ThinkChina — Gold award for Best News Website or Mobile Service WAN-IFRA Asian Digital Media Awards 2020.

Is China facing a demographic crisis?

China’s latest population census was completed late last year, but the results will only be announced on 11 May, pushed back from early April. Some speculate that the delay is due to sensitive findings such as the severity of the declining birth rate. Is China facing a demographic crisis and how will the government seek to balance population challenges and economic growth? Yu Zeyuan throws up some possibilities.

Feisty and delicate: Vietnam's approach to handling great power rivalry

Vietnam’s domestic and foreign policy structures held up well in 2020 in the face of significant challenges involving Covid-19, chairing ASEAN, and relations with China and the US. Vietnam continued to maintain a delicate balance between China and the US, while at the same time retaining a strategic option to pursue deeper defence and military relations with the US. Its ability to maintain and enhance agency, in particular in its relations with Beijing, offers lessons for other Southeast Asian countries facing the same dilemma.

Exploring Dehua porcelain and Anxi tea with a Dutchman

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai recalls his study tour in Dehua county sampling tea as he visited dragon kilns and pottery workshops. He was delighted to extend warm hospitality to a Chinese-speaking Dutchman who was there to learn about Dehua porcelain and Anxi tea.

Japan passes China in the sprint to win Cambodian hearts and minds

Since 2010, Japan’s foreign policy toward Cambodia includes a new geopolitical dimension of balancing China’s influence in Cambodia, including strategies such as non-interference in Cambodia’s domestic affairs and providing development assistance that aligns with the Cambodian government’s development plan, focusing on infrastructure, human capital development, and agriculture. Japan has been relatively successful given the Cambodian population’s mixed reactions to China’s engagement in Cambodia. And it seems that Cambodia will continue to benefit from Japan's balancing-China strategy, as long as China-Japan rivalry stays manageable.   

The ugly scenes behind China's talent shows

The voting mechanism for elimination variety shows in China nowadays demands fans to put their money where their mouth is — pushing their favourites up the ranks with “support” that can be bought in cash. Clever marketing tactics by sponsors or a slippery slope bordering on exploitation?

China's CPC deepens ties with Philippine political parties

Under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, party-to-party (P2P) relations have been forged and deepened between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and various Philippine political parties. Such P2P diplomacy offers China a new diplomatic channel to promote bilateral relations and complement confidence-building measures. It also enables Beijing to hedge at the sub-national level given the plurality of political bases in the Philippines. Philippine researcher Aaron Jed Rabena looks at the engagements thus far and examines how these may affect Philippine domestic politics.

India's coronavirus crisis is the world's crisis. Politics needs to take a back seat.

In hindsight, Zhu Zhiqun analyses some of India’s missteps that have left it ill-prepared to handle the second wave of Covid-19. China and other countries should learn from this: it is still not time to slacken one's vigilance against Covid-19, and a friend in need is a friend indeed.

Will Indonesia-China vaccine cooperation affect Jakarta's South China Sea stance?

Indonesia is among the Southeast Asian nations most heavily stricken by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ASEAN country that conducts the most comprehensive vaccine cooperation with China. Still, it has tried to diversify its vaccine supply to avoid being over-reliant on China's vaccine. Unsurprisingly, China’s vaccine diplomacy in Southeast Asia carries an expectation that recipient countries should be more accommodating on the South China Sea issue. Will Indonesia's resolve to stand firm on ASEAN’s position on the South China Sea waver?

No one in the world loves the US as much as the Chinese? Not anymore.

China is no longer as enamoured with the US as it used to be, with its realisation that the US will never allow it to reach to its level and stand on an equal footing. Freed from sentimentality towards the US, China may accelerate its search for new partners to ensure its survival, says Han Dongping.

Chinese authorities' Weibo post lambasted for mocking India's coronavirus crisis

A recent post from an official social media account of the Chinese authorities mocking India’s coronavirus situation has been removed following intense debate. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu speaks to Chinese academics, who note that such crass comparisons do no favours for China’s image in the international arena.

What the Chinese government wants to tell Alibaba and China's tech giants [Part II]

Alibaba was fined a record 18.2 billion RMB after an anti-monopoly probe. Commentator Yuan Guobao observes that Alibaba is not the only tech giant in China accused of monopolistic practices; for that matter, the “big four” companies in the US have also come under the spotlight. All this suggests that on a global level, tech companies must be prepared to adhere to a strict regulatory environment, even as they break new ground.

Is Alibaba doomed? [Part I]

Alibaba was recently slapped with a 18.2 billion RMB fine and has acquiesced to state authorities’ demands for “rectification''. Commentator Yuan Guobao asserts that Alibaba’s “choose one out of two” policy of tying online merchants down to exclusive deals was already sounding alarm bells. Jack Ma’s politically incorrect speech at the Shanghai Bund Summit may have been a fire starter, but the tech giant’s troubles have been brewing for quite some time.

Rising tensions in the South China Sea: Rising power of Vietnamese army

The Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) appears to be gaining leverage in Vietnam’s political system. This increasing influence reflects the security concerns of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) over growing tensions in the South China Sea, and its political position has also benefited from the growing importance of the defence industry and the commercial success of military-run businesses. How would such a development affect Vietnam's political, economic and foreign policy outlook?

Can private Chinese enterprises truly ‘develop boldly and with confidence’?

Amid punishments meted out to Chinese private enterprises such as Alibaba, President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to various private enterprises was seen as a way for the Chinese government to assure companies that the state would still be supporting them. However, the status of private enterprises has always been a little fuzzy in China. Companies feel that they are at a disadvantage when competing with state-owned enterprises and may be reined in when they grow too large. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong looks for a way out.   

[Photo story] The Soong sisters and their place in Chinese modern history

The Soong sisters — Ai-ling, Ching-ling and Mei-ling — born in Shanghai and educated in the US, are some of the most well-known personalities in Chinese modern history. All of them were supporters of the nationalist revolution; two of them went on to become the wives of revolutionary leaders Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and political figures in their own right. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao examines their impact through his collection of photos.

Morning call in Zhejiang: Mutton with shaojiu

In Haiyan county, Zhejiang, local fishermen used to down a bowl of piping hot braised mutton with shaojiu before battling the icy winds at sea. Now, local trades dominated by textiles and hardware have moved onto land. But the tradition of rising at dawn for braised mutton and a tipple lives on. 

'Promiscuous diplomacy': How ASEAN navigates Indo-Pacific polemics and potentials

Despite releasing the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific in June 2019, ASEAN member states have yet to reach a coherent view on the Indo-Pacific, and remain ambivalent about the Indo-Pacific due to the concept’s malleability and external pressures from China and Russia. However, the Biden Administration’s proactive moves to consolidate the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy, especially through the first Quad summit, has injected further dynamism into the Indo-Pacific discourse. Would this mean more opportunities or limitations for ASEAN member states? ISEAS researcher Hoang Thi Ha examines the issue.