonesia's choices

About this issue

What next for Indonesia? By any measure, the past 15 years has been a period of extraordinary progress. Yet for all the impressive gains, there is a widespread sense—especially inside Indonesia—that the early pace of progress has fallen away; even that the country is now just marking time and waiting for whatever the 2014 electoral cycle might yield.The essays in this EAFQ reflect the unease about the chances of being able to keep on the right track. Indonesia is an unambiguous economic success story. Sustained growth has lifted living standards, lowered the incidence of poverty, and underpinned social stability and political reform. But there is mounting concern that Indonesia is becoming mired in sticky ‘middle income mud’.The country now faces increasingly acute bottlenecks in key areas of economic infrastructure. The grand plans for upgrading infrastructure trumpeted over the past decade have not been realised. maritime transportation—vital for an archipelagic nation—is woefully underdeveloped. Inadequate capacity for generating electricity is emerging as a major constraint in many areas. And the education system is falling further behind in the fundamental task of producing an adequately skilled workforce. Indonesia’s next president and next parliament will need to address these problems squarely, or economic momentum will ebb away. The good news is that they will do so from within the context of a relatively established democratic system of government. The bad news is that Indonesia's system of government is unwieldy, with authority and responsibility blurred between the executive and legislature, and between the national and local levels of government. Whatever the policy agenda, whoever the leaders, this is a difficult system to operate. Internationally, Indonesia has emerged as an active and effective player on the regional and even global diplomatic stages. Although it is likely the next president will be, either by temperament or necessity, more domestically oriented, Indonesia will remain pivotal to regional affairs. Other countries—and none more so than Australia—need to recalibrate their mindsets about Indonesia. Even if Jakarta’s new-found pride and confidence periodically exceed its capacities, other countries—and, again, none more so than Australia—will find the costs of underestimating Indonesia increasingly painful.

Vol.5 No.3: July - September, 2013
Leading China where?

About this issue

The members of the fifth-generation leadership, with President Xi Jinping and Premier li Keqiang at its core, have been in their party places for a year and in government positions for half a year. now is a good time to assess how they are doing and the context in which they have to operate, especially as the party plenum to be held in late 2013 will articulate their economic policies more fully. As the articles by international experts in this issue of EAFQ make clear, this is a leadership that practices incremental reform. In internal issues, like managing the falling growth rate and the structural issues of increasing consumption, supporting sustainability and making the Chinese economy more competitive, it is a leadership that maintains faith in the market but also in state control. Its members support privatesector development and greater international access to the domestic market—but only up to a point. on China’s international role, they inherit from the previous administration the problem of managing the country’s increased profile and importance while maintaining constructive relations with America, Japan and other key countries. They continue to plan policy around what they perceive as us attempts at containment and a Japan whose behaviour over the senkaku–diaoyu islands is curtailing their strategic space. At the heart of both these issues is the dominant contradiction in China’s current role—a major country central to global growth and stability, but one that feels beset by immense internal challenges and the need to give these priority rather than involving itself in the affairs of others. The Xi–li leadership has been working within a framework created by its predecessors, but one which put GdP growth ahead of almost everything else. Its language of a ‘China dream’ and of needing to create a more urban, sustainable economic model starts to move away from this GdP dominance. But as these articles show, the challenges in creating political consensus among a highly fractured polity remain dauntingly high. And it is too early to say just how radical the new leaders will be as reformers when the time comes to make choices between the options available to them.

Vol.5 No.2: April - June, 2013
Coming to terms with Asia

About this issue

No matter how one looks at the numbers, the Asian economies are bound to have a central role in the global economy this century. This fact has many implications. First, it suggests where the opportunities for growth are going to be over the coming decades. Already the Asian economies account for almost 40 per cent of global output. The Asian century is here. Within Asia there are already half a billion consumers who, by OECD reckoning, are among the world’s middle classes, compared with a billion in Europe and North America. On conservative estimates of relative income and population growth, the middle classes in Asia will grow to 3.2 billion by 2030 but remain a bit under a billion in Europe and north America. Second, the remarkable change in the structure of the world economy, which has seen economic weight realign roughly with population weight after 200 years of being out of sync, is being accompanied by Asia’s growing political influence. The rise of China, and also India, challenge the role of the established European and North American industrial powers in a number of ways. In this issue of EAFQ leading analysts from throughout Asia, from America and from Europe address these developments. Some things are clear, though they may have been thus far under-recognised. China, India and the other Asian powers will have a greater role in global affairs. But there is much that is yet to be determined, and it is clear that this theme is one to which we will return.

Vol.5 No.1: January - March, 2013
Demographic transition

About this issue

By 2050 Asia will add another billion to its already huge population of 4.3 billion. Somewhat perversely, demographers see this as a good result, not because the population will grow but because the outcome for 2050 is several billion lower than it would have been without the spread of control over human fertility that has occurred over the past four decades. Demography never stands still and those countries that were at the head of demographic change in the second half of the 20th century now find themselves facing the new challenges of very low fertility and very rapid ageing of their populations. The articles in this issue address the past, the present and the future of demography in Asian countries and assess the causes and consequences of this spectacular transition.

Vol.4 No.4: October - December, 2012
Energy, resources and food

About this issue

In this issue we address one of the most important concerns in Asia: security over natural resources or about how to ensure we have sufficient food, water, energy, and other resources at an accessible cost and within tolerable levels of risk now and into the future. Managing resource risks in an insecure world will differ by country, the type and possible magnitude of the risks, and national, regional vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, the multidimensional nature of resource security demands that critically important natural capital stocks be conserved at a regional and global level and that special consideration be given to the particular vulnerabilities of poor countries while following market-based approaches to ensure adequate resource supplies. Whatever the national approach adopted towards resource security, we stress that promoting resource security is not a zero-sum game. All countries can benefit from a multilateral and a sustainable market framework that provides incentives for producers and delivers reliable supply to consumers.

Vol.4 No.3: July - September, 2012
Japan: leading from behind

About this issue

By the end of the 1980s, Japan had caught up in technology, productivity and living standards to the advanced economies of the West. after the end of the 1980s boom, economic growth plummeted after the bubble burst in 1991 to an average rate of around 0.7 per cent for the remainder of the 1990s, rising slightly to 0.9 per cent in the first decade of this century. Those two so- called ‘lost decades’ have frequently been cited as an object lesson in failed economic policies, from central banking to innovation to failure to reform financial institutions. In this issue of EAFQ, those areas that are in urgent need of change are set out alongside stories about, and in the context of, what Japan has done right and where Japan continues to lead.

Vol.4 No.2: April - June, 2012
China's investment abroad

About this issue

In the past half decade Chinese foreign direct investment has become a major element of global capital flows. Chinese investment abroad represents a new dimension of China's integration into global economic and political systems. The upward trend is clear. As China relaxes restrictions on outbound capital flows, an increasing share of the country's foreign asset holdings will likely shift from official holdings of foreign exchange reserves to direct investment abroad by Chinese companies. This issue of EAFQ assembles perspectives from top analysts to review the issue. It provides a start in serious and objective analysis of how we should properly look at the growth and reception of Chinese direct investment on the international stage.

Vol.4 No.1: January - March, 2012
Ideas from India

About this issue

India is a paradox. On the one hand, the country’s high growth rate has led to its international profile reaching new heights. The world’s largest democracy now features a burgeoning middle class, whose newly found economic and social freedoms are light years away from the old developmental state with its bureaucratic straitjacket that bound the economy. This middle class, however loosely defined, displays an insatiable appetite for consumer goods, thereby realising its hope of participating in the global economy as its most enthusiastic entrant. On the other hand, about a third of the population still lives below the poverty line. Suggestions that the adventurous Indian middle class will act as an engine propelling the country on to the world stage downplay the enormous challenges that lie ahead. While the contributors to this issue are very conscious of India’s rise to prominence, they are equally concerned about the implications and challenges involved.

Vol.3 No.4: October - December, 2011
Where is Thailand headed?

About this issue

In late 2011 Thais are cleaning up after devastating floods, caused by above-normal rains in the north of the country. More than 600 people have died, millions of hectares of farmland have been inundated, 20,000 factories and plants have been damaged, some never to reopen, leaving at least 1.5 million unemployed. Accusations of incompetence and corruption in the management of the floodwaters and the allocation of relief funds dominate the media and the Parliament. Beneath the temporary gloom, there is good news. For the first time since September 2006, when a military coup deposed the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, the country has a leadership whose legal and electoral legitimacy is acknowledged by almost all Thais. This government has an opportunity to reduce, though presumably not eliminate, the severe polarisation of the last decade ⎯ Thaksin's five years of government and the five years of turmoil following his removal. The contributors to this issue set the scene for thinking about the challenges ahead. Most, but not all, of the essays are based on the Thailand Update Conference convened at the end of September 2011 by the ANU's National Thai Studies Centre. The road ahead remains uncertain. What is certain is that it will not be smooth.

Vol.3 No.3: July - September, 2011
Asia's global impact

About this issue

There are great expectations of Asia, not only as an engine of global growth but also of its leadership at a time of global economic fragility. The new global order, centred on the G20, includes six Asian powers and provides a platform for Asian leadership. but is Asia up to the task? And do the institutional structures and arrangements within Asia provide the foundations that are needed to build coherent policy strategies to deal with the economic problems the world now faces? The essays in this volume address these questions. It is not yet clear how trans-Pacific regional institutions should relate to East Asian regional institutions or how regional institutions should relate to the G20 process. An increasingly prominent interest is how regional institutions can accommodate dialogues on political and security concerns as well as economic matters as changes in the structure of regional economic power lead inexorably to shifts in regional political power. The expansion of the East Asia summit to include the us and Russia begins to address this interest, but it is only a first step. This is Asia’s global moment. Will it meet the test? The verdict is out and far from certain. but this issue of EAFQ provides the outline of the agenda with which Asia will have to deal if it is measure up, both economically and politically.

Vol.3 No.2: April - June, 2011
Governing China

About this issue

The wide range of contributions to this collection examine ‘governing China’, including ‘the government’ at its various levels, but also all those issues covered by the expanding vocabulary of governance, social management, harmonious society, civil society, and new development models. We look at social change — in particular, the frequently misunderstood role of the emerging middle-class and its interests; the role of nationalism as a factor impacting upon both domestic and foreign-policy; and reform of governance in public finance and state-owned enterprises, as well as crucial elements in the overall task of ‘governing China’. This has not been a good year for continued progress in the direction of greater liberalisation of the political system, wider press freedoms or a truly independent judiciary, all essential components of the sort of China sought by its best minds for well over a century. At the same time, the number of individual citizens who have announced they will run for district people’s congresses in elections — despite admonitory comments from some official sources — between July and december 2012 is one encouraging reminder that China’s reality is complex.

Vol.3 No.1: January - March, 2011
Regulatory reawakening

About this issue

This issue of East Asia Forum Quarterly speaks less to the (undeniable) regulatory failures of the many political systems of Asia than to a regulatory reawakening: a region characterized by regulatory experimentation, adaptation to local conditions and the vigorous contestation of international norms that demands more intellectual engagement. This issue includes contributions from Michael W. Dowdle, Bruce Aronson, and Veronica Taylor, on subjects ranging from land governance and investment to the role of Islamic courts as regulatory institutions.

Vol.2 No.4: October - December, 2010
Asia and the G20

About this issue

The membership of the G20 is recognition of the importance of Asia in the global system. Now that Asia has this global platform, can it deliver on its global responsibilities? This issue of the Quarterly presents contributions from across the region to address some of the big questions that face Asia in the G20. There are clearly Asian interests in the G20, although the region brings diverse perspectives and agendas to the global table, as it should. And how well Asian members of the G20 can project broader regional interests and engage non-member support for those interests and agendas is another question. The legitimacy of the process will ultimately depend on getting the answer to that question right. But there is resolve in Asia to make the G20 work, since there is a collective Asian interest that this global initiative succeed and continue. That encourages the G20’s Asian members to define a constructive agenda through which to contribute to the international public good.

Vol.2 No.3: July - September, 2010
Next generation on Asia

About this issue

This issue of the EAFQ takes the top 12 essays from a large international competition, and other invited contributions, that address the theme Asia’s economic and political challenges and how to deal with them. The authors are all rising stars and this edition of the EAFQ showcases the best from the new generation on Asia.

Vol.2 No.2: April - June, 2010
Questions for Southeast Asia

About this issue

Southeast Asia defies simple categorisation. Among its countries there are obvious contrasts: big and small, vibrant and stagnant, attractive and troubling, peaceful and unsettled, quaint and web-savvy, confronting and embracing. The contributors to this issue of the EAFQ grapple with parts of the Southeast Asian mosaic, punctuated, as ever, by domestic intrigues, national ambitions, and international engagements. What ties the articles in this issue together, but never in a neat or seamless way, is the position of these countries, hemmed in by the much larger societies of China and India, and now forced to confront a world where ferocious technological and cultural change tests even the most effective governments. On the one hand—as a crossroads, a hub and a melting-pot—Southeast Asia is well-positioned to take advantage of its special geographical and social inheritance. On the other hand, the more than 500 million people of the region confront major challenges in the years ahead. There are many questions for Southeast Asia, and few easy answers.

Vol.2 No.1: January - March, 2010
The challenge of China

About this issue

As Richard Rigby says in the lead essay in this fourth issue of EAFQ, the word 'challenge . . . carries a heavy burden of nuance'. It can convey a sense of threat. But challenges can also be an inspiration, an offer of hope. Challenges always pose questions - often difficult ones, as Rigby also suggests. And the notion of a challenge is two-sided: it is as much about the one who is on the receiving end of the challenge as about the one who is doing the challenging. This is an apt nuance in considering China’s present and future role in the world. The challenge of China is as much about how the rest of the world responds to the rise of China as about the massive tasks of economic and social development in China itself. In this volume we focus more explicitly on the latter question than on the former but the former question is what this collection of essays really seeks to illuminate.

Vol.1 No.3: October - December, 2009
Copenhagen and beyond

About this issue

In November 1990, in a speech to the second World Climate Conference, Margaret Thatcher proclaimed, that 'our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world's environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community.' That effort led to the establishment of the UNFCCC, which entered into force on 21 March 1994. In 1997 at the third Conference of the Parties (COP3) the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. Kyoto set binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European Community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between the years 2008 to 2012 - the so called first implementation period. Howes argues that the early progress came undone when the US Senate, followed by Australia, refused to ratify Kyoto. Discouraged, other countries have not done what was needed. Almost twenty years after Thatcher’s optimistic words, the world community is meeting in Copenhagen to negotiate a second commitment period. The urgency has increased, but our ability to respond may have diminished.

Vol.1 No.2: July - September, 2009
Asia Pacific Community

About this issue

This issue includes essays by leading commentators on the idea of an 'Asia Pacific Community', floated last year by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Richard Woolcott, Rudd’s special envoy on the initiative, reviews the findings of his consultations on this issue with hundreds of interlocutors around the region.

Vol.1 No.1: April - June, 2009
Managing the crisis

About this issue

Our first issue brings together essays by influential commentators on the outlook for countries around the region as they confront the next phase of the global financial crisis. Analysing the crisis and the response by the nations in the region, one conclusion readily reached is that East Asia could not readily step up to the mark in responding to the crisis because its regional structures are still not up to the task of effective global participation. This issue therefore sets the agenda for our next magazine – on how that regional architecture might be turned more effectively to the purpose of responding to the big problems of the day in their global context.