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

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.  

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.

Chinese city offers trial coronavirus vaccine and people are queueing for it

A community hospital in Yiwu, Zhejiang, is offering coronavirus vaccinations to the public, as long as they make online bookings and offer proof of work or study in Yiwu. But how reliable are these proofs, and how effective is the vaccine? Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing finds out more.

The problem of inappropriate language in China's diplomacy

In today’s complex world of international relations, it seems that China has much to learn about the art of diplomacy. Boston University PhD candidate Pang Ruizhi says that China needs to stop using coarse, overly hostile and inappropriate diplomatic language, or risk diminishing, rather than growing its influence.

The Chinese are hopeful about Antony Blinken’s appointment as the US’s top diplomat

Chinese media commentators have thus far been sanguine about incoming US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They hope that his past rhetoric of engaging China and advancing practical cooperation will make a return with him when he assumes his post. But have US-China relations gone down too far a road of no-return?

The overstatement of the RCEP

Chinese netizens and commentators have largely celebrated the RCEP as being China-led and a coup for China. Zhu Ying provides a reality check as to why the Chinese should instead have their feet firmly on the ground.

Cambodia needs to avoid putting all its eggs in the Chinese basket

Cambodia’s post-pandemic foreign policy is constrained by the need to sustain its economic growth while maintaining independence and sovereignty, amid the challenge and uncertainty caused by the growing strategic competition between China and the US. Academic Kimkong Heng says Cambodia needs to refrain from actions that appear to serve China’s core strategic interests, proactively engage all strategic partners, and walk a diplomatic tightrope between China and the US.

China’s true intentions in wanting to join the CPTPP

After years of being excluded from the TPP that later became the CPTPP, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently commented that China is “favourably considering” joining the CPTPP. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks at why China seems to be keen to hop on this bandwagon which was originally set up to target China.

US vs China: Who is more resilient?

Even as some dismiss the US and say it is set on a downward trajectory, commentator Deng Qingbo says its powers of recovery are too strong for it to be ruled out. As a superpower, it has the means to make adjustments and move forward. China has much of that resilience too, given that is the only country in the world with an unbroken civilisation of 5,000 years. Deng examines the strengths and weaknesses of both nations in terms of their abilities to recover from setbacks, and their nimbleness in correcting mistakes.

Woman traveller of the Qing dynasty Qian Shan Shili: Education is the bedrock of a nation

The little-known Qian Shan Shili had the opportunity to travel in the days of upheaval at the end of the Qing dynasty and at the dawn of a new republic. She was the first woman to record her thoughts in two travelogues and felt strongly that China’s new education system paled in comparison with that of other countries such as Japan. She concluded that education should have the aim of building critical-thinking men and women rather than just nurturing a crop of scholars with exceptional talent. After all, she notes, without citizens, how can there be talents? And without citizens, there can certainly be no society. These are wise words, says cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai, that remain relevant even today.

Final battle: Chinese youths' hard fight with gaokao

There is a term that every young student in China knows well and probably dreads: the gaokao, or university entrance exam. The intense competition and pressure is enough to strain any person to breaking point, given the high stakes — real or perceived. Comic artist Bai Yi presents the all-too-familiar struggle to meet expectations.

Liu Thai Ker and Ke Huanzhang: Urban planners are servants of the city

How do urban planners go about their work and what contributions do they make to the building of liveable cities? Ke Huanzhang, former head of the Beijing Academy of Urban Planning and Design, is all for the seamless melding of a good ecological environment, living facilities, jobs and public services in a city. Liu Thai Ker, the former chief architect and CEO of Singapore’s Housing Development Board, says a good planner needs to have the heart of a humanist, the brain of a scientist, and the eye of an artist. Tan Ying Zhen speaks to the veteran urban planners as part of a series of fireside chats put together to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.

Southeast Asia a contested venue for telecommunication superpowers building 5G networks

Many Southeast Asian telecommunication providers have rolled out their 5G masterplans and selected vendors this year, with Covid-19 prompting the need to accelerate the upgrading of digital infrastructure. However, while most Southeast Asian countries welcome collaboration with Chinese telecommunication vendors including Huawei, some telecommunication providers in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines have recently moved away from partnering with Chinese companies. ISEAS academic Melinda Martinus finds out SEA's preferred vendors for developing 5G networks, and the reasons behind these shifts in preferences. Are Chinese companies still well-positioned to seize the opportunities in this arena?

Chinese ambassador Hong Xiaoyong: New journey for China’s development; new opportunities for China-Singapore cooperation

China's next phase of development will focus on achieving high-quality development and building a modern socialist country, says China's ambassador to Singapore, Hong Xiaoyong. Much attention will be paid to fostering innovation and green growth, and in pursuing a coordinated approach in building prosperity for the Chinese people. China will also continue to engage the world through its dual circulation strategy, turning the China market into a market accessible to all. In these efforts, there are many opportunities for Singapore and China to work together, building on their years of cooperation and synergies. Ambassador Hong wrote this article in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Singapore.