In 2017, the Endowment prioritized countries in Asia that faced fundamental democratic deficits and where the NED was positioned to have the greatest impact. Building upon NED’s strategy from previous years, programs continued to be concentrated on key countries within each sub-region that faced significant and systemic challenges to democratization: China, including Tibet, and North Korea in East Asia, Burma in Southeast Asia, and Pakistan in South Asia.
In addition, the Endowment continued to shift significant resources towards countries facing acute political crises, namely Thailand and the Philippines, as well as countries where developments presented opportunities for democratic gains, particularly Sri Lanka. These seven countries represented nearly 80 percent of the spending in Asia in 2017. The NED also maintained targeted programs in other countries in the region, providing support for democratic development in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal, and elsewhere.
The Endowment looked for opportunities to engage in a more sustained effort in Bangladesh, where political dysfunction, rising security threats, and tightening space for independent civil society and media, posed a serious challenge to democratic governance and had repercussions for the region as a whole.
Although no single political narrative defined the Asia region, there were a number of cross-cutting issues and developments that the Endowment attempted to address. These included the growth of intolerant, chauvinistic and extremist forces that sought to erode democratic norms; tightening political space for civil society; dominant militaries and weak civilian governments; massive state corruption; and dominant- and one-party states. In virtually every country in the region, political developments were taking place within the context of rapid urbanization, economic development and integration, and expansion of access to information and communications technology. In 2017, the Endowment prioritized countries in Asia that faced fundamental democratic deficits and where the NED was positioned to have the greatest impact.
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