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The Power Gap

The Asia Power Index consists of four resource measures, which look at what countries have, and four influence measures, which look at what countries do with what they have.

The Power Gap provides a secondary analysis to the Index based on the interplay between resources and influence. Countries can be overperformers or underperformers, irrespective of where they place in the rankings.

Countries with outsized influence in Asia relative to their resources have a positive Power Gap. Conversely, countries that exert undersized influence relative to their resources register a negative Power Gap.

The distance from the trend line — which is determined using a linear regression — reveals how well each country converts its resources into influence in Asia.

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Japan’s Power Gap score of 10.5 reveals it to be a quintessential smart power, making efficient use of limited resources to wield broad-based diplomatic, economic and cultural influence in the region. By contrast, North Korea — a misfit middle power — derives its power principally from its military resources and nuclear weapons capability. The country’s diplomatic and economic isolation, however, limits its regional influence resulting in a Power Gap score of –7.3.

Australia, Singapore and South Korea have more influence than their raw capabilities would indicate. They are highly networked and externally focused. Positive Power Gap scores among top performing middle powers point to their ability and willingness to work collaboratively with other countries to pursue collective interests.

Developing countries often register influence shortfalls — reflecting their unrealised power potential and internal constraints on their ability to project power abroad. Meanwhile, Taiwan delivers inconsistent performances across the influence measures due to a lack of formal diplomatic recognition and the territory’s exclusion from key multilateral forums and initiatives. Russia’s Power Gap score of –6.1 indicates its regional influence is limited by its position on the geographic periphery of Asia.