While the Asia-Pacific region will be grappling with the deadly coronavirus pandemic well into 2021, long-running tensions unrelated to the virus — around hot spots such as North Korea, the South China Sea and Taiwan — are also expected to return to the headlines this year.
Here’s a glance at the current state of play in the region, and where the coming year could take it.
After showing off a “monster” long-range missile during an October military parade in Pyongyang that also featured several other new weapon designs, North Korea remained relatively quiet before and after the U.S. presidential election.
That was likely due to two key factors: The regime’s goal of controlling any coronavirus outbreak and a desire to gauge incoming U.S. President Joe Biden’s policy toward Pyongyang.
North Korea continues to deny COVID-19 has made its way into the country. It shuttered its borders early last year and has not shown any signs of easing strict anti-virus measures.
As for the new American leader, he will be a departure from current President Donald Trump — who held three historic meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and had been seen as the regime’s preferred candidate.