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Asia Pacific Insights

The Difficult Case of Taiwan’s Sovereignty

In the wake of rising tensions in the South China Sea, between China and its neighbours, the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty is once again in the spotlight as Beijing clamps down in an attempt to secure its maritime borders and territorial claims in the region. Do recent developments suggest an end to the ambiguous status quo?

Asia Pacific Security

The Maldives – An Unlikely ISIS Haven

The Maldives, a small republic of 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, is traditionally a peaceful place, with most locals taking their security and stability for granted. However, today the Maldives has the highest per capita number globally of foreign fighters who have travelled to take up arms and fight in Syria. The government must reinforce its efforts to tackle the root causes of radicalisation, as well as the exacerbating factors in play on the islands. 

Asia Pacific Economics

Japan’s Tech Competitiveness: Why the Decline?

The Japanese government’s plans to increase economic efficiency and productivity through digitalisation reflect Japan’s growing need to develop new and innovative technologies in software and big data. However, Japanese firms’ incremental and often secretive R&D approach and risk-averse attitude to investments in startups undermine these efforts.

Asia Pacific Politics

Japan: Will Suga Remain Prime Minister After September?

After Abe Shinzo stepped down as Japan’s Prime Minister in late August last year, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide emerged as the man to succeed him, through the support of high ranking Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) figures including Abe himself and the party’s secretary-general Nikai Toshihiro. Though Suga began his premiership with reasonable approval ratings, public support has since plummeted. With an LDP leadership contest scheduled for September 2021, the possibility exists that Suga will not be in the top seat by that point this year. How likely is such an outcome, and what factors are likely to contribute?

Asia Pacific Technology and infrastructure

A Neglected Frontier: Challenges to Japan’s Cyber Security

2020’s SolarWinds cyberattack, which affected numerous US government agencies, underscores the growing relevance of IT security and cyber-crime to national governments. Not solely the work of individual criminals, crimes perpetrated by state-sponsored or entirely state-operated hacker groups have increasingly been alleged. With cyberspace growing in importance as a frontier of political contestation, states must act; what steps has Japan been taking, and what barriers are there to enhancing Japan’s cybersecurity?

Asia Pacific Economics

A Big Deal: Signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

On November 15th 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was signed. An ASEAN-led initiative, the agreement was signed during a virtual ceremony in Vietnam. The bloc takes sole position as the world’s largest trading bloc, representing roughly 30% of global GDP.
The signing of this imminent and long-awaited free trade agreement is between 15 nations: the 10 ASEAN members in addition to China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.
The timing of this pan-Asian trading agreeement’s signing is symbolic – amid a global pandemic that has shaken the global economy and caused free trade and globalisation to be questioned; however, it’s significance goes far beyond symbolism.
While this agreement appears to support ASEAN’s incrementalist approach, the pact will do little to halt China’s creeping dominance over the surrounding region, nor influence America’s position of distancing itself from China, or indeed influence any agreement in which China plays a part.

Asia Pacific She Said

Yayasan Rama Sesana and the Quest for Female Reproductive Health in Bali

Yayasan Rama Sesana is a non-profit organization in Bali, Indonesia, which helps vulnerable women in both urban and rural areas take care of their reproductive health by educating them about healthy behaviors and by providing them with donation-based health services at its community centers and mobile clinics. As a service for women from mostly women, the organization aims to create a healthier generation through female empowerment. We spoke to founder, director and general practitioner Dr. Luh Putu Upadisari about her inspiring work and her vision. Through her work, more than 72,000 people have received educational and health services, which have contributed to increased community knowledge, female empowerment and gender equality.

Asia Pacific Politics

Japan – Taking Initiative in the Asia-Pacific Region

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga embarked on his first diplomatic visits last month, meeting the Vietnamese and Indonesian governments. Suga’s choice of Vietnam and Indonesia, both important members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), demonstrates his aim to continue the policy formulated under his predecessor Shinzo Abe for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). Alongside this, there are indications that Japan will step up the involvement of its defence industry both for the country’s own security and that of the wider Asia-Pacific region. With an ineffective US Asia policy and a gutted US State Department, the moment is right for Japan to take the initiative towards peace and prosperity in the region.

Asia Pacific Security

COVID 19 and the Shifting Maritime Balance

In South East Asia, the reduction of the navy budgets in key countries might threaten the balance of power by weakening their presence in a highly disputed area. Indeed, China has already adapted its policy in the South China Sea to benefit from the weakening of its opponents.

Asia Pacific Security Under The Radar

North Korea’s recent nuclear advances: what are the implications for European security?

On the 10th of October 2020, North Korea unveiled what appeared to be its biggest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile, during a military parade organised in Pyongyang. This new ICBM, although currently untested, reflects North Korean nuclear advancements and revives the global debate surrounding North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. For the European Union, North Korean nuclear capabilities represent a strong risk for its security.