A military crackdown in Hong Kong would lose China its coveted place at the table of great powers. Beijing can cope with a Hong Kong that recedes into global economic irrelevance but will not tolerate a challenge to its sovereignty.
In the face of protests, the leaders of Hong Kong and Indonesia have to maintain a precarious balance. Carrie Lam is caught between ‘one country’ and ‘two systems’, while Widodo needs to keep the secular right, religious right and liberal left onside.
Protesters are waging a battle for Hong Kong’s future. Equally, the confrontation reflects a showdown between two global orders – one led by the liberal West and the other by the authoritarian Chinese model.
The trade war is pushing Asean to an ideological crossroads. The Southeast Asian countries that grouped together during the cold war now have to choose between the US and China, in a decisive test of Asean’s resilience.
America is chaotic, fractious and ultimately self-correcting. That is its great strength and the reason it should not be written off as a fading power, despite Donald Trump’s best efforts to undermine US authority.
While the electoral defeat of Barisan Nasional reflected a disgust with the status quo that cuts across the races, people still largely voted according to ethnic preferences, and the concept of Malay supremacy remains intact – for now.
The battlefield defeat of Islamic State should not be cause for complacency as political Islam gains ground in Southeast Asia.
If President Xi Jinping wants China to lead the world in place of a retreating America, he will have to make the country worthy of that leadership.
The US president should not let the North Korean nuclear stand-off dominate his agenda in Asia, and instead engage leaders on shared strategic concerns.