Israel and Hamas – Oct. 17
As the Israel-Hamas conflict evolves rapidly, countries in Asia are escalating efforts to rescue their citizens caught in the battle. China, however, is aiming to position itself as a peacemaker in the Middle East, with its latest actions aimed at supporting a cease-fire. Concerns over economic uncertainty and the impact of global interconnectedness continue to rise.
In ASEAN, Malaysia and Indonesia have seen several protests and people offering prayers in support of the Palestinians. Even though some brands have voiced concerns and offered support to their people, brands still face the challenge of how to respond and address a very difficult situation.
- Asian governments are prioritizing the repatriation of citizens. With the death toll rising, several countries including South Korea, Thailand, India, Australia, and the Philippines are boosting efforts to rescue their citizens caught in the conflict.
- Despite claiming a neutral stance, China has become critical of Israel’s response, saying Israel is acting “beyond the scope of self-defence”. China will dispatch its special envoy to the Middle East to push for a cease-fire. However, there is speculation that Beijing’s efforts at resolving the crisis are to protect its economic interest in the region. This decision also comes at a time when four Chinese nationals have died and two have been declared missing.
- Concerns over economic uncertainty remain. Markets in Asia fell on Monday amid concerns that Israel’s expected ground offensive could spark a regional war involving Iran. There are also fears that oil prices could surge, complicating efforts to tame inflation. In response, Japan is seeking measures to deal with a possible surge in energy prices, while Korea’s government has said it has made the necessary preparations to react to any potential impacts. In Taiwan, the National Development Council said it was closely monitoring the conflict’s impact on oil prices and exports.
- The conflict is seen as another potential catalyst for de-globalization. While some economists have said that globalization has simply stalled in recent years, others argue that it is reversing outright due to catalysts – such as the Trump administration’s tariff war with China, the Covid-19 pandemic, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Israel-Hamas war could become another catalyst for de-globalization, but the extent of that is still to be seen.
- Thousands rallied in Malaysia and Indonesia to support the Palestinians. About 15,000 people, including former PM Muhyiddin Yassin, gathered at the national mosque in Kuala Lumpur to condemn Israel’s war in Gaza. Mosques in Malaysia and Indonesia saw several people offer prayers for peace and safety for the Palestinians.
- While some companies have expressed their views, there are brands that continue to remain silent on the situation. Companies such as Microsoft, Google, Hewlett Packard, JP Morgan, Meta, Apple, and Goldman Sachs, have expressed support for Israel and condemned the attacks by Hamas. However, other brands that were quick to voice their actions during the Ukraine-Russian conflict, have remained silent on the latest war. In APAC, companies and brands have yet to take a stance on the matter. This indicates that brands are still faced with challenges in addressing a very complex geo-political situation.
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