Focus: Indo-Pacific | 10th January 2024

Indo-Pacific region is heading for critical elections through January and February, whose outcomes will have significant bearing on regional outcomes. In less than a week’s time, on Jan 13, some 19.5 million Taiwanese will vote for their next president in a critical election that would have implications for regional stability. On February 14, Indonesia, SE Asia’s biggest state will vote to elect its next President. Indonesian Presidential candidate & frontrunner Prabowo Subianto was put on the defensive at the third electoral debate, which explored international relations, defense and security. Indonesia’s three presidential candidates gave considerable focus on the topic of the South China Sea at the debate. Meanwhile, in Japan, Yoshitaka Ikeda became the first lawmaker arrested in the latest political fundraising scandal involving the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction, further impacting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s political fate. In South Korea, the nominee for Foreign Ministers post stated that South Korea should work on its relations with China based on the principle that it does not undermine the alliance with the United States.  Canberra has decided to spend 22 million Australian dollars ($14 million) into rare earth and critical mineral research as it endeavors to be a global clean energy supplier.

 

A maverick, a former top cop or a career politician: Who will be Taiwan’s next president?

The Strait Times | 7th January 2024

In less than a week’s time, on Jan 13, some 19.5 million Taiwanese will vote for their next president in a critical election that would have implications for regional stability. They will also be voting for lawmakers in the 113-seat legislature at nearly 18,000 polling stations across Taiwan. Incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will step down in May after a two-term limit.

 

Prabowo on back foot in heated debate

The Jakarta Post | 8th January 2024

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto was put on the defensive in Sunday’s (Jan 7) third electoral debate, which explored international relations, defense and security, as the defense minister’s rivals scrutinized his weapons procurement plans and defense spending in an uncertain geopolitical landscape. Fiery exchanges on government debt, institutional management and Indonesia’s defense systems unfolded during the event, topics that were especially sensitive for Prabowo, who has sought to position himself as the torchbearer of the current administration and is the race’s current frontrunner.

 

South China Sea, Asean among topics discussed at Indonesia’s third presidential debate

The Strait Times | 8th January 2024

Indonesia’s three presidential candidates wrestled with the topic of the South China Sea, the role that regional grouping Asean plays in keeping peace in the waterway, and other issues of defence, foreign policy and ethics in their third debate on Jan 7. On the tensions in the South China Sea, former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo suggested there be a temporary agreement between the parties involved to avoid the conflict escalating. “My proposal is to have a temporary agreement. We have to push this and have this as our initiative, so that we can prevent outcomes we don’t want,” he said.

 

Australia funds rare earth research as West seeks China alternatives

Nikkei Asia | 8th January 2024

Australia’s government will funnel 22 million Australian dollars ($14 million) into rare earth and critical mineral research as it endeavors to be a “global clean energy supplier,” its resource minister said on Monday. “The path to net zero by 2050 runs through Australia’s resources sector,” Madeleine King said. “The new research will help Australia further develop critical minerals and rare earths processes, and encourage downstream processing to produce components for clean technologies.” Those technologies include electric vehicles, batteries and wind turbines.

 

LDP lawmaker arrest further blurs Japan PM’s fate

Japan Times | 8th January 2024

Yoshitaka Ikeda became the first lawmaker arrested in the latest political fundraising scandal involving the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction, further blurring Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s political fate. Kishida, whose popularity has already sunk to its lowest level since taking office in October 2021, will try to restore the public’s trust in politics by setting up a “political reform” panel, which he will lead, within the LDP in the not-so-distant future.

 

(3rd LD) FM nominee stresses need to work with China while maintaining alliance with U.S.

Yonhap | 8th January 2024

South Korea should work on its relations with China based on the principle that it does not undermine the alliance with the United States, the nominee for foreign minister said Monday, highlighting that there cannot be an “absolute” balance in maintaining ties with the two countries. Cho Tae-yul made the remarks at a parliamentary hearing on his nomination, calling China a “partner” that has a lot to cooperate on with South Korea despite differences in many areas.

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