tv CSIS Forecast for Asia in 2019 Part 1 CSPAN January 28, 2019 1:03pm-2:09pm EST
winning both a seat in the 116th congress and an election to fill the seat of late congresswoman louise slaughter for the remaining weeks of the 115th congress. he previously served in the new york state assembly since 1991, including five years as majority leader. new congress, new leaders. watch it all on c-span. up next, a discussion from the center for strategic and international studies on the forecast for political, security, and economic development across asia. audience members participated in a series of live polls to share their thoughts on the issues discussed. good morning, everyone. thanks for joining us. i'm michael green, senior vice president for asia and the japan chair here at cis and professor at georgetown. this is our seventh annual asia forecast event. we come together every january
to draw on the regional and functional expertise on asia we have, take a little bit of risk, and predict what we think might happen in the coming year. as those of you who have joined us before know, the audience participates in this forecasting exercise with the use of these clickers, which i'll explain in a moment. we started this seven years ago when a time when the asia program was really exploding, as were parts of asia. we thrive, like a lot of intellectual places, think tanks, universities, by really recruiting the best athletes and letting them go forward on the issues they know about, the research they've established. but with growth, we wanted to maintain and develop, if possible, an even more coherent and cohesive picture of what's happening in the region as a whole. we've done that in a couple ways.
we've used technology. you may have seen amti or reconnecting asia or beyond parallel where we've used overhead imagery, which when i was in the white house was highly classified and now you can buy to geolocate developments in the maritime domain or infrastructure. we've used surveys of elites in asia. we've tried different ways to add data to the historical and other expertise we have to map out the trends in the region. one of the things we've done is this forecasting event, where we take a stab at what we think will happen in the region. we do three panels. the first one i'll moderate on political and geopolitical questions of leadership and alignment. the second panel is on security crises, hot spots. the third panel matt goodman will run on economics. stealing matt's line, but we do life, liberty, and his panel is the pursuit of happiness, hopefully. and then we ask you to help us
vote. this year we're going to go back to some of our predictions from last year. did pretty well. not perfect, but prediction is difficult, especially about the future. and we'll show you some of the predictions last year and try to explain what didn't happen and why or what did happen that we didn't see. for the most part, we and you, the audience, called it pretty well. so the way the clickers work is you have them on your seat. you have to turn them on, which is the little yellow button at the top. then you have a, b, c, d, and e choices. this is anonymous. we are not creating social credit scores on you as you vote like our friends in beijing. you can only vote once. this is not chicago. you can click frequently if it
makes you feel good, but you only get one vote. and what we find is that they move, the bar graphs, because people change their mind as they see others. there's a lot of socializing. at a few seconds, we'll freeze the frame and see where we are. so why don't we vote. turn on your clicker. the question we'll test is, in 2019, how prominent will asia be in u.s. headlines? a, more prominent than 2018. b, about the same. c, less prominent. this is a bit of a self-selecting audience because you all care about asia. so as you can see, the answer is, if we freeze it there, more than half of you expect more headlines on asia. what we'll do is we'll put these questions up, turn to the panel for expert analysis, and at the end of each panel, we'll leave ten minutes or so for questions
from the audience. so with that, let's start with the first panel and the first set of questions, which i'm going to moderate from over here. so this panel we're going to take a look at the geopolitical and domestic political trends in the region, political alignment, political fortune, who's up, who's down. nobody gets hurt on this panel. that's bonnie's panel where we talk about things that go bang. this is more about politics. we have a group of senior scholars here at csis. on my far right, not literally, but geographically, is chris johnson, freeman chair on china studies. then amy, who runs our southeast asia program with experience in the pentagon, state department, and a.i.d.
rick rosso, ww, who runs the in project here and provides detailed analysis at the state and local level in india. so we'll look at leaders in these countries. i'll fill in a bit for japan. and let's get started. the first question on this panel is coming into this year, it's a rough year for u.s. allies everywhere. coming into this year looking at asia, which of the following alliances or partnerships is going to be in the biggest trouble? and this is with the united states. we're not saying whose fault it is, but where are we going to have the most friction, the greatest difficulties. philippines, south korea, japan, or taiwan? i guess the panel is allowed to vote. okay.
all right. sue, what's going on in seoul? or do you disagree? >> no, i agree. i think this says a lot about how we feel about north korea prospect. if we think that the next summit is going to go well f there, if going to be a deal with north korea, maybe it's not as strong. it's kind of interdependent, right. if it goes well, north korea summit, and there is a deal, there will be less friction between the u.s. and south korea. if it does not go well, i think there's going to be a number of challenges. north korea is going to continually press south korea for inter-korea things to move forward. if the united states does not make a deal with north korea and allow, fror example, for south korea to go to the united nations to get exceptions, then i think we'll have a problem. we also have challenges that are
very, very real. right now we have burden sharing agreement. there's no agreement. that has fallen apart. south korea right now pays, i think, $864 million a year, but now president trump has insisted they have to pay double that. it's $1.6 billion. so south korea says that's a nonstarter. so again, there are challenges, burden sharing issues. and if north korea deal does not go well, i can see why that is voted this way. >> so to quick follow-up questions. is the stocking horse here that the president wants to withdraw from the korean peninsula? that's one scenario. the extreme demands, in some people's view, for burden sharing are designed to give the president an excuse, combined with a summit with kim jong-un, to get off the peninsula. do you buy into that?
second question, if we're going to have a rough year with south korea, give us some scale. so, you know, compared to jimmy carter's promise to pull off the korean peninsula in the '70s, how bad do you think this could be? as bad, worse, we'll manage it? >> so obviously i don't know what president trump is thinking, but i think that possibly when he meets with kim, he might put troop withdrawal on the table. obviously you cannot rule it out. just considering even the syria decision to pull out the troops, without really coordinating, and when you look at not only that, the people like mattis, mcmaster, they're all gone. with the burden sharing really pushing hard, president trump pushing hard on burden sharing, i don't think we can be comfortable in saying he's not going to put this on the table. and that is very much of a concern. i don't think seoul is likely -- i don't think anybody else
besides president trump until the administration or in congress supports that. so i'd still like to believe it's not likely, but you cannot rule out that possibility. but because of this possibility, the congress already passed the mccain defense authorization act last august to say you cannot pull out troops below 22,000 unless secretary of defense, you know, says this is in national security interest. but again, mattis is gone. the dynamic is different. so again, president trump could definitely put this on the table. i would like to still think if he does that, because there's no support for it, i really don't think anybody in the trump administration or in seoul -- there's no support for this, even though the public broadly supports the engagement policy with north korea, they also broadly support the alliance. this is sort of a nightmare scenario for south koreans. so i think even if president trump does that, there's going to be a lot of pushback on this. >> the polling on the alliance
and u.s. president in korea is pretty high. the over factor would be japan. sorry. the polling on the u.s. alliance is quite strong. but the other factor would be if you did have a proposal to pull troops out of korea, then the u.s./japan alliance would also be in bigger trouble. ai ma amy, you got second place with the philippines. >> yeah, so i think it's about right. although, i myself might have put taiwan ahead of the philippines. this is -- obviously there's been concern about the alliance since duterte came into office. president duterte has made clear he is less favorable towards the u.s. alliance. he's talked about a separation from the united states. he called into question the value of the mutual defense treaty that we've long had with the philippines, pointing to the
incident in scarborough shoal where the philippines lost control over the shoal and the united states did not intervene to prevent that or reverse that outcome. so duterte has, you know, been quite -- put quite a strain on the relationship. having said that, the philippines' government has managed to keep the alliance pretty strong. the cooperation has remained strong. there's been somewhat of a disappointing momentum in terms of implementing the enhanced defense cooperation agreement, but other than that, there's been -- we're really back to pretty much business as usual in terms of our exercises and our assistance. but recently, and i think this is why people are pointing to the philippines, there's new concern because the secretary of defense, who's a former general, very well respected, a real friend of the united states, he's been the strongest voice in the philippine government speaking up for the philippines'
territorial kwl territorial claims and protecting them. he isn't always particularly strong on that, but given the other characters in the duterte government, he's been the strongest voice of maintaining the u.s. alliance and protecting philippine territory, maritime claims. so having him come out in december with a series of statements continuing until last week calling for a review of the mutual defense treaty with the united states and questioning -- openly questioning its relevance now and saying that, you know, the philippines should sit down with the united states, review the treaty obligations, and that walking away from the treaty, if it's no longer relevant, is an option, in his words. so that obviously is concerning and surprised a lot of people. but i think if we step back, i think what this is about is a real legitimate, in my view, concern that the philippines have about what exactly are the commitments that the united states sees in the mutual defense treaty.
successive administrations have been rather vague on that question. there's a continual invocation of the iron-clad commitment to the u.s./philippine alliance. that kind of verbage has gotten on the for the philippines because they understandably want to know what will happen if they are caught in a real escalatory kind of conflict with china. what would the united states do? scarborough shoal is not a particularly reassuring episode in the u.s./philippine alliance. so i think what he may be up to is really just trying to force the conversation that, again, previous administrations have managed to avoid to get more of a clearer and public sense of what u.s. -- how far the u.s. really will go in a potential conflict. and frankly, i think it would be relatively easy for the trump administration to come up with a formula, a clarification of
obligations that might just sort of settle this whole thing rather quickly. so we'll see. >> so amy, the dilemma is complicated by duterte himself. first of all, because the new secretary of defense may be convinced to give a more explicit security commitment, something closer to what we've done with japan on the senkakus where successive administrations and high levels have said article five would apply in any scenario involving the senkakus and force against japan. we've never been willing to go that far with the philippines. the treaty is written differently deliberately to give the u.s. more wiggle room. so the dilemma with duterte is if the administration comes out and says we have that commitment, duterte's factor could end up, you know, with him saying we don't need you.
so really risky in that sense. the other dilemma is i think the defense department, the armed services committee in congress can agree we should make a more explicit statement, but we have a new house leadership. the house foreign affairs committee are very focused on human rights, more so than their predecessors were in the philippines and elsewhere. and it fits this larger narrative that i think the democrats in the house are going to push about president trump being too cozy to, you know, autocrats. so it's a real tricky -- so what's your prediction? do you think there will be a statement? if so, what would you recommend? what kind of language would work to thread that needle i just described? >> you really are forcing me to go on record here. it's a tough prediction. i do predict that there will be some kind of a statement coming out of the administration and also potentially congress, although, your point about the democrats in the house is a good one. i think there will be some concern about giving too much to
duterte at a time when there's real concern about human rights. but if you can peel away just the security and the alliance questions, i think there would be a lot of support in the senate and house to come up with a sort of sense of congress that's a little more reassuring than anything they've said in the past. i don't want to give a precise formulation because i think there are several. there are two questions out there. what is the geographic scope of the treaty? are the maritime claims covered in the language in the treaty which talking about the pacific? the united states government has hedged on that question in the past. i think the answer is pretty clear that the pacific includes the south china sea and that can be stated much more clearly. then you get into the question of hypotheticals and how far -- obviously what the philippines would like is a clear statement that under certain kinds of contingencies, the united states would take certain kinds of actions. that's where the united states
is going to be unction bli vede very, very cautious. part of the problem as you alluded to about the treaty is the mutual defense treaty with the philippines, articles four and five, if they apply, they only call for consultation between the government. so in other words, if china were to attack the philippine naval vessel, if the articles apply, all that commits the united states to do is consult with the philippine government according to democratic processes or constitutional processes, which means they'd have to consult congress and the rest. we would take it very seriously and act quickly and that all the articles would apply. i think that would go a long
way. >> chris, i think our friends in the washington based taiwan media will be disappointed that taiwan didn't win this. how do you see the coming year with taipei? >> yeah, i'm actually surprised the result is as high as it is. the question is about it being in trouble. from my perspective, the defense relationship with taiwan is not in trouble. i suspect people are choosing taiwan because of the growing concern that maybe taiwan is becoming a problem again in light of president xi jinping's recent speech and president tsai's rejoineder to that. you get the sense the situation is heating up again. i find it interesting that what's been most striking about it is, a, the idea that, you know, china increasingly, i think, is using these sort of russia-style tactics, you know, to influence what's happening on the island more than, say, military saber rattling. we saw this a lot in the municipal elections that took place in november. and then the other interesting part is once again, you know, xi
jinping's speech, it's fair to say, backfired. what he's done is bolstered them temporarily and helped her maneuver a favorable candidate into the dpp chair, the party she had chaired but had to step aside after the loss in the elections. so it's kind of boomeranged on the chinese. my sense is there's going to be a lot of ebb and flow tension. probably where we're headed is the chinese continue their slow but steady strangle tactics. >> and a quick comment, if you could, on washington. so i thought there would be more pushback from if not the government, think tanks or experts, others, on tsai's rejoinder to the xi jinping speech. there really wasn't. she's found, it seem, a sweet spot in washington. >> i couldn't agree more. i think it's emblematic of the broader change in view here about china more than it is about taiwan, per se. >> okay. next question. we're going to keep doing allies and partners. the next question is on the quad, the
u.s./japan/australia/india. we need a noun to go with that. the question is, what should the quad focus on? oh, you may need to turn your clicker on again. it turns off automatically if we don't like your previous answer. i mean, if it runs out of battery, i mean to save it from running out of battery. turn it on before you click. okay, interesting. not a faith in trade facilitation. i'm surprised infrastructure development is that low. certainly the u.s., japan, australia are actively koo coordinating on free and indopacific alternatives and some collaboration with the belt and road initiative. so i'm going to turn to you, rick. in the quad, india is a little
behind the u.s., japan, australia, which has a longer history and alliance, treaty commitments. >> most of this seems right. trade, clearly none of the members are going to be able to walk in a similar path for more than a couple steps. india still is very reluctant on real trade integration. the united states is going through a strange period right now too on trade. not terribly surprising. i think the fact there's that many people that said all of the above is a little surprising. of course, that does include trade. infrastructure, i agree with you, mike. frankly on infrastructure and security, with india, we've got a bit of a divide. we're running a track to security program with good friends at delhi policy. what's been coming from that is they look at the indo-pacific as a hook to drag india through the straits and get india more active in east asia security. but india's own view point right now is that actually china has made a much bigger play in the
indian ocean region. of course, pakistan, the deep ties they've got there, recent attempts to try to develop stronger ties, malldives, sri lanka, things like that. so we know what the perspective is in terms of asian security issue, but what does an indian ocean strategy look like for japan, for australia, for the united states? i think that's going to be kind of the key to whether india comes off the block and agrees to do a bit more on the quad, on indo-pacific strategy. infrastructure, too, you've got a little bit of a disparity there. japan, incredibly powerful development bank, the ability to engage in projects across the region by itself. australia, much smaller. the united states is just trying to get off the blocks right now. what does an indian role on regional infrastructure development, a country that has greater need for infrastructure than almost any country rewe'we
talking about? are they meant to be a recipient? get india moving so the economy can function better, so india can play a bigger role? or do you expect india to become a contributor? india, the focus is on its direct neighborhood. they see beijing has increased its ability to influence its own neighbors. to try to win back the neighborhood as a tier one priority, how does that fit in with what the other quad members would look like at infrastructure? among the issues up there, security seems to have the most overlap and the ability right now. but managing indian ocean issues that india is concerned about and east asia that the other members are concerned about, that's the divide i think we got to work on in the coming year. >> amy, the quad bracket is meant to stabilize southeast asia. you hear various things within the asean states. some don't like it. some see an opportunity. is it working from asean's perspective? >> well, to reinforce some of rick's points, the southeast
asians are always very skeptical about india. that extends to the quad. to some degree, there's less concern about the quad because they don't see much -- there's not much of a there, there yet. on the other hand, i would say most southeast asians do not like the concept because the way it has been formulated and often sort of presented by some of the members does make it sound like it is an attempt to create a framework that will remove asean from the center. so they're definitely looking for reassurances on asean centrality and that the quad is not going to be in any kind of competition with the asean-led institutions. but there is some variation on that. i think vietnam, for example, would be more welcoming of the quad playing a role in security than some of the other countries, including singapore and others. i would make one final point, which is from a regional perspective, what they would answer if you were out in southeast asia is clearly infrastructure development. the security part makes them
very nervous because again, asean does not want to feel displaced in the conversation over security. but there's always a demand for more infrastructure, infrastructure partners, and there's always -- there's a lot of interest and appetite in looking for al person titernati china's belt and road. although it's hard to imagine a real robust role that india will start playing in infrastructure to the extent the quad starts building on some of the trilateral cooperation that's emerging between japan, australia, and the united states on infrastructure development, that would be, i think, very welcome. there was that one intriguing announcement last year when prime minister modi stopped in jakarta and met with the president. there was this announcement as part of a larger maritime vision on the indo-pacific that india would help develop some ports on the strait in indonesia. that may not actually amount to much. that may be more rhetorical than
substantive, but it does point the way to india having some ambitions in that space and become welcomed by a regional neighbor. >> chris, part of the -- the quad, of course, came up in 2006 because prime minister abe wrote in his manifesto, his book, about this idea of a quad based on the 2004 and 2005 tsunami relief quad. when i was in the white house, we stood up to provide relief and very quickly. in less than 48 hours, we had the four navies operating together. it was eye opening. we expected that with australia and japan, but india jumped right in. pretty important moment. so abe wanted to create something lasting. he proposed a summit, which was a bit too much for most of the governments to digest. as i recall, in all four countries, the nscs were in favor and the diplomats were nervous about china. that's completely changed, and it's because of china. part of the purpose is to shape china's behavior and caution china. do you think -- how do you think this thing is viewed in beijing?
not favorably, but do you think it's affecting decision making yet? >> no. i mean, it's not viewed favorably, you're right. they're going to object to any such thing that looks like it's focused on any such thing. but they're not breaking a sweat. i think it's because they feel there are internal complications. they're obviously trying to foment that. >> one more prediction i would add, we didn't have this as a category. it would fit within "b," infrastructure development. i think you'll see increasing cooperation on telecom infrastructure and digital reciprocity. it's already happening pretty intensely with u.s., japan, and australia. i think india will start getting into that game as china's digital belt and road creates dependencies and as stories come out elsewhere about how beijing is using companies to enhance its information gathering and influence. i think that's going to be a
feature this year. maybe start featuring prominently in quad meetings as well. the indians, i think, are starting to grow alarmed at a national level and the neurons fire a little more slowly in that large, complicated state. let's -- oh, real quickly, korea. korea hated the quad in 2007. seoul actually talked the bush administration out of doing it. except as an exploratory meeting at the secretary level. this time korea is not -- nobody seems to care that korea might not like it. korea is struggling with this and the free and open indo-pacific. korea is a peninsula, so it's sort of torn between the maritime and continental. do you think the moon government is warming to this? >> i'm not sure about warming.
maybe just not hyperventilating. but they're still not going to warm up to it just because right now japan, you know, south korea and japan relations are at its lowest point. there's big strain between that relationship. and china/south korea relationship is still very fragile, particularly after the controversy. maybe the chinese don't care. south koreans are thinking the chinese care. it's going to be hard for south korea to be part of this. what south korea is doing, though, is because of this lesson learned from the whole thaad controversy. they're focusing on deeping southeast asia, but i think they're still not warming up to this. >> i just wanted to bring up one other point. it comes up a lot when we discuss the quad. is india's reluctance because
they don't want to provoke china? it's the grouping itself right now they need to warm up and get comfortable with. the idea about provoking china, just about any time i get a microphone, it's reminding the audience you talk about belt and road. for almost a year, india was the only major country on earth that had the courage to call out belt and road for al ulterior motives. so talk about provocations. you know, not many countries have put troops directly against the pla army in years recent. so it's not the provocation, although that may come into play because india has an election. for something to escalate out of control, have an election when you have modi who's trying to position himself as a strong man. so it is about the partnership. i think it's going to take a bit of time to build the depth and the trust there. for the united states, we had to create new things the world had never seen, breaking apart the nuclear nonproliferation regime
and allowing india in. >> that's not how we framed it, just to be clear. >> but that's the kind of stuff that got delhi, you know, considerably warmed up to the united states. creating the defense technology and trade initiative, the india rapid reaction cell, the japan, the kind of infrastructure investment they put in. the grouping itself is going to take time to warm up to, but this idea that, you know, india doesn't want to provoke china, they've taken big unilateral steps in other forums. >> all right. let's go on and look at some of the leaders in the major states in asia and how they're faring. last year -- do we have the slide? yeah, slightly different panel, but we predicted that abe would have the best year politically, followed by xi jinping. malcolm turnbull, that one turned out to be right, if you follow australian politics. the spill, as it's called, is such a team word for what's a knife fight.
jokowi may not have gotten enough attention. abe did have a good year. he has dipped a bit in the polls, staying fairly steady. proved relations with china. so let's look ahead to 2019 and get predictions on some of these leaders and how they'll fare in the year ahead. so much of what happens in this region is a function of leadership or the lack of leadership. xi jinping himself has had such a huge impact on the dynamics of the region. so we need to look at what leaders will survive and do well. so the next slide. and thanks, matt. turn on your clicker again. so the best year in 2019. xi jinping, narendra modi, abe, or jokowi.
this is like watching japan and china vie for development assistance in africa. one goes up, the other goes up. pretty close. aha, take that. let's freeze it right there. perfect. so chris, you can go first. is xi jinping going to have a good year? >> well, i think it's interesting that the two of them are both showing as having a good year. i think that partially has to do with the fact their own relationship is getting better. we are seeing improvement in this relationship, which should be some level of concern for us. my sense is i'm a bit struck by this answer in part because, you know, of course the general meme of most of last year is that he was under pressure from unidentified opponents and so on. there was a lot of criticism and all that. so i'm somewhat surprised to see this. i suspect people are thinking about maybe we're going to have some kind of trade pause rather than deal on march 1st. that's giving folks some
encouragement. i think certainly it depends in some ways how you define the best year. is it the best year through his chinese communist party goggles or would we consider it the best year? everything he's doing is not being particularly helpful to us. i guess i question that angle of it a little bit. i think the main theme here is that in my mind, it reflects a recognition in our audience that, you know, despite all the noise last year about him struggling politically, the signal is very clear, which is his continued dominance inside the system. we just saw that reflected again on monday. >> one thing he doesn't have to face that all the rest have to face is an election. so abe is in pretty good shape. he's going to be the longest serving prime minister in post-war japan. he has a mission. he has a strategy. the government gets it. it's a little more confusing on the economic side, but certainly on foreign policy and defense it's pretty clear. the business community does not want him to go.
the bureaucracy generally does not want him to go. the japanese people, i think, are still suffering from hangover of the democratic party of japan years, which was chaotic and not good for the economy or japan's position in asia. but you know, we could gather next year, and it is possible that abe will have had the worst year. it's possible because of the upper house election this summer in japan. when he was prime minister last time, a decade ago, it was ultimately losing control of the upper house that created the friction and the twisted diet and the impasse in politics that drove him out. most people would bet the lpd and komeito coalition is going to win that, but in the october 2017 lower house election, at one point the internal ldp polls showed if all the opposition parties came together, the ldp and komeito might have lost. in fact, some polls said they would have lost. so politics are fickle.
i think abe has become quite masterful at dividing the opposition, which is one of the keys to politics. my own view is that the constitutional reform debate, article 9, in part is on the table because abe wants to do it and his supporters want to do it, but it's also designed to mix up and divide the opposition. because in the lower house election, ultimately the ldp prevailed because tokyo governor, who was leader of the coalition, said anybody who's not in favor of constitutional reform isn't welcome. well, that was the socialists, the constitution party of japan. so as long as you're debating the constitution, it's hard for the badly divided opposition to come together. but you can't rule out abe gets into trouble. let's see. moon jae-in. his polls are going down, but what do you think? >> yes, i mean, he was polling at 80% a year ago. now he's dipped below 50%. one criticism for president moon is that he put all his eggs on
north korea's basket. it really kpendepends how that . if kim jong-un wakes up one day and meets with trump and decides to give up all his nukes, i think moon's popularity goes very high. i think this audience thinks that's not going to happen. that's kind of the problem. and because economically, domestically, people are very unhappy. there's sluggish economic growth in south korea, high unemployment rate. housing prices are high. people are unhappy domestically, so everybody is looking at what's going to happen with north korea. i think -- we're going to talk about it in the second panel, but what's probably going to happen is even if there's an agreement, it's going to be a very modest agreement. it's not going to be some sort of big deal between kim and trump. so i think it's kind of right that -- because we're not going to be able to make progress on the north korea front, he's
going to move along sluggishly. >> and rick, some of the predictions i'm seeing say modi has a 50/50 chance of riding this out. what do you think? >> well, it was a historic election five years ago. india hadn't had a single-party majority government in 30 years. his party, the bjp, had never had a single-party majority in indian history. so as dominant of an election as it seemed five years ago, he still only crossed the threshold of single party by half a dozen seats or so. so the idea that he's going to lose seats, we've seen in state elections recently the bjp has done poorly, everyone in states where they have incumbent governments. i think the expectation is that he loses single-party majority and has to rely on coalition partners. that's probably the most likely condition there. not so bad though, i think, for u.s./india relations. you think about the bjp and the parties they would have to partner with in a coalition government, they tend to the
right of spectrum. generally, the further right you go, the more supportive you see in some ways, or at least ambivalence about the u.s. as a partner. we remember coalitions when congress was running the government and they had to align with parties to the left, including the communist parties in india. the further left you go in the spectrum, the more knee jerk, anti-american. that includes economic liberalization and defensive security ties. if it does result in modi with a coalition, not as bad as people remember from a congress-led coalition, but i think a lot of people have it set in stone. modi, ten-year regime, two terms, easy, no problems. democracies have a strange way of throwing up results we don't expect these days. we'll see. the election should be probably in april, but they haven't announced the dates yet. >> yeah, i'm sort of surprised to see jokowi last on this list. he's got a big re-election campaign coming up in april for a second five-year term. it's a rematch from the election
of five years ago where he ran against this strong man, a former general. jokowi is a populist. he comes from outside of jakarta, outside of the traditional jakarta elite. he's been relatively successful at playing jakarta politics and keeping his coalition balanced and delivering modestly on economic growth. still below indonesia's potential, but overall doing a decent job. so he right now is ahead in the polls, more than 20% ahead, which is a little surprising given how close the election was five years ago. and he's over the 50% mark, although there's still about 10% undecided, according to the latest polls. so it looks like it's jokowi's election to lose. and so he is, i would predict, likely to be a big political winner this year. having said that, there's still some uncertainty about the elections because april is still several months away. there are a couple things that
people are concerned about, could crop up. one is economic turmoil. the rupia suffered a big slide last october in global emerging market kind of turbulence. so there could be another currency hit, which could lead to inflation and the rise of, you know, household good prices. that could knock the story off that jokowi is really delivering economically. the other concern continues to be that there could be a real tactic deployed to try to challenge jokowi on his muslim credentials. the way that the former jakarta governor was taken down in an election under real populist attack by muslim fundamentalists. so there's -- that doesn't seem to be coming into play because jokowi has tried to guard his flank by nominating a very conservative, controversial muslim cleric as his running mate, and so it hasn't really cropped up yet.
but there is concern that could be a factor that could come into play. there's a broader concern about this growing trend in indonesian politics of islamtization of politics. that's something to watch for as well. again, jokowi is likely to win, which overall it would be good news, i think, for indonesia in that it would be a sort of further consolidation of indonesian democracy. again, kind of jokowi being a populist, outside the traditional power, families, running on a platform of dlifrg economic goods and infrastructure and social services for the people, that he's modestly delivered on. but i would not -- if he does wir win, i would not expect a huge change in indonesian foreign policy or domestic policy. he's likely to continue focusing on domestic issues, and he really has shown very little interest in foreign affairs and very little interest in exercising indonesia's
traditional role as the real regional leader and leader of asean. so i wouldn't expect major changes in trade or foreign policy, but overall, it would be somewhat reassuring sign for indonesia's democracy. >> so the common denominator in some ways for all these leaders is that even if there is change because of elections or a weakening because of internal economic or political factors, in the case of xi and moon jae-in, the general trajectory in each case is not likely to change that much. for example, india/u.s. or india/japan relations are not likely to change trajectory. a post-abe you can pick half a dozen possible candidates. they're not going to radically change japan's orientation with the u.s. or the quad or the free and open indo-pacific strategy. i think it's probably fair to say the biggest effect, if you have some changes in these countries, is going to be that governance and foreign policy
and economic policy are going to be more dysfunctional and less effective. do you think that's right? >> yeah, india -- i do think we may suffer if modi loses. he's been pressing the gas pedal pretty effectively. every single year we're concluding important new agreements that have solidified our military partnership or however you want to term it. i don't know that you're going to see a regression, but you may not see as much progress on a regular basis if congress comes to power. i think they're going want to to rebuild relations with a lot of neighbors. they tend to build ties with a lot of partners and such instead of making bets on individual countries. if we're at a bit of a standstill, meaning that, you know, the things we've got in motion, the types of security arrangements, the types of exercises, if those things, even if they continue at the current pace, it's going to feel like we're falling behind because the rest of asia is making moves on a regular basis. so i don't expect a backwards step, but it'll feel like it if we're not making continued progress forward. >> let's do the next slide.
last year we asked which of these countries is most likely to tilt towards china. let me caveat this by saying a u.s. foreign policy strategy that's based on countries not tilting to china is bound to fail, if that's how we define success. we have to actually build a case for the rules-based open order that we have invested in with our allies for so long. it's not enough to have a zero-sum approach. that said, everyone is very interested in the relative balance of power and influence in asia. it is a factor. last year -- by the way, i've been saying we. it's you. these are the poll numbers from the audience. we're clean. we're good. last year our audience got it completely wrong, in my view. the country that probably tilted the most to china -- well, thailand, the philippines we can
debate. it could arguably be japan. you can measure that in the pugh polls that came out in the fall when people were asked around the world what leader do you trust to do the right thing, xi jinping plummeted everywhere except in jingping plummeted eve except in japan, where there was increased confidence. the bad news is the numbers went up from single digits to low double digits and in relative term, japan in this series of summits that began in the 40th anniversary of the 1978 japan china treaty, have marginally improved, i don't think it is a tilt away from the u.s., the media i think gets that wrong, when they describe abe's meetings with putin or with xi jingping of hedging against trump, i don't think that's quite right but japan might win on this one. let's go to thailand and the philippines, amy, because it is a little more complicated in the case of those two countries, and their relationship with china, relative to the u.s. and others.
so jeff, can we click for the future. why don't we clear this and click predictions for the same countries for 2019 and then i will let you -- so turn your clickers on. and just, we're revoting, so the question is going to be, which of these countries is most likely to tilt further towards china in 2019. so we're looking ayear ahead and looking at the same countries to see, i think we can do this, we're calling an audible here to see. so the audience, amy, seems to see the philippines as most likely. what do you think? we touched on that earlier. >> i don't know if i have much to add to my earlier comments. i think there is some noise right now in the relationship around these comments around reviewing the mutual defense treaty but i don't see duterte
making any strong moves in addition to where he's already tilted the philippines, much more closer to china, a china engagement kind of strategy than his predecessor, but i don't see, i don't see further momentum in that direction necessarily. but the u.s. does have to work out with the philippines this conversation over security obligations under the defense treaty. and if that goes badly, obviously that would be more incentive to tilt more towards china. >> and sue, is this fair to south korea? i mean caution opting out of the quad, and the free indo-pacific a bit, are not the same as tilting to china and within south korea, there is growing concern about beijing. but on the other hand, we're talking a year ahead, so maybe this could prove right in the future. >> actually, went down from us, last year, was 35, and now it is 25%. so i think exactly what you said
is right. i don't think we should underestimate the impact of the controversy. if you talk to south korean, obviously china is very important to south korea, the number one trade partner, the trade volume is double that of south korea u.s. japan combined. south korea needs china to resolve the north korean issue. so obviously china is important. but i think it is not fair to say they're tilting. again, the debt controversy, from the impact of that, now they kind of walk up a little bipt and kind of sort of, trying to hedge and balance between the u.s. and china, but i would not characterize it as tilting or would they tilt this year. in fact, i talked about this earlier, looking for other way, like investing in southeast asia, other ways to try to lessen investment in china, less economically dependent on china. they're trying to find other everybodies. >> so we will have an actual bona fide australian on the next
panel. but we have the papers. and the birth certificate and the whole bit. you will tell from the accent. and the obscure cryptic references. i spent december in australia doing lectures and meeting with government officials. i think, i think australia is, at least the government, is alert to the challenges that china is posing. and it is an important question, how bipartisan that is, because australia has an election too, and you could have a labor government, in fact, i think most people would bet you will have an alp victory, but if you listen to the shaddo formanceance or penny long or others there is not a lot of disagreement on the questions of chinese foreign interference in australian politic, the importance of the u.s. australian alliance. the last time a labor candidate
ran was in 2004 and it didn't go will. every time you get outside the national security, there is a mixed reviews and a lot of debate but i think that is probably about right. and the japan thing, i would just say, while abe and xi jingping were meeting in november, the chinese pla air force was forcing japanese fighters to scramble at twice the normal rate and the u.s. navy and u.s. maritime self-defense forces did one of their largest exercises in the east china sea so both sides beijing and tokyo were reminding each other we actually don't love you. but there is a very pragmatic reason for them to stabilize relations. i think chris, china needs the investment, a bit of hedging on beijing's part because of uncertainty about the trade war with the u.s. japanese businesses needs a more stabilized environment in china and i think sees some opportunities. at the margins. not huge. because of the difficulties in u.s./china. so it is an adjustment, putting a bit of a floor on the
japan/china relationship as they do every ten-year anniversary of the 1978 treaty but i don't think it is a hedge or tilt away from the u.s., at least under the current government. we are going to open up now to questions from the audience. did you want to add something? okay. we will put that up. we will have to be quick. you will own the mike. thet do the next one, the last question that we have, which is about southeast asia. and which way southeast asia is going to find itself moving for relations. don't forget to turn your clicker on.
is "e" the u.n.? good luck that. >> at a time when china is clearly still on the rise, and the united states is to some degree in retreat regionally, and globally, one might expect that china would be the answer and certainly a lot of people in the audience think so. i really think this year is going to, we're not going to see any major change between overall alignments. because china is sort of on its back heels right now. there is a lot of skepticism about beltton road initiative. we've seen some changes in south southeastern asian countries most notably with malaysia last year that w-a surprising election that put dr. malice did the tear back in tower with the projects and trying to renegotiate them with the chinese and saying some things about china that are pointing to some of china's more atertive
behavior. so to the united states to some degree we might see a leveling off this year, even though there is a sense out in the region that the indo-pacific strategy is more rhetoric than substance, there's still not that much flesh on the bones. but the urnited states to some degree benefits from china's own mistakes, its own behavior that is sometimes very visible. i think we saw that with the vice president's trip out to the region. i don't think he brought a huge amount of goodies in his deliverables bag, but he really tried to paint a contrast between the united states and china and he was very much helped in that effort by china itself and its behavior at aipac and papau new guinea elsewhere and the region really did notice that. the reason i would select here if it was going to be one of the three powers is japan. japan is already very engaged in southeast asia economically and increasingly on the security side. japan continues to poll extremely highly in the region among strategic elites in terms
of its role in the region and its soft power. and abe has done a lot to step up not only security assistance and cooperation, but his quality infrastructure initiative, putting more yen into japan's infrastructure projects, so if southeast asians were drawn more to any country, it might be japan. but having said that, southeast asia doesn't want the region to be dominated by any one country. so i think they're very happy to just sort of keep it balanced the way it is. >> i'm glad you made that point about japan. this is measuring the sort of temperature but when you look at some specifics, for example, it's hard to quantify this and prove, it but i suspect that abe himself has the best personal relationship with every leader of any world leader, certainly more than xi jingping or our president or the australian prime minister, i think abe on a
personal basis has the best relationship i would say with every single asian leader of any major power in the world, which counts for something. >> what is certainly true with, he has a very good relationship with duterte, and with mahatear, especially, and many other southeastern asian leaders. it is worth pointing out that japan also benefits in a sense from having a very, a certain kind of foreign policy where it does not prioritize or overly privilege human rights so when it comes to countries like thailand or myanmar, japan is willing to kind of stay very much engaged at a time when the europeans and u.s. congress are quite upset and want to step away. so in that sense, if thailand's elections keep sliding this year, for example, i think japan will be more understanding than other countries. and the final thing to say is on trade. i mean vietnam has now, has now entered into force with the
cptpp, the tpp-11, along with six other tpp-members. malaysia is very clikly to ratify the ccptpp this year so that tice them to japan more economically at a time when japan is very much encouraging thailand to exceed to the cptpp. so that also points to perhaps growing economic linkages between japan and these countries. >> the other caveat or data point to keep in mind, that cumulative numbers are still larger than japan core combined and that builds a floor with the united states despite our foibles these days. but i think it is also fair to say in terms of draw closer to doesn't mean like. i think it is fair to say on balance across southeast asia there is a sense that chinese power is growing and the u.s. and japan may be more troe trustworthy but that is a trend that they are having to deal
with. okay, let's open it up for some questions from the audience before we turn over to the crisis one. right here in the middle. we have mikes for you. if you could wait for those. >> thank you. i'm tom wreckford with the foreign policy discussion group and the malaysia-america society and i'm so glad that amy mentioned malaysia, because the most extraordinary surprise in asia last year was the election in malaysia and mahatear coming back to power. the question is, do you think mahatear will be able to solidify his control and will he in a year or two actually turn over the reins to anwart ebring? >> i'm being asked to go on record on some really difficult
questions here. you're not recording this, are you? >> later a quick question on whether or not people think you're going to be fired in 2019. >> i think that is a really difficult prediction to make. the question is, when mahatear was elected, very surprising electoral victory, which basically no one called, he pledged, within two years, to hand over the reins of power to anwar ibrahim who was sitting in jail at the time but he worked to get anwar pardoned and anwar now has a seat in parliament, so he can become prime minister. mahatear is 93 years old. in two years, he will be 95. he is very spry. but he is an old man. so the question is, is he going to consolidate his power and make moves to hand off power to anwar ibrahim. that is a really difficult question to answer because there are a lot of coalition dynamics within mahatear's coalition that are tricky so he's got to focus on that. and whether he is really
prepared to hand off the rein os anwar is a question that completely divides malaysia's scholars. and i don't have a strong, i don't know, i don't know how to predict that one. it is really tough to say. but it something to really watch this year. >> right here in the front. second row. then over there, bill. >> dave brown from, a question for chris. a little vague from what we mean by a leader having the best year ever, but the meeting you referred to on monday was a very extraordinary one. yes, xi is in control of it, but what's the issue? managing risk. that the party perceives. on the economy. and maybe mismanagement of the relations. and how this might affect domestic politics. isn't that a big risk? >> that's a huge risk. and i think the most striking feature of xi's speech on monday was how under the overall umbrella of the so-called three tough battles that they
identified last year, and have continued on with, he has expanded dramatically the third tough battle, you know, previously it was restricted to financial risk. now it's s & t risk. external environment risk. domestic risk. party building risk. and a lot of risks. and there's a corresponding linkage between the long list of risks that he identifies and his order to the party to prepare for struggle in each one of those areas, which is typically, you know, at best, a sort of very freighted dog whistle inside their system and at worst, reminds a lot of people of the cultural revolution but in terms of power dynamics, i think what it shows us is once again, his ability to call pretty much an out of cycle meeting, in job and all of the cadres and tell them i understand all of the noise, again per my earlier comment about noise, but i'm swimming in one direction and if you're not on board, then you're out of step with the party line. so get on board. and so that to me reflects strength, not weakness.
>> we'll go way over in the back. >> josh hillis, csis. you mentioned several high profile elections come pg up this year, in india and also indonesia. is there any indication of chinese maligned influence in these elections like we've seen with russia and western europe and with our own recent elections? >> with india, not so much, at least that india has publicly acknowledged. you've actually seen pakistan play a little bit of a different role. not necessarily memes on facebook but sometimes dropped into specific communities where you can trigger unrest and violence. we've seen things in the past not always on election cycles more driven by pakistan than china. so we will see if this time starts to build up a little bit more. but so far, they haven't really been talking so much about the outside influence. >> i haven't seen any
indications that they're trying to play a major role in the indonesian elections and frankly i'm not sure if they would really try to pick a side. i mean jakoi has been relatively open to engaging with them so i'm not sure, but not overly close to beijing. so i'm not sure if they would have a strong preference one way or the other. and indonesia is more distant from china, sort of curt urltur and in the ways the channels, sometimes used, indonesia is a little more distance than some of the other southeast asian condition tris. >> in australia, think there is a broad and bipartisan recognition that china had undue influence in the past, because what we would call campaign finance laws allowed significant amounts of cash to go directly from china to members of both political parties, and the australian government is cleaning that up. so i think, determined not to have interference in the next election.
there are still questions about chinese language media and other things, but it's an issue where both parties appear to me in camera to be united around preserving the integrity of their own reputations. and the system, i think the same is true in new zealand, although they probably don't have an election this year. all right. we are going to wrap up. i want to thank you all very much. we are going to turn now to even scarier stuff, with bonnie glazer, and right away without a break. so bonnie, you have the microphone. so let's thank the panel for their predictions and your predictions.