Author Archives: Ted Osius

Partnership, policy and trade in Asia’s economic recovery

Today, at the Asian Development Bank’s Southeast Asia Development Symposium, leaders from government and the technology industry will discuss how to work together to bring about a strong recovery from COVID-19. 

This is a vital conversation. Advances in policy and technology have always led to progress and opportunity. But in Asia Pacific today, with another 663 million people poised to come online by 2025—and the virus only increasing the importance of digital knowledge and tools— it’s more important than ever that policymakers and technology-makers work towards common goals. It’s how we ensure the benefits of technology are shared as widely and equitably as possible.

Shared responsibility

Throughout the region, the pandemic has given rise to new public-private initiatives to protect people’s health and livelihoods, and to help businesses and workers get through. Google is involved in many of them. Together with our government partners, we’re focused on helping people reskill and find jobs, closing digital divides, and providing helpful platforms. We’re supporting the growth of digital economies by investing in network and cloud infrastructure, and striving to make progress on challenges like combating misinformation, developing digital literacy and protecting privacy.

We need to continue this spirit of shared responsibility, not just during the recovery from COVID, but to lay the ground for the long term. Jobs initiatives like Skills Ignition in Singapore show how government-industry collaboration can be a model for a more inclusive type of recovery. At the same time, there’s scope for partnership on a much broader range of challenges where technology can make a difference, from disaster readiness to disease prevention. In many of these areas, the work being done in Asia Pacific is world-leading. 

Global leadership on digital trade

When it comes to government policy, the Asia Pacific region has another opportunity to lead the way globally. The region has been central to global trade for centuries—the next step is to translate this for the digital era. 

Two recent digital trade agreements—between Singapore and Australia, and between Singapore, New Zealand and Chile—show Asia Pacific governments setting global rules for digital trade. They’re a template for how countries can share and protect data, foster new ideas, grow digital industries and—most importantly—harness technology to create jobs and improve living standards. 

We will need more such agreements in the wake of the coronavirus. Fair and open access to digital platforms and tools is critical for small businesses and startups, enabling them to compete in international markets, and boosting economic growth across borders. In Southeast Asia, to use one example, Bain estimates that digital integration could add $1 trillion to regional GDP by 2025. 

Equally important is the message that digital trade agreements send. The right approach to economic recovery is cooperation, not protectionism, including preserving and strengthening the open, global internet as a foundation for commerce and entrepreneurship. We recognize Google’s responsibility in this, and we want to work with governments, businesses, and international organizations like the Asian Development Bank to ensure the digital infrastructure is in place for talent and trade to thrive in the decade ahead. 

Over 30 years in diplomacy and business, I’ve seen the power of effective partnership and far-sighted policy in this region’s incredible progress. All of us at Google are looking forward to helping build on that progress in the post-COVID world. 

Media literacy for Asia’s next generation

When I served as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, it often struck me that young people there had vastly more access to news and information than I did when I first lived in that country 20 years earlier—a sign of how things can change for the better from generation to generation.  

The internet has enabled people in Vietnam and across Asia Pacific to learn, connect and express themselves in ways we couldn’t have imagined in the past. We need to keep expanding those opportunities, but we also need to help the next generation explore the internet with confidence as they come online.

As Google marks UNESCO Global Media and Information Literacy Week, we’re building on our efforts to promote media literacy and combat misinformation. We’re constantly working to make a difference with our own products, like improving our algorithms to prioritize authoritative sourcesand original reporting in search results. At the same time, through a $10 million Google News Initiative media literacy campaign funded by, we’re supporting expert organizations across the region as they develop new approaches for teaching media literacy. 

In Southeast Asia, this includes programs run by the Indonesian Anti-Slander Society and the Child and Youth Media Institute in Thailand to create video teaching tools for local schools, building on a pilot program we developed with the University of Hong Kong. And today we took the next step, announcing that will support a new initiative run by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication in the Philippines. The funding will enable the AIJC to hold “school summits” across the country, training 300 high school teachers so they can teach media literacy to around 9,000 students each year—helping them tell the difference between misinformation and reliable news online.

We asked Ramon Tuazon, President of the AIJC, to tell us a bit more.  

In 2017, the Philippines became the first country in Asia to make media and information literacy (MIL) part of its high school curriculum. Why is this so important?  

When we first started discussing adding MIL to the curriculum in 2013, we knew we had to address misrepresentation and propaganda in traditional media as well as social media. But we also had to deal with the new challenges the internet has created, including the fact that young people are becoming media literate online before they learn ethics and responsibility in how to use technology.  

With the new campaign, what do you hope students and teachers get out of the experience? 

I hope the students gain new perspectives and better understand how to verify news, deal with their biases and be sensitive to misinformation and disinformation. For teachers, I hope the training helps them learn new, creative and engaging teaching approaches.  Over the long term, I hope both teachers and students will be able to go out and challenge misinformation on social media and other platforms.  

What’s next after this initial campaign? 

We’ll be working closely with the Department of Education to continue improving how we teach media and information literacy as part of the curriculum, including through new tools and better teacher training.  Our challenge is to expand this new initiative nationwide.