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Asia Update

May 2020

Asia-related activities of Bertelsmann Stiftung and insights into important developments in the region.



The Struggle for Democracy in Asia – Regression, Resilience, Revival

Worldwide, democracy is under pressure. The slow but steady erosion of democracy in many places in the last decade seems to be accelerating since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. The Asia-Pacific region is not immune against the impositions of authoritarian populism and other illiberal threats to democracy. Yet, it provides both major examples of democratic regression and failure as well as inspiring stories of democratic resilience and revival, argues Aurel Croissant in our new Asia Policy Brief.



Inequality and repression undermine democracy and market economy worldwide

The number of people who are governed poorly and less democratically is increasing worldwide. For the sixth time in a row, the ratings of our international Transformation Index (BTI) for the quality of democracy, market economy and governance have dropped, now to their lowest level since the BTI survey began. To put developments in Asia into perspective, the BTI’s global results on these developments can be read here.



Advantage Asia: Social Cohesion as King in the COVID-19 Era

Social cohesion will be critical in this new world of the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic is as devastating to societies in Asia as it is elsewhere. While the COVID-19 crisis is causing deep fractures in Asian societies, there is also much evidence of underlying social cohesion coming to the fore, writes John West in his review of our book “Social Cohesion in Asia. Historical Origins, Contemporary Shapes and Future Dynamics” for the online magazine “The Globalist”. To read the full review click here.



Germany’s Investment Flows

Besides trade, investments are the most commonly used statistic to describe economic relationships between countries. Investments in crucial sectors or prominent companies often spark public and political debate. The latest twist in the discussion is triggered by the Covid-19 global economic crisis. At a time of disrupted global business, countries are grasping to understand the relevance of different regions for companies and their supply chains. Read and download the infographic here.



Reassessing US and EU Ties with China in the Post-COVID-19 World

(Note: If you did not receive an invitation to this recent webinar it is because you have not allowed us to invite you for events yet. You can do so here.)

China was already at the top of US and EU policymakers’ agenda before COVID-19, but the current crisis has exacerbated many of the challenges posed by the rising superpower. Our colleague Bernhard Bartsch was one of the discussants of this webinar, which took the pulse of the China policy discussion in the US and Europe as governments and businesses struggle to adjust to a coronavirus-inflicted “new normal”. You can watch the discussion here.



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Dr. Peter Walkenhorst

Senior Project Manager


Bertelsmann Stiftung

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