News / Asia

    A Rocky 2016 Expected: New Leaders in Asia Face Economic, Security Issues

    Vehicles drive past a sign marking the 12th Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan. 19, 2016. This week, representatives of Vietnam's Communist party gather in the capital to pick the country's new leaders.
    Vehicles drive past a sign marking the 12th Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan. 19, 2016. This week, representatives of Vietnam's Communist party gather in the capital to pick the country's new leaders.

    This week, communists in Vietnam and Laos are picking leaders to run their countries for the next five years.

    In Taiwan, the election of the first female president has prompted China to warn hopes for independence are “hallucinations.”

    In the Philippines, candidate after candidate is being accused of not qualifying for the upcoming presidential contest.

    In other words, 2016 could be a bumpy year for the Asia Pacific. And not just in electoral politics.

    Troubling issues

    The next batch of rulers will be navigating troubled waters, from the widespread economic slowdown to increasingly complex security linkages, said Evan Medeiros, managing director of the Eurasia Group.

    “The tectonic plates of regional economic affairs, regional politics, and regional security are going to shift in significant and lasting ways in 2016,” Medeiros said at a recent summit here on U.S.-Vietnam ties.

    He argued that economies across the Asia Pacific will have to find new sources of growth.

    That’s especially true for countries whose financial fates hinge on exports, not least to China.

    Gone is the era of GDP expansion at breakneck speeds. In that respect, China is both a symptom and cause of weak economies.

    The global recession meant fewer customers for Chinese goods, which, in turn, meant China was buying fewer raw materials, like Australian iron and Indonesian coal.

    Other factors, such as mounting debt and a property bubble, also fueled instability, with China’s stock market going haywire in recent months and its government reporting Tuesday that GDP growth hit a 25-year low.

    Zero-growth economies

    Not everyone agrees with Medeiros that Asia needs new engines of growth.

    Amid the stagnation of recent years, the “zero-growth” movement has come back into vogue. Proponents believe economies can’t keep growing forever, but instead should stabilize enough to provide a sustainable quality of life for the majority.

    Seongwon Park, an associate research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, wrote in a blog post Sunday that one survey showed most South Koreans favor this “de-growth future.”

    Some look to Japan as the best example of a steady-state economy.

    “Even without growth, Japan seems to have a better handle on many of life’s pressing problems, including health care, longevity, public safety, and personal security than does the faster-growing and wealthier U.S. economy,” economist Ed Dolan writes.

    Investing in competitiveness

    But most Asian neighbors aren’t as rich as Japan or Korea.

    To develop their economies, states from Cambodia to Myanmar are investing in roads and ports, education and training, and tech-based productivity upgrades.

    Jocelyn Tran, senior director in Southeast Asia for Walmart Global Sourcing, said she wants countries like Vietnam to get the knowledge and technology transfers to become Walmart vendors.

    Vietnam still needs to train its talent, from adding more English classes, to vocational training so the workforce can handle machinery, Tran said.

    “What we hope to achieve is to bring the producers and vendors to the standards that could make Vietnam very competitive,” she said, also speaking at the summit.

    She added, “There is an international competition. Products out of Vietnam have to stand side by side with products coming out of Japan or the U.S. or any other country.”

    Security implications

    Analysts say this rising prosperity has security impacts, allowing governments to spend more on aircraft, ships, and weaponry.

    In that arena, countries may be benefiting from two very different trends: on the one hand, China’s fragile economy means its moneyed influence in Asia, especially as a main export market, could be weakening. On the other hand, neighboring militaries are recalibrating relationships, with China in mind.

    “The geometry of security relationships in Asia are rapidly moving far beyond the traditional hub-and-spoke model,” Medeiros said, with the United States at the center and linked to Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

    “That’s the 20th-century approach to security dynamics in the Asia Pacific," he said.

    Medeiros predicted more diverse military alliances to come, connecting, say, India and Vietnam, or Australia and Japan. Whatever happens, he said, this will be a challenging year for Asia.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora