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Deep in the SEA with Mirko Giordani
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Deep in the SEA with Mirko Giordani

Author: Mirko Giordani

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I have lived my entire life in the West and I love it. I love Europe and I love my country, Italy. However, I am feeling it is time to embark in discovering the most interesting region in the world. Middle East? America? China? No, I want to explore Southeast Asia and India and their diversity, their cultural melting polt, their economic and political experiments that are far away from the attention of western media.

In fact, when our media speak about Asia, they mean only China. Mainstream western media are completely forgetting Southeast Asia and India, two of the most young, diverse and driven regions in the world. The western world can’t allow anymore to forget about more than two billion of people.
63 Episodes
There is blood, too much blood, in the streets of Myanmar. A crisis like the one in Myanmar will eventually affect Southeast Asia’s democracies and ASEAN’s stability unless regional members mediate.
After five years of apparent democracy, Myanmar has just gone backwards in only one day. We have tried to understand how the country, under the rule of Aung San Suu Kyi, has arrived at that point and how will be in the future, with the help of Moe Thuzar, fellow at the ISEAS in Singapore.
Paul Podolsky, a former Senior Portfolio Strategist at Bridgewater Associates, has helped us to understand why it is better off to have a financial foot into Southeast Asia.
American politics is dominating the news today, but the future will be more and more Asian. Here we anticipate times, and it seems to us quite legit to understand why the Indian colossus hasn't joined the most significant free trade agreement in the world, the RCEP. Akshobh Giridharadas has one idea or two about it and he has explained to us in a fantastic podcast.
The EU is definitely the most reliable partner for ASEAN - With Ambassador Driesmans by Mirko Giordani
Italy is in delay, but it is catching up in its relationship with ASEAN - With Valerio Bordonaro by Mirko Giordani
As the only Italian and European podcast that deals with SEA and India, I am proud to host Lorenzo Galanti, Ambassador of Italy to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. We have discussed on the importance for Italy, but in general for the Western world, to acknowledge the fundamental strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific region.
In the post-pandemic world, the attention towards a fair and green transition will grow. ASEAN countries have lifted millions of people out of poverty thanks to cheap energy from coal and oil. The coal trade is rejuvenating, and new refineries are being built in the region. However, Southeast Asia will go green in the future. However, Septia Buntara Supendi, an energy expert, told Deep in the SEA a harsh reality: in the least developed countries in the region, the first and foremost need is to have cheap and reliable electricity. The only way to produce it is from fossil fuels. Full stop. If the West is rushing for the Green Deal, over SEA the situation is slightly different, and only a massive use of geotermal and hydropower can balance the phasing out of coal and other fossil fuels.
Can renewables power ASEAN economies? - With Randy Giveans by Mirko Giordani
Business as usual between US and China under Biden - With Joshua Kurlantzick by Mirko Giordani
Japan has established itself to be a leading force in Southeast Asia. Although it is not "showing muscles" like China or the US, Japan is fundamental for the region's capacity building and its economic development. Japan offers a less confrontational approach and it represents a suitable "Third Way" vis-a-vis the turf war between the two superpowers.
ASEAN is at the center of the geopolitical feud between the US and China. Little will change under Biden Administration, but in the meanwhile, it has joined the largest trade agreement in the world, the RCEP. How will this influence ASEAN's relationship with China? Will the US catch up with the geopolitical and economic clout the Dragoon is building on Southeast Asia. Carlyle Thayer, a friend and usual guest of Deep in the SEA, has clear ideas about the matter.
Maybe Mark Esper didn't say precisely that ASEAN need to evolve into a Nato-style alliance, but that was the sense practically. However Douglas Paal, a great friend of this podcast, said that only ignorant American policy makers and analysts can believe in such an alliance. When Dulles tried to dictate security policy in the region, he refused to send air conditioning appliances to the US Embassy in Bangkok because he believed that the city was not so hot in the summer. The Americans that believe in a Nato-style alliance in SEA are making the same clumsy mistake of Dulles.
This podcast has risen in popularity when we started to discuss whether or not the Belt & Road projects in SEA were facing a political and social backlashes. We have explored the possibilities that provider of more compliant investments, such as the US, Europe or Japan, could step up and oust China as the principal investor in the region. Together with Claire Chu, a senior analyst of RWR Advisory Group, we have explored further the hurdles, delays and problems which China is currently facing in SEA.
China is a global superpower, but Indonesia is the biggest country in Southeast Asia and the most important economy. Whatever deal China wants to carry on in the region, Indonesia is there and it must be involved in certain ways. Despite Indonesia doesn't have particular clashes over China's 9-dash line, the relationship between the two countries has been tense in the past. The Chinese minority in Indonesia has suffered racism and discrimination. However, the future is out there and together with Dewi Fortuna Anwar - a former advisor to Indonesia's VP - we tried to understand what will be the future outlook of the relationship between the two countries.
Maybe in the past, Southeast Asian countries may have remained neutral between the US and China, but nowadays, according to Grant Newsham, the strategic neutrality may not be enough. In the near future, ASEAN countries must decide where to stand, and must think quick on it.
What will be the consequences of Pompeo's statement on South China Sea?Professor Carlyle Thayer, a good friend of mine, has clear ideas on the issue. Have a listen!
Twenty Indian soldiers died in the heights of the Himalayas in the clashes with PLA troops. The skirmish is getting serious but, according to Akshobh Giridharadas, the risk of a further escalation is unlikely.
Dylan Loh is not going around the issue: ASEAN will remain neutral over Hong Kong. ASEAN countries can't allow - according to Dylan - to side with either China or the USA on Hong Kong. ASEAN - to retain its centrality and strategic strength - must engage with both the superpowers and preserve the balance of power between them.
Is there a parallel between China's assertiveness and military actions in the South China Sea and the recent escalation against India? According to Abhijit Singh - former naval officer and Head of the Maritime Policy Initiative at ORF - China is acting in the Himalayas in the same way as in the South China Sea. It is carrying on minimal tactical shifts on the ground - which usually never trigger a tactical response - but slowly but surely changing the strategic scenario. However, in the Ladakh region, India has tactically responded to the menaces, causing several skirmishes. But what is the rationale behind China's assertiveness? According to Mr Singh, Chinese actions are dictacted by a deep sense of internal weakness, not strength. The CCP has been the target of international scrutiny - especially from the West and particularly the USA - for the COVID-19 epidemic. and this amounted pressure has exploded against India. Like a press ion cooker, the huge pressure on Xi Jinping's shoulders exploded against India.
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