Hong Kong’s political impasse

A pro-democracy protester, putting a yellow sticker reading " I want real universal suffrage in Hong Kong on Feb. 1, 2015. Thousands of demonstrators took the street for the first time since last year and held up yellow umbrellas, a symbolo of the Occupy Central momvement during a march through central Hong Kong. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter TY Cheung, HKU

The Occupy Movement has seen the political awakening of a large segment of the Hong Kong community. The massive outbursts of political protests lasted 79 days and tested the limits and will of the Hong Kong people and government. Hong Kong–mainland relations have been pushed into a downward spiral of mistrust and confrontation, but movements towards reconciliation remain out of sight. Read more…

Korean reunification still on the agenda in 2015


Author: Jong-sung You, ANU

Disasters and political scandals dominated South Korean politics in 2014. And hopes for progress on North–South relations on the Korean peninsula were left unfulfilled.

At the beginning of 2014 — in Dresden, Germany — President Park Geun-hye had unveiled her government’s vision for Korean reunification. Read more…

A year of relative stability for Central Asian regimes

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov inspect an honor guard before their meeting at the Kuksaroi Presidential Residence in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 10 December 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Dr Kirill Nourzhanov, ANU

By local standards, 2014 was a reasonably successful year for the leaders of Central Asian countries. There were no revolutions, insurgencies or mass protests threatening their grip on power. Incumbent heads of state carried out regime maintenance in their customary manner: focusing primarily on managing the inner circle of the ruling elite. Read more…

What now for Abe third time round

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech at a New Year party of business group Japan Association of New Economy, 22 January 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Nobumasa Akiyama, Hitotsubashi University

Shinzo Abe’s second term as prime minister of Japan, unlike his first, was a modest success through till 2014. But he will have to bring real and tangible outcomes for Japan and the Japanese economy if it is to succeed the third time round. Read more…

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…

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…

Vietnam’s moderate diplomacy successfully navigating difficult waters

Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi (L) and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (R) attend a meeting in Hanoi on June 18, 2014. Beijing's top foreign policy official began talks with Vietnamese leaders in Hanoi on June 18 over China's stationing of an oil rig in disputed waters, which sent the two countries' relations plunging to their lowest point in decades. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Thuy T. Do, ANU

Vietnam’s diplomacy saw many successes in 2014, but also faced many challenges.

In early May, the country saw the worst maritime tension with China since their 1988 naval clashes in the South China Sea (SCS). Read more…