KUALA LUMPUR -- It is right to criticize Indonesia for the forest fires that cast a suffocating haze across Southeast Asia this summer and fall. But this is a regional problem. Indonesia can't do it alone. ASEAN and the world must step forward and take action, before Southeast Asia is lost in the haze forever.
Clearly, the Philippines continues to see the AIIB as some kind of Chinese Trojan horse to buy the loyalty of neighbors and some measure of territorial acquiescence in exchange for economic carrots. Manila is also not comfortable with China having huge presence in its strategic, infrastructure sectors.
BEIJING -- Washington needs to state and re-state that what it is determined to defend is the global commons, not its naval supremacy in the South China Sea. The former wins high ground in the court of international opinion. The latter may generate headlines for the grandstand wanting to see U.S.-Chinese rivalry, but it will likely result in a limited alliance and set the region down a zero-sum track.
Financial inclusion helps lift people out of poverty and can help speed economic development. It can draw more women into the mainstream of economic activity, harnessing their contributions to society. And it will help governments provide more efficient delivery of services to their people by streamlining transfers and cutting administrative costs.
Today, Asia once again faces a historical challenge. It is standing at the crossroads between progress and retrogression. Why and how have we come this far? Partly, this is accounted for by the new and divergent outlook for the regional order -- a rising China, a resurgent Japan, strong Russia, anachronistic North Korea obsessed with the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the United States who is rebalancing to Asia. It looks like the "Pandora's Box" is being opened, with all sorts of problems -- both old and new -- popping up, complicating the already very complex situation. Any of these developments, if mishandled or left unchecked, could escalate into a much more serious situation with far reaching consequences for the region.