It has been nearly two decades since a Chinese head of state visited its southernly neighbour. The last time a Chinese head of state set foot in Myanmar, the country was still under full military rule and the capital was still Yangon. China was yet to be admitted as a WTO member and the champion of globalisation was still hiding its strength and biding its time.
On 14th January, the 15th round of the ‘China-Japan Strategic Dialogue’ was held in Xi’an, the ‘Terracotta Army’ city of China’s Shaanxi province. The mechanism is one of the few communication channels that remain active between the two countries: in addition to this Dialogue and regular diplomatic exchanges, the ‘China-Japan High-Level Economic Dialogue’, the ‘China-Japan Security Dialogue’ and the ‘China-Japan High-Level Political Dialogue’ make up for the entire system of bilateral consultations between Beijing and Tokyo.
Not just a new president and a new parliament: Taiwan’s elections will be heavily influenced by the country’s relationship with Beijing, its increasingly meddlesome neighbour.
An amendment to an extradition law: the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, in a Hong Kong pushed to the limit since the end of the British mandate. There's much more than meets the eye to the protests.
Since its creation, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has contributed to ensuring peace and prosperity in a region that had witnessed many harrowing events during the XX century. As ASEAN has played in South East Asia a role similar to the one played by the European Union in our continent, Western commentators tend to analyze the first using categories applied when commenting on the second. However, this approach should be avoided, as it is misleading and does not allow for understanding the goals and peculiarities of the ASEAN.
In 2015, when Aung San Suu Kyi’s “National League for Democracy” (NLD) achieved a landslide victory in Myanmar’s general elections with the slogan “Time for Change”, many believed that such an historic milestone could finally set the “pariah state” of South-East Asian politics on the right path towards full democratization, after more than fifty years of military rule.
The Barisan Nasional (BN, National Front) coalition, led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), an ethnic Malay party, was defeated in Malaysia’s fourteenth general election on May 8th 2018 against all expectations. It held power for six decades since independence in 1957. Pakatan Harapan (PH, Alliance of Hope) coalition won, and installed Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister for a second time.
After two generations successively and successfully fought against French and American forces, Vietnam formally became a unified country in mid-1976 under the rule of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). The next decade saw the communist party-state running a Soviet-style command economy and a police-controlled society. By the mid-1980s, the country fell into a virtually “comprehensive socio-economic crisis” with the inflation rate standing at nearly 700%. Peasant protests took place across the nation, and public trust in the regime was eroded.
In 2019 democracy continues to elude Thailand. The country’s 2014 putsch overthrew an even more democratic system which, among other things permitted a half-elected Senate and elections at the local level. The coup produced five years of authoritarian military control.
No individual has benefited more from Indonesia’s democratisation than Joko Widodo, who was re-elected as president in April with an increased majority. He capitalised on Indonesia’s free and fair elections to rise from small-time provincial businessman to the presidency in 2014 via the mayoralty of his hometown, Solo, and the governorship of Jakarta.