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CSDS-Asia Matters Podcast
In the CSDS-Asia Matters Podcast, we go beyond the headlines with experts from around the globe to help explain what's shaping the region.
May 22, 2022
The Philippines: A Family Business
At the end of June, the Philippines will formally inaugurate a new leadership – but it will feature two very familiar names. There will be a second ‘President Ferdinand Marcos’; and another Duterte – Sara, daughter of the current president – will become vice-president. The new President Marcos, generally known as Bongbong, is the son of the man who led the Philippines from the time he was elected in 1965 until he was deposed by a ‘people power’ revolution in 1986. During the two decades in between, Marcos Senior amassed billions of dollars in private wealth, oversaw the killing and disappearance of thousands of political opponents, imposed martial law and created a debt-fuelled economic boom which ended in a major recession. Sara Duterte is the daughter of a man who has polarised the Philippines during the past six years, the current president, Rodrigo Duterte. His signature policy was a ‘war on drugs’ which has caused the deaths of somewhere between six and thirty thousand people. Despite these chequered family backgrounds both Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte were elected with huge majorities in the elections on May 9th. Now the dust has settled, we’re going to find out how they did it and what it means for the country. Our first guest is Ronald Holmes, president of Pulse Asia, one of the Philippines' leading public opinion research companies. He's also Professor of Politics at De La Salle University in Manila. Joining him is Maria Ela Atienza, Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of the Philippines. Our guest host for this episode is Bill Hayton, Associate Fellow with the Asia-Pacific Programme at the London-based think-tank, Chatham House. As ever, you can find out more about the episodes on our website.
Apr 4, 2022
Asia’s Response to the War in Ukraine
This episode examines the responses of three of Asia’s most prominent nations to Russia's invasion of Ukraine: Japan, India, and Korea. The war has not only brought dreadful suffering to the Ukrainian people, as well as heavy losses for the Russian army - it has also upended many of the assumptions that have guided international relations for decades. Indeed, it's arguably the biggest change to the geopolitical order since the fall of the Soviet Union. Joining Andrew Peaple to discuss the topic are two familiar voices from the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Brussels School of Governance: Eva Pejsova, senior Japan fellow at CSDS, and Ramon Pacheco Pardo, who holds the Korea chair at the Centre. And to discuss the implications for India, Garima Mohan joins the show. She is a fellow in the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she leads work on India. As ever, you can find more information, including episode transcripts, on our website.
Mar 15, 2022
Close and nasty: South Korea's divisive election
South Korea’s closest presidential election since it became a democracy in 1987 has led to victory for the conservative Yoon Seok-yeol, who will now take office for a five-year term in May. His win comes at a time of difficulty, with North Korea once again testing missiles and nearby Russia engaged in war in Europe. At home, Yoon faces pressing economic issues such as runaway house prices and an aging population, while he has faced criticism for his stance on social issues such as gender equality. Joining us to discuss the hows and whys of the election and what Yoon’s win might mean for Korea and the broader region are three well-placed experts. Ramon Pacheco Pardo holds the Korea chair at the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Brussels School of Governance. From Seoul we are joined by Timothy Martin, Korea bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, and CNN's Yoonjung Seo.
Mar 4, 2022
Women's Lives In Modern China
On the eve of International Women's Day, we're bringing you a special podcast in collaboration with King's College London's Lau China Institute, looking at the lives of women in China today. In this episode we look at the challenges facing young Chinese women in balancing their jobs and home lives, and the prejudices they often face in the workplace, with a particular look at the effects of China's massive internal migration in recent years. What kind of position do women hold in the modern Chinese state? How has the country's extraordinary economic growth over the last few decades affected them both professionally and socially? With the birth rate in China having dropped to its lowest level on record, what impact is the government's push to increase it having on women? To answer these questions and more, we spoke to Ye Liu, a senior lecturer in international development at King's College London. Her research has focused on education and gender inequalities in China. She was joined by Deborah Davis, professor of sociology at Yale University, whose 2014 book, ‘Wives, Husbands and Lovers’ focused on marriage and sexuality in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and urban China. Over the course of the year we'll be bringing you a special series of China focused episodes, working with the Lau China Institute, the largest centre of its kind in the UK. It exists to build a greater understanding of China, both in the UK and across the globe through education, research and outreach. To find out more, please visit www.kcl.ac.uk/LCI.
Feb 25, 2022
ASEAN and the European Union - Kindred Spirits or Worlds Apart?
Welcome to the inaugural episode of CSDS-Asia Matters, in which we continue our mission to bring together policy experts and academics to dissect the factors shaping today’s Asia. It's a huge pleasure for us to be formally linked with the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Brussels School of Governance — an academic institution that's doing so much to promote understanding of the broad range of challenges facing us all in the 21st century. This first episode examines relations between the European Union and ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations. The two sides agreed to become strategic partners in 2020, but there are still big questions about their relationship. Does Europe have a role in South East Asia beyond being an economic ally? What do ASEAN nations want from the EU? And in an era of big-power competition and small-power security arrangements, how relevant are ASEAN and the EU anyway? To discuss these questions and more, Andrew is joined by Eva Pejsova, senior Japan fellow at CSDS, whose research focuses on security issues in the Indo-Pacific region, and by Huong Le Thu, Senior Fellow at Australian Strategic Policy Institute and a non-resident fellow with the South East Asia program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Her research covers South East Asian security, and the region’s relations with China. As ever, you can find more information on our website.
Feb 5, 2022
China's Politics and Economy as the Winter Olympics Open
The eyes of the world are on China as Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics. A successful Games will be used by leader Xi Jinping to bolster his image and status at home and abroad; a status that was given a significant boost in November, when a major meeting of the Communist Party effectively enshrined his position in the party’s historical pantheon, alongside Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. But while the opening ceremonies and stage-managed meetings played out without a hitch, there are still major tests for the Chinese leadership. This is especially true on the economic front, as growth slows, and concerns about a crisis in the property market persist. In this episode we look at the state of play in Chinese politics and economics with two well-placed observers. Dr Ling Li teaches Chinese politics and law at the University of Vienna, where she was also a visiting professor. She has written extensively on topics related to corruption and anti-corruption in China. And Dr Isabella Weber is an Assistant Professor of Economics and the Research Leader for China of the Asian Political Economy Program at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her recent book, ‘How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate’ provides a detailed history and analysis of the debates around economic reform in 1908s China. As ever, you can find more information on our website
Dec 15, 2021
Is there a Transatlantic Approach to China and the Indo-Pacific?
We’re heading to familiar territory again on this week's podcast - the Indo-Pacific. Increasingly, the area is becoming the centre of the geopolitical conversation being had all around the world. China's showcasing of its increasing might there is a big reason for this of course. But the sheer size of this complex region and the wealth of its resources means the Indo-Pacific's many other diverse players cannot be overlooked. How can the United States and its European allies best manage relations with the powers in this all-important region - and how should the transatlantic allies work together to best serve their respective goals? Our guests this week could not be better placed to answer those questions. Admiral Harry Harris was US ambassador to South Korea from 2018 to 2021. Before that he served as the commander of the US Pacific Command, which has now been renamed the Indo Pacific Command, and also served as direct representative to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretaries of State, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry. We're also delighted to welcome Dr Michael Reiterer back to Asia Matters, who has an equally distinguished career as a long term diplomat. He has worked for his own national service, and also the European External Action Service. He served as EU ambassador to Korea, from 2017 to 2020 - where he crossed over with Admiral Harris. He is now a distinguished professor at the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Brussels School of Governance. This episode is a recording of a webinar held in collaboration with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, and Senior Associate Fellow Raffaello Pantucci is our host for this episode. The podcast is part of a project on transatlantic dialogue on China that RUSI is running at the moment with Chatham House, which has been generously supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. As ever, you can find more information on our website - www.asiamatterspod.com
Nov 27, 2021
Good COP? China, Asia and Climate Change
This week we take stock of COP26, the latest major international meeting on climate change which just wrapped up in Glasgow - billed beforehand as the "last best hope for the world to get its act together". Asia, of course, is crucial to the debate over climate change. It’s home to some of the world’s biggest polluters, but also some of its fastest-growing economies, that are at the forefront of the world’s shift to cleaner energy. The 197 countries involved in COP26 did at least agree on rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But the meeting's outcome has drawn plenty of criticism, particularly over the final deal’s language on the use of coal - and China and India's role in shaping that language. Joining Andrew this week we have Dr Sam Geall. He's the CEO of China Dialogue, a website devoted to understanding and analyzing China’s approach to tackling climate change; and is also an associate fellow at Chatham House in London. Dr Tom Hale is an associate professor in public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, who specializes in the way multilateral institutions tackle global challenges. He also co-leads the Net Zero Tracker which monitors different countries’ and companies’ progress on meeting their climate change commitments. We also have Yan Qin with us on the show; she is the lead analyst at Refinitiv, and has over a decade’s experience analyzing energy and carbon markets in China and Europe.
Nov 12, 2021
China Tackles Its Tech Titans
This week we look at China's tech industry - few sectors have been more dynamic or grown as fast in recent years, with the likes of e-commerce giant Alibaba and video games maker Tencent rising to become among the world’s most valuable companies. Until recently, that is. Over the past year China’s government has taken a series of steps that together have come to be seen as a crackdown on the tech sector, from restricting big companies’ plans to float on the stock market to limiting the time Chinese kids can play video games. So what’s behind Xi Jinping’s government taking on one of Chinese business’s biggest success stories -- and why is this happening now? And what could be the broader global implications? Joining us to discuss these questions and more we have two excellent guests. Rui Ma is a longtime investor and adviser on the tech sector in both China and the U.S., and the founder of Tech Buzz China, which provides insights and research on Chinese tech companies across different platforms, including its own podcast. And we’re also joined by Graham Webster. Graham is editor in chief of the DigiChina project at the Stanford University Cyber Policy Center, where he leads a network of specialists who produce analysis on China’s digital policy developments. * *
Oct 13, 2021
Delta Damage: Asia's Continuing Covid Struggle
For those hoping the coronavirus pandemic was under control in Asia, the summer has been a nasty shock. A resurgence of Covid-19 across Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and elsewhere, mainly associated with the spread of the Delta variant, has put paid to the idea the region was nearing the end of the health crisis. Even in countries like China, where the virus seems to have been restrained, the way forward is not clear. Almost two years into the pandemic, as economies reel and populations chafe under continuing restrictions, questions are mounting over how sustainable a hardline approach may be. Joining us to discuss the current state of play in the region are Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Peter Mumford, a political risk analyst who is now the practice head for South East and South Asia at Eurasia Group in Singapore. As usual you can find more information at our website, asiamatterspod.com
Oct 7, 2021
South Korea: The Tech Powerhouse on the Cyber Frontline
In any list of influential tech powers in the world, South Korea would undoubtedly be near the top. In this episode we delve into how the country achieved this status, transforming the nature of its economy and producing global industry leaders like Samsung and LG Electronics. But we'll also look to the future, and at how South Korea is working with the international community to build up the world's tech infrastructure. How is Seoul cooperating with other regions and countries when it comes to issues such as regulating the internet? How are issues of data collection and privacy being received in Korean society? Like most globally connected powers, South Korea is also highly attuned to the risk of cyber attacks - particularly given its volatile neighbour North Korea. We are delighted to have Dr Michael Reiterer, former EU ambassador to Korea, and now the distinguished professor for international security and diplomacy at the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy in Brussels,…
Aug 8, 2021
North Korea: The View from the South
We turn again to the Korean peninsula in this week's episode, in another collaboration with CSDS. We often talk about North Korea's future in terms of how the issue plays out amid the region's broad geopolitical rivalries, and between the US and China. Less discussed is how the issue is viewed in South Korea - which technically remains at war with its northern neighbour - and whose interest in the matter is existential. Seoul's approach to the DPRK is set to come more sharply into focus in the coming months, with candidates gearing up for next spring’s presidential elections, where a successor to Moon Jae-in will be chosen. So what shapes South Korean attitudes towards North Korea? How united has the country been behind Moon’s approach over the last few years? And what might change as the country enters a period of new leadership? Joining us we have Dr Jina Kim, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, who specializes in North Asian security issues and has…
Jul 19, 2021
Myanmar Six Months On: A Failed State?
The most shocking political development in Asia so far this year is arguably the seizure of power by the military in Myanmar, and the arrest of the country’s former de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The military’s crackdown on protests and other resistance against the coup has so far resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests. In this episode we discuss the impact of the coup on the South East Asian nation, which is also often known as Burma, and how the current situation may develop in the months ahead. Joining us to do so we are pleased to welcome back to the podcast Thant Myint-U, one of the best known historians of the country and the author most recently of ‘The Hidden History of Burma’. As ever - you can find out more on our website, www.asiamatterspod.com
Jul 12, 2021
The Olympics in Asia: Gold, Glory and Geopolitics
Against all odds, and after much compromise, the Tokyo Olympic Games are set to go ahead this summer. With no foreign fans and most spectators banned, it's certainly not the event Japan would have wanted. In this episode we’ll assess the impact and significance of past Olympics in the Asian region, as well as what this summer’s event may mean for Japan. Previous Olympics in Asia have often held huge symbolic importance - from Japan's post WWII 'coming out' Games in 1964, right up until most recently in 2008, when a newly powerful and confident China hosted the Beijing games. Indeed, throughout recent history, hosting the Games has been a chance for countries to not just show off their sporting prowess, but also to demonstrate their cultural and economic power, and to shape powerful narratives about themselves both on the global and domestic stage. Joining us this week is the man who literally wrote the book on the politics of sport in Asia - Victor Cha, currently the Senior Vice…
Jun 27, 2021
How the EU Fits into Asia’s Security Puzzle
This week we turn our attention to the Indo-Pacific - the new geopolitical groupings emerging there, from multilateral trade deals to nascent security arrangements - and how Europe fits in to the picture. The most well-known of these new security groups is probably the Quad, a grouping of the major democracies with skin in the game in the region - namely India, Japan, Australia, and the US. But what of Europe, the world's largest trading bloc? Back in April, the EU published a strategy document aimed at boosting its presence in the region. But what does that mean in practice - what does the bloc hope to achieve, what limitations is it up against - and what do the major players situated in the region make of this renewed European focus? This is Asia Matters' latest collaboration with the Centre for Security, Strategy and Diplomacy at the Brussels School of Governance - and its Senior Japan Fellow Eva Pejsova is one of our guests as we discuss where Europe fits into the shifting geop…
Jun 8, 2021
Does China See Itself as a Great Power?
In July the Chinese Communist Party turns 100. From humble beginnings in a small building in Shanghai's French Concession, the party would go on to seize power, retaining it into the present day, and fundamentally alter the course of China's history. A century ago, the CCP's founders would probably not have been able to imagine the influence they would wield and the modern country their party would forge, even if they might have hoped for it. China in 1921 was fracturing, impoverished, and often found itself at the mercy of the era's great powers. But today's China is a global economic behemoth; and its international political influence is inexorably on the rise too, seen in its growing power in multilateral institutions like the UN. Many would argue that it's seen by the world's leading superpower, the United States, as its main rival. But is China what we might call a great power? And crucially - whilst we certainly know a lot about what everyone else thinks about this - how does…
Jun 1, 2021
North Korea: Is Full Denuclearisation Still a Viable Goal?
For this episode we're taking a look at one of the world’s most intractable geopolitical issues - North Korea - as the second of our collaborations with the Centre for Security, Strategy and Diplomacy at the Brussels School of Governance. South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in has just been in Washington for talks with President Biden, in part to discuss how to deal with the long-isolated country. And in its first comments reacting to that meeting, Pyongyang has signalled it was not best pleased - warning that what it called the U.S.’s hostile policy against the North could lead to an “acute and unstable situation” on the Korean Peninsula. The last few years have of course seen plenty of drama, but little resolution around the North Korean issue - Donald Trump's historic talks with Kim Jong Un being a prime example of both phenomena. So has there been any real progress on the Korean Peninsula? What is the best and most realistic way forward now? Is it time, for example, to g…
May 28, 2021
Japan and South Korea: Navigating an Era of Competition
This week we set our sights on Japan and South Korea, East Asia's most prominent middle powers. With the United States and China showing no sign of backing away from confrontation, we look at what it means for two countries caught between them geographically and politically. What roles do they see themselves taking on as the Asia-Pacific becomes ever more fractious? Both are major economic players, with important clout both in their own sphere and further afield. The decisions they make could have a significant impact on some of the most pressing challenges facing the region. Is this new era of competition ripe with opportunity, or fraught with danger? And what, if anything, are they doing to make Asia a safer place? Haruko Satoh, Professor at the Osaka School of International Public Policy in Japan, is back with us for this episode, and Brendan Howe, Professor of International Relations at Ewha Womans University in South Korea, joins us too. Chatham House's Bill Hayton is our host…
May 12, 2021
Biden Post-100 Days: The View from Asia
US President Joe Biden has steamed past his first 100 days in office, typically a stage where we can look back and take stock of where a new administration is headed. For those of us outside America there’s a particular focus on Mr Biden’s foreign policy - and for us and our listeners of course, a particular focus on his Asia policy. In this episode we have partnered with the IAFOR Research Centre's Korea Foundation project on "Korea and Japan in the evolving China-US relations" and assembled a panel of experts to talk through what they've made of this first chunk of the Biden era. From South Korea, we are joined by Jaewoo Choo, Professor of Foreign Policy in the Department of Chinese Studies at Kyung Hee University; from the US, Dr. Satu Limaye, Vice President & Director of the East West Center where he directs the coincidentally named Asia Matters for America initiative; and Haruko Satoh, co-director of the IRC at Osaka School of International Public Policy at Osaka University,…
May 3, 2021
Dealing with Disinformation: A Global Challenge
This week Asia Matters joins forces with the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Brussels School of Governance, home to a rich expertise on Asia and working to enhance understanding of Europe's security challenges in the region. Our first in what will be a series of episodes is on disinformation. Disinformation has become somewhat of a buzzword over the last few years, particularly in the wake of Russian interference into the 2016 US election. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about 'disinformation' - and who is spreading it, and how? Governments, academics and journalists have been playing ever closer attention to the phenomenon, especially when it comes to state actors - and for Europe, the US and its allies, that means Russia and China in particular. But faced with a vast array of actors and motives - from pro-Kremlin troll farms to China's so-called wolf warrior diplomats - what efforts can governments take to lessen their impact? To discuss this, we are j…
Apr 23, 2021
ASEAN and Myanmar: How to Handle the Coup Next Door
ASEAN leaders will meet in Jakarta on April 24 to discuss the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, which has shown no sign of abating since a military coup deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the beginning of February. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets daily to demand a return to democracy - and the military has sought to quell the anti-coup movement with lethal force. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands detained. Much hope has been placed in the international community to mediate an end to the turmoil - particularly in the regional stakeholders represented by ASEAN. But Myanmar will be represented at the Jakarta summit by the junta leader Min Aung Hlaing - something that's raised a fair few eyebrows and has highlighted the limitations in what ASEAN can be expected to - and is prepared to - do. To discuss the issue we are joined by two brilliant guests, who both have extensive experience at the very heart of the region's politics. Bilahari Ka…
Mar 28, 2021
How China Is Changing - And Being Changed by - the UN
China’s growing economic clout has seen its influence rise accordingly in major international institutions — and none more so than in the United Nations. For several years now, China has spoken of the UN as the most authoritative multilateral body in world affairs - and it's put its money where its mouth is, becoming the second-biggest contributor to the UN’s finances. Meanwhile, Chinese citizens have taken several leading roles in UN organisations. But China’s growing presence in the organisation has come during a period when the UN's focus has shifted in ways that seem to run counter to Beijing’s interests and beliefs - such as its increased willingness to intervene within countries to resolve conflict or protect human rights. And some of China's actions at the UN - like vetoing attempts to put more pressure on Syria's government - have drawn heavy criticism from major Western powers, and raised questions about whether its approach to international relations conflicts wi…
Mar 16, 2021
China Faces Up To Its Biggest Challenges
China’s rulers have been setting out their goals for the country at their big annual political meetings in Beijing. This year’s event held special significance, with policy makers revealing their latest five-year plan for China’s economy, as well as their targets for the environment among a host of other issues. We are first joined by two experts to discuss the near-term results from the meetings, and how they assess the current health of China’s economy: Tao Wang, the Hong Kong-based chief China economist and Head of Asia Economic Research at UBS; and Jinny Yan, a managing director and chief China economist at ICBC Standard Bank in London. Later we discuss one of China’s most difficult long-term problems — wealth inequality. We talk to Scott Rozelle, who is a senior fellow and co-director of the Rural Education Action Program in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Scott’s recent book, ‘Invisible China’, is a must-read on t…
Mar 1, 2021
Islands Apart: Pacific Nations In The Covid Era
In this episode we turn to a part of the world we haven’t discussed before — the Pacific Islands. Stretching over a vast area covering some 15% of the earth’s surface, the region is home to diverse countries and cultures, from Papua New Guinea in the West to the Cook Islands in the east, taking in countries such as Fiji and the Solomon Islands, along with smaller nations such as Nauru and Palau. Problems, though, are stacking up. The COVID-19 pandemic is devastating the region’s economy. Meanwhile climate change has become a major security threat for the often low-lying Pacific Islands. What’s more the region has become yet another area of strategic rivalry between China, and the US and other Western nations — primarily Australia. Facing these strains, the unity of the Pacific Islands has started to unravel. Five member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum have recently quit the organisation in a dispute over who should take over as its Secretary General. To discuss th…
Feb 19, 2021
What to Expect from Vietnam’s New Leaders
After a year-long battle behind closed doors, Vietnam has a new political leadership. At its Congress, which finished on February 1st, the Communist Party selected a new Politburo to run the country for the next five years. In this episode of Asia Matters we find out why the Party thinks a 76-year-old man with serious health problems is the best person to lead this rapidly changing society. More than a third of the Politburo are now men with a background in the security services. What does this tell us about the Communist Party’s intentions? And how will the leadership navigate Vietnam’s relations between the United States and China? What will the next five years bring for the country, and for its place in the wider Asia region? Our presenter for this episode is Bill Hayton, Associate Fellow with the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House. His guests are Nguyen Phuong Linh, Vietnam analyst with Control Risks in Singapore and Nguyen Khac Giang, researcher at the Victoria Universi…
Feb 7, 2021
Myanmar's Military Are Back: First Impressions of the Coup
"Our country was a bird that was just learning to fly. Now the army broke our wings," said one activist. "What was granted by the generals is now being taken back," declared another. It’s been a dramatic few days in Southeast Asian nation Myanmar - or Burma. The country’s military has seized power again, and arrested several of the country’s civilian leaders, including national figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi. Her party, the National League for Democracy, had won a convincing victory in elections last November. To those who used to live under Myanmar’s decades-long military dictatorship, it’s a hugely concerning turn of events. Of course, Myanmar’s democratically-elected civilian government, including Ms Suu Kyi herself, has come under intense criticism from overseas in recent years owing to the alleged genocide of the Rohingya minority in the country’s north west. The situation is obviously quite fluid, but we wanted to bring you analysis of these events and their backgro…
Jan 10, 2021
US-India Relations: Why Modi Will Be Key to Biden's Asia Plans
The US and India are the world's two biggest democracies - and the relationship between them is one of the world's most important bilateral partnerships. In political, economic and security terms, the two countries have grown closer and closer over the past two decades, with the Trump administration hailing a period of "remarkable growth" in 2020. Of course, it's no coincidence that this convergence has happened as a third power - China - continues to increase its reach and influence in the wider region - a rise both the US and India would prefer to see contained. So with President-elect Biden set to take charge imminently, what does the future hold for the US-India alliance? How will his relationship with Narendra Modi shape the wider Asian region in the decades to come? To discuss all this, our inaugural episode of 2021 draws on the insights of two remarkable guests. Nirupama Rao, a former Indian foreign secretary who has also served as Indian ambassador to both the US and China,…
Dec 20, 2020
Southeast Asia and China: Too Close for Comfort?
Southeast Asia is becoming an increasingly important geopolitical battleground - and so this week, we put the region's complex relations with China in the spotlight. Although many ASEAN nations have deepened their economic ties with Beijing in recent years, there remains a fair bit of wariness towards China's expansion of interests in the region. And of course, responses vary dramatically among individual countries - with factors like historical experience, trade relations, and security dynamics all coming into play. From China's perspective, as it seeks to cement its status as a regional - and even global - superpower, its strategy in Southeast Asia is increasingly important. It recently pledged to 'deepen cooperation with ASEAN' and 'maintain peace and stability' - but can this be taken at face value? How will China's economic interests in the region interact with some of its security disputes there? And what does China's growing influence mean for the US in the Indo-Pacific? This…
Nov 29, 2020
Biden in Asia: New President, New Rules?
It took a little longer than expected but we finally know who the next American president will be: Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The Trump era is drawing to a close then, though some of his policies' repercussions in Asia may well last longer than their instigator. The heightened tensions with China, and his unprecedented one-on-one meetings with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, are perhaps the most memorable. His presidency was also characterised by a lack of engagement with regional multilateral forums like ASEAN. So what sort of situation will the future President Biden inherit in the region - what will he choose to change - or indeed what might he decide to keep? In this episode, we've partnered with the IAFOR research centre at Osaka University in Japan to investigate what the US election outcome means for East and South East Asia. We're joined by a stellar group of guests - from Seoul, Jaewoo Choo, professor of Chinese foreign policy at Kyung Hee University; from Jakarta, Dewi Fort…
Oct 25, 2020
Joko Widodo: Indonesia's Leader of Contradictions
When Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, became president of Indonesia in 2014, it completed a stunning rise for a political outsider who had spent much of his previous life running a furniture making company. With his mastery of retail politics and business know-how, Jokowi seemed set to cut through the bureaucracy and corruption that have bedevilled the development of Indonesia, one of the world’s most populous nations with around a quarter of a billion people. Six years on, and now into his second term as president, it’s time for a report card on Jokowi’s presidency. In this episode, we are joined by Ben Bland (@benjaminbland), a long time journalist and now director of the South East Asia programme at the Lowy Institute. Ben’s recently published book ‘Man of Contradictions’ charts Jokowi’s rise and assesses his presidency to date, explaining why he has disappointed so many expectations both at home and abroad. Later in the programme Dewi Fortuna Anwar, a former se…
Oct 7, 2020
Softbank: Asia's Most Influential Tech Company
This week's episode is a deep dive on a company that's transforming not just Asia, but arguably the entire global tech sector - Japan's Softbank. Even if you've never heard of Softbank, you'll have heard of the companies it's invested in - from Alibaba to Uber to Tiktok owner Bytedance - and more recently, and disastrously, US property firm WeWork. Phred Dvorak, a special correspondent with the Wall Street Journal in Tokyo, joins us to discuss the rise of the company and its charismatic founder, Masayoshi Son. Then we step back and look at Softbank's impact on the world with Steve Kaplan, professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Like so many other companies Softbank has suffered big losses as the global economy reels from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with its $100 billion Vision Fund, set up three years ago with the backing of the Saudi Arabian government, Softbank looks set to remain a major force for years to come…
Sep 28, 2020
India in the COVID-19 Era
In the second of our special editions recorded at the Association for Asian Studies' annual conference, we turn our focus to India. Our guest is Pratap Mehta (@pbmehta), one of the country's best-known public intellectuals, who's also the former president of the Centre for Policy Research. India has the world's second-highest coronavirus caseload and has been averaging 90,000 cases daily in recent weeks. So how has the pandemic changed Indian politics, both at the domestic and international level? What are the main challenges confronting Narendra Modi's government - or could these strange times even present it with new opportunities? As in other countries, in some areas the pandemic has not so much altered as revealed the way things really operate. India, long seen as a key democratic ally to the West, is grappling with internal issues of identity, belonging and justice; and externally, trying to carve out a place for itself in the post-pandemic global world order. Our guest presen…
Sep 10, 2020
South Asia’s Dual Crises: Coronavirus and Climate Change
South Asian countries are facing a double whammy -- the effects of the global pandemic and an increasingly urgent battle against pollution and the effects of climate change. The World Bank predicted in the spring that the region would suffer its worst economic performance in four decades this year. Severe flooding in recent weeks has further damaged prospects. In this episode, recorded as part of the annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies, we discussed these issues with two experts. Mushfiq Mobarak, a professor of economics at Yale University, has been advising the Bangladeshi and Nepalese governments on their response to the pandemic. And Yamini Aiyar, president and chief executive of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, whose work has long focused on social policy and development. We talk about the policy dilemmas facing governments of countries for which lockdowns can have disastrous side effects, such as a breakdown of food supply chains and the wipe out…
Aug 27, 2020
Summer of China: Three Books to Read
This week, we present - the inaugural Asia Matters Book Club episode. China has dominated the headlines this summer - and if you're looking for a good book to help you understand the country better, we have three excellent suggestions. The Wall Street Journal's Lingling Wei is back to talk through her new book, Superpower Showdown. Co-authored with her colleague Bob Davis, it's a detailed look at the US-China trade war and what its lasting effects on both countries might be. If you're not in the mood for current affairs, veteran journalist Michael Schuman's Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World, takes readers back thousands of years. As the name suggests, it's a rundown of the country's history as it's perceived in China itself, rather than by external observers. And finally Bloomberg Economic's chief economist Tom Orlik has written China: The Bubble That Never Pops, to explore the resilience of the modern Chinese economy. Despite years of dire warnings it's on t…
Aug 16, 2020
Japan's Foreign Policy: The Art of Persuasion?
This week, in a collaboration with the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, we turn our attention to Japan - specifically, its foreign policy. Against a backdrop of rising tensions between the US and China, what are Japan's priorities when it comes to managing its relations with the two countries? As the world's third largest economy, it holds considerable clout both within the Asia region and globally. But how can it best utilise this influence, and what does it perceive its role to be within a shifting world order? Andrew is joined by Akio Takahara, a law professor at Tokyo University and an adjunct fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs; and Yuka Kobayashi, a China and International Politics scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
Jul 26, 2020
Coronavirus and Racism: Asian-Americans in the Crossfire
The world is still very much in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic - but the blame game has already begun. China, where the virus was first reported last December, has been singled out by many countries as the culprit - or scapegoat, depending on your viewpoint. One major consequence of the scramble to apportion guilt has been a surge in anti-Asian sentiment, especially in the US. But how new is this phenomenon there? What are its roots, and how has it changed into what we see today? To discuss this, we're joined by Christine Yano, professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and President of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS). And we also speak to Jennifer Pan (@jenjpan), a political scientist at Stanford University, about her study on how anti-Chinese discrimination seems to boost support for the Chinese political system among Chinese students in the US.
Jul 5, 2020
Do Middle Powers Have a China Dilemma?
We often talk about geopolitics in terms of superpower competition - at the moment, particularly between the US and China. But where does this leave mid-sized countries like the UK? How should they respond to China’s already large and ever-growing influence over global affairs - do they need to pick sides, or is a more delicate balancing act required? Issues like Huawei and Hong Kong lend these questions a particular prominence in the UK at the moment, so this week we've invited two former British diplomats to debate them. Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies at King’s College London and an Associate Fellow at Chatham House; and Matthew Henderson is Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society. What does the UK's experience of dealing with China teach us about an emerging new world order? And most pressingly for the UK and countries like it - what leverage - if any - do middle powers have in it?
Jun 7, 2020
The Luckin Scandal: How 'China's Starbucks' Crashed
The pandemic-related lockdown continues in much of the world but in China they are getting back to work. That gives us a chance to look into a major scandal from the business world that’s come to light in recent weeks at a company called Luckin Coffee, once billed as China’s answer to Starbucks. The company, whose shares are listed in New York, shocked investors in April when it emerged it may have simply fabricated over $300 million of revenue last year. It’s an extraordinary story, with big questions not just for Luckin’s management but also the banks and accounting firms that backed it. This week, Andrew turns to Nana Li, research and project director for China at the Asian Corporate Governance Association and Jacky Wong (@jackycwong), a columnist at the Wall Street Journal, both in Hong Kong. We then speak to Catherine X. Pan-Giordano, who leads New York-based Dorsey & Whitney’s U.S.-China transactional practice.
Jun 2, 2020
China's 'Two Sessions': Hong Kong, COVID-19 and the Economy
There was plenty to digest from China's coronavirus-delayed 'Two Sessions' (Lianghui) annual political gathering last week - so much so that we've got a bumper episode for you. The new national security law for Hong Kong is what's grabbed most of the headlines, but eyebrows were raised too by the absence of an annual growth target for the country, for the first time in many years. In the latest of our socially distanced podcasts, Andrew and Vincent are joined by guests from the UK, the Netherlands and China. *Professor Shaun Breslin* of the University of Warwick, and *Professor Dingding Chen (@ChenDingding) *of Jinan University in Guangzhou discuss the political fallout from the meeting. And then *Dr Jue Wang (@JueWangLeiden)* takes us through what the Lianghui revealed about China's economy, and how it's faring in a pandemic-stricken world.
May 12, 2020
Pandemic Fallout: Advantage China?
Welcome to another episode of Asia Matters, lockdown style. This week, Vincent and Andrew are joined by *Courtney Fung* (@CourtneyFung) of the University of Hong Kong and *Rush Doshi* (@RushDoshi) of the Brookings China Strategy Initiative in Washington, to discuss whether the pandemic really represents a moment for China to subvert the global order? Is this conversation more about Beijing’s readiness to usurp Washington’s leading role or the US’s inability to get its act together in this particular event? And are we too obsessed with the US vs China paradigm when speaking about this issue? Let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also on Twitter, @AsiaMattersPod.
Apr 26, 2020
Myanmar 101: From Colonialism to Coronavirus
In the latest of our lockdown podcasts, we turn to Myanmar. Andrew and Vincent are joined by one of the country's best known historians and analysts, Thant Myint-U, for a wide-ranging discussion informed by his book The Hidden History of Burma. How has Myanmar fared so far in the coronavirus pandemic? What of the Rohingya, whose exodus from Rakhine state continues even amidst the pandemic? And did the West get Myanmar totally wrong because of Aung San Suu Kyi? If you've ever wanted to know more about Myanmar, this is the episode for you.
Apr 17, 2020
North Korea, U.S. & China: Where Next?
One of the biggest - and most persistent - stories in the Asia region over the last few years has been North Korea. It may have been pushed out of the headlines recently by the coronavirus pandemic, but as recent missile tests have demonstrated, it's not an issue that's going away any time soon. In this episode Andrew is joined by Chun In-Bum, a renowned expert on Korean relations who's a veteran Lieutenant General in the South Korean army, and who briefly served as a security adviser to President Moon Jae-in. To discuss China's role and interests, Tong Zhao, a senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, joins us from Beijing as well. *NB:* This episode was recorded shortly before the coronavirus crisis took hold. * *
Mar 17, 2020
COVID-19: How Have Asian Approaches Differed?
Welcome to podcasting in a time of COVID-19... The new coronavirus has run rampant throughout the world, and disrupted the global economy, transport and everyday life (including our studio access.) But the show must go on - so joining Andrew and Vincent this week on a four-way Skype chat are Dr. Parag Khanna, managing director of strategic advisory firm FutureMap and the author 'The Future is Asian'; and Ian Johnson, China correspondent for The New York Times. The topic, is of course, the coronavirus - specifically, as the epicentre has switched to Europe and parts of Asia seem almost ready to begin recovering, how Asian countries have differed in their approach to the virus. What can we learn from the various strategies they deployed, and what do they reveal about the different political systems themselves? And taking out our crystal balls - at this early stage are there any clues about how this epoch-defining pandemic will affect the region's geopolitical order?
Mar 4, 2020
India: Is Hindu Nationalism Endangering its Democracy?
In December last year, Narendra Modi's government passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. It's raised concerns that India's secular constitution is at risk, and critics say it discriminates against Muslims. Last week, in Delhi, the hitherto peaceful protests against the law erupted into the worst violence the Indian capital has seen in decades. More than 40 people were killed, hundreds were wounded and some remain missing. There's also mounting evidence that Muslims were targeted in a planned manner. Parliamentary proceedings have been disrupted for three days straight as opposition MPs continue to protest the riots. Madhav Kosla is a constitutional expert from Ashoka and Columbia universities. He joins us to discuss the protests, and the roots of rising Hindu nationalism in India. Drawing on Madhav's books, we also discuss the wider question of the challenges facing a modern Indian state, and its constitution.
Feb 12, 2020
Chinese Economy: Mounting Debt, Deeper Headaches
China’s economy is facing its biggest challenges for years as growth slows and debt piled up. How worried should we be? This week Andrew is joined by Stephen Roach, former Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs; and Dinny McMahon, author of the book ‘China’s Great Wall of Debt’, which chronicles the country’s growing debt problem. A note to listeners - this episode was recorded before the true scale of the coronavirus outbreak was revealed. As ever, get in touch if you have any comments at email@example.com. You can also follow us on Twitter: @AsiaMattersPod
Feb 3, 2020
COVID-19 and SARS: Lessons Learnt?
There's only been one story in the region over the last few weeks: the coronavirus - or COVID-19 - and its spread from Wuhan to the rest of China, then Asia, now the world. There's still a lot we don't know about the virus itself; and even analysis of its handling by the Chinese authorities seems premature. Instead, this week we're looking back into the past, to see what if anything we can learn from previous epidemics in China. Our guest this week is Professor Sian Griffiths, who co-chaired Hong Kong’s enquiry into the SARS epidemic in 2003. As ever, get in touch if you have any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on Twitter: @AsiaMattersPod
Jan 18, 2020
Tsai Ing-wen Re-election: The China Factor and Taiwanese Identity
Last week, Taiwan re-elected its president, Tsai Ing-wen（蔡英文）, by a landslide. Her campaign focused heavily on what she claims is 'the rising threat from Beijing'. Since the election she has said that China needs to 'face reality' and show Taiwan 'respect'. This, and the sheer scale of her victory, might well suggest that cross-strait relations are about to enter a renewed rocky period. But is it quite that simple? Joining us this week to put these fresh election results into context is George Yin of Swarthmore College in Philadelphia and Harvard Fairbank Centre for Chinese Studies. George is part of a team that recently undertook a large-scale survey delving into Taiwanese attitudes toward identity, politics and cross-strait relations. As ever, get in touch if you have any comments at email@example.com. You can also follow us on Twitter: @AsiaMattersPod.
Dec 14, 2019
U.S. - China Trade War: Is the Show Over Yet?
The U.S.-China trade war is going through another bout of excitement as the two sides reach an interim deal. But why are world’s two biggest economies at loggerheads, and is this a battle that’s set to run and run? This week, Andrew and Vincent are delving into the ups and downs of this dramatic trade war. They are joined by Lingling Wei who has consistently been ahead of the game in her reporting on the trade war for The Wall Street Journal in Beijing, and Trinh Nguyen, a Senior Economist, Emerging Asia at Natixis in Hong Kong. As ever, get in touch if you have any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on Twitter: @AsiaMattersPod
Dec 1, 2019
What China's Ambitions Tell Us about Tech in Asia
A bumper episode this week for a hugely important topic - the tech industry in Asia. Yale's Jing Tsu joins Andrew to discuss the history behind China's drive to become a global technological power. And then Julian Gewirtz of Harvard and Newley Purnell of the Wall Street Journal take a broader look at the tech scene across the region (specially featuring the horns of Delhi's Ola drivers in the background). As ever, get in touch if you have any comments at email@example.com. You can also follow us on Twitter: @AsiaMattersPod
Nov 17, 2019
1MDB: A Billion Dollar Scandal
It's been called one of the world's biggest financial heists. When the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB was set up in 2009, its purpose was supposedly to develop the country's infrastructure and economy. Instead, the US Department of Justice alleges that $4.5 billion dollars was stolen from it. This week on Asia Matters, Andrew Peaple is joined by Tom Wright, co-author of 'Billion Dollar Whale', the story of the scandal and specifically the fugitive financier at its heart, Jho Low. Mr Low has released a statement saying that the book "is written with allegations disguised as fact and gossip passed off as legitimate reporting. The narrative is framed to allow the authors to write about celebrities, and models and parties, without ever proving any of the allegations." Mr Low's whereabouts are unknown, and he continues to evade the authorities - most recently reports claimed he had been sighted in India. The fallout from 1MDB continues elsewhere too - this week the former Malaysia…
Nov 3, 2019
Japan vs. South Korea: Asia's Other Trade War
The leaders of South Korea and Japan recently held talks for the first time in over a year; their aim, to resolve a long-running trade dispute. Taking this other trade war as their starting point, our experts look at relations between East Asia's two biggest democracies. At a time when US commitment to the region seems less of a given than in the past, and China's ascendancy continues, how is this friction affecting the regional power balance? What are the challenges and opportunities ahead, particularly when it comes to Japan's grand strategy? In our inaugural episode, we are joined by Sheila Smith of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and Richard McGregor of the Lowy Institute in Sydney. Asia Matters is a new podcast that aims to look beyond the headlines on Asia. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, suggestions and critiques.