The world economy is facing a two-speed recovery. The rich world is overheating. The poor world is stagnating, with Asia’s developing countries at its centre. Left to fester, both worlds will soon start exporting problems to each other, creating a dangerous feedback loop.
Maintaining that ‘people are its most precious resource’, Singapore has made a name for itself as a country committed to human resource development. The city-state has invested in research infrastructure and matching budgets to turn itself into an educational and knowledge hub. But the future of international higher education in Singapore is far from guaranteed.
Sri Lanka recently passed emergency regulations to deal with food shortages and price increases. Such powers are typically invoked to address public security concerns. But in this instance, they are being used to give the government extra powers to seize stocks of essential food items hoarded by traders. This justification sidesteps a fundamental question about the economic policy choices that have created the need for such drastic measures. An artificially maintained ‘official’ exchange rate in an economy hobbled by high debt levels has disincentivised food importers from releasing stocks at controlled domestic prices.
The alliance between the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist and Leninist) (CPN-UML) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) (CPN-MC), which won a landslide victory in the elections three years ago, has now fractured into three different political parties. The merger between the CPN-UML, led by then prime minister KP Sharma Oli, and the CPN-MC, led by former rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal (known as Prachanda) — which unified almost all strands of communists in the country into a long-awaited single party — has broken after only three years. The opposition Nepali Congress has now taken government.
Recent portrayals of South Korean inequality have captivated international audiences. Squid Game is on track to become Netflix’s most watched show ever, with viewers struggling to look away as 456 desperate individuals compete to the death for prize money.
Shortly after his victory in the contest for the position of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President, and being sworn in as Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida dissolved the lower house and called a national election for 31 October. If the LDP retains sufficient power in this election and the July 2022 upper house election, Kishida could lead Japan for at least several years. An important question then for Japan’s future is whether Kishida will remain a dove or follow former prime minister Shinzo Abe’s more hawkish line.
China’s combative foreign conduct has many believing that the country has departed from former leader Deng Xiaoping’s philosophy ‘to leave brightness, embrace obscurity, and keep a low profile’ (tao guang yang hui) and is ready to assert it authority internationally. But China’s quiet charm offensive with Bangladesh lends a different character to its diplomacy.
Since the upgrade of bilateral relations to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ in 2016, India–Vietnam strategic coordination has continued to deepen — as reflected through increased defence and maritime security cooperation. But New Delhi and Hanoi’s economic ties are lagging behind, limiting their ability to address shared security and strategic concerns raised by China’s economic rise in India’s backyard and maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea.
Chinese President Xi Jinping invited the leaders of Germany and France to join a ‘quad’ of cooperation with African countries during a virtual summit on 5 July 2021. But why did Beijing suddenly propose this partnership? And is the move likely to bear fruit?