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Letter from the Editors
The world is edging into another technological transformation, the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. The last one, centered on the Internet, PCs and smartphones, gave birth to tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, as well as China’s Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. But the coming revolution promises more radical changes and could upend global business models, impacting societies in ways only starting to be imagined. Developments in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, Big Data, machine learning, the Internet of Things, new frontiers in medicine, science, transportation and municipal governance herald the next Brave New World.
These developments come as decades of widening income and wealth gaps and a political backlash against globalization have given new life to an age-old scourge of international co-operation: nationalism. From the US to the UK and other parts of Europe, and China and beyond, nationalism has again reared its ugly head and promises to be a potent force in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The recent horrific events in New Zealand serve as a reminder to the Asia-Pacific region that the pathologies of race-based nationalist extremism, amplified by social media networks, are a threat to peace all over the world.
In our cover package, we look at how techno-nationalism is likely to shape the use and possible misuse of emerging technologies in this new era of nationalist-driven geopolitical rivalry, especially between the US and China. Given Asia’s leading role in many cutting-edge technologies, countries in the region will have to find new modes of remaining competitive, while grappling with the national-security implications of advances being made by potential rivals.
Elsewhere in the issue, our Debate section focuses on whether government intervention or market mechanisms are the best way to address South Korea’s gnawing problems with inequality.
Our In Focus section looks at Malaysia’s challenges in transforming its political system after the shock election results of May 2018, which saw the party that had ruled the country since independence in 1957 lose power.
In our Features section, two articles explore differing visions of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” that of Japan and India. For New Delhi, the issue is central to managing Beijing’s encroachment on the Indian Ocean region. Tokyo’s vision is central to its desire for a greater regional role. We also look at the folly of international peacemaking groups in their efforts to resolve long-running ethnic conflicts in Myanmar. Finally, in the wake of the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi, we ask what North Korea could learn from Vietnam.
As usual, our Book Reviews section has a rich range of some of the most intriguing new books on Asia. Dip into them and enjoy.
In conclusion, we wish to announce that Global Asia’s long-time Associate Editor, Hong Hyung Taek, who also served as Secretary General of the East Asia Foundation, retired at the end of 2018. He was with Global Asia from its birth in 2006 and played an instrumental role in its success. We thank him warmly for his contribution and wish him the best of luck. Our new Associate Editor is John Delury, who is Associate Professor at Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies and formerly our book reviews co-editor.
Robert E. McCoy
02 Apr 2019 - Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, appointed by US President Donald Trump late last year, boldly announced in January that the focus of the Pentagon under his leadership will be on “China, China, China."1 For Shanahan to implement an effective program reflecting that position, more than words are required of Washington’s diplomatic corps and more than just periodi… Read full post
Walter C. Clemens, Jr
07 Feb 2018 - North Korea now deigns to take part in the Winter Olympics. Its rulers may again be ready to negotiate—not only with South Korea but also with the United States. Claiming that it now has the means to deter an American attack, Pyongyang exudes confidence that it can counter threats by the US and its South Korean ally. US Ambassador Nikki Haley complains that North Korea is “obses… Read full post
05 Dec 2017 - The recent electoral victory of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-Komeito coalition has brought down the curtains -- at least for now -- on a period of political flux and uncertainty in the country’s political landscape. In the run-up to the elections held on Oct. 22, the Abe government had been plagued by a series of scandals and g… Read full post
20 Sep 2017 - The Malabar 2017 naval exercises were held in the Bay of Bengal during July 10-17 with participation from the Indian, US and Japanese navies to “increase interoperability amongst the three navies as well as to develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.”1 Although the Malabar started out as bilateral exercises between India and the US back in 19… Read full post
06 Sep 2017 - Amid the growing anxiety generated by North Korea’s recent missile tests and its dramatic sixth nuclear test, the Trump administration is grappling with the challenge of finding a proportionate response. Somehow, it needs to simultaneously punish the North for its continuing provocations, slow down and ultimately reverse Kim Jong-un’s WMD modernization program, and ensure that t… Read full post
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