For those who wring their hands over unpredictable voting results—for a nation’s president or a potential split from a political and economic union—the fixed expectations of Chinese elections may be oddly calming. Joshua Hill’s new book, Voting as a Rite: A History of Elections in Modern China, offers a tour of Chinese elections going back over a century, arguing that influential policy makers have favored the notion that voters should be unencumbered by real choices and, armed with an understanding of their political station, essentially head to polls in a “rite” that serves the state’s interests.

The Earth may be divided among many countries, but since there is only one Heaven, there can be but one tianxia, or “all-under-heaven”. The Chinese concept tianxia might be literally translated into English as “sky-beneath”, and it has been variously rendered as “enlightened realm”, “world-system”, or simply “the world”. To keep Chinese scholars happy, just don’t translate it as “empire”. The West had empires. China had tianxia.

China or India? India or China? Maybe Chindia? Anyone who has ever spent much time thinking about the future of the Asia or any particular country or company’s relationship to it, has probably asked this question, and more than once. Several terms, such as “Asia- Pacific” or the newly-launched “Indo-Pacific”, carry this question within it.

Networked: Business and Politics in Decentralizing Indonesia, 1998-2004, Wahyu Prasetyawan (NUS Press, August 2018)
Networked: Business and Politics in Decentralizing Indonesia, 1998-2004, Wahyu Prasetyawan (NUS Press, August 2018)

Decentralization is among the most important political economic developments in Indonesia over the last thirty years. This book evaluates three cases (in the provinces of East Kalimantan, West Sumatra, and Riau) of deep-seated political conflict and intrigue implicating central government, local governments and multinational companies.

One of the major casualties of the Asian financial crisis was President Suharto who had been in power for thirty-two years. The crisis was a key point in Indonesia’s history, at the time it was unclear if the nation would make the necessary reforms to move forward or fall into further chaos. In Resurgent Indonesia, Vasuki Shastry investigates the effects of the 1997 Asian financial crisis on Indonesia and the subsequent fall of the authoritarian Suharto in 1998. He then deals with the process of building a democratic nation and the political environment in Indonesia in 2018. The book gives a detailed account of the crisis and recovery at the domestic level but also in the wider geopolitical context.

Evidence of the scarcity of earth’s resources is all around us, in water shortages in Cape town, a choking tropical haze in Indonesia, or increasingly overcrowded and unaffordable Asian cities where people live in “coffin cubicles” and “cage homes”. Action is required. But what kind of action, and which actor is best suited to bring about change that will allow the peaceful co-existence of humankind on an increasingly crowded and resource-constrained planet Earth? Chandran Nair, in his book, The Sustainable State, offers a new narrative of sustainable development. He takes on tough questions like how to price in negative externalities, such as early deaths from the pollution from coal-fired power, and grapples with the reality that the developing world will likely never enjoy the living standards of the West.