The digital age offers Asia new opportunities post COVID

18 June 2020

The advent of COVID-19 has further complicated politics within the Asia region. It has sped up the weakening of globalisation, disrupting physical connectivity and trade between nations. 

At the same time, the digital economy has accelerated and the rise of new technologies will transform how business is done and the region recovers in the long term. These issues and many more were unpacked in the latest ANU Crawford Leadership Forum chaired by ANU expert Professor Evelyn Goh. 

According to Professor Goh, the pandemic has "highlighted the need to focus on new opportunities of the digital age." 

The panel of foreign relations experts included Dhruva Jaishankar the Director of Observer Research Foundation; Dr Dewi Fortuna Anwar, a Research Professor at the Indonesia Institute of Sciences; Professor Sook Jong Lee from Sungkyunkwan University; and Professor Huang Renwei, a China Forum Expert. 

"How to deploy new technologies to mitigate this crisis will be the top priority," Dr Anwar explained. 

While technological development will likely be the new priority of the Asian region, experts are warning there will be further strain on traditional aspects of globalisation. 

"There has been a backlash to globalisations before the arrival of this pandemic," Professor Lee said. 

But COVID-19 has sped up the weakening of the global supply chain and strategic competition between China and the US. Multilateral institutions must be strengthened as a hedge for Asian countries, she said. 

Professor Renwei highlighted the thorny problem of US-China relations. 

"On one hand the intensifying of economic interdependence between China and the US still exists, while there is simultaneously a decent into a cold war dynamic." 

Whether the pandemic helps thaw relations remains to be seen. Catch up on the full panel here.