CANBERRA, KOMPAS.com – The United States’ influence in Asia has increased since President Joe Biden’s administration, while China’s influence has waned due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an annual index published by the Lowy Institute.
The Asia Power Index measures many aspects, including economic and military capabilities, economic relationships and defense networks, and cultural influence.
The US will continue to be the most influential country in the Asia-Pacific region in 2021, followed by China in second place, whose position in the index records has been further strengthened in recent years.
Also read: China’s military is getting stronger, the US is not panic
“The pandemic has really affected many countries and their ability to respond to external events, but the United States has grown in overall power for the first time since 2018,” said Herve Lemahieu, director of research at the Lowy Institute.
Alyssa Leng, economist and researcher who participated in the Index’s study, said, “America’s growth in strength is largely due to the Biden administration.”
“Since the US position was low during the Trump administration, America’s diplomatic influence in the Asia-Pacific region has rebounded,” he said, adding that the United States has already contributed 90 million doses of vaccine to Asia, double that like Beijing.
Get information, inspiration and insight from E-mail She.
to register E-mail
China’s influence weakened for the first time since it was indexed in 2018.
“Several economic challenges related to an aging population have hampered the country’s increasing ability to wield power in Asia,” said Hervé.
“Economic growth will continue, but the question is, how fast?”
“China won’t be as dominant as America was, but we are ready for a bipolar century in the Indo-Pacific … more dependent on the will of America and China,” he said.
However, the report notes that China now spends 50 percent more military spending than India, Japan, Taiwan and the ten ASEAN members combined.
China “remains at the forefront of all Asia-Pacific countries in terms of overall strength,” said Alyssa.
Australia and Indonesia in power in Asia
Australia ranks sixth in the “Asia Power Index” behind Japan, India and Russia.
Despite a diplomatic dispute with China, its largest trading partner, Lowy’s analysis says Australia has cemented its resilience this year.
Vaccine donations from Australia to the Asia-Pacific countries are considered “fairly generous,” according to Alyssa, especially when measured per capita.
Australia’s signing of the AUKUS Security Pact with the United States and Britain last October suggests that, according to Herve, Australia “will be more dependent on America’s capacity and willingness to maintain the military balance in Asia relative to the rise of China”.
Alyssa said the pact reflected “Australia’s deep, not broad, defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Also read: Getting to know the AUKUS defense pact: Australia’s big game of chance that disappoints ASEAN
“Australia seems to be fully on America’s side right now.”
“At the moment there is very little information on AUKUS … until all the details are clearer and the diplomatic responses from Asia-Pacific countries are in place, it is difficult to predict the impact,” he said.
Herve said the border closings due to Covid-19 also reflect Australia’s ability to conduct defense diplomacy and expand its influence in the international tourism and education sectors.
Australia’s economic influence in the Asia-Pacific region has also weakened, with China changing its position as the largest investor in Papua New Guinea, among other things.
“We invest more in New Zealand than any other Southeast Asian country, including Indonesia,” said Herve.
For the first time, Indonesia is among the top 10 “diplomatically most influential actors” in Southeast Asia.
Herve found it “strange” that Indonesia, with its large population and economy, only made it into the top 10 rankings.
“Many developing countries like Indonesia are actually looking inward and struggling with their ability to show strength and leadership to the world,” he said.
The report said that President Joko Widodo had “reaffirmed his position as a regional leader”.
However, the report notes that Indonesia, like its Asia-Pacific neighbors, may not have military power and face China.
Also read: 7 Unique Military Units That Ever Existed In The World
calls for relations between Japan and Australia to be strengthened
The Lowy report said Japan was a “power” with significant diplomatic, economic and cultural influence with limited resources. But its influence is weakening in 2021 due to an economic downturn and an aging population.
In a report released last month, Shiro Armstrong, director of the ANU’s Australia-Japan Research Center, said Australia needs to strengthen its “already strong” ties with Japan, particularly through working together in the energy sector to address climate change issues.
“Japan is the benchmark for Australian relations in Asia,” said Assistant Professor Shiro.
“It is the third largest economy in the world, Australia’s second largest source of investment and, until the decline in raw materials in 2020, Australia’s second largest trading partner.”
Relations with Japan would have to be reconsidered, however, if they are to face the great challenges the two countries face in order to survive in the 21st century.
Also read: 11 countries that have experienced military coups
Produced by Natasya Salim Report in English.
Get updates News of choice and breaking news every day from Kompas.com. Let’s join Telegram group “Kompas.com News Update” how to click on the link https://t.me/kompascomupdate, then join. You need to install the Telegram application on your mobile phone first.
“Pop culture scholar. Subtly charming beer specialist. Reader. Student. Devoted music advocate.”