Looking back at 2020, I am glad that I made time to read. Here are 10 of my 2020 reads. Most of the books are related to the rise of China, the dynamics of US-China relations, ASEAN, and the Asia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific region. The last two books (no. 9 & 10) are more about how should we rethink the way we think as a human being. Have a pleasant read.

1. Blaming China (2018)

This book is certainly timely. Written in 2018 by Benjamin Shobert, the book’s subtitle says it all: it might feel good, but it wont fix America’s economy.


What a year.

2020 has been a year that none of us expected. International conferences, leaders summits, and negotiations — all went online. This has been truly a year that transforms the way we conduct diplomacy, international relations and affairs.

In the last days of 2020, why don’t we take a look and reflect on the landmark 2020 has been.

ASEAN signed the Largest Trade Agreement in the World

Not quite. It was actually not just ASEAN. It’s ASEAN, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. These 15 countries have negotiated a trade agreement — dubbed as the largest in the world — since 8 years ago. Why…


I had an interesting chat with a friend of mine yesterday, as he asked me of what I think about President Joko Widodo’s speech at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly’s 75th Session.

My answer was simple: I am not impressed. As I said to a friend, I expected more of The Avengers or Game of Thrones, more Thanos or White Walkers. But there is none of that in the speech.

President Joko Widodo addressed the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

I am unimpressed especially because this is the first time in six years, an Indonesian President addressed the UNGA himself. …


On September 15, 2020, US President Donald Trump hosted the representatives of Israel, UAE, and Bahrain.

Source: The Jakarta Post

The three countries plus the US signed a peace deal, called the “Abraham Accord”.

The peace deal will officially normalize the diplomatic relations of Israel and UAE, as well as of Israel and Bahrain.

This Abraham Accord surfaced after the Trump administration’s plan for the “Deal of the Century” did not receive support from the Palestinian side.

Israel-UAE Deal

The deal between Israel and UAE was agreed on August 13, 2020. UAE became the third Arab country ever to establish a diplomatic relations with Israel. Previously…


Seventy-five years after its independence, Indonesia still grapples to define its role in world politics. Though it is true that Indonesia has made some progress in its foreign policy throughout its history as an independent nation, there are issues where Indonesia lags behind. Noting that the same leadership assumes the role to lead the country for the next five years as it has in the past five years, what are five foreign policy items worth noting?

1. Relationship with China — and the US

It doesn’t take a genius to tell that Indonesia under the current leadership leans (more) towards China than it does towards the US.

It…


The year 2020 is somewhat a consequential year for ASEAN. In 2020, ASEAN turns 53. The year 2020 has also been designated as the Year of ASEAN Identity. Some other monumental agreements were also set to be agreed upon by this year — like that of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as well as the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea (COC) — of which, the progress has fallen short. The conclusion of those agreements will need to wait another year or two. So, 53 years on, what is next for ASEAN?

The year 2020 is designated as the Year of ASEAN Identity.

ASEAN was established back in 1967…


Four months to the US Presidential Election 2020, the race is becoming increasingly heated. With candidate from each party has been slimmed into one, the battle for the seat to become the most powerful person, arguably, in the world is becoming more fierce.

Source

Donald Trump, throughout his four year of presidency, has shaped American foreign policy, and the world, in a way that no previous American president has ever done. …


On May 27, 2020, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) held a meeting on a Senior Officials level to discuss about the grouping’s response to COVID-19.

APEC Extraordinary Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on COVID-19, taking place on May 27, 2020.

This meeting is a follow up of APEC’s Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Statement on COVID-19 that was issued on May 5, 2020.

Previously, APEC issued another statement, which was the APEC Health Working Group Statement on COVID-19. This statement was issued back in March 23, 2020.

However, unlike another big economies grouping like G20, APEC has been unable to bring together its head of governments to have an extraordinary virtual summit.

Despite the fact…


Back in May 20, 2020, I attended a webinar by Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. The webinar brought up the topic of BRI and COVID-19: Is China’s Project of the Century Adapting or Atrophying? The speaker for this webinar was Min Ye, an Associate Professor of International Relations from Boston University.


On April 14, 2020, the United States announced that the country will withhold the funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) over the organization’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: The Economist.

There are at least three issues identified by Quartz as to why the United States made this decision. First, the United States feels that WHO is being too friendly to China — for example by praising China’s handling of the outbreak — despite the findings that China has initially covered up the outbreak in the early days. Second, WHO openly opposed United States’ travel restriction warning in response to the outbreak…

Angelo Wijaya

International Relations enthusiast

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