China Foments Trouble on Myanmar’s Border

China Foments Trouble on Myanmar’s BorderLast year it was the South China Sea and the contiguous waters of Vietnam and the Philippines which were the focus of Chinese hegemonist instincts. Those issues have quieted down for the time being as China has noted the damage done to some of its other interests, in particular through the strengthening of  Southeast Asian…

Multiple Targets of Thailand’s Martial Law

Multiple Targets of Thailand’s Martial LawNine months after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) toppled the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra on 22 May 2014, the military junta has shown no attempt to lighten the suppression of civil and political rights. Despite an outcry from the business sector over the negative impact that martial law has had on…

The Perils of Guanxi

The Perils of GuanxiChina’s anticorruption campaign, now into its third year, is presenting real risk to foreign businesses, altering accepted working practices built on guanxi, or connections, and dampening sentiment in key markets, according to a report released today by the country risk firm Steve Vickers Associates. Because it is aimed at breaking the links that win advantage…

Beef Ban in India Raises Political Temperature

Beef Ban in India Raises Political TemperatureA ban on beef slaughter in India's southern state of Maharashtra has stirred up a hornet's nest across the country and has the potential to play havoc with the agricultural export industry. The new law amends the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act. It is the country's most stringent dealing with beef, banning slaughter, sale and consumption…

President Barack Obama’s Malaysia Problem

President Barack Obama’s Malaysia ProblemIt was still the evening of Feb. 9 on the US east coast when I learned that the Federal Court, Malaysia’s highest, had upheld the conviction of the  opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. The next day I saw a press release issued by a spokesperson for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), saying that “the…

China’s Gamblers Flee Overseas

China’s Gamblers Flee OverseasWhen Chinese President Xi Jinping began his crackdown on corruption in late 2012, it was clear that the gambling spa of Macau was going to be collateral damage, packed as it was by cadres with cash, bearing bottles of Viagra and looking for several different kinds of action. Three years on, the carnage in China…

China Moves to De-Risk Local Government Debt

China Moves to De-Risk Local Government DebtChina today ordered the biggest debt swap in the country’s financial history, to replace opaque, off-balance sheet local government debt with standardized provincial government bonds, hopefully alleviating the immediate risk from huge local governments’ debt burdens. On top of that, however, the move is designed to expand what is a flailing bond market by 20-fold…

Myanmar: The More Things Change…

Myanmar: The More Things Change…After violent crackdowns on student protests in Burma have attracted worldwide condemnation, many are no doubt wondering whether the country’s much vaunted political reforms are back to square one.  The Internet has been overwhelmed by social media showing pictures of savage attacks by the authorities against clearly peaceful protesters. - students, monks and journalists – with…

South Korean Democracy: Crisis Coming?

South Korean Democracy: Crisis Coming?South Korean democracy is a paradox. Unlike many other young democracies in Asia and other parts of the world, it is characterized by relative stability, a working judiciary and, with a few striking exceptions, respect for human rights and civil liberties. Korean governments have become responsive and accountable to the public. Moreover, the idea of…

Canadian Legislation Annoys Hanoi

Canadian Legislation Annoys HanoiA bill introduced in the Canadian Senate to commemorate the struggle that began for refugees on the day Vietnam fell to the communists is generating friction between Hanoi and Ottawa. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has written directly to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to register his concern over the measure, which would declare April…