Welcome to Your Year in Asia. 2020 is almost at its end, and while the world continues to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, a lineup of major events already fill the calendar for the Asia region next year. Here's what awaits us in 2021.
Joe Biden's inauguration
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to begin his four-year term in office. Along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Biden will take the oath of office outside the Capitol Building and deliver an inaugural address to the nation. Meanwhile, outgoing President Donald Trump's presence at the ceremony has yet to be determined.
One year on: Wuhan lockdown
In January 2020, the central government of China imposed a lockdown for the city Wuhan following the outbreak of the coronavirus. A year later, and China has seen intermittent outbreaks nationwide while countries like the U.S. and Japan struggle to contain a third wave of new infections and the U.K. identifies a new COVID-19 variant.
CES goes online
The world's biggest consumer electronics and technology expo, CES, will kick off to feature the latest development in advanced technology such as 5G and artificial intelligence. The annual event, which began in 1967, will be held online for the first time due to the pandemic.
Vietnam's 13th National Congress
The Communist Party of Vietnam will convene its 13th National Congress with the aim to elect leaders that will shape the nation's policies. The country, whose model COVID-19 response has drawn international attention, will also set new economic targets for the next five years.
Mario goes outdoors
Japanese gaming giant Nintendo will open a Mario themed area in Universal Studios Japan, located in the city of Osaka. As the world's first interactive park featuring the popular character, Super Nintendo World will offer visitors attractions like Mario Kart and Yoshi-themed rides.
China says, 'Happy New Year'
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2021 is the year of the Ox. Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, is one of the most important holidays in the country, as well as its biggest travel season. In 2021, citizens will be able to enjoy seven days of public holidays. In 2020, the holidays were extended to 10 days to help contain the spread of the coronavirus while travel restrictions undercut tourism.
Mobile trade show in Shanghai
Mobile World Congress in Shanghai will have exhibitors from around the world showcasing new technology that is transforming the mobile industry, like 5G connectivity, as well as AI. The annual trade show will also be held in Barcelona starting in June.
Japan still haunted by Tohoku earthquake
2021 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan's northeastern region, causing more than 15,000 deaths. The effects of the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown continue to linger while over 40,000 evacuees are still displaced.
Thailand motor show
Thailand will hold its annual Bangkok International Motor Show starting on March 24. The event, which will run for 12 days, is one of the largest in Southeast Asia and will include domestic and international exhibitors who will showcase the latest concept and production cars as well as motorcycles.
China to flesh out 5-year plan
China will hold its National People's Congress -- the equivalent of an annual sitting of parliament. President Xi Jinping will lay out the details for the country's five-year plan (2021-2025), which will serve as an important guide to China's future policy direction.
Jimmy Lai stands trial
Publisher and Hong Kong media tycoon, Jimmy Lai, who is charged on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces, faces trial under the Beijing-enacted national security law. His case has been adjourned to April for further investigation while other prominent pro-democracy activists like Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow have already been sentenced to jail for their roles in an anti-government protest.
India states elections
India will hold five local assembly elections that are likely to begin in April and last through May, including the four states of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and the union territory of Puducherry. Each state has powerful local parties such as the All India Trinamool Congress of West Bengal led by Mamata Banerjee, who is chief minister of the state and the political rival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
World Economic Forum moves to Singapore
The World Economic Forum will convene its special annual meeting with political and business leaders from around the globe. The event will be held in Singapore as its usual host country, Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, copes with the coronavirus. The meeting will focus on pressing issues like the worldwide recovery from the pandemic.
Hong Kong art fair
A showcase of premier galleries from Asia and other regions will take place at Art Basel Hong Kong, the biggest annual art event in Asia. The fair will feature a wide range of works including modern art, sculptures, photography, film and digital artwork, and will be attended by a number of collectors, curators and art professionals from around the world.
Europe meets Asia
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), comprising over 50 partners across the region, will hold its postponed summit in Cambodia, where policymakers will discuss a wide range of political, economic and sociocultural issues, while focusing on the effective promotion of multilateralism and collective response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Hong Kong's fight for democracy continues
It will be a year since China imposed its sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, which aims to suppress pro-democracy movements and put down any opposition to the ruling Communist Party. The crackdown in the former British colony has accelerated, with increasing arrests of pro-democracy activists.
Taiwan tech expo
Taiwan's premier technology trade expo, Computex Taipei, will be held over the course of four days after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The expo, which has been held since 1981, unites the island's contract electronics manufacturers with non-Taiwanese clients.
CCP turns 100
China will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party where the country will have more than 100 works consisting of films, television dramas and operas to celebrate the milestone.
The Summer Olympic Games are to be celebrated in Tokyo after the coronavirus outbreak put the event on hold in 2020. The country, however is still experiencing waves of COVID-19 infections, adding uncertainty to the event, including the Paralympics. The government is trying to prepare for the games, with the aim to develop testing systems for athletes and other prevention measures.
Duterte policy speech
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his sixth State of the Nation Address, in which he will likely use his annual speech to address the country, which is grappling with an economic slowdown, on how to weather the crisis caused by the coronavirus. The president is also expected to dedicate time in his speech to talk about his anti-drug policy.
Widodo addresses nation
Indonesian President Joko Widodo will make his annual State of the Union Address to parliament. The president, commonly known as "Jokowi," is expected to lay out his plans on how to recover from COVID-19, which has ravaged the archipelago's economy. There is also the possibility that he will talk about his ambitious $33 billion project to relocate the capital city from Jakarta to the island of Borneo, which has been put on hold due to the pandemic.
China auto show
Shenzhen will hold its annual exhibition and conference featuring advanced auto technology. Automotive World China will bring together cutting-edge technology like autonomous driving, as well as electric vehicles, from leading industry players.
Hong Kong Legislative Council election
Hong Kong will hold elections for its parliamentary body, the Legislative Council, which had been delayed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, Beijing gave the Hong Kong government sweeping powers to remove any lawmakers deemed insufficiently patriotic, leaving the body without an opposition bloc. Beijing's tightening control over the semi-autonomous city sheds light on how Hong Kong is seeing the possible end to fair elections.
Japan's LDP presidential race and general elections
One year after taking over from Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will see his tenure expire at the end of September and will have to enter the Liberal Democratic Party presidential race. The current terms for Lower House members is also set to expire in October and the general election must be held by then. Suga has so far focused on coronavirus countermeasures and initiatives to establish a digital agency while also putting pressure on mobile phone carriers to further cut service fees.
World Expo in Dubai
Expo 2020 Dubai, which was postponed due to COVID-19, will take place in the populous city starting on Oct.1 and will run until the end of March 2022. It is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, and will be hosted under the theme "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future."
G-20 leaders summit
Rome will stage the G-20 Heads of State and Government Summit at the end of October. Italy, who has assumed the G-20's rotating presidency for 2021, plans to host the summit in-person and says the meeting will focus on three main pillars of action: people, planet and prosperity.
The Philippines is expected to open its election season with the filing of candidacies for national and local positions, from president down to municipal council members. Voting is scheduled in May 2022. Possible candidates to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte include his daughter, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, boxing icon Sen. Manny Pacquiao, incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo from the opposition party and former Sen. Bongbong Marcos, son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, according to political watchers and analysts. None of them have declared a bid.
U.N. climate change conference
The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also referred to as COP26, will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, with the aim to accelerate initiatives toward reaching the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement. As the economic damage from climate change increases around the world, the summit will likely call for Asian governments to drive action.
The 2021 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit will be held under the chairmanship of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The country, which has decided to run its entire host year virtually due to COVID-19, will lead the 20 other APEC economies in drawing up a collaborative approach to recovery from the pandemic, as well as solving geopolitical issues in the region.
Bangkok's new Grand Station
Bang Sue Grand Station, Thailand's largest transport hub, will open to the public, along with the new Red Line electric train service that connects central Bangkok with Rangsit in the northern outskirts of the capital, which is expected to help ease Bangkok's infamous traffic jams.
China-Laos railway opening
The China-Laos railway, which began construction in 2016 and cost nearly $6 billion, is scheduled to open in December. Also called the Boten-Vientiane railway, the project is a strategic part of China's Belt and Road Initiative. Laos hopes the high-speed railway, which will run more than 400 km at speeds of 160 kph, will help drive economic development in the country.