Asia Unscripted


The US-Asia Institute summer podcast series Asia Unscripted features diverse experts with firsthand knowledge of Asia, who introduce key stories of the day in 20-25 minutes. The series covers issues in East Asia and the Asia Pacific, with episodes on China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, and the 10 countries of ASEAN. Please be reminded that the US-Asia Institute is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy organization with no policy agenda. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the US-Asia Institute.

The music for this podcast is created by Lee Rosevere.

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John Zanni: Cyber Capacity Building in Singapore and ASEAN

In this episode, we hear from John Zanni, Chief Executive Officer at Acronis SCS, an independent, American company dedicated to providing secure backup, disaster recovery and cyber protection for the US public sector. Acronis SCS was formed by the spinoff of Acronis Inc.’s US public sector business, serving the federal government, federal systems integrators, state & local governments, education, and non-profit organizations. In these clips, John speaks about cyber capacity building in ASEAN, specifically discussing ASEAN’s need for Cyber Protection and Singapore’s leadership in cyber skills.

Quick Facts about Singapore

  • Capital: Singapore (city-state)

  • Type of government: Unitary dominant-party parliamentary constitutional republic

  • President: Halimah Yacob / Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong

  • Official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, Tamil

  • Religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism

  • Area: 279.0 sq mi (a little bigger than the state of Texas!)

  • Population: 5,995,991 (July 2018 est.)

  • GDP: $364.16 billion

  • Climate: Tropical rainforest climate with no distinctive seasons, uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity, and abundant rainfall; temperatures usually range from 77 to 95 °F (25 to 35 °C)

  • Major industries/sectors: Financial services, manufacturing, oil-refining, and tourism

  • Holidays: Lunar New Year, Dragon Boat Festival, Hungry Ghost Festival, Deepavali, Hari Raya Haji, Vesak Day, Christmas, Good Friday, National Day (August 9)

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Gregory Poling: South China Sea and US-Philippine Relations

This episode features Gregory Poling, Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, or AMTI, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. AMTI is an interactive, regularly-updated source for information, analysis, and policy exchange on maritime security issues in Asia. It aims to promote transparency in the Indo-Pacific to dissuade assertive behavior and conflict and generate opportunities for cooperation and confidence building. In this episode, Gregory speaks to Isabelle and Vivien about the South China Sea and U.S.-Philippine relations.


  1. We fully recognize that there are a variety of names used for the islands and maritime territories in the Indo-Pacific region, but will use the term South China Sea for the purpose of this podcast.

Quick Facts about the Philippines

  • Capital: Manila

  • Type of government: Unitary presidential constitutional republic

  • President: Rodrigo Duterte

  • Official languages: Filipino (Tagalog), English

  • Religions: Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam

  • Area: 115,830 sq mi (a little bigger than the state of Arizona!)

  • Population: 106,651,922 (2018 est.)

  • GDP: $330.91 billion

  • Climate: Tropical climate with relatively high temperature, oppressive humidity, and plenty of rainfall; temperatures usually range from 78°F to 90°F (25°C to 32°C)

  • Major industries/sectors: Manufacturing, agribusiness, and tourism

  • Holidays: Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Bataan Day, Independence Day (June 12), Ninoy Aquino Day, Christmas

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David Dollar: China’s Economy and the US-China Trade WAr

In this episode of Asia Unscripted, Vivien and Isabelle hear from David Dollar, senior fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution and host of the Brookings trade podcast, Dollar&Sense. David is a leading expert on China's economy and U.S.-China economic relations. From 2009 to 2013, he was the US Treasury’s economic and financial emissary to China, based in Beijing, facilitating the macroeconomic and financial policy dialogue between the United States and China. Prior to joining Treasury, David worked 20 years for the World Bank, serving as country director for China and Mongolia based in Beijing in his last five years. In the following clips, David discusses the Chinese economy and the ongoing US-China trade conflict.

Quick Facts about China

  • Capital: Beijing

  • Type of government: Unitary one-party socialist republic

  • President: Xi Jinping

  • Official languages: Standard Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Zhuang

  • Religions: The government promotes state atheism, but the culture is heavily influenced by Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam are also recognized by the state.

  • Area: around 3.7 million sq mi (around the size of the United States)

  • Population: 1.313 billion (2018 est., around four times the population size of the United States!)

  • GDP: $13.608 trillion

  • Climate: Differs from region to region because of the country's highly complex topography

    • Northeast (includes Beijing): Hot and dry summers, freezing cold winters

    • North and central (includes Chengdu): Frequent rains, hot summers, cold winters

    • Southeast: Semi-tropical summers and cool winters with abundant rainfall

  • Major industries/sectors: Manufacturing, services, agriculture

  • Holidays: Chinese New Year, Qingming Festival (Tombsweeping Festival), Dragon Boast Festival, Labor Day (May 1), Children’s Day (June 1), Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day (October 1)

Alicia Campi: Democratization and geopolitics in Mongolia

In this week’s episode of Asia Unscripted, Isabelle and Vivien hear from by Dr. Alicia Campi, current Vice President and President Emeritus of The Mongolia Society. Dr. Campi is a China and Mongolian specialist and was a US State Department Foreign Service Officer for 14 years, serving in Asian posts in Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Mongolia. Since 2013, she has also been a Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In these clips, Dr. Campi gives a comprehensive perspective on the democratization of Mongolia following the Cold War, geopolitics in Northeast Asia, as well as US-Mongolia relations.

Quick facts about Mongolia

  • Capital: Ulaanbaatar

  • Type of government: Semi-presidential republic

  • President: Kaltmaa BATTULGA

  • Official languages: Mongolian, Turkic, Russian

  • Religions: Buddhism, non-religious, and Islam

  • Area: 603,909 sq mi (around 1/6 of the area of the US!)

  • Population: 3,103,428 (July 2018 est., roughly the same amount of people that live in Iowa)

  • GDP: $39.73 billion

  • Climate: Desert; continental with a large range of daily and seasonal temperatures

  • Major industries/sectors: Construction, mining, cashmere and natural fiber manufacturing, processing of animal products

  • Holidays: Naadam, July Constitution Day