MANILA – What a difference a year can make in Asia’s geopolitics.

Last year, the Joseph Biden administration hosted the “Summit for Democracy”, a global confab that brought together 110 nations from across the world. While the summit was meant to signal the Democratic Party administration’s commitment to a values-based foreign policy, its selection process proved deeply controversial and divisive.

On one hand, mature Asian democracies such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were among the invitees. At the same time, despite their lurch towards authoritarian populism, countries such as the Philippines and India, which the Freedom House categorizes as “partly free”, were among the invitees.

Meanwhile, Singapore, a key US strategic partner in Asia that also has an elected government, was snubbed. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent divergence in regional powers’ responses, have rapidly and in places radically reshuffled strategic alignments in Asia in what some see as the advent of a new Cold War.