China has found major buyers for its COVID-19 vaccines in Southeast Asia, even after studies of its Sinovac vaccine have reported wildly divergent efficacy results. The growing acceptance of Beijing’s vaccine without globally-recognized clinical trial results may end up undermining China’s image as a credible vaccine supplier.
Indonesia is pushing to protect peatlands and mangroves from annual fires that are disastrous for the world’s carbon emissions. The efforts are key to the global climate struggle but face a major challenge from the palm oil, pulp and paper and logging industries.
The release of the suspected mastermind behind Bali bombings from prison has not only brought back memories of the fateful attack for victims and families but has also raised concerns about Indonesia’s counterterrorism policy.
Southeast Asia’s autocratic leaders have adored Trump’s transactional approach to foreign policy and at times won trade and defense deals without adequate scrutiny of their poor human rights records. The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden will take a tougher stance on democracy and human rights in bilateral deals.
Jokowi’s proposal to set up a rocket launch site for SpaceX in Indonesia is primarily meant to show the country’s openness to other partnerships with Elon Musk. Indonesia’s massive nickel reserves hold significant value for Tesla as the company seeks supplies for battery production.
With funding and vaccines at his disposal, Jokowi may still be unable to execute a free COVID-19 vaccination program as questions remain among Indonesians about the drugs’ safety and their halal status.
Kazakhstan is emerging from its Soviet past by making progress in several areas including technological breakthroughs that could have a global impact. Collaborating with Southeast Asia remains a key part of its development strategy.
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The East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) continue to lose the support of field operatives. However, the group’s control of territories in the country means that it is far from defeated.
Southeast Asian consumers unable to gain credit or access traditional banks are turning to neobanks. Conditions are ripe for these challengers to traditional financial institutions to make progress, although COVID-19 might threaten their disruptive potential.