An Ageing, Worried Hong Kong Marks 20 Years Out of UK’s Clutches

An Ageing, Worried Hong Kong Marks 20 Years Out of UK’s ClutchesTwenty years on from the end of British colonial rule of Hong Kong, it would be hard to argue that the territory’s relative position in the world has improved. Indeed, the optimism felt at the time of the handover that the city could be beacon of freedom, prosperity and democracy in the region and the…

Book Review: Islands and Rocks in the South China Sea: Post-Hague Ruling

Book Review: Islands and Rocks in the South China Sea: Post-Hague RulingThe 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China on Beijing’s maritime claims to almost the entire South China Sea should have been a seminal event in east Asian history. Here was an international body rejecting China’s “historic” claims to almost the whole sea and supporting the Exclusive Economic Zone claims of Vietnam,…

US President Breaks his International Toys

US President Breaks his International ToysThere is more to Donald Trump than simply a series of foreign policy surprises and muddles. For all the Twitter comments, deliberate insults and displays of sheer ignorance, a pattern is emerging which is even more of a danger than any of the specific decisions, policies or quotes. At the roots of Trumpism is a…

President Trump’s Flying Circus

President Trump’s Flying CircusPresident Donald Trump’s ability to lose friends and influence for America seems endless. The once US-led Trans Pacific Partnership involving countries on both sides of that ocean may effectively be dead following the US withdrawal in January from the group it had struggled so hard to build. But in a gesture of what amounts to…

Nha Trang and its Tourist Lure

Nha Trang and its Tourist LureIs the Vietnamese city of Nha Trang on the way to becoming another Pattaya, the vast and notorious resort two hours south of Bangkok where sun, sex, sleaze, sports and second homes are all in abundance? Or even just another Patong, Pattaya’s younger sister on Phuket? Or could it be the center point for focusing,…

Zheng He’s Modern Doppelganger

Zheng He’s Modern DoppelgangerThere is an uncanny resemblance between today’s China and the voyages of Zheng He in the early 15th century. The specific parallel I have in mind is China’s Belt and Road initiative, which is being celebrated by the May 14-15 summit meeting in Beijing of 23 leaders of nations along the routes. Back in the…

An Irrelevant ASEAN Limps to a Filipino Gala

An Irrelevant ASEAN Limps to a Filipino GalaAnybody wondering what useful came out of the 2017 Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders’ summit in Manila over the weekend may read this brief communique. The answer is clear: very little besides what appears to have been quite a party. We, the Heads of State/Government of ASEAN Member States, gathered for the 30th ASEAN Summit…

US Attack on Syria a Step in the Wrong Direction

US Attack on Syria a Step in the Wrong DirectionUS President Donald Trump may be proving to have far more bark than bite – for which all must give thanks, so far. Trade war is not imminent and other Trumpisms are getting bogged down in Washington and the courts. But he is also backtracking on the one issue on which he might have started…

ADB Identifies the Keys to Economic Progress

ADB Identifies the Keys to Economic ProgressGet your investment priorities right. That is the message which emerges from a detailed study by the Asian Development Bank of the ways for countries to transform themselves from low to lower-middle, upper middle and finally high income. Those priorities change over time but none in itself is self-sufficient. The good news is that most…

The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian Visit

The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian VisitModerate Muslims and non-Muslims alike may worry that the high-profile visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to Malaysia and Indonesia signals another Saudi Salafi assault on traditionally more flexible Southeast Asian interpretations of Islam. But the royal tour, which also includes official visits to Japan and China as well as holidays in non-Muslim Bali, and…
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