Michael Hart

Michael Hart is a writer and researcher covering civil conflict, peacebuilding and war legacy issues in Southeast Asia. He has written about these issues and Asia-Pacific politics more broadly for publications including Geopolitical Monitor, The Diplomat, Asia Sentinel, World Politics Review and Southeast Asia Globe. Michael is currently editorial assistant for The Pacific Review journal, based at the University of Warwick. He previously researched for Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and studied an MA in International Relations at the University of Westminster.

China’s Belt and Road Runs Aground in the Philippines

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping shake hands prior to their bilateral meetings at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 20. Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD, cc Philippine government, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:President_Duterte_handshake_with_President_Xi.jpg

Lacking the mega-projects seen in mainland Southeast Asia, Beijing’s infrastructure plans in the Philippines have been noticeably smaller in scale and focused more on local connectivity.

COVID-19 Rages as Myanmar’s Post-Coup Economy Crumbles

Inle Lake Myanmar (Burma) 2014, cc Caroline Jones, modified, Flickr, https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

The World Bank projects that Myanmar’s economy will contract by 18% in 2021 as a third wave of COVID-19 compounds the impacts of February’s military coup.

Can China’s Belt and Road Open Up Landlocked Laos?


As a 420 km high-speed railway nears completion, two Chinese-built highways have been given the green light. Will these projects open up Laos, or make it a crossing point on China’s Belt and Road?

Amid Renewed Protests, Thai Opposition Pushes for Constitutional Change

The protests on August 16, 2020 in a large demonstration organized under the Free Youth umbrella (Thai: เยาวชนปลดแอก; RTGS: yaowachon plot aek) at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok., cc Supanut Arunoprayote, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?sort=last_edit_desc&search=bangkok+protest+filetype%3Abitmap&title=Special%3ASearch&profile=advanced&fulltext=1&advancedSearch-current=%7B%22fields%22%3A%7B%22filetype%22%3A%22bitmap%22%7D%7D&ns0=1&ns6=1&ns14=1#/media/File:Protest_in_2020_Democracy_Monument_(I).jpg

Opponents of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party are pushing to amend Thailand’s 2017 constitution, which kept Junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha in power. A military-appointed Senate stands in their way.

Papua Braced for Violence as Indonesia Vows to Crush Separatists

cc Kodam I/Bukit Barisan, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&limit=500&offset=0&ns0=1&ns6=1&ns14=1&search=indonesia+army#/media/File:Indonesian_Army_AMX-13s_of_the_Yonkav_6.jpg

Since a regional intelligence chief was killed in an ambush by Papuan rebels in April, residents of Indonesia’s restive easternmost province have lived in fear of an imminent military crackdown.

New Party, Old Hurdles: Cambodian Opposition Struggles to Bounce Back

Opposition supporters wave national flags of some Western countries who were signatory parties to the 22 year old Paris Peace Agreement, Phnom Penh, Oct 24, 2013. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA Khmer), cc Heng Reaksmey, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&redirs=0&search=cambodia%20CNRP&fulltext=Search&ns0=1&ns6=1&ns14=1&title=Special:Search&advanced=1&fulltext=Advanced%20search#/media/File:CNRP_protesters_raise_flags.jpg

Several senior ex-officials of the dissolved CNRP have joined a new party. Yet given Prime Minister Hun Sen’s record of stifling opponents, their chances of electoral success are slim.

Duterte’s ‘Red-Tagging’ Risks Igniting the Philippines’ Maoist Insurgency

cc Kremlin.ru, modified, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/61718

Will the violent crackdown against Maoists real and imagined ultimately prove counter-productive?

ASEAN Diplomacy Makes Little Headway in Myanmar

VOA news, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Protesters_and_police_face_off_in_Mandalay.webp

ASEAN’s five-point consensus agreement of 24 April has done little to blunt the violence ravaging Myanmar.

From Bangkok to Nong Khai: China’s Thai Railway Vision Edges Forward

cc Flickr Clay Gilliland, modiifed, https://flickr.com/photos/26781577@N07/12250463656/in/photolist-jEwQ3C-2qW3R-NFUDY7-bKfNCR-2fhoZ5N-r3vXv-5AcMX-bvqnz5-ZNpBGt-229HjpK-6EWzkg-7uU3FZ-bvqoeY-o8BB9p-2J9U7a-21Y18NW-nxqVcw-SMR2Hc-nR85pA-bwkVem-UFWw8S-oaoHFK-osfkLV-56xkT1-imprwc-6GPrvJ-jAB5y6-osv5Fq-7uU3Dt-FfoXi-8gLjd-bRgxvg-eYt6Gc-6PZWL8-k8ohbz-h5Vdy4-6yAif3-qq9kSK-bKfqCa-KiXmcV-exVp25-JSfqfZ-4KCeqM-a6dvzw-FGPem-ZNpBGZ-ifnR7P-4phBgd-5EWns-VYjSUe

Plans for a high-speed rail line from Bangkok to the Laotian border are moving forward after Thailand signed construction contracts for phase one of the project with Chinese state-owned firms.

Will the Makassar Suicide Bombing Spark a New Wave of Terror in Indonesia?

cc Kepolisian Negara Republik Indonesia, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Polisi_officers_lineup.jpg

After a married couple linked to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) bombed a Catholic church in Sulawesi, Indonesia is on high alert to prevent repeat attacks by Islamist militants.

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