02/07/2023, 00.00
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Asia Power Index: US followed by China, ASEAN on the rise, India’s untapped potential

The Lowy Institute's annual index measures geopolitical influence in Asia. The COVID-19 pandemic has weakened all the countries included in the study. The US will maintain its leadership this decade. Japan is declining, so is Russia, burdened by its aggression against Ukraine.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The United States remains the leading power in Asia, followed by China. Southeast Asian countries are on the rise, Japan is in decline, and India has strong, yet untapped potential, this according to the Asia Power Index by the Lowy Institute.

Since 2018 the Australia-based think tank has measured the influence capacity of 26 countries and territories based on eight indicators, including economic, military,  and diplomatic capabilities.

Most of the countries have weakened in the past year, mainly due to COVID-19 pandemic, but the United States leads in six indicators, especially in defence and alliances.

China has been impacted the most by its strict health restrictions maintained until early December 2022, which have led to reduced economic activity and human exchanges. Having less interaction with foreign countries has weakened its main tool, economic diplomacy.

Current data suggest that the US will likely remain in pole position this decade, and that neither it nor China can prevail over the other in Asia. This points to a long-term rivalry, a scenario that for various reasons – primarily demographic – could benefit the US.

Japan comes in third, but its economic and technological influence is waning, reducing its overall standing in the continent.

India is in fourth place, but given its resources, it has room for significant improvements, with a strong economic and military potential that could be used to exert greater influence on other Asian countries.

Russia remains in fifth place, but has been greatly weakened by its aggression against Ukraine. Australia, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand follow.

From a diplomatic point of view, the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) is becoming increasingly important, adept at not being crushed by the US-China power rivalry, even if its members can expect growing pressures in the immediate future.

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”