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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.




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...


North Korea, U.S. & China: Where Next?

One of the biggest - and most persistent - stories in the Asia region over the last few years has been North Korea. It may have been pushed out of the headlines recently by the coronavirus pandemic, but as recent missile tests have demonstrated, it's not an issue that's going away any time soon. In this episode Andrew is joined by Chun In-Bum, a renowned expert on Korean relations who's a veteran Lieutenant General in the South Korean army, and who briefly served as a security adviser to...


COVID-19: How Have Asian Approaches Differed?

Welcome to podcasting in a time of COVID-19... The new coronavirus has run rampant throughout the world, and disrupted the global economy, transport and everyday life (including our studio access.) But the show must go on - so joining Andrew and Vincent this week on a four-way Skype chat are Dr. Parag Khanna, managing director of strategic advisory firm FutureMap and the author 'The Future is Asian'; and Ian Johnson, China correspondent for The New York Times. The topic, is of course, the...


India: Is Hindu Nationalism Endangering its Democracy?

In December last year, Narendra Modi's government passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. It's raised concerns that India's secular constitution is at risk, and critics say it discriminates against Muslims. Last week, in Delhi, the hitherto peaceful protests against the law erupted into the worst violence the Indian capital has seen in decades. More than 40 people were killed, hundreds were wounded and some remain missing. There's also mounting evidence that Muslims were...


Chinese Economy: Mounting Debt, Deeper Headaches

China’s economy is facing its biggest challenges for years as growth slows and debt piled up. How worried should we be? This week Andrew is joined by Stephen Roach, former Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs; and Dinny McMahon, author of the book ‘China’s Great Wall of Debt’, which chronicles the country’s growing debt problem. A note to listeners - this episode was recorded before the true scale of the coronavirus...


COVID-19 and SARS: Lessons Learnt?

There's only been one story in the region over the last few weeks: the coronavirus - or COVID-19 - and its spread from Wuhan to the rest of China, then Asia, now the world. There's still a lot we don't know about the virus itself; and even analysis of its handling by the Chinese authorities seems premature. Instead, this week we're looking back into the past, to see what if anything we can learn from previous epidemics in China. Our guest this week is Professor Sian Griffiths, who...


Tsai Ing-wen Re-election: The China Factor and Taiwanese Identity

Last week, Taiwan re-elected its president, Tsai Ing-wen(蔡英文), by a landslide. Her campaign focused heavily on what she claims is 'the rising threat from Beijing'. Since the election she has said that China needs to 'face reality' and show Taiwan 'respect'. This, and the sheer scale of her victory, might well suggest that cross-strait relations are about to enter a renewed rocky period. But is it quite that simple? Joining us this week to put these fresh election results into context is...


U.S. - China Trade War: Is the Show Over Yet?

The U.S.-China trade war is going through another bout of excitement as the two sides reach an interim deal. But why are world’s two biggest economies at loggerheads, and is this a battle that’s set to run and run? This week, Andrew and Vincent are delving into the ups and downs of this dramatic trade war. They are joined by Lingling Wei who has consistently been ahead of the game in her reporting on the trade war for The Wall Street Journal in Beijing, and Trinh Nguyen, a Senior Economist,...