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Japanese academic: If US diplomacy lacks a strong base, how can it demonstrate true leadership?

Japanese academic Sahashi Ryo notes that with Biden taking office, the US needs to look at the changing needs of diplomacy and rebuild international relationships, and figure out how to negotiate its ties with China.

Japanese academic: Who will set the new rules in the Asia-Pacific region?

How have China-Japan relations changed under the new Suga administration, and how will they continue to evolve? Japanese academic Tomoki Kamo takes a look at the language used and the diplomatic efforts of each country for clues about the power tussle between China and Japan.

Exemplary punishment: How China's using wolf-warrior tactics on Australia to warn the rest

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian's recent tweet of an image depicting an Australian soldier holding a knife to a child’s throat has brought China-Australia relations to a new low. While the Australian prime minister has softened his stance and even made goodwill gestures to China, these were rejected by Chinese officials and its people. Edwin Ong traces the deterioration of China-Australia relations and notes that China may not rein in its abrasive wolf-warrior tactics anytime soon. However, he says such tactics may not benefit China in the end.

Robust US-Vietnam relations to continue under Biden presidency

Many Vietnamese feel that their country has benefited much from US President Donald Trump’s policies, such as his tough stance on China and the US-China trade war. However, that does not mean that US-Vietnam relations will lose its momentum under a Biden presidency as the two countries strategic goals are aligned, says ISEAS academic Le Hong Hiep.

What can Singapore learn from China?

Two Singaporean businessmen reflect on their years spent working in China, and consider the Chinese approaches and attitudes that Singapore can do well to learn from. With the right bold strategic moves, more targeted incentives to specific sectors and also to civil servants, as well as an openness to adapt some of the lessons from countries like China, Singapore can remain globally relevant in these very uncertain times.

Why Hong Kong is failing to stop the spread of Covid-19 again

During the SARS outbreak in 2003, the whole of Hong Kong came together to fight it. That unity is unfortunately gone now, says Tai Hing Shing. Without that spirit, even if the government bucks up and imposes even harsher measures, Hong Kong may need to brace itself for further waves of Covid-19.

Can Biden’s US lead the world?

US President-elect Joe Biden has said that the US is back and ready to lead the world. Can he really turn things around? The US-China relationship, for one, is already in a serious state of distrust and acrimony. While the methods differ, says Hong Kong-based commentator Zheng Hao, the intended outcomes of the Biden administration’s China policy would likely be very similar to the previous administration’s. But before playing a global leading role of any kind, Biden will have to find a way to prevent his every step from being hindered by conservative Republicans in Congress.

America and Europe are coming together against China, but will it work?

Even under the incoming Biden administration, it is likely that the US will continue seeking to work with allies such as the EU against China. However, says Zhu Ying, having a common agenda, and even a certain amount of willingness, is very different from being able to achieve the goal of joining hands against China.

China's 'new era' for China-Japan relations does not match Japan's needs

With the recent visit to Japan by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, how are China-Japan relations likely to develop? Are concerns that Japan will be "passed over" by the US valid? Japanese academic Shin Kawashima examines the signs.

South Korea and America’s Indo-Pacific strategy: Yes, but not quite

Like many ASEAN member states, South Korea has sought to avoid choosing sides between China and the US. It has adopted an uneasy equidistance between the two great powers and their respective Indo-Pacific Strategy and Belt and Road Initiative power plays.

How to improve China-US relations? Follow these three laws

Wei Da observes that those who paint China and the US as mortal enemies are gravely mistaken or simply disingenuous. In history, the two countries have found a way to work together and even had some honeymoon periods. The truth is, China is well aware that countries with good relations with the US prospered, and it would not like to veer too far away from a similar path. Will deep-seated issues such as ideology and modes of governance get in the way?

Now more than ever, Southeast Asia values a firm American security presence

President-elect Joe Biden will restore a more traditional style of diplomacy to the US, but domestic considerations will weigh heavily on American foreign policy — and Washington’s approach to Southeast Asia.

America needs to value Southeast Asia for its own sake, and not just as a tool to fight China

Following years of neglect under the Trump administration, the Biden administration will need to get both its words and actions right to rebuild trust in the US in Southeast Asia. And one of the fundamentals of building a good relationship is to genuinely listen and respond to Southeast Asians about their interests and priorities, rather than just treating them as tools to counter China's influence.  

Hostile ties with China make it impossible for India to return to RCEP

Without India, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) stops short of being a regional construct for the Indo-Pacific, says ISAS academic Amitendu Palit. However, India is unlikely to reconsider its decision in the foreseeable future because of its worsening relations with China. While China has expressed its interest to be part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), might India’s domestic concerns lead it to miss the boat once again, to its own detriment?

India warms up to the US amid 'new cold' in India-China relations

With both India-China and US-China relations grinding to a halt, the strengthening of India-US ties unnerves China the most, says Amrita Jash. Will recent high-signature events — such as the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) between the US and India, and the Malabar exercise involving the Quad countries of India, Japan, Australia and the US — have China walking on eggshells?

Are Cold War-era slogans making a return in the internet age?

Having lived through the Cold War era when people were misled by empty slogans and labels, Taiwanese writer Chiang Hsun cautions that we may once again find ourselves under the influence of such meaningless words in the noisy internet age. Have we lost our basic cognitive skills to observe and contemplate in solitude? 

The backpacker and travel writer from 400 years ago — China's Xu Xiake

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai celebrates the free-spirited explorer Xu Xiake, who roamed the depths of China in the late Ming dynasty. Xu's journeys were hardly glorious forays that forged new paths or alliances. But for the quiet reminder they give to embrace one’s passions and explore the world, Xu will be fondly remembered.