Asia Pacific

Brief: Seoul Extends an Olive Branch to Tokyo

Background: Japan and South Korea have been bickering about Japanese sins committed during the occupation of the Korean Peninsula since about as soon as...

The Global Economy in 2020

(click to enlarge) The COVID-19 pandemic hurt everyone, but it didn’t hurt equally. Social distancing measures, both elective and government mandated, devastated businesses, particularly those...

Know Your Enemy

The most important thing in poker is knowing who you are playing against. You need to know his weakness – not all of them,...

Brief: Competition Over Russia’s Far East

Background: The Russian Far East is the largest federal district in Russia and the farthest from Moscow. And because of its energy resources and...

China’s Waning Rare Earths Advantage

In 1992, during a visit to Inner Mongolia, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping quipped: “The Middle East has oil, China has rare earths,” referring to...

Highs and Lows in the Japanese Economy

(click to enlarge) Like most economies across the globe, Japan’s has taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic. The world’s third-largest economy contracted for three...

Speculating on China and Cuba

From a military standpoint, China is in a difficult position. It is a trading power and needs access to the global oceans. Its significant...

Brief: Biden’s China Strategy Is Taking Shape

Background: The U.S. is virtually unmatched in its military, economic and diplomatic power, but over the past five years or so, it’s had to...

Brief: Philippines and Cambodia Do a Little Balancing

Background: Southeast Asia is the fulcrum of U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific and the great impediment to Chinese strategic imperatives both in the region...

The Far East as an Obstacle to Russo-Chinese Relations

Russo-China ties have always been something of a MacGuffin in international affairs. Moscow and Beijing are neither bitter enemies nor close allies, so movement...

The Coup in Myanmar: Why Now?

For Myanmar, a country where the military brass has called the shots for most of its modern history, this week's putsch shouldn’t have come...

In Brazil, Choosing Sides in the US-China Rivalry

Brazil, a country that tries to avoid at nearly any cost, squarely aligning with one side in a conflict, is facing one of its...

Reinventing Vietnam

The Vietnamese Communist Party is holding its 13th National Congress this week. These semi-decennial conclaves are typically carefully scripted, spiritless affairs where the party...

Taiwan and the Geopolitics of Microchips

Last week, Ford Motor Co. became the latest in a bevy of carmakers to announce production halts due to a global shortage of microchips....

East Asia is the world’s most dynamic economic region. Since the early 1980s, annual trans-Pacific trade has outpaced trans-Atlantic trade.

The center of gravity in East Asia is the relationship between the two countries with the region’s largest economies and strongest militaries – China and Japan – and their individual and collective relationships with the United States.

The key to this relationship is China’s internal economic and domestic political situation. When China is unified and strong, as it is at the moment, its influence in the Asian mainland is pervasive, with the peripheral states in southeast Asia looking to Japan and the United States for balance. When China goes through a fragmentary phase, as it did from the mid-19th century until the communists took power in 1949, the peripheral states can at times assert themselves.

Despite some saber-rattling in the South China Sea, East Asia’s challenges in recent years have had more to do with economics than with aggression. But it is important to keep in mind that the last 30 or so years in Asia have been something of an aberration. For most of the 20th century, East Asia was rife with instability and war.

U.S. strategy in East Asia is two-fold. On one hand, the U.S. seeks to maintain a balance of power between Japan and China. On the other hand, the U.S. employs a maritime strategy whereby it cultivates close relationships with island nations in the western Pacific to maintain its control over trade routes and contain the Chinese on the mainland.

Read Regional Assessment

Read Assessment of Australia

Required Reads: Asia Pacific

From our 2020 Forecast...

To compensate for the internal weakness, China will seek to stabilize the social system by increasing repression. In addition, China will become more assertive militarily, particularly in the South China Sea but also the East China Sea as it tries to take advantage of the South Korea-Japan confrontation. We expect quiet political tensions among the elite to grow.

Asia Pacific in our Memos

Continue to the category

More from Asia Pacific

Continue to the category

Latest Posts

Special Series on Warfare: The Evolution of Space Warfare

Geopolitical Futures · Special Series on Warfare: The Evolution of Space Warfare Download Transcript This content is restricted to ClubGPF and Series Pass members only

Brief: Seoul Extends an Olive Branch to Tokyo

Background: Japan and South Korea have been bickering about Japanese sins committed during the occupation of the Korean Peninsula since about as soon as...

Daily Memo: Israeli Ship Explosion, Turkish Economic Growth

Pointing fingers. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz blamed Iran for an explosion on an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman over the...

Sign up for our free newsletter

Free Special Report

The World Explained in Maps

FREE with an annual subscription to Geopolitical Futures.

Subscribe Now