The diffuse nature of policymaking in Indonesia discourages its leaders from departing from the country’s status quo policy towards Beijing. The status quo aims to allow Jakarta to have its cake and eat it too — that is, enjoy close relations with Beijing while preserving its strategic autonomy in ASEAN.
US President Donald Trump has taken a radically protectionist approach to trade. Trump has launched a series of unilateral moves including increasing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports on national security grounds and announcing plans to impose tariffs on US$60 billion of Chinese imports.
Authors: Pradumna B Rana and Xianbai Ji, RSIS
Controversial ‘strongman’ President Rodrigo Duterte seems to expose the precariousness of democracy and liberal institutions in the Philippines. The structural hazard of presidential systems, according to some, is competing claims to legitimacy between the chief executive and the legislature. But examples from Southeast Asia show it is populist leaders who attack institutional constraints on their power or opponents who are willing to undermine democracy to counter populism — not the presidential systems themselves — that are the true cause of democratic decay.
Author: Mark R Thompson, City University of Hong Kong
Some people think the difficulties in international economic policy that we face today all arose with the election of US President Donald Trump. That is oversimplification of the matter. They are a consequence of significant shocks to economic and trade systems through the global financial crisis as well as of long-term structural changes in the global economy that have been shaking the system for some time.
Author: Editorial Board, East Asia Forum
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has ambitious goals for China’s geopolitical influence in Central Asia and for the security of land and sea routes between China, Central Asia and Europe. But despite the progress that has already been made, competing priorities will pose problems for China in fully implementing the Initiative.
Author: Bruce McKern, University of Technology Sydney
Fresh from successfully hosting a Winter Olympics that led to a rapid thaw in inter-Korean relations and having helped to broker an unprecedented summit meeting between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, South Korean President Moon Jae-in embarked on a week-long visit to Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 22 March 2018. Moon’s itinerary suggests an ambitious set of goals and priorities for South Korean diplomacy under his presidency.
Author: Charles K Armstrong, Columbia University
Assessments of ASEAN as a regional integration endeavour often fail to separate the organisation’s underlying objectives from those that appear on the surface. Analysts assume, perhaps understandably, that the primary purpose of regional cooperation agreements is to increase regional integration. If this were the case, traditional quantitative measures of integration — such as shares of intra-regional trade and investment — would be the right metrics for assessing success.
Author: Jayant Menon, ADB and ANU
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long sought to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution, but his cherished desire still eludes him. The draft amendment to the constitution was expected to be announced at the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) annual convention in March 2018. But at the end of his speech, Abe only cautiously referred to the revision as ‘the responsibility of the LDP’.
Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide and Takeshi Kobayashi, LDP member
Mere months ago the world held its collective breath as US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un looked like they were on a nuclear collision course. Now, thanks to the Olympic detente, the transition from nuclear threats and boiling tensions to summit diplomacy has arrived.
Editorial Board, East Asia Forum
The 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on 26 February 2018 killed over 100 people and left 270,000 in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. There have been dozens of physical aftershocks. But the most damaging aftershock may be the earthquake’s undermining of the ‘social licence’ of the affected areas’ PNG LNG project, which is responsible for 40 per cent of PNG’s exports.
Author: Paul Flanagan, ANU