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Asia Matters Podcast

News & Politics Podcasts

In Asia Matters Podcast, we go beyond the headlines with experts from around the globe to help explain what's shaping the region.

In Asia Matters Podcast, we go beyond the headlines with experts from around the globe to help explain what's shaping the region.


United Kingdom


In Asia Matters Podcast, we go beyond the headlines with experts from around the globe to help explain what's shaping the region.




How China is changing - and being changed by - the UN

China’s growing economic clout has seen its influence rise accordingly in major international institutions — and none more so than in the United Nations. For several years now, China has spoken of the UN as the most authoritative multilateral body in world affairs - and it's put its money where its mouth is, becoming the second-biggest contributor to the UN’s finances. Meanwhile, Chinese citizens have taken several leading roles in UN organisations. But China’s growing presence in the...


China Faces Up To Its Biggest Challenges

China’s rulers have been setting out their goals for the country at their big annual political meetings in Beijing. This year’s event held special significance, with policy makers revealing their latest five-year plan for China’s economy, as well as their targets for the environment among a host of other issues. We are first joined by two experts to discuss the near-term results from the meetings, and how they assess the current health of China’s economy: Tao Wang, the Hong Kong-based chief...


Islands Apart: Pacific Nations In The Covid Era

In this episode we turn to a part of the world we haven’t discussed before — the Pacific Islands. Stretching over a vast area covering some 15% of the earth’s surface, the region is home to diverse countries and cultures, from Papua New Guinea in the West to the Cook Islands in the east, taking in countries such as Fiji and the Solomon Islands, along with smaller nations such as Nauru and Palau. Problems, though, are stacking up. The COVID-19 pandemic is devastating the region’s economy....


What to Expect from Vietnam’s New Leaders

After a year-long battle behind closed doors, Vietnam has a new political leadership. At its Congress, which finished on February 1st, the Communist Party selected a new Politburo to run the country for the next five years. In this episode of Asia Matters we find out why the Party thinks a 76-year-old man with serious health problems is the best person to lead this rapidly changing society. More than a third of the Politburo are now men with a background in the security services. What does...


Myanmar's Military Are Back: First Impressions of the Coup

"Our country was a bird that was just learning to fly. Now the army broke our wings," said one activist. "What was granted by the generals is now being taken back," declared another. It’s been a dramatic few days in Southeast Asian nation Myanmar - or Burma. The country’s military has seized power again, and arrested several of the country’s civilian leaders, including national figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi. Her party, the National League for Democracy, had won a convincing victory in...


US-India Relations: Why Modi Will Be Key to Biden's Asia Plans

The US and India are the world's two biggest democracies - and the relationship between them is one of the world's most important bilateral partnerships. In political, economic and security terms, the two countries have grown closer and closer over the past two decades, with the Trump administration hailing a period of "remarkable growth" in 2020. Of course, it's no coincidence that this convergence has happened as a third power - China - continues to increase its reach and influence in the...


Southeast Asia and China: Too Close for Comfort?

Southeast Asia is becoming an increasingly important geopolitical battleground - and so this week, we put the region's complex relations with China in the spotlight. Although many ASEAN nations have deepened their economic ties with Beijing in recent years, there remains a fair bit of wariness towards China's expansion of interests in the region. And of course, responses vary dramatically among individual countries - with factors like historical experience, trade relations, and security...


Biden in Asia: New President, New Rules?

It took a little longer than expected but we finally know who the next American president will be: Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The Trump era is drawing to a close then, though some of his policies' repercussions in Asia may well last longer than their instigator. The heightened tensions with China, and his unprecedented one-on-one meetings with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, are perhaps the most memorable. His presidency was also characterised by a lack of engagement with regional...


Joko Widodo: Indonesia's Leader of Contradictions

When Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, became president of Indonesia in 2014, it completed a stunning rise for a political outsider who had spent much of his previous life running a furniture making company. With his mastery of retail politics and business know-how, Jokowi seemed set to cut through the bureaucracy and corruption that have bedevilled the development of Indonesia, one of the world’s most populous nations with around a quarter of a billion people. Six years on, and now...


Softbank: Asia's Most Influential Tech Company

This week's episode is a deep dive on a company that's transforming not just Asia, but arguably the entire global tech sector - Japan's Softbank. Even if you've never heard of Softbank, you'll have heard of the companies it's invested in - from Alibaba to Uber to Tiktok owner Bytedance - and more recently, and disastrously, US property firm WeWork. Phred Dvorak, a special correspondent with the Wall Street Journal in Tokyo, joins us to discuss the rise of the company and its charismatic...


India in the COVID-19 Era

In the second of our special editions recorded at the Association for Asian Studies' annual conference, we turn our focus to India. Our guest is Pratap Mehta (@pbmehta), one of the country's best-known public intellectuals, who's also the former president of the Centre for Policy Research. India has the world's second-highest coronavirus caseload and has been averaging 90,000 cases daily in recent weeks. So how has the pandemic changed Indian politics, both at the domestic and...


South Asia’s Dual Crises: Coronavirus and Climate Change

South Asian countries are facing a double whammy -- the effects of the global pandemic and an increasingly urgent battle against pollution and the effects of climate change. The World Bank predicted in the spring that the region would suffer its worst economic performance in four decades this year. Severe flooding in recent weeks has further damaged prospects. In this episode, recorded as part of the annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies, we discussed these issues with two...


Summer of China: Three Books to Read

This week, we present - the inaugural Asia Matters Book Club episode. China has dominated the headlines this summer - and if you're looking for a good book to help you understand the country better, we have three excellent suggestions. The Wall Street Journal's Lingling Wei is back to talk through her new book, Superpower Showdown. Co-authored with her colleague Bob Davis, it's a detailed look at the US-China trade war and what its lasting effects on both countries might be. If you're not...


Japan's Foreign Policy: The Art of Persuasion?

This week, in a collaboration with the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, we turn our attention to Japan - specifically, its foreign policy. Against a backdrop of rising tensions between the US and China, what are Japan's priorities when it comes to managing its relations with the two countries? As the world's third largest economy, it holds considerable clout both within the Asia region and globally. But how can it best utilise this influence, and what does it perceive its role to be within...


Coronavirus and Racism: Asian-Americans in the Crossfire

The world is still very much in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic - but the blame game has already begun. China, where the virus was first reported last December, has been singled out by many countries as the culprit - or scapegoat, depending on your viewpoint. One major consequence of the scramble to apportion guilt has been a surge in anti-Asian sentiment, especially in the US. But how new is this phenomenon there? What are its roots, and how has it changed into what we see today? To...


Do Middle Powers Have a China Dilemma?

We often talk about geopolitics in terms of superpower competition - at the moment, particularly between the US and China. But where does this leave mid-sized countries like the UK? How should they respond to China’s already large and ever-growing influence over global affairs - do they need to pick sides, or is a more delicate balancing act required? Issues like Huawei and Hong Kong lend these questions a particular prominence in the UK at the moment, so this week we've invited two former...


The Luckin Scandal: How 'China's Starbucks' Crashed

The pandemic-related lockdown continues in much of the world but in China they are getting back to work. That gives us a chance to look into a major scandal from the business world that’s come to light in recent weeks at a company called Luckin Coffee, once billed as China’s answer to Starbucks. The company, whose shares are listed in New York, shocked investors in April when it emerged it may have simply fabricated over $300 million of revenue last year. It’s an extraordinary story, with...


China's 'Two Sessions': Hong Kong, COVID-19 and the Economy

There was plenty to digest from China's coronavirus-delayed 'Two Sessions' (Lianghui) annual political gathering last week - so much so that we've got a bumper episode for you. The new national security law for Hong Kong is what's grabbed most of the headlines, but eyebrows were raised too by the absence of an annual growth target for the country, for the first time in many years. In the latest of our socially distanced podcasts, Andrew and Vincent are joined by guests from the UK, the...


Pandemic Fallout: Advantage China?

Welcome to another episode of Asia Matters, lockdown style. This week, Vincent and Andrew are joined by Courtney Fung (@CourtneyFung) of the University of Hong Kong and Rush Doshi (@RushDoshi) of the Brookings China Strategy Initiative in Washington, to discuss whether the pandemic really represents a moment for China to subvert the global order? Is this conversation more about Beijing’s readiness to usurp Washington’s leading role or the US’s inability to get its act together in this...


Myanmar 101: From Colonialism to Coronavirus

In the latest of our lockdown podcasts, we turn to Myanmar. Andrew and Vincent are joined by one of the country's best known historians and analysts, Thant Myint-U, for a wide-ranging discussion informed by his book The Hidden History of Burma. How has Myanmar fared so far in the coronavirus pandemic? What of the Rohingya, whose exodus from Rakhine state continues even amidst the pandemic? And did the West get Myanmar totally wrong because of Aung San Suu Kyi? If you've ever wanted to know...