In 2017, Asia will continue to define its modern face as geo-political issues dominate the continent's current affairs from time to time, especially on the East and South China Seas.
While many issues involving China will become commonplace in 2017, Turkey's growing instability, its control of millions of refugees, its membership in NATO and its desire to ascend to membership of the European Union(EU), will keep the land of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk very much in the news in 2017.
China's apparent militarization of disputed isles and its land reclamation projects on the South China Sea, could in 2017 prolong an evolving spat with the United States(US) regarding freedom of navigation on the strategic waters that ferry billions of dollars of trade each year. On the East China Sea, Japan's increase defense spending has signaled that it will not cede to China any disputed territory.
Taiwan by actions and by deduction has affirmed its diversion from China and recognition of the island by the US President-elect stands to add confidence to Taiwan while stoking friction with China in 2017. The youth of Hong Kong will continue to defy China's grip on the city and even though China might be able to influence the election of a new Chief Executive over the city in 2017, the voices of Hong Kong's democracy seekers will remain very vocal into and beyond 2017.
The cementing of Xi Jinping at the helm of the Communist Party in Beijing has been a stabilizing force in terms of dissent within China. However, as more questions arise as to the non-functioning of the rule of law and the summary detentions of rights activists, artists, lawyers, religious sects and Uyghurs, China will not be able to escape the eye of international human rights observers in 2017.
Japan stands to make some economic gains in 2017 as it has better relations with South Korea. Yet, long standing territorial issues with Russia, an aging population and a declining birthrate will demand Japan's attention in 2017.
South Korea's presidential scandal will bring a new leader to Seoul as North Korea continues to defy international resolutions by pressing onward with its nuclear hopes.
The Philippines, based upon the character, demeanor and policy of President Rodrigo Duterte, could emerge as South Asia's biggest loser in 2017. Duterte's apparent invitation to China to be the protector of the Philippines after many years of US protection, money and cooperation, could leave the nation of islands void of many developmental, security and aid tools. Judicial concerns of the extra judicial killings of drug dealers and users at Duterte's direction will figure high in 2017 in the Philippines.
In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who survived an ill-executed coup attempt in mid-2016, will attempt to continue his ambition to become the modern-day father of the Turks. That hope might not succeed given the strong opposition he faces from overt and hidden foes. The arrest, detention and firing of tens of thousands of Turks post-coup attempt along with the shuttering of numerous media houses, are all impediments to the acceptance of Erdogan's rule in Turkey. His actions on rights issues have clearly raised questions as to the EU acceptance of Turkey as a member or as an associate with privileged visa-free travel. However, as the second largest army within NATO, Turkey will continue to command respect in 2017.
Apart from a few possible extremist incidents in Australia, Australians along with New Zealanders will continue to prosper in tranquility in 2017 with the occasional natural earthquake or two in the home of the Kiwis.
Myanmar, with some urging from Bangladesh, could grant recognition in 2017 to the persecuted Rohingya people. Thailand, after mourning its late King, will have to confront questions as to military or democratic rule in 2017. Indonesia, which had great hopes on the election of Joko Widodo as its seventh President in 2014, has not realized full economic benefit or world recognition because of the insistence by the Widodo government to executed convicts for non-capital crimes like drug dealing and possession. Malaysia's recent tragic lost of two passenger aircraft will continue to hold a sober veil over the nation in 2017.
Vietnam and Laos could realize record economic gains in 2017 as both nations soften to international trade and wane away from hardliner regimes. Significant political changes could however come in 2017 to some of the former Soviet States south of Russia and northeast of Afghanistan.
India's failure to reach developmental parity with China will continue to be a challenge for the Narendra Modi government in 2017 as it squabbles from time with neighbor Pakistan, which will continue to harbor multiple sources of extremism in 2017.
Environmental concerns to reduce greenhouse gases along with human rights issues will figure very high in Asia in 2017.