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Tipping Points to Asia’s Future

A week, it is said, is a long time in politics. But events in Asia over the past week – in Thailand, Vietnam, India, and China – may define the region for decades to come.

TOKYO – A week, it is said, is a long time in politics. But events in Asia over the past week may define the region for decades to come.

Thailand, one of Asia’s most prosperous countries, seems determined to render itself a basket case. A military coup, imposed following the Thai constitutional court’s ouster of an elected government on spurious legal grounds, can lead only to an artificial peace. Unless Thailand’s military is prepared to serve as a truly honest broker between deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (and her supporters) and the anti-democratic Bangkok elite, which has sought a right to permanent minority rule, today’s calm may give way to a new and more dangerous storm.

To Thailand’s east, Vietnam is the latest Asian country to feel pinched by China’s policy of creating facts on the ground, or in this case at sea, to enhance its sovereignty claims on disputed territory. Vietnam’s government reacted vigorously to China’s placement of a huge, exploratory oilrig near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Ordinary Vietnamese, taking matters into their own hands, reacted even more vigorously, by rioting and targeting Chinese industrial investments for attack.

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