The world’s two largest economies are skirmishing around the brink of a global trade war. This dangerous development puts at risk the international trading system that underpins prosperity in the global economy.
The rising trade tensions of recent months have grabbed the headlines — and rightly so. But what you don’t often hear about is how well the global trading system has performed over the years. You could argue that global trade governance has actually been the quietest success story of the post-war era. It’s important to remember what we could stand to lose if the current tensions lead to an unmanageable escalation of tit-for-tat trade policy actions.
On 24 May 2018, US President Donald Trump called off the planned 12 June Singapore summit with Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea due to Pyongyang’s perceived hostility. Having invested much political and reputational capital on rapprochement with North Korea, and with the Kim regime still privately in favour of the earlier planned summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim reached out to each other.
In the wake of high-profile terrorist activities in Indonesia, social media’s role in violent extremism is once again under scrutiny. The 36-hour standoff on 8 May 2018 between inmates linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS) and prison officers at Mako Brimob (the detention centre of the Indonesian National Police Mobile Brigade on the outskirts of Jakarta) provides some clues on how extremists use social media, especially to ‘crowdsource’.
Criticising China for its actions in the South China Sea has become quite common in US foreign policy commentary over the past few years. Recently, the criticism has become ever more strident and dangerous. In some instances it even borders on ‘yellow journalism’ — namely journalism that is based on sensationalism and crude exaggeration — which is something that has prodded the United States into war in the past.
The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), a new participant in Indonesia’s electoral landscape set to contest the 2019 national election, is grabbing the attention of Indonesian political watchers. Labelled the ‘millennials’ party’, PSI sees itself as the most promising political vehicle for young people in Indonesia. Its cadres are youths purportedly dissociated from old interest groups.
The 12 June Trump–Kim summit has turned something that was only recently unthinkable into a plausible future scenario: a completely denuclearised North Korea that is working rapidly towards global integration and economic development.
Pakistan’s coming elections are unfolding like a thriller — numerous twists and turns with little sense of what the ending will be.
The story has taken a darker turn recently with a crackdown on media and dissenting voices. On 6 June 2018, Gul Bukhari, a journalist known for her sympathy with the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) party, was picked up by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies for a few hours before being released. Such incidents not only increase fear, but make people sceptical about the fairness of the electoral process.
The United States and North Korea are still in a technical state of war that has continued for 65 years. This alone makes the first ever US–DPRK leaders’ summit held in Singapore on 12 June a remarkable event. But despite its historic nature, an atmosphere of pessimism has pervaded post-summit analysis due to the lack of details in the joint statement signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and entrenched antagonisms and suspicions.
Two recent reports on the massive ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project have brought renewed attention to the undesirable economic and social impacts of Papua New Guinea’s largest-ever resource extraction enterprise. This research shows that PNG LNG has hurt, rather than grown, PNG’s economy and that it has inflamed violence and tensions in the PNG highlands region. Papua New Guinea’s so-called ‘resource curse’ has hit local communities the hardest.