East Asia is currently undergoing a digital transformation which promises to upend its social, economic, and political landscape. As a fast-growing region of the global economy, digitalisation holds a key position for its future development and might help Asian states address long-standing issues such as socio-economic exclusion or demographic decline. The handling of Covid-19 is a prime example of the potential of digitalisation. However, the transition to a digital society won’t come without costs: an uneven transition could create large pockets missing out on digital opportunities, and the monopolistic tendencies of key technologies might increase long-standing grievances and distrust.
All East Asian states grasp the magnitude of the opportunities offered by the burgeoning digital transition, but many challenges need to be overcome as each country faces its own particular set of obstacles. Can East Asian states harness the power of digital technologies to their advantage? How will societies respond to the changes that lie ahead? Will digitalisation foster division or integration in Asia?