Asia in 2016: Hong Kong

Asia in 2016: Hong KongJust as the aftershocks of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement demonstrations of 2014 had calmed down, the Year of the Monkey began in Hong Kong with a violent surprise. In February, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department cracked down on popular but unlicensed street food vendors in Kowloon’s gritty Mong Kok neighborhood, prompting an angry response…

Asia in 2016: Korea

Asia in 2016: KoreaSouth Korean President Park Geun-hye was stripped of her executive powers after the country’s legislature voted for impeachment in December, the culmination of a year of political scandal that saw massive protests in Seoul and other major cities in the last quarter of 2016. Park’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, was detained on charges of extortion and…

Asia in 2016: Taiwan

Asia in 2016: TaiwanLast year saw the independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party returned to power, but economic considerations might outweigh political factors in the government's dealings with Beijing. Taiwan elected its first woman as President in 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen won the January general election. Tsai’s DPP also gained its first full majority in the legislature since 1992, winning…

Asia in 2016: China

Asia in 2016: ChinaThe Chinese government had much to be irritated about in 2016, both at home from its gyrating stock markets, and abroad from an unfavorable international ruling on its South China Sea expansion and attacks on its economic policy from Donald Trump, now President-elect of the United States. The Chinese government rejected an international tribunal’s ruling…

Asia: Japan in 2016

Asia: Japan in 2016A series of earthquakes struck Kumamoto in Japan’s southwest in April, triggering fears of a repeat of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011. Kumamoto city is located 115 kilometres (72 miles) from the Sendai nuclear power station, the only nuclear plant in operation at the time of the earthquake. The most recent…

Asia in 2016: Philippines

Asia in 2016: PhilippinesThe Philippines has endured a turbulent year under Rodrigo Duterte, who assumed the country’s presidency from June 30. His agenda, which has included extra-judicial killings as part of a war on drugs and sidelining the United States as an ally, has put the Philippines back in the headlines. The controversial campaign against drugs, in which…

Asia in 2016: Thailand

Asia in 2016: ThailandThailand, under military rule since 2014, made little progress towards democracy during 2016. In August, a clear majority of voters – more than 60 percent supported a military-backed draft constitution in a national referendum. Turnout was estimated at no more than 55 percent, although authorities did not issue an official figure. An army-appointed committee wrote…

Asia in 2016: Indonesia

Asia in 2016: IndonesiaIndonesia recorded a fiscally promising 2016, with solid gross domestic growth and a supportive monetary environment bolstering economic momentum. Elected to office barely two years ago, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has been focused on improving the economy through public spending and a welcome cabinet re-shuffle in July which saw the widely respected Sri Mulyani Indrawati,…

Asia in 2016: India

Asia in 2016: IndiaLandmark economic reforms introduced in India last year contrasted sharply with rising extremism, suggesting that the rapidly growing country is still battling old demons of religious divisiveness, rigidity and orthodoxy even as the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi adopts a more streamlined financial outlook. Growing intolerance of dissent was highlighted in February 2016 during…

Asia in 2016: Australia

Asia in 2016: AustraliaAfter a decade of political instability in Australia – the prime-ministership has changed hands five times since 2007 – last year might have brought a dose of normality to the country’s national affairs. Instead, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull fought a close election that was marked by a surge of right-wing populism that saw stridently anti-immigrant…