Asia Year in Review

A historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has led some to suggest the age of North Korea as a rogue state is coming to an end. The divided North and South have made increasingly conciliatory moves over 2018; however, experts have warned that this may not be the easy victory that some are predicting, suggesting that Kim Jong-un has no intention of abandoning his missile defence strategy. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has met the North Korean leader three times this year and is reportedly optimistic about the chances of an official peace treaty.

Meanwhile, Trump has continued his aggressive trade policy with China, aimed at addressing the trade imbalance between the two countries and increasing domestic consumption. Ahead of the G20 summit, Trump announced a tariff raise from 10 percent to 25 percent, escalating the ongoing trade war. A number of US companies have raised concerns about harm to their businesses, with US farmers struggling to adjust.

The Chinese government has been criticised for its actions against the Uighurs, a Muslim minority in Xinjiang, Eastern China. The government is accused of locking up hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in internment camps. The Chinese government has described these camps as education camps, which combat ‘terrorism and religious extremism’. Few Muslim nations have criticised China’s actions, wary of losing out on important financial agreements and aid packages.

The election of Pakistan’s cricket hero Imran Khan to Prime Minister gave hope to a new era for the country. Khan ran on an anti-corruption platform, but it remains to be seen whether he can address the country’s vast problems and end the ongoing violence that has plagued much of the country. The acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian accused of blasphemy, was met with anger from large sections of religious society.

Across the border in Afghanistan a resurgent Taliban are retaking vast areas of the country. The embattled Afghan army has taken heavy losses, and insider attacks against US forces still in the country are damaging the relationship between the allies. There are growing concerns that Trump may hand US responsibilities over to private contractors.

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December 2021
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