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Asia Maior Vol. XXXIII / 2022

Asia in 2022: The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on local crises

Anno di pubblicazione: 2023
Asia Maior Vol. XXXIII / 2022


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Foreword Asia in 2022: The consequences of the war in Ukraine, US-China rivalry, democratic decline and popular protests

In introducing the political and economic situation in Asia in the year 2022 one feels like quoting Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s well-known aphorism, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, «the more things change, the more they stay the same». In fact, while discussing the Asian situation in 2021, this journal pointed out that it […]

China 2021-2022: A foreign policy of «re-branding»

In 2021 and 2022, China’s foreign policy had to come to terms with the re-starting of in-person diplomatic exchanges worldwide after the two-year hiatus imposed by COVID-19 mobility restrictions, the US’s China policy under the democratic presidency of President Joe Biden, and, above all, the instability caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. With the […]

Japan 2022: Putin and Abe Shocks thwart Kishida’s enjoyment of three golden years despite major defence overhaul

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the assassination of record-setting former Prime Minister Abe Shinzō impacted heavily on Japan’s domestic politics and international relations. Diplomatically, Tokyo forcefully aligned with its Western partners against Russia’s aggression while making progress in enhancing awareness that the European and Indo-Pacific strategic theatres are politically intertwined. In addition to doubling down […]

Taiwan 2022: Cross-Strait security spirals further down*

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei in 2022 reached their heights since the 1995-1996 Third Strait Crisis. The decision by the outgoing Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan in August, few months prior to the momentous 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, was immediately followed by an unprecedented display […]

Hong Kong 2021-2022: A new life in the shadow of China

After the implementation of the National Security Law (NSL) in 2020 the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR) has gone through a period of tremendous changes. This paper argues that the enactment of the NSL has not only imposed a stricter frame on Hong Kong civil society in terms […]

Indonesia 2019-2022: The authoritarian turn as leitmotif of President Jokowi’s second term

Now approaching the last year of his second and last presidential term (2019-2024) Indonesia’s businessman president, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), is becoming increasingly pragmatic in his political objectives. His goal of achieving high economic growth has led him to adopt policies that sacrifice democratic principles for immediate financial gain. At the same time, his cooptation of […]

Timor-Leste 2021-2022: Electoral change and economic reset

  The years under review have seen an important political shift stemming from the victory in presidential elections in April 2022 of renown diplomat José Ramos-Horta, himself backed by another veteran, the former guerrilla hero of the resistance, José «Xanana» Gusmão. Coming out of a well-managed yet constricting COVID-19 crisis abetted by highly damaging floods […]

Malaysia 2022: 15th general elections and deepening political polarisation

  None of the three main political coalitions in the 15th Malaysian General Elections in 2022 was able to win a simple majority to form the next government. The hung parliament situation ended after the Malaysian King appointed Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister to lead a unity government including Pakatan Harapan (PH), the United Malays […]

Thailand 2022: The «post-pandemic» era

In 2022, Thailand entered a period labelled by state agents as «post-pandemic». Citizens resumed their lives as normal, but discontents for a stagnant political environment and a slow economic recovery intensified. In particular, civil society expressed frustration toward the Constitutional Court for allowing PM Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain in office despite the alleged legal expiry […]

Bangladesh 2022: Challenging post-pandemic times

  In 2022, Bangladesh was criticized at the national and international level due to poor protection of civil and political rights. The country experienced spiking inflation, also due to global post-COVID monetary policies, while floods brought again destruction to the northeastern districts. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine contributed to increase the price of certain imports and […]

India 2022: Political realignments in a BJP-dominated system

  During 2022 there were three main political developments in India. First, state elections were held in seven states and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won in five of these, confirming its enduring popularity and dominance over the country’s political system. Second, several political parties started to manoeuvre in light of the 2024 general […]

India 2021-2022: Playing against China on different chessboards

  This article focusses on the five major developments which characterized Indian international relations in 2021 and 2022. The first of them was the gradual disengagement between Indian and Chinese military forces along the Himalayan undefined border. The second was the launching of an ambitious «vaccine diplomacy» aimed mainly to strengthen India’s influence world-wide, but […]

Pakistan 2022: The geopolitics of Imran Khan’s fall and the fledgling government of Shehbaz Sharif

  In early 2022, opposition parties, led by the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistani Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), stepped up their attacks on Prime Minister Imran Khan to oust him. Allies of the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) governmental coalition also expressed dissatisfaction with Khan due to dire financial straits from worsening national economic distress. […]

Afghanistan 2022: Life under the Taliban

  2022 was the first full year under Taliban rule. Partly overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, political and economic developments in Afghanistan received comparatively much less attention than those occurring in the former Soviet space. Nevertheless, Afghanistan witnessed a tumultuous year, amid domestic political adjustments, ethnic power struggles and a dramatic economic and humanitarian […]

Iran 2022: Domestic challenges to state legitimacy and isolation in the global arena

  The Islamic Republic of Iran has faced severe domestic and international challenges that have progressively brought the country to the brink of global isolation. The ongoing impasse over nuclear negotiations, due largely to contentious demands from the Iranian side, has only served to exacerbate the negative effects of international sanctions on ordinary Iranian citizens. […]

Armenia 2022: Looking for a way out of the Nagorno-Karabakh impasse

In 2022, the Republic of Armenia struggled with a complex set of challenges and opportunities; a by-product of the precarious path towards a peace agreement with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, following the 2020 escalation, and from the reverberations of the war in Ukraine. Yerevan faced Baku’s coercive bargaining strategies coupled with Russia’s partial yet […]

Review Article


Signals of dialogue: Exploring Sino-Vatican relations

Chu, Cindy Yik-yi, and Paul Philip Mariani, eds. People, Communities, and the Catholic Church in China. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. xix+157 pp. ISBN: 978-981-15-1679-5. On 22 October 2022, the Holy See announced a second two-year extension of the controversial Provisional Agreement with People’s Republic of China (PRC) regarding the appointment of Bishops. The volume People, […]

The end of the great game in Mongolia

  Matteo Miele, Mongolian Independence and the British: Geopolitics and Diplomacy in High Asia, 1911-1916, Bristol: E-International Relations, 2022, xv+222 pp. (ISBN: 978-1-910814-64-2). Looking at Mongolia today, we see a country squeezed between two giant neighbors. A fledgling democracy, Mongolia is dependent economically on both Russia and China, and must often tailor its foreign and […]

Korea’s colonial history as seen from abroad

  Ku Daeyeol, Korea 1905-1945: From Japanese Colonialism to Liberation and Independence, Kent, CT: Renaissance Books, 2021, 468 pp. (ISBN: 978-1-912961-21-4). The period of Japanese colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula has been covered widely. Ku Daeyeol’s treatment is unique, however, in that he examines the vicissitudes of Korean history between 1905 and 1945 from […]

Recovering the Asian roots of the Philippine revolution

  Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz, Asian Place, Filipino Nation. A Global Intellectual History of the Philippine Revolution, 1887-1912, New York: Columbia University Press, 2020, 272 pp. (ISBN: 9780231192156). For long, Filipino, Spanish, and US historiographies that dealt with the long Philippine Revolution (1896-1906) did so following national boundaries.1 They generally placed their respective institutions and agents at […]

Laos and the Global Land Rush: Precarious gains and the ongoing strive for state-building

  Michael B. Dwyer, Upland geopolitics: Postwar Laos and the Global Land Rush, Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2022, xvii+232 pp. (ISBN: 9780295750491). In James Scott’s enlightening perspective, the uplands of Southeast Asia have long been loci of desertion and opposition to the state. In these natural theaters, characterized by mountainous and forest environments, […]

How the BJP wins: It did not win and then it did

  Vinay Sitapati, India Before Modi: How the BJP Came to Power, London: Hurst and Company, 2021, xiv+409 pages (ISBN: 9781787385375). Nalin Mehta, The New BJP: Modi and the Making of the World’s Largest Political Party, Chennai: Westland Non-Fiction, 2022, xxxvi+809 pages (ISBN: 9789391234003). 1. Introduction These books offer timely and complementary insights into the […]

The historian, the colonial past of India, its persistence, and the duty of enquiry

Aditya Mukherjee, Political Economy of Colonial and Post-Colonial India, New Delhi: Primus Books, 2022, pp. 592 (ISBN: 978-93-5572-180-8), Hard-cover price ₹1950; $84.95; £74.95. From many points of view, India’s relationship with colonialism is not a closed chapter in the country’s history. Although British rule over the subcontinent ended 77 years ago, its legacies are still […]

The role of citizenship in the coming of Hindu Rashtra

Anupama Roy, Citizenship Regimes, Law, and Belonging: the CAA and NRC, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022, 270 pp. (ISBN: 978-0-19-285908-2) Since the Indian People’s Party (Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP) gained national power in New Delhi for the first time in 1998, Hindu nationalist organisations have started to transform the Indian republic in mainly two ways: […]

India’s first dictatorship: The emergency, 1975-77

Christophe Jaffrelot & Pratinav Anil, India’s First Dictatorship: The Emergency, 1975-77, London: C. Hurst & Co., 2020, 508 pp. (ISBN: 9781787384026). Historians working on South Asia have long regarded the end of British rule in the Indian subcontinent as a veritable boundary for their research. This caesura has been rapidly dismantled in the last decade […]

Dalits and «Hindu» nationalism: an ex-insider’s perspective

  Meghwanshi, Bhanvar, I Could not be Hindu: The Story of a Dalit in the RSS, New Delhi: Narayana Private Publshing, 2020, 236 pp. (ISBN 9788189059934). Translated from Hindi by Nivedita Menon. This lucidly written riveting autobiography narrates the political journey and activism of an estranged RSS (Rashtriya Swayam-sevak Sangh/National Self-help Organisation) worker from a […]

Oration and narration: Fashioning India through prime ministerial speeches

  Anandita Bajpai, Speaking the Nation: The Oratorical Making of Secular, Neoliberal India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018, 335 pp. (ISBN: 9780199481743). Oratory occupies a crucial position in electoral and mass politics in many countries around the world, including India. This is so much so that certain speeches become stately rituals themselves; for instance, […]

A brief political history of Iran 1979-2022

  Mehran Kamrava, Triumph and Despair: In Search of Iran’s Islamic Republic, London: Hurst and Co., 2022, 304 pp. (ISBN 978-1-78-738803-1). A prolific writer and scholar of the Persian Gulf studies, Mehran Kamrava publishes his latest book Triumph and Despair: In Search of Iran’s Islamic Republic at an intense time as the Iranian regime faces […]

A superb book for understanding Iran

  Mehran Kamrava, A Dynastic History of Iran: From the Qajars to the Pahlavis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022, 230 pp. (ISBN 978-1-0092-2464-2). A dynastic history of Iran is a superb book for understanding Iran – Persia until the 1930s – since the late 18th century until the 1978-1979 revolution. Mehran Kamrava is an authority on […]

Saudi Arabia and Iran: The struggle to shape the Middle East

  Edward Wastnidge and Simon Mabon (eds.), Saudi Arabia and Iran: The Struggle to Shape Middle East, Manchester University Press, 2022, pp. 200 (ISBN 978-1-5261-5083-7). If one single phenomenon marked the last 40 years of Middle Eastern politics, it would be the long-standing rivalry between the two regional powerhouses of Saudi Arabia and Iran. This […]