Centre for United States and Asia Policy Studies Working Papers

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    Regional Maritime Security in East Asia
    (2015-06-03) Barker Gale, Jessie; Rogers, Zac; Willis, David
    Increasingly, it appears that the status quo of the East Asian maritime region is encountering subtle shifts which are eroding the stability of its condition. Regional states are registering higher levels of strategic anxiety, while increasing evidence suggests tit-for-tat behaviour is on the rise. More coercive activity appears to be replacing the commitment to engagement and peaceable diplomacy. Specific controversies within the East China and South China Seas exemplify the risk to the status quo. Recent patterns of military modernisation materially indicate the fears of regional states with respect to these shifting dynamics. Against this backdrop of the erosion of the maritime stability, this expert workshop aims to: ask whether the current slide in relations may be arrested and, if so, what are the most desirable approaches to discourage the deterioration in behaviour. In the consideration of more cooperative behaviour the workshop deliberates on; the current environment, the conditions under which more successful diplomacy could be enacted, the level of leadership and institutional capacity required, the value of bottom up approaches to maritime security, and the nature of effective policy responses.
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    Socio-Economic and Political Change in the DPRK
    (2014-09-03) Habib, Benjamin
    The present moment represents an inflection point marking the end of Kim Jong Il-era muddle through and the beginning of Kim Jong Un's determined and pro-active regime consolidation phase. Rightly or wrongly, Kim Jong Un's government has noticeably quickened the pace of decisive policy decision-making in pursuit of a simultaneous nuclear security and economic development program, with a fully operation nuclear deterrent in place to provide the umbrella under which new economic measures can be rolled out. In this context, a number of actors-from international agencies and foreign missionary groups working on capacity-building projects to Chinese business interests investing in North Korea's special economic zones and a growing local entrepreneurial class-are beginning to influence governance within the DPRK. This presentation explores these developments in the context of North Korea's domestic governance and its flow-on effects for regional politics.
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    The Changing Political Langscape in Malaysia
    (2014-09-03) Govindasamy, Anantha Raman
    The focus of my presentation is to examine contemporary socio-economic and political development in Malaysia. Key contesting issues such as good governance, Islamisation, state economic development, minority rights, electoral reforms, human rights, and the development of civil society would be scrutinised in order to understand Malaysia’s changing political landscape in Southeast Asia.
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    Emergence of Local Politics in Indonesia
    (2014-09-03) Sulistiyanto, Priyambudi
    This presentation explores the emergence of local politics in Indonesia. Unlike the national elections which since the fall of Soeharto in 1998 have been held three times, in 1999 (parliamentary elections), 2004 and 2009 (parliamentary elections and direct presidential elections) little is known about local elections or pilkada. There has been considerable continuity and change in Indonesia especially since decentralisation was adopted in 2001 (Malley, 2003; Schulte Nordholt and van Klinken, 2007; Mietzner, 2007; Schiller, 2007; Erawan, 2009; Hadiz, 2004 and 2007; Erb and Sulistyanto, 2009 ). This presentation aims to do a few things: firstly, mapping out contending perspectives to explain the nature and consequences of decentralisation in Indonesia; secondly, finding out the emergence of local power in Indonesia with attention to the rise of ‘little kings’ (raja kecil), the rise of new business actors, the use of gangsters/goons (preman), the widespread of money politics and the booming of political consultancy business; and thirdly, looking at the emergence of local leaders entering national political arena (with a case study of Jakarta’s Governor Jokowi).
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    Contested Governance & Values in Contemporary Japanese Politics
    (2014-09-03) Lam, Peng Er
    • Main axis of political contestation in postwar Japan is not between “Western” and “Asian values” but the struggle for the constitutional “soul” of Japan --- embracing or rejecting the pacifistic constitution (with the famous and unique war-renouncing Article 9). • Another emerging axis: the political cleavage between the center (Tokyo) & the periphery (e.g. Osaka): between the centralized Meiji warfare state/ postwar pacifist welfare state & a looser federated Japan coalescing around 9 regional blocs. • This is not to say that Asian political scientists (e.g. Chan Heng Chee) have not noted the remarkable resilience of Japan’s LDP one-party dominance at the national level (1955-2009 [except 1993]; 2012 --) as being similar to other Asian perennial one-party rule in Malaysia, Singapore & Taiwan. • T.J. Pempel: Japan is an “uncommon democracy” without alternation of power between major political parties. However, Japan’s one-party dominance collapsed in 2009  possibility of a “2-party plus” system. But is Japan a more common democracy today? • Rightwing nationalist Ishihara Shintaro has also made common cause with former Malaysian PM Mahathir by co-writing a book “Asia that can say no”. • However, some Japanese would situate their country as a member of the “West” during the Cold War (US-Japan Alliance) and a member of the G8 today. • Tokyo: advocates “democratization” as an important consideration when it disburses Official Development Assistance to poor developing countries. • PM Abe Shinzo: advocated a quadrangular alliance of democracies (Japan, US, Australia & India) presumably against authoritarian China. Central argument: Japanese governance & politics are marked by profound continuity despite significant change in values, party system & governance. Some of these political changes are universal but the unending contest for the constitutional soul of postwar Japan is uniquely Japanese.
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    A Media Approach to China-US Relations
    (2014-08-22) Li, Zipeng
    A comparative study of Chinese and US newspaper reports on the summit between Xi Jinping and Obama in June 2013.
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    The US pivot to Asia
    (2014-08-22) Dupont, Alan
    The US may have pivoted back to Asia and the Pacific rhetorically, but does it have the muscle and staying power to reassert itself in a region that it has dominated for nearly seven decades? US competitors, especially China, think not and even friends and allies have their doubts. So what does President Obama’s pivot portend for US power in Asia where Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, has declared that ‘the future of politics will be decided’?
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    China and the United States after the crises: a zero-sum battle for jobs and growth?
    (2014-08-06) Schwartz, Herman
    Up until about 2005, the United States and China had a symbiotic relationship with respect to growth and employment. China exported exceedingly cheap labor-intense goods to the United States and the world, and recycled its trade surpluses as credit to the American consumers buying those goods. Politically, cheap Chinese goods and lending enabled a job creating housing boom that amerliorated the increasingly unequal US income distribution. Equally so, exports generated political quiescence in China through expanded employment. Together, US and Chinese growth helped Germany, and thus Europe, grow. After 2005, China's growth became more capital intense and US homebuyers faced housing prices - and debt levels - completely detached from any plausible economic future. Relatively more capital intense Chinese exports also eroded US medium technology manufacturing in the US industrial heartland, rather than just labor intense manufacturing in the US internal periphery. Rising capital intensity also lowered employment growth inside China. This changed the symbiotic relationship into a zero-sum relationship, with Europe as the first victim. The paper presents cooperative and conflictual scenarios for the end game over the next decade.
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    China's Approach to BRICS
    (2014-08-06) Cheng, Joseph Y. S.
    The economic rise of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) inevitably leads to a redistribution of power in the international system. Chinese leaders today accord a considerable priority to this group, and there are elements of realism, liberalism/ institutionalism and constructivism in their approach. This article intends to study China’s policy towards BRICS and examine the above elements so as to better understand how the Chinese leadership perceives China’s role in the international system, and how it seeks to articulate its interests and enhances its influence.
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    The Gulf and Asian Energy Requirements: Secure Supply or Oil on the Water?
    (2014-08-06) Bruni, John
    The paper addresses: • The Asian economic giants, China, India, Japan and South Korea require secure supply of Gulf oil and gas resources to fuel their burgeoning manufacturing sectors. • Gulf countries find themselves in the fortunate position of seeing the 'Asian market' as an inexhaustible destination for their energy commodities. • Issues such as Iraq/Iran/Syria as well as the simmering internal problems within Gulf countries make the region an uncertain supplier, and, as time goes by, less able and willing to guarantee stability of supply to the international market owing to uncontrollable internal and external factors. • Piracy in the Arabia Sea, and the potential for war in the gulf, places uncertainty on the sea lines of communication between Gulf oil/gas and the Asian market, disruption of which will have a deleterious impact on international oil and gas prices and on the scale of Asian economic growth.
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    Bargaining with Giants: why is there no dialogue with China over iron ore?
    (2014-07-30) Leaver, Richard
    The attempt to create a stable diplomatic triangle out of relations between brothers number one, two and twelve is a fraught enterprise, and most particularly so when hard security issues are front and centre. On the other hand, Australia and China arrive at the market for iron ore from different sides but with a measure of substantive equality as number one exporter and number one importer. Since trade in industrial raw materials has always provided a mechanism for the manipulation of strategic vulnerabilities in East Asia, the commencement of a dialogue over the terms and conditions of iron ore trade would have broader strategic as well as narrower economic purposes. Now that the China boom is slowing, prudential interests in market stabilization converge with the higher normative pursuit of market civilization behind this dialogue.