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Kim Jong-un won 2017


In his 2017 New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claimed that ‘an epochal turn was brought about in consolidating the defence capability of juche Korea’ and that the country had ‘achieved the status of a nuclear power, a military giant, in the East which no enemy, however formidable, would dare to provoke’. In […]

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PNG’s Peter O’Neill emerges bruised but not out from 2017


Author: Paul Flanagan, Canberra The June–July 2017 national elections in Papua New Guinea (PNG) were expected to reinforce Prime Minister O’Neill’s grip on power. Instead, the poll was most remarkable for its anti-O’Neill sentiment. There is little doubt the electoral roll was manipulated: thousands of ‘ghost voters’ favoured the government, especially in the country’s highlands. […]

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Power in Thailand wears camo and a crown


Author: Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Kyoto University 2017 marks another important milestone in Thai politics. Thailand entered the next phase of its political life as the magical era of King Bhumibol Adulyadej officially came to an end. The departure of the late King Bhumibol has left a large gap to be filled, and the country waits with […]

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Taiwan’s Tsai takes China and the KMT in her stride


Author: Sheryn Lee, Macquarie University After being elected on a high in 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration faced the harsh realities of governing Taiwan in 2017. Instead of making progress on challenging yet needed reforms (such as those to the constitution or the slow-growing economy), Tsai’s low approval ratings resulted in […]

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The Trump factor in the new world order


Author: Editorial Board, East Asia Forum How much difference has US President Donald Trump made to America’s standing in the world? Despite the almost daily awe and horror that has accompanied media coverage of the first year of his presidency there is a view that Trump has barely made a dent on the structural trends […]

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Is Trump’s America the ‘dispensable’ power in Asia?


Author: David Camroux, Sciences Po (CERI) Madeleine Albright, one of several scholar–statespersons the unique American spoils system used to produce as secretary of state, characterised the United States as ‘the indispensable power’. In relation to East Asia today, that description seems no longer salient. In this vein, perhaps thirty years from now we will look […]

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Trump’s democratic destruction and Asian absenteeism


Author: TJ Pempel, University of California, Berkeley In the twelve months since the 2016 elections, the United States has undergone an unrelenting series of attacks on its constitutional provisions, its regulatory regime, its democratic procedures and its social cohesion. US President Donald Trump has been the knife-edge of these assaults. He has repeatedly challenged judicial […]

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Timor-Leste’s ‘government of national disunity’


Author: Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University A year that started so well for Timor-Leste has ended badly. The country is in a constitutional crisis, its minority government had refused to reconvene the Parliament and there is the prospect of another round of elections in 2018. There were presidential and parliamentary elections in Timor-Leste in 2017, both […]

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Can private standards restore credibility to the palm oil industry?


Author: Helen E S Nesadurai, Monash University Malaysia Palm oil has gained notoriety for its links to tropical deforestation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, disturbance of carbon-rich peat land, exploitation of workers and land grabs. Despite various non-governmental organisation (NGO) campaigns against palm oil since 1997, its principal producers and exporters (Malaysia and Indonesia) had […]

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Reorienting Hong Kong’s external relations


Author: Kalvin Fung, Waseda University After more than six years of negotiations (including a failed attempt to become part of the ASEAN–China free trade agreement) Hong Kong has finally signed the long-awaited ASEAN–Hong Kong free trade agreement (AHKFTA). On the surface, Hong Kong appears to be the biggest winner of the trade deal. Given that […]

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