The COVID-19 pandemic is again bringing uncertainty, following the emergence of the Omicron variant in late 2021. Countries had been opening up and emerging from lockdowns, only to reimpose restrictions and closures.
But one exception is China, with its zero-tolerance approach. Beijing is determined not to let the pandemic affect its hosting of the Winter Olympics. 2022 sees another momentous event – the twice-a-decade party congress, expected to extend President Xi Jinping’s tenure for an unprecedented third term.
Countering China and building alliances in the Indo-Pacific continues to be a major focus for US President Joe Biden. We also examine Washington’s priorities in strengthening ties with its major allies – Japan and South Korea, as they in turn consider their bilateral relationship in the face of new leadership.
Leadership is in the spotlight too in Southeast Asia. The Philippines goes to the polls to elect a successor to President Rodrigo Duterte. In Malaysia, there are expectations that a general election will be called in 2022 to end the current political uncertainties. But for Myanmar, the way ahead remains unclear, a year after the military seized power.
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