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  • OPINION

    America at war within can't lead world

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 18/10/2019

    » The extraordinary country that once touted itself and was seen by many as the "leader of the free world" is no longer so great. America, the fabled "city upon a hill" and beacon of freedom and democracy for the world, is unwell from within, wracked by nasty divisions and visceral polarisation.

  • OPINION

    HK protests in a regional perspective

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 11/10/2019

    » When Hong Kong's protest movement against the Extradition Law Amendment Bill began on March 30, few could have anticipated that it would become a full-blown popular revolt. The protesters initially opposed the bill because it would allow the Hong Kong government to detain and extradite fugitives to mainland China. Despite the suspension and subsequent withdrawal of the bill by Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the protest movement has taken on a life of its own. As its end goals of universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into police conduct and Ms Lam's resignation harden, its endgame appears fraught with risks of intensifying confrontation and violence.

  • OPINION

    What next with China as a superpower?

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 04/10/2019

    » The spectacular celebrations to mark the People's Republic of China's 70th anniversary of its founding were the culmination of a sweeping ideological struggle over the past century between two competing systems of socio-economic and political organisation. Under the stewardship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1921, China has now arrived as a 21st century superpower with an unprecedented hybrid of totalitarian control and a capitalist market economy, the successor state to the old Soviet Union whose demise nearly 30 years ago was attributable to its rigid collectivism over market capitalism.

  • OPINION

    Developing by managing demographics

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 27/09/2019

    » Once upon a time, it was feared that the earth would become overcrowded and its inhabitants unable to find enough to eat. This fear has not only proved unfounded but it has gone in the opposite direction. What almost every nation fears now is a decline in inhabitants as the birth rate cannot keep up with the longevity of the aged and elderly, imposing unsustainable burdens on working-age segments of the population. Every region is afflicted with this demographic predicament, especially in affluent societies where the birth rate decline is acute, such as Japan.

  • OPINION

    Politics of regional trade liberalisation

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 20/09/2019

    » As multilateral trade negotiations have become unworkable, regional and bilateral alternatives are on the rise. In Thailand's neighbourhood, the most consequential of these trade vehicles is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). As it missed the boat on the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Thailand as Asean chair this year should finalise the RCEP expeditiously and find a way to accede to the CPTPP in the near future. Although the Thai political situation remains murky and contentious, there is enough domestic policy consensus on low-hanging fruits, such as regional and bilateral trade liberalisation, that should be reaped without further delay.

  • OPINION

    Asean militaries between US, China

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 06/09/2019

    » The inaugural Asean-United States Maritime Exercise (AUMX) this week has sent ripples far and wide to the shores of regional states from Beijing and Tokyo to New Delhi. Hosted by Thailand at its Sattahip naval base in Chon Buri province, the first AUMX comes nearly a year after Asean held a similar maritime drill with China off the coast of Guangdong province. At issue is the intensifying rivalry between the US and China on the one hand and Asean's centrality and geopolitical balance between the two superpowers on the other. Several implications are discernible.

  • OPINION

    Superpower rivalry to put region to test

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 30/08/2019

    » More than 18 months in, the trade war between the United States and China is not having its intended effects. Despite a flurry of US-led tariff hikes on Chinese products followed by China's retaliatory tax increases on American-made goods since January last year, the government of President Donald Trump is not perceived to be winning the trade conflict. China has proved more resilient and resourceful than many had anticipated. What this means is that the trade war is going to last much longer than many had expected. It is also likely to spread to other areas beyond trade and degenerate into a full-fledged non-military war.

  • OPINION

    Central bank autonomy must be upheld

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 16/08/2019

    » When elected governments make noises about economic growth in countries where macroeconomic management is sound and prudent, central bankers tend to quietly bristle and brush off such interference and infringement of monetary space at their own risk. In so doing, central bankers tend to enjoy the support of domestic and international market participants who value central bank independence more than politicians' vested interests, even if it sometimes undercuts their bottom lines. Accordingly, when central bankers go along with the preferences of elected politicians, the conduct of monetary policy comes into question.

  • OPINION

    Prime Minister Prayut's huge little gaffe

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 09/08/2019

    » While Thailand's flawed 2017 constitution was bound to run into a fundamental dispute at some point, the sudden and brewing charter crisis facing the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stems from an unlikely source. During the oath-taking ceremony presided over by Their Majesties on July 16, the Gen Prayut-led cabinet somehow omitted one-third of a statement which was mandated to be read aloud before officially taking office. What should have been a routine constitutional ritual has become a procedural gaffe that has captured national attention, putting government stability at risk and the prime minister's political longevity in doubt.

  • OPINION

    Is the Indo-Pacific eclipsing Asia-Pacific?

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 02/08/2019

    » Thailand and the smaller states in its neighbourhood will miss the Asia-Pacific era. It is not as if the Asia-Pacific has gone away or disappeared in any sense. But its role as a cradle of prosperity linking larger and small economies around the Pacific Rim may have passed its peak. In its place is the Indo-Pacific, which thus far lacks a trade-liberalisation and economic growth component so integral to the Asia-Pacific.

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