AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

The publication of AsiaGlobal Voices summaries does not indicate any endorsement by the Asia Global Institute or AsiaGlobal Online of the opinions expressed in them.

This Year's General Election Will Hinge on the Coronavirus Situation
Friday, January 8, 2021
This Year's General Election Will Hinge on the Coronavirus Situation

Noguchi Takenori, political journalist, in The Mainichi (January 7, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Official Website of the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet)

This Year's General Election Will Hinge on the Coronavirus Situation

What kind of questions will Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide be posing to the public when this year’s general election comes?

Suga has not wavered from his time as chief cabinet secretary to Abe Shinzo in brushing off concerns of a renewed spread of infections and introducing the Go To Travel campaign. It was not so much that he fell one step behind in implementing measures, but rather that he took a confident gamble that economic activity and prevention of infection could be compatible – and lost.

After falling short in November-December's three-week challenge to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Suga administration’s approval ratings plummeted. There have been murmurs within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that they cannot fight an election with Suga as leader. If approval ratings continue to stay low, it may spark discussion on who will be the "face" of the party in the election. That would mean efforts to bring Suga down, either through the September party leadership election or even sooner than that, before the general election.

How would Suga respond? He will likely ask the public to evaluate his main policy achievements, such as bringing down cellphone rates and establishing a digital agency. If the Tokyo Olympic Games are held this summer as planned, there may well be economic fruits of the Go To Travel campaign as well. Suga thus far has taken the stance that if one gambles and wins, public opinion will follow without further explanation. Just because he is now prime minister, his way of thinking and operating cannot be expected to change overnight. Even if he faces protest from his own party, Suga likely wants to put everything he has to a referendum – or a snap general election, but it will all depend on the coronavirus situation.

The President as Whistleblower: How will the Vaccine Probe End?
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
The President as Whistleblower: How will the Vaccine Probe End?

Satur C Ocampo, activist and politician, in his At Ground Level column in The Philippine Star (January 2, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Simeon Celi/Presidential Communications Operations Office)

The President as Whistleblower: How will the Vaccine Probe End?

Did President Rodrigo Duterte blow the whistle? He disclosed that many soldiers had already been inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine. Immediately, there was widespread uproar:

At least two Cabinet members, three military officers and the presidential spokesman tried to do damage control, confirming what Duterte had said but giving varying justifications. We learned from their uncoordinated responses that the vaccine had come from China’s state-owned pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm, and that they had been administered to the president’s close-in security personnel without registration or authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as required by law.

A judge ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate. The FDA and the Bureau of Customs said they would do their own probes. Sounding like a whistle-blower, the president was quoted as saying in a meeting with the FDA and other health officials: “I have to be frank. I have to tell the truth. I will not foist a lie. Many [soldiers] have been vaccinated.” Then he hastened to add that the vaccination was “just for the select few, not all soldiers, because it is not yet policy”.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon did not find the statements of Duterte’s men credible. “They have twisted themselves into knots trying to find excuses,” he said. “They are lying through their teeth in a bid to protect those who are principally involved in the illegal shipment of the unauthorized vaccines to the country. They cannot hide the truth.” Those who caused the illegal importation and use of the unauthorized vaccine must be held responsible, he stressed, concluding that “otherwise the environment of impunity is enhanced”.

Let us wait and see what will happen in the promised investigations, impelled by Duterte’s perhaps inadvertent whistleblowing. Remember what happened to other whistle-blowers in the past: They get ignored.

Why Britain’s and Europe's Attitudes Towards Beijing Differ
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Why Britain’s and Europe's Attitudes Towards Beijing Differ

John Ross (known in China as Luo Siyi 罗思义), senior fellow, Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, and from 2000 to 2008, director of economic and business policy for the mayor of London, in Global Times (January 4, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China)

Why Britain’s and Europe's Attitudes Towards Beijing Differ

UK relations with China have gone from the best in Europe to among the worst. Meanwhile, the EU rejected US pressure over the EU-China investment treaty. 

The US has launched aggressive policies to block China's national rejuvenation and has subsequently forced other countries to adopt similar measures. Yet, these measures also damage the countries pursuing them. The risks in doing so have been made worse by the recession caused by Covid-19. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that, in the period up to 2025, China will account for 31 percent of world growth, with the US at only 11 percent. 

Any country subordinating its economic policy to the US is therefore aligning itself with a relatively stagnant economy. While it is clearly economically irrational for any country to give into US pressures, a number of countries such as Australia and Canada are constrained by their political and military links with the US. In many developing countries, however, governments are successfully refusing to adopt anti-China policies.

Between these contrasting extremes, Europe presents a complex situation. Economically, it is logical for the EU to seek good relations with China. Yet, the EU also believes it must rely on the US for military protection. The EU has attempted to establish a path where it follows an independent economic policy, which has led to a successful investment treaty with China, while refusing to be drawn into any political clash between Beijing and Washington.

Historically, London has been far more subordinate to Washington. Today, the UK’s medium-sized economy is unable to pursue an independent path from the two huge economies of the US and EU. As US-EU tensions mounted, Britain once again chose Washington. If the US is hostile to China, the UK will inevitably follow suit. The EU, however, will follow its own path.

The Missing Policy Pillar in the Time of Covid-19
Thursday, December 31, 2020
The Missing Policy Pillar in the Time of Covid-19

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan, journalist, in The UB Post (December 24, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Byamba-ochir Byambasuren/ILO)

The Missing Policy Pillar in the Time of Covid-19

All policies carried out by developed, developing and emerging markets can be categorized into two main pillars: supporting households and citizens, and supporting businesses and keeping jobs. When the pandemic hit, the government leaned more towards supporting households, through increasing the child money allowance, improving food coupons and such. On the employment side, the government reduced the social security premium and assisted through unemployment support, which lasted till November. Although household support will continue through to the end of the presidential election in June 2021, there is not much policy targeting retainment of jobs, supporting businesses, and avoiding bankruptcies.

Unless the government addresses the missing pillar, a vicious cycle will harm the people and economy alike in the medium to long term. A cycle of poverty usually starts with unemployment as businesses shed employees or close doors, which concurrently pushes households into poverty as unemployed workers struggle to find a new job.

What is missing – money or political will? It cannot be true that there is no support to save businesses because politicians are such cowards and refuse to spend. If Mongolia is to become a country that propels children to compete on the world level in the near future, we must ensure that their parents at least have a secure job to facilitate that opportunity.

If ailing jobs and companies disappear, it will be at least few times more expensive to create new ones and, more importantly, it will take years to recover to levels prior to Covid-19. Meanwhile, the socio-economic costs will devastate not just the poor, but everyone except the super-rich. In seven months, our country may have a new president, prime minister, and minister of finance. For those seeking the top jobs of the country, one message: Do the right thing and do it now!

In 2020, National Leaders Abandoned Human Rights
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
In 2020, National Leaders Abandoned Human Rights

Usman Hamid, Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, founder of Public Virtue, and lecturer at the Indonesia Jentera School of Law, in The Jakarta Post (December 20, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Presidential Secretariat Press Bureau)

In 2020, National Leaders Abandoned Human Rights

This year Indonesia witnessed a rollback of human-rights reforms. Marking this regression was President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s security approach to tackling Covid-19, opting for an economic agenda and the imposition of hyper-nationalism, which resulted in a further turn towards authoritarianism and state control of the internet. 

Covid-19 exacerbated this through the securitization of all social and political life, enabling security actors to clamp down on political opposition by means of legal instruments, including handling the pandemic. Instead of implementing science-based policies, President Jokowi chose a military-dominated structure that produced a hardline security approach to public-health matters. 

In April, the National Police headquarters instructed officers to act against “hoax spreaders” and those who insulted the president and his administration. The police launched criminal investigations into around 100 cases related to the government’s response to the pandemic. The government and the House of Representatives passed the Job Creation Law to strengthen further business interests, while undermining workers’ and environmental rights. The National Police issued another directive intimidating and criminalizing critics of the law, increasing the rise of cyber-authoritarianism. 

All of this happened against a backdrop of increasing online intimidation in many forms that included credential theft, spam calls, digital harassment, as well as abusive intrusions into online discussions. Criminalization by the state apparatus under a draconian cyberlaw is not the only instrument of internet control. Media reports have implicated the government in the deployment of an army of pro-regime trolls, trained to debate anti-government forces on the web. 

While 2020 will no doubt be remembered as the year Indonesia – and the world – faced an unprecedented health crisis, we should remember it as a year when the country’s human rights crisis deepened, when our civic space for protests and public criticism shrank, and when Indonesia’s leaders abandoned human rights. 

Wellness is the Key Component to Covid-19 Recovery in Asia
Monday, December 28, 2020
Wellness is the Key Component to Covid-19 Recovery in Asia

Sawada Yasuyuki, Chief Economist, Asian Development Bank (ADB), in The Asahi Shimbun (December 18, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: tokyoaaron02)

Wellness is the Key Component to Covid-19 Recovery in Asia

While more than 2,000 Japanese deaths are attributable to Covid-19, the pandemic has taken a toll of severe economic, social and emotional impacts on large segments of the population, which may have led to the higher suicide numbers in recent months.

The reasons behind suicides are multi-faceted and complex, but evidence repeatedly points to the deterioration of mental health as one of the critical risk factors in Japan and around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has induced social isolation, fear, uncertainty, anxiety and economic hardship, causing a lot of mental stress globally, which could lead to a global mental health crisis. What is worse, while physical distancing has proven effective in reducing contagion, it undermines real-world social interactions, networks and bonds among people.

This highlights the importance of promoting “wellness”, which is the pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of overall health. Wellness is multidimensional and leads to holistic health, happiness and well-being. It is central to development and is, in fact, one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (goal No. 3).

To keep high levels of wellness even while social distancing, access to digital platforms such as social networking services will be crucial. Digital learning opportunities will also be essential to ensure that students continue to study at home during the pandemic. Governments can play a critical role in mitigating the digital divide – the unequal access to online services – by increasing investment in information and communications infrastructure and making their services affordable and inclusive. Governments can support public infrastructure that promotes overall wellness, including walkways, bicycle lanes, parks, recreation centers and free sporting facilities.

Wellness will not only improve the physical and mental health of Asians but can also act as an engine of growth. It is vital for Asia’s post-pandemic recovery.

Seeing India and Pakistan History Through the Lens of Caste
Monday, December 28, 2020
Seeing India and Pakistan History Through the Lens of Caste

Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History at the University of Oxford, in The Indian Express (December 27, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes

Seeing India and Pakistan History Through the Lens of Caste

What would the history of India look like if seen through the lens of caste? Banias changed India’s modern history was the development of the Indian National Congress as a mass organization under Mahatma Gandhi. The Kshatriyas displaced by colonialism had by then been replaced in politics by Brahmin lawyers and administrators. The first Bania to take power from the Brahmins who dominated the party, Gandhi gained for it the support of India’s traders.

If Gandhi’s rise to power signaled the emergence of a new national culture for Hindus, Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s rise accomplished the same for Muslims. The culture of learning and honor that had characterized the League’s Brahmin and Kshatriya elite was replaced by a Bania focus on contractual politics.

Religion has come to define national culture in both India and Pakistan, allowing different castes to identify with each other by excluding minorities. While Hinduism provides a home for many sectarian cultures in India, Islam in Pakistan is exclusive.

While Christians and Hindus are discriminated against and even persecuted in Pakistan, as Muslims and Christians sometimes are in India, they are not seen to represent any serious threat to Islam. This means that Islam comes to dominate politics in such a way as to obscure both caste and religious difference.

If the suspect religious minority in Pakistan is to be found within Islam, non-Muslim groups come to represent not religious but caste difference. Christians and Hindus also serve as repositories for the caste identities of Muslims, who escape their status by displacing it onto them. While caste differences in India are also displaced onto a religious minority, in Pakistan this displacement locates the minority within and caste outside Islam.

Caste really does allow us to see history anew.

Countering the Indian Threat
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Countering the Indian Threat

Zahid Hussain, journalist and author, in Dawn (December 23, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Gabriele Giuseppini)

Countering the Indian Threat

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has again warned of an Indian plan to launch a “surgical strike” on Pakistan. For a Pakistani leader to describe an Indian plan of blatant military aggression as a “surgical strike” is beyond one’s comprehension. Surely the foreign minister did not realize what the term might convey, but in diplomacy one needs to be extremely careful about the nuances. It is indeed a grave situation and one that needs to be handled more seriously.

Any military incursion into Pakistan would be a risky gamble by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Such reckless action would also be in danger of spiraling out of control and turning into a full-blown military conflagration. The underlying calculation of Modi’s escalation is that India can afford this brinkmanship given the country’s diplomatic clout. But it is hard to believe that any blatant act of aggression will go unnoticed.

A major challenge for Pakistan, however, is how to respond to the Indian bellicosity. There is no doubt that Pakistan’s armed forces are fully capable of effectively countering any Indian military adventurism. But foreign aggression cannot be defeated by military means alone. The country’s major vulnerabilities are its weak economy and perpetual political instability.

There is a need for a broad consensus on key national security issues. Lack of clarity on national security is a failure of our leadership. It is mainly the responsibility of the prime minister to provide leadership. Instead of taking parliament into confidence on the Indian escalation, the political leadership has relied more on media and tweets to inform the nation about the threat. Our diplomatic efforts have also been hampered by the lack of a robust foreign policy. We need a more proactive approach to meeting the serious security challenge while refraining from creating panic.

The Saddest Christmas Ever
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
The Saddest Christmas Ever

Sara Soliven De Guzman, Chief Operating Officer, Operation Brotherhood Montessori Center, in her As a Matter of Fact column in The Philippine Star (December 21, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Rudy and Peter Skitterjans/Pixabay)

The Saddest Christmas Ever

To many, this will be the saddest Christmas. Covid-19 has disrupted our lives. It has created such a crisis, destroying homes, work and the human spirit. Christmas will not be the same this year. Our homes will be silent, our tables half empty, but we must not let the darkness take over the light that should continue to shine in our hearts. We need to feel that hope and to fight the feeling we have in our hearts. We need to do this not only for ourselves but also for our children.

On the brighter side, we have family to support each other. The simple celebration around the table with prayer and reflection will cleanse our spirits and hopefully make us better. It is during a crisis when our “will” or “might” can be tested. The life that we have now should bring us closer to God. 

This will be the first Christmas for millions of families around the world to spend without their loved ones who were taken by the virus. Let us light a candle or two for all those who have gone this year.

The sad part is that some people do not even feel the hardship of the times. They continue to go out and party like there is no tomorrow. These past days have shown us how many of our countrymen continue to ignore social distancing. They have forgotten about Covid-19. Surely after the holidays our Covid-19 cases will spike again. Do not forget we have not even gotten the vaccines yet.

So this is Christmas. Love is the strongest weapon we have in order to survive this pandemic. 

Policy Leadership in a Crisis
Monday, December 21, 2020
Policy Leadership in a Crisis

Riant Nugroho, Chairman, Institute for Policy Reform, in Jakarta Globe (December 17, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Muchlis Jr/Cabinet Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia)

Policy Leadership in a Crisis

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo made a bold decision when he announced that the coronavirus vaccine will be available for free for everybody. He volunteered to be among the first to get inoculated. His remarks make it clear that the government remains committed to saving people, while at the same time encouraging skeptical Indonesians to take the vaccine.

From the perspective of public policy studies, future leaders can take two lessons from Jokowi’s decisions. First, policy leadership is the key to excellent governance. Policy scholars argue that excellent public policies are more effective tools to help achieve one country’s goals than its natural resources and other variables. Still, they are important but not the key determinant. Policy excellence depends on the capability of the top leader in formulating policies, turning them into actions and controlling their implementation across the nation. The main task of the head of government is therefore concerned mainly with policy development and deployment.

Jokowi has never attended public-administration or public-policy schools. However, he has proved himself to be a fast learner during his remarkable journey in public office – from the mayor of Solo to the governor of Jakarta to the president of Southeast Asia’s biggest country. Early in his second term as president, he is already extremely skilled at policy leadership – a subject rarely taught in public-policy schools. Indeed, the second lesson is that policy leadership is the key requirement for any future leader and has to be taught as a core competence in national leadership training institutions.

Expectations for Joe Biden's Administration Differ
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Expectations for Joe Biden's Administration Differ

Miyake Kuni, President of the Foreign Policy Institute, Research Director at the Canon Institute for Global Studies, and special adviser to the Cabinet, in The Japan Times (December 11, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Matt Johnson)

Expectations for Joe Biden's Administration Differ

The great majority of people in Tokyo and in many other capitals around the world remain ambivalent about a new Joe Biden administration. 

The Europeans realize the US’s diplomatic focus has shifted from the West to the East, although they may not wish to admit it. Political leaders in the Middle East and North Africa region are also cognizant of the fact that US attention is shifting from the Middle East to East Asia. Nations in the Indo-Pacific, with the obvious exception of China, will welcome growing US attention to the region. Many, including Japan, hope that Biden will not drastically change Washington’s current positions on China, although his rhetoric may differ from that of Donald Trump.

All in all, the friends and allies of the United States have their own agendas they would prefer to advance irrespective of what a Biden administration may wish to pursue. It is high time for those allies to unite to compete with China – and with Russia and Iran to lesser extents. Fortunately, the Indo-Pacific region has a head start with the creation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, comprising the US, Australia, India and Japan. European nations have yet to join the diplomatic and military arrangement.

The United States and its allies must resume strategic discussions as they once did before Trump assumed office. The global alliance system is not a zero-sum game. For the Indo-Pacific to prosper, Europe and the Middle East do not need to suffer. To be a truly global community of like-minded nations, all must benefit and assist each other.

It must also be noted that this global alliance system is not aligned against any specific nation. China, Russia and Iran are welcome to participate. To that end, the Biden administration must still promote universal values, including those of liberal democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Pandemic Showcases Systemic Gender Inequality
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Pandemic Showcases Systemic Gender Inequality

Namira Samir, doctoral student at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in The Jakarta Post (December 15, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Alexandra Koch/Pixabay)

Pandemic Showcases Systemic Gender Inequality

The Covid-19 pandemic has required almost all events to go virtual. Information about conferences and seminars has been disseminated through digital posters containing the speakers’ photographs. One cannot close one’s eyes to the male favoritism in Indonesia’s institutions. It is a rarity to find an event with an equal number of men and women. Even those that do include women put them into gender-dictated roles such as chairperson. 

Why is this the case?

Indonesia may have fewer problems than other countries with equal pay between genders, but the problem we have is no less systemic than the wage issue. Women need to receive the same acknowledgement for their leadership capacity and their understanding of issues within their field. Both men and women have important things to say, and by putting on a blindfold regarding this matter, we allow the perpetration of gender inequality.

Systemic gender inequality requires the attention of everyone – both men and women, regardless of their occupations or backgrounds. How can one claim that progress has been made when male favoritism in leadership has not been addressed? In promoting women in leadership, developing countries mainly appreciate empowerment in terms of their ability to run their own small and medium-sized enterprises. That matters. 

But gender inequality also persists in the formal sector – a sector that upholds the highest standards of giving decent wages and protections to its workers but does not actually have a clear vision when it comes to gender inequality in leadership. 

As much as it is the responsibility of policymakers, it is also our duty – that of individuals, men or women – to make a difference, wherever we dedicate our time and knowledge. If each of us passes on the acknowledgement of gender inequality in leadership to our friends, families and colleagues, a revolution will come.

The Imperfect Vaccine Solution
Friday, December 11, 2020
The Imperfect Vaccine Solution

Hong Gi-bin, political economist, in Kyunghyang Shinmun (December 5, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: Cheong Wa Dae, The Republic of Korea)

The Imperfect Vaccine Solution

The year 2020 will be remembered first for the pandemic and second for the widespread distrust and dissatisfaction with governments. The virus has been powerful at physical destruction but also at shattering social unity and paralyzing the global economy. In less than a year since the Covid-19 outbreak, so-called developed countries have broken down on so many levels, and too many lives have been lost in the process. 

The UK government has approved a vaccine for distribution to British citizens. Other developed countries will be approving and releasing other versions. But none of the current vaccines have fully completed comprehensive tests on possible side effects, and while some argue that this was necessary to speed up the rollouts, this course of action is no different than that of heavily criticized Russia and China that already started using their own versions of imperfect vaccines on their population. 

Understandably, pharmaceutical companies are requesting a blanket exemption from liability for any potential side effects from widespread vaccination. The rush, the irresponsibility of governments and manufacturers, and the potential disastrous side effects have increased the possibility that many will refuse to be inoculated with any vaccine. South Korea has already seen a rise in vaccine resistance following the unexpectedly high death toll from seasonal flu shots. According to a Pew Research Center poll in September, 51 percent of Americans would refuse vaccination. 

Vaccines may be the key to save us from Covid-19, but the strategy that governments are pursuing may make this rescue impossible. 

Start Planning for the Great Indian Vaccine Challenge
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Start Planning for the Great Indian Vaccine Challenge

Chetan Bhagat, author, in his The Underage Optimist column in The Times of India (December 6, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes

Start Planning for the Great Indian Vaccine Challenge

Covid-19 vaccination will be a mammoth exercise, and preparation for this needs to begin now. For India, the magnitude of the task at hand is huge. Having a two-dose vaccine (such as the Moderna version) implies that 2.6 billion doses will need to be given across India. We are talking tens of thousands of trucks (with cold storage facilities) making millions of journeys across the nation around the clock. It also means having healthcare workers vaccinating Indians in every town and city.

This exercise, if not done smoothly, could turn into chaos – something that happens in India often. Instead, we want to show the world that when it comes to the crunch, India knows how to come together.

If we do our preparations right and set our priorities right, we can start in January 2021 and vaccinate a major part of the population by May 2021. We could, therefore, eliminate Covid-19 and be back to normal in terms of economic activity by June next year. If we do not plan or execute properly, we could lose another six to 12 months of economic activity, not to mention a lot more lives.

India can do this if we all work together. Sure, despite all plans, there will be hiccups, as expected in any massive exercise like this. However, we have to remain as one through it all. Non-partisan, non-argumentative, non-left or right. We just need to put our heads down and do the work until all of us are vaccinated. Executing this well will make Indians safe and bring our economy back. Let’s join hands and extend our arms to get the jab we have been waiting for.

Geostrategic Values to Woo Biden
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Geostrategic Values to Woo Biden

Kavi Chongkittavorn, journalist, in Bangkok Post (December 8, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Ron Przysucha/US Department of State)

Geostrategic Values to Woo Biden

The new US administration’s perception of Thailand's geostrategic values in the wake of China's rise and the Covid-19 pandemic will determine whether the US's oldest friend in Asia will be a boon or a bane.

First, Thailand has to bring back that image of a rules-based democratic country that respects human rights. If the Biden administration hosts a Summit of Global Democracy next year, Thailand must be included in the list of participants as part of the emerging liberal democracies group.

Second, Thailand is one of the five US allies in the Indo-Pacific region.

Third, Thailand is an important trading partner of the US.

Fourth, Thailand is considered a major regional hub of multinational civil society, especially those with headquarters in the US and Europe.

Fifth, local human rights defenders are fearless when it comes to defending civil rights.

Sixth, of late, the proliferation of social media and bloggers have allowed for the expression of views once considered taboo. Today, all Thai media content providers, which are still lacking in professionalism, report in a way never before seen.

Seventh, Thailand is a good friend of China. Therefore, Thailand can serve as a bridge-builder for the two superpowers, as we have no qualms about being an American ally while being close to China.

Eighth, in the era of the pandemic, Thailand is a great partner for health security. Thanks to more than three decades of US assistance in capacity building and research on contagious diseases, Thailand has developed a world-class healthcare system and capable human resources which have helped mitigate the horrible virus.

All in all, these Thai eight strategic values should help the Biden administration set a clear pathway to deal with Thailand.