Covering the region from Afghanistan to Australia, the region is a major centre of geostrategic interest, with factories in the Far East and South East Asia exporting manufactured products, while importing energy and raw materials, and half of the world’s maritime trade passing through the Indonesian Straits of Sunda, Lombok and Malacca.
The competition to establish control and supremacy over these trade routes has seen major regional powers such as China, Japan and India try to expand their presence in the south China Sea and the Indian Ocean - in the face of a massive US military presence in the area to contain Chinese expansion.
Territorial disputes also loom large on land. In addition to the dispute between North and South Korea, the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea cause regional tension, as does a growing Australia-Japan defence relationship.
Key issues covered include China’s influence in the region and globally, the UK and Japan’s relationship in a changing world, and the economic relationship between the EU and China over the coming decade.