Asia is leading the way in digital asset markets, but individual countries are taking markedly different paths toward regulation and management in establishing themselves as cryptocurrency hubs, balancing innovation and regulation. Investors should be vigilant about the risks associated with alternative capital-raising methods.
The Philippines, a major maritime nation, must better protect its resources and exclusive sovereign rights. The South China Sea disputes, where China has exerted increasing dominance over one of the planet’s vital waterways, have been a sorely-needed wakeup call.
Many maritime disputes are motivated by material factors like oil, gas, and fishing stocks. Weaker countries tend to insist on sovereignty claims, at the risk of stretching legal definitions, while those with access to resources are inclined to maintain the status quo. The Timor-Leste-Australia dispute shows how sovereign claims risk weakening the international sea regime.
Multinational private contractors are taking the place of governmental agencies in assuming guardianship roles over asylum seekers in several countries. This development, amounting to the privatization of border controls, has disturbing consequences.
Climate change means that drought is likely to scourge larger parts of the world, and more often, with serious impacts on agriculture and food supply. Drought episodes are generally tackled via ad hoc policy support measures. As the Australian case shows, such responses should be replaced with longer-term policy interventions across good and bad seasonal conditions.
With environmental and societal concerns coming to the forefront of global discussion, adopting green finance is a matter of highest urgency. In Asia, the shift has already begun. Banks, funds, and companies are increasingly building systems for and investing in greener projects.
Australia and New Zealand have long viewed the Pacific Islands as part of their sphere of influence. China’s increasing engagement in the region is now throwing that in doubt. Canberra and Wellington must reconfigure their regional strategies to be more inclusive, and recognize Pacific Island states as sovereign actors in their own right.
There are many who would like to see the concept of the “Indo-Pacific” region evolve from an idea to reality. These supporters are looking to India and Indonesia, two of the most populous countries in the region, to lead the way. This, however, is currently unlikely, owing to misalignment between the two countries’ political-economic goals and actions.
Wealth in Asia is growing rapidly, but philanthropy has not kept pace. Governments should improve regulation and change tax and fiscal policies to make it easier for Asians and corporations to give in a systematic way. They should also ensure donations can efficiently reach organizations working to meet society’s needs.
Australia, India, Japan, and the United States make up the Quad, often seen as a response to an increasingly powerful and competitive China. But the commonality and contradiction of interests that India shares with China makes New Delhi’s perspective somewhat different from that of the other Quad countries. One may argue that India’s participation in the Quad is not a move to antagonize China.
What if the United States withdrew its strategic commitment to allies in the Indo-Pacific? Taking that hypothesis seriously, Hugh White's latest essay, "Without America: Australia in the New Asia," suggests that Australia does not have any other option than engaging China—and neither does the rest of Asia.