Despite a mild economic slowdown amidst China’s economic rebalancing and the U.S. Federal Reserve tapering—and despite a dip in Indonesian shares following asurprisingly weak performance by the favorites in Wednesday’s parliamentary election—the general direction of Indonesia’s economy seems clear: onwards and upwards.
The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has drawn nearly every navy with a presence in Southeast Asia to aid in the search effort. The United States easily has the biggest and best equipped navy in the Pacific and was fast to participate after the flight carrying 239 passengers and crew vanished from radar on Saturday.
Not long ago, China was a soft-power juggernaut. Media accounts highlighted Chinese leaders’ thoughtful forays abroad, depicting policymakers that were respectful of others’ opinions, willing to listen, humble to a fault, and reluctant to dispense unsolicited advice. Here was a country that was content to allow its own example of success to speak for itself.
Japan and Myanmar on Sunday signed an investment treaty to nurture closer business ties as the once secluded Southeast Asian country opens its fast-growing economy to more foreign commerce. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Myanmar President Thein Sein signed the deal in summit talks following a gathering of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Tokyo.
Myanmar's president called Thursday for more investment and development assistance from the Philippines, saying his country needs help to catch up with the rest of Southeast Asia after emerging from nearly two decades of economic sanctions. President Thein Sein's visit represents a milestone in relations with the Philippines, one of the harshest critics of Myanmar's former ruling junta.
When President Obama last traveled across Southeast Asia, in a trip two years ago designed to show his commitment to entrenching U.S. influence there, his administration's "pivot to Asia" was stymied almost immediately by events in the Middle East. The Arab Spring was setting the region aflame. Obama's goals of offsetting Chinese power, rallying rising East Asian economies under American stewardship and securing a role in this increasingly important corner of the world would all have to wait.
More than 160 of Singapore’s most popular news blogs went dark on June 8. The protest was a cry for help against regulatory changes that would effectively shut down independent online media in the city-state. The regulations are part of a quiet censorship that has become popular with Southeast Asian governments, which are increasingly wary of bloggers and social media activism. Bloggers worry that citizens aren’t aware of how effective this soft approach is, or of its far-reaching consequences.
Science and technology diplomacy between China and South-East Asian (SEA) countries is expected to benefit both sides, according to a forthcoming OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) report. Rising research and development (R&D) investment on both sides — as well as a common drive towards economic growth and industrialisation — increases the opportunities for improving collaboration, especially on science, innovation and education, the report says.