Tuesday, January 7, 2020
East Asia enters the 2020s with new risks emerging and longstanding ones freshly revived
- The soon-to-be-signed 'phase one' of a China-US trade deal will de-escalate the US-China trade war, but ample scope for rivalry remains.
- China-Japan relations have recovered from a long chill, but only superficially; Tokyo is strengthening its military with China in mind.
- Even if the protest movement in Hong Kong subsides, the city will be permanently changed and less stable.
- Relations between Japan and South Korea are at a new low; building trust between these two key US allies is a distant prospect.
The world’s attention is on the Middle East, but East Asia too holds potential for instability during the year ahead.
The broader context for these risks is the strategic rivalry between China and the United States. This will affect the way these two powers frame and engage with particular issues, and will force other countries to weigh their policies towards one against the impact on relations with the other. However, great power rivalry will create opportunities, too, if the two compete for friends and partners.
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