The reality of 2020 represented a wild departure from the tidy predictions made around this time last year. Rather than a turning point, however, the pandemic was more akin to a time warp. Things that were already happening started happening faster: the rise of China, the decline of the West, the restructuring of world trade, the focus on climate goals, and the supremacy of Big Tech were all hastened by a unique chain reaction unleashed by the virus. COVID-19 "will not so much change the basic direction of world history as accelerate it," according to Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
With a new dose of humility, therefore, we are once again turning our gaze to the new year. One thing most people rule out is optimism for imminent change. But at the same time, the lesson of 2020 is the danger of predicting continuity. Read on for Nikkei Asia's top correspondents' best bets on where 2021 will take us.