Category Archives: BUSINESS

Border conflict no match for Sino–Myanmar relations

Author: Enze Han, SOAS

Conflict has flared up again in the Kokang region along the Sino–Myanmar border, leading to the deaths of at least 30 people and the outflowing of more than 20,000 refugees from Myanmar into China’s Yunnan province. For some months in Myanmar’s troubled ethnic minority regions, sporadic clashes have been heating up between Myanmar government troops and the Northern Alliance — a military alliance of several ethnic rebel armies, including the Kachin Independence Army, Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

Rebel soldiers of Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) patrol near a military base in Kokang region, Myanmar, 10 March 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

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The borderland area between Myanmar and China has a torturous history of military insurgency. Ever since Myanmar’s independence, the more than …continue reading


Japan’s constitutional revision debate masks silent state control

Author: Toshiya Takahashi, ANU

Japan’s current constitutional revision debate is a silent challenge against freedoms espoused by the 1947 constitution. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set aside revision of the controversial Article 9 peace clause for the moment, his administration’s inclination towards state control of civil liberties will shadow any future revision process.

The 1947 constitution, brought into effect after World War II, successfully democratised Japan. It stipulates a wide range of human rights and institutionalises democratic governance while abolishing pre-war authoritarian legacies. The three principles of the constitution — people’s sovereignty, human rights and the renunciation of war — originated from the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, which was the de facto occupation force. Despite this, the majority of Japanese political elites as well as the public accepted the new constitution.

Meanwhile, conservative groups who supported Japan’s pre-war regime worried about democratisation and demilitarisation. They have sometimes criticised the constitution in its 70 years for limits on remilitarisation laid out in Article 9 and little mention of duties to the state. Yet a formal process exploring constitutional revision did not take place in the Diet until the end of the 1990s.

In the early 2000s, various political groups proposed drafts for …continue reading


The world needs RCEP

US Vice President Mike Pence is greeted by ASEAN Secretary-General Le before a meeting with ASEAN permanent representatives at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, 20 April, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Mast Irham/Pool).

Author: Yizhe (Daniel) Xie, Waseda University

Global trade needs a win to fend off rising tides of protectionism and anti-globalisation. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) offers the best ammunition to achieve this.

The quick conclusion of this regional mega-free trade agreement (FTA) will signal Asia’s commitment to free trade — from which it has benefited greatly — as well as boost ailing confidence in globalisation.

US President Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) three days after his inauguration was a major blow for the other 11 signatories — whose leaders expended substantial political capital on the deal. But this does not discourage Asia’s bid for deeper economic integration.

In March 2017, senior officials from non-TPP countries (China, South Korea and Colombia) joined the TPP summit in Chile. This gave trade watchers some hope for an even broader trade pack — the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). But increasing global uncertainty makes it difficult, if not impossible, to picture the complex FTAAP. RCEP is the best offering for an ambitious mega-FTA.

Without the United States, the TPP is on the brink of death. Originally, the TPP was initiated by four small economies (Singapore, Brunei, …continue reading


83: These Japanese Bio-Hackers Are Growing Meat in A Lab – Shojinmeat

Growing our meat in a lab or factory has been a science fiction staple for decades, but much like jetpacks, it has never quite worked out in practice — at least not at scale. Yuki Hanyu and his team at Shojinmeat, however, are changing that. Actually, scientists have been growing muscle tissue in labs for […]

The post 83: These Japanese Bio-Hackers Are Growing Meat in A Lab – Shojinmeat appeared first on Disrupting Japan.

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Trump’s threat to the global trade regime undermines economic and political security

Author: Editors, East Asia Forum

Last Thursday Donald Trump declared steel imports to the United States were a threat to US national security. While he said that this was not just a problem of Chinese steel — which accounts for just 2.6 per cent of US steel imports, not 26 per cent of the market as Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross reckons — the notion that national defence is at risk because a modest proportion of national procurements is secured more efficiently from abroad flies in the face of economic logic. Such simple-minded security logic also needs to be carefully tested. China procures 81 per cent of its iron ore supplies from abroad, around 62 per cent of that from Australia alone.

The international trade regime and its robust protections, in law and through open markets, make this structure of trade interdependence an economically and politically wise choice.

The election of Mr Trump to the White House has changed many things, but perhaps none so drastically as the international trade policy environment. Brexit in Europe adds to the problem that Trump has created. Some may think that the Trump shock is a passing moment and US leadership in international trade and economic policy …continue reading