2020: Looking Back
As the year draws to a close, the Asia Program traditionally likes to look back at the previous January to see what we had predicted would be major events to watch for in the coming months. This exercise is typically a simple reflection where we can see what we got right and where we missed the mark. It should go without saying that no experts could have foreseen exactly where 2020 would take us. A year ago, the world was only just starting to learn that a viral infection was being tracked in Wuhan. It would be over a week into 2020 when the first death would be attributed to the virus later identified as COVID-19.
As the world looks to quieter celebrations to ring in the new year, they also are celebrating the first vaccine doses being administered. But that comes at the end of a long worldwide struggle, with 78 million confirmed cases and 1.7 million deaths in 214 countries.
Like most of the United States, the Wilson Center and the Asia Program team transitioned to remote work in March, starting with our first virtual event, Geopolitical Implications of the Coronavirus for the Indo-Pacific. The team was able to ensure that we continued our work providing insights and analysis on current events throughout this unpredictable year.
While the coronavirus remained the top news story for much of 2020, it was also a year full of significant events and anniversaries. A few highlights of the Asia Program and the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy from this year include:
- The announcement of the inaugural class of Wilson China Fellows.
- A webcast discussion with Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan.
- The Wilson Quarterly Summer edition, Korea: 70 Years On and a companion event, Bridges and Blockades: Life at the DMZ.
- Experts from the Asia Program and the Kissinger Institute provided context and analysis on a border clash between China and India in Ladakh to the Need to Know Podcast, and in a webcast event.
- The Legacy of the Pacific War: 75 Years Later, a collection of essays and video interviews from analysts and former policymakers.
- The launch of Asia Program Director Abraham Denmark’s new book U.S. Strategy in the Asian Century: Empowering Allies and Partners, including a launch event and an appearance on Wilson Center NOW.
- Abraham Denmark and Shihoko Goto provided reactions to the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the election of Yoshihide Suga as his replacement, and the challenges Suga will face.
- Coverage of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Early in the year, the Asia Program hosted a panel on What’s Next for the Peace and Reconciliation Process in Afghanistan as the coronavirus upended timelines around the world. As talks commenced in September, Wilson Center Experts weighed in. Michael Kugelman discussed the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. troops and earlier this month brought together American veterans to discuss the war in Afghanistan from their perspective.
- And finally, the Asia Program and the Korea Center have been looking at the impact of the U.S. presidential election, considering how it will affect the Korean Peninsula and what Asia expects from President-Elect Biden.
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The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region. Read more
Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy
The Center for Korean History and Public Policy was established in 2015 with the generous support of the Hyundai Motor Company and the Korea Foundation to provide a coherent, long-term platform for improving historical understanding of Korea and informing the public policy debate on the Korean peninsula in the United States and beyond. Read more