If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that the world is an unpredictable place. Few analysts a year ago would have foreseen both the Philippines and the United States electing populist, iconoclastic, and at times gleefully offensive presidents; North Korea conducting not one but two nuclear tests; the Philippines winning a massive legal victory over China in the South China Sea yet moving quickly to embrace Beijing; or South Korea’s legislature voting to impeach the president after massive protests.
At the same time, behind these unexpected happenings were developments that were very much to be expected: continued militarization in the South China Sea, insecurity and violence in Afghanistan, flaring tensions in India and Pakistan over Kashmir, and strained cross-strait relations.
Each January, we ask The Diplomat’s authors to lay out what to watch for in the next 12 months. Predicting concrete happenings is an exercise in futility, but the underlying trends driving events are more easily recognizable. Below, our authors provide an overview of what to watch for in the Asia-Pacific in 2017 and how international and domestic factors will shape the future of the world’s most dynamic region.