The political risks on the Korean Peninsula are severe -- but there are other flashpoints, too.
North Korea can effectively threaten the mainland United States with nuclear weapons, significantly altering Washington's relationship Pyongyang -- and with its allies in the region as doubts grow over US willingness to defend them. Yet North Korea is in trouble. Even China is applying heavy sanctions that threaten to ruin the North Korean economy and destabilise Kim Jong-un's regime, presenting dangers of a different kind. There are bright spots, too. As the West laments 'the end of globalisation', East Asia's appetite for economic diplomacy has never been greater, from China's One Belt, One Road to Japan's revival of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- Will Beijing keep Pyongyang under pressure, or will it lose its nerve?
- Will the slow thaw in Japan-China relations survive the Abe government's moves to raise the status of the military?
- Will an emboldened Xi push for a 'breakthrough' with Taiwan, causing the Taiwan Strait to re-emerge as a flashpoint?
- Will 'the Quad' and the concept of the 'Indo-Pacific' give India a greater regional role?