Asia This Week: January 5, 2024

January 5, 2024

A weekly review of key news and analysis of elections in Asia and the Indo-Pacific, usually posted on Fridays and occasionally updated throughout the week.

Bangladesh’s parliament building. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Micah Parker (CC BY 2.0)

Table Setter

In his New Year address, Chinese president Xi Jinping on the one hand admitted that China’s economy is in trouble, but on the other hand, said that reunification with Taiwan is “inevitable.”

In the shadow of the dragon, a number countries in the Asia/Pacific region are due to hold elections this year.

This month, we’re watching parliamentary elections in Bangladesh and general elections in Taiwan. Bangladesh has been criticized for sliding into authoritarianism, and with the main opposition Bangladesh National Party boycotting the January 7 vote, incumbent PM Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League are almost certain to stay in power. But Bangladesh has grown in geopolitical importance and therefore, the vote will be watched closely.

Taiwan’s January 13 vote is one of the most important of the year as China ramps up its military aggression. The presidential race is a three-way contest featuring current Vice President William Lai of the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party, challenged by New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang and former Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party. The DPP has taken a stronger stance for Taiwan’s independence (short of actually declaring formal independence).

Additionally, Bhutan, the site of heated geopololitical competition between India and China, will choose a new parliament on January 9.

Other crucial votes to watch this year include India and Indonesia (which set a record for the world’s biggest election day in 2019, with more than 200 million voters). In addition, South Korea has legislative elections, which will be an important barometer as tensions in the region heat up.

Upcoming Asia/Pacific Elections

Bangladesh Parliamentary Elections: January 7, 2024

Kelly Ng and Akbar Hossain, BBC (January 5, 2024): Bangladesh election: Lopsided polls leave disillusioned voters asking ‘what’s the point’

PTI (January 5, 2024): Opposition BNP calls for 48-hour general strike in Bangladesh demanding resignation of government

Faisal Mahmud, Nikkei Asia (January 4, 2024): Bangladesh ruling party accused of intimidation to spur election turnout: Observers call this Sunday’s polls ‘bizarre’ and ‘farcical’ as opposition boycotts

Reuters (January 3, 2024): Bangladesh deploys army to keep peace ahead of Sunday’s election

Lionel Lim, Fortune (January 3, 2024): The Nobel-winning banker behind the microfinance movement faces six months in jail, and supporters think it’s politically motivated

Geoffrey Macdonald, Ph.D., USIP (January 2, 2024): What Does Bangladesh’s Upcoming Election Mean for its Foreign Policy?

Anbarasan Ethirajan, BBC (January 2, 2024): Bangladesh elections: Why India matters across the border

Faisal Mahmud, Al Jazeera (January 2, 2024): Bangladesh cricket star Shakib Al Hasan’s election run divides hometown

Times of India (December 31, 2023): Bangladesh & Pakistan: Tale of two elections, and implications for India

Ashikur Rahman, Indian Express (December 30, 2023): Decoding Bangladesh election: Sheikh Hasina’s manifesto, economic challenges, and the crucial West factor

Bhutan Parliamentary Elections: January 9, 2024

AFP (January 5, 2024): India, China eye strategic areas bordering ‘last barrier’ Bhutan

Salman Akhtar, BNN (January 5, 2024): Bhutan’s Parliamentary Elections: A Geopolitical Chessboard for India and China

Taiwan Presidential and Legislative Elections: January 13, 2024

Reuters (January 4, 2024): Taiwan says will publish analysis of China’s alleged election interference post vote

Yew Lun Tian and James Pomfret, Reuters (January 3, 2024): ‘Hawkish’ China military squeeze on Taiwan likely after election

Lev Nachman and Wen-Ti Sung, Atlantic Council (January 3, 2024): Why Beijing’s latest pre-election attempt to coerce Taiwanese voters could backfire

Joyu Wang, Wall Street Journal (January 3, 2024): China’s Balloons Are Back. This Time They Are Over Taiwan.

William Yang, Voice of America (January 3, 2024): China Ramps Up Intimidation Campaign Ahead of Taiwan Election

James Baron, UnHerd (January 3, 2024): Is Ko Wen-je China’s man in Taiwan?

Victor Jack, Politico (December 31, 2023): China’s Xi says reunification with Taiwan ‘inevitable,’ ahead of crucial vote on island

Indonesia, Presidential, Legislative, and Local Elections: February 14, 2024

Randy Mulyanto, CNBC (January 3, 2024): Indonesians head to the polls in February. Here are key issues dominating the elections

Prashanth Parameswaran, GIS (January 3, 2024): Indonesia’s foreign policy after the 2024 presidential elections

South Korea Legislative Elections: April 10, 2024

Jack Kim, Reuters (January 3, 2024): South Korea opposition leader in ICU after knife attack amid calls for stronger security

Steven Borowiec, Nikkei Asia (January 2, 2024): South Korea politician stabbing adds to tension ahead of elections

India Parliamentary Elections: May 2024

Allison Meakem, Foreign Policy (January 2, 2024): Under Modi, India’s Democracy Is on Its Last Legs

Times of India (December 30, 2023): From elections in 9 states to opposition uniting as INDIA: Defining political moments of 2023

Maldives Parliamentary Elections: Spring 2024 (due)

Raajje (January 5, 2024): Date for parliamentary polls to be announced next week

Australia Federal Parliamentary Elections: Due By May 2025 (earlier elections possible)

Justine Landis-Hanley, Canberra Times (January 4, 2024): Don’t expect to head to the polls yet: PM looks towards 2025 election

Bryant Hevesi, Sky News (January 3, 2024): Anthony Albanese reiterates call for four-year federal election terms amid questions about potential 2024 poll

Past Asia/Pacific Elections

Hong Kong District Council Elections: December 10, 2023

Hong Kong Free Press (January 1, 2024): Explainer: Hong Kong’s national security crackdown – month 42

Lllewellyn Cheung, South China Morning Post (December 29, 2023 – video): The last days of Hong Kong’s opposition district councillors after election overhaul

Marshall Islands General Elections: November 20, 2023

Giff Johnson, Marianas Variety (January 2, 2024): It’s final: 40% of parliament seats change hands in Marshall Islands

Giff Johnson, Radio New Zealand (December 30, 2023): Marshall Islands election results declared as high-profile incumbents lose re-election

Regional News and Analysis

Rhea Mogul, CNN (December 30, 2023): More than a billion people will head to the polls across South Asia in 2024

David Hutt, DW (December 30, 2023): What’s in store for EU-Southeast Asia ties in 2024? Two significant elections scheduled for 2024 could swing relations between the European Union and Southeast Asia.

Joseph Rachman, Foreign Policy (December 29, 2023): Gaza Is a Burning Topic for Southeast Asia’s Domestic Politics

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