Thu, May 30, 2019 - Page 6 News List

US most powerful in Asia-Pacific region

WANING POWER:Taiwan was the only nation that saw a significant downward shift in its overall score in the Lowy Institute’s second annual Asia Power Index


The US wields more power in the Asia-Pacific region than any other nation, but China is gaining ground due to US President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policies, a think tank study ranking the region’s major players said.

Japan follows in the third spot as a leading backer of the global order rattled by Trump, while North Korea has moved up in the rankings as its leader Kim Jong-un shakes off its reclusive image through landmark diplomacy, the Sydney-based Lowy Institute said in its second annual Asia Power Index released yesterday.

“Under most scenarios, short of war, the US is unlikely to halt the narrowing power differential between itself and China,” the institute said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s focus on trade wars and balancing trade flows one country at a time has done little to improve the glaring weakness of US influence — its economic relationships.”

The world’s two largest economies are at the forefront of most indicators in Lowy’s interactive digital tool, which ranks 25 nations based on measures including military capability and defense networks, economic resources and relationships, diplomatic and cultural influence, resilience and future resources.

The top 10 nations for overall power in the Asia-Pacific region are the US, China, Japan, India, Russia, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, Lowy said.

While China and North Korea have made the highest gains since the index was introduced last year, Japan — which Lowy said has become the leader of the liberal order in Asia — shares major power status with India.

The Lowy report says that China is “rapidly closing in” on the US, but warns that “Beijing faces political and structural challenges that may make it difficult to establish undisputed primacy in the region.”

Malaysia, Vietnam and New Zealand are Lowy’s “most improved” middle powers, after North Korea.

“North Korea’s high-stakes power game pays off for it in 2019, but is far from complete,” the report said.

Taiwan was the only nation that saw a significant downward shift in its overall score.

Australia ranked second in the defense networks category, reflecting “the country’s depth of engagement with its closest ally, the US, but also its active non-allied defense diplomacy in the region,” Lowy said.

In a survey of experts conducted by Lowy that ranks the efficacy of political leaders in advancing diplomatic interests, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was first, followed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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