Block Huawei's 5G? India could end up shooting itself in the foot instead

Senior military officers from India and China held the latest high-level talks to discuss border tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on 14 July. The talk which lasted for 15 hours took place at Chushul on the Indian side of the LAC, and contents of the discussion are yet to be made public. Although India and China have had their border disagreements, they are partners economically. Recently, the Indian government has banned 59 Chinese apps on grounds of national security, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deleted his Weibo account. India has also threatened to block Huawei's 5G system. What are the likely consequences? China academic Xu Hongbo examines the issue.

Japanese academic: China stoking tensions in East China Sea

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima says that increasingly aggressive moves by China in the East China Sea will be interpreted by Japan as provocation and contribute to deteriorating Sino-Japanese relations.

Cancelling Xi Jinping's visit to Japan? Vested interests split views of Japanese politicians

Factionalism within the LDP has cast the spotlight on the prospect of Japan cancelling a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan that was postponed earlier in the year. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima rationalises that such requests are not a unified LDP view, much less a government one. With a general election coming up in Japan, Sino-Japanese relations will no doubt continue to be part of the shadow play, but there being no smoke without fire, the deterioration of Sino-Japanese relations cannot be underestimated as well.

[South China Sea] Should the Philippines avoid playing the lead role amid rising tensions in SCS?

Chinese academic Lin Qi says following the arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016, which, inter alia, said that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’”, the Philippines has gone on to stake a firmer claim in the South China Sea such as by undertaking upgrading works on certain islands it inhabits and proposing draft amendments to the “national territory” article of its constitution. However, in many of its endeavours, it relies on the US and will continue to work closely with them amid rising tensions in the region.

[South China Sea] Is Malaysia adopting a more confrontational SCS policy? 

In recent years, Malaysia seems to have moved away from its role as a “low-profile pragmatist” in the South China Sea dispute as it seeks to assert its rights over oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters, and as its threat perceptions of China increase. It looks set to continue butting heads with China amid the ongoing global pandemic and increasing US-China competition in the region.

[South China Sea] Pandemic and US-Japan support reasons for Indonesia’s strong stance on SCS

In late May, Indonesia wrote to the UN to register its objection to China’s nine-dash line in the South China Sea (SCS), saying that there is no legal basis for China’s claim. China academic Long Yan notes that this is quite an unexpected move from the relatively quiet Indonesia, who is not a main player in the SCS dispute. It remains to be seen if external support from countries such as Japan and the US will boost Indonesia’s confidence in protecting its rights and interests in the SCS, despite its strong economic ties with China.

Floods in China: Can the Three Gorges Dam weather ‘once-in-a-century massive floods in the Yangtze River’?

Close to 20 million people across 26 provinces and cities in the areas spanning China’s southwestern region to the midstream and downstream areas of the Yangtze River have been displaced due to severe flooding over the past few weeks. The Three Gorges Dam has long been held up as a bulwark against such massive floods in the area, but recent signs that it is literally buckling under the pressure cast doubts on its ability to be an effective flood control mechanism.

What I Ching and the mangrove tree flowers tell us about life

Chiang Hsun contemplates the transience of life as he observes the fleeting lifespan of mangrove tree flowers found along the riverbanks of Southeast Asia, southern China and elsewhere. Every flower has its own place and purpose, but like life, its brilliance is extinguished all too fast. How can one discern the meaning of life then? Perhaps the three-thousand-year-old book of I Ching offers us some clues.

Purple underwear and qipao — tips to ace China’s gaokao

China’s gaokao began yesterday, with millions of students taking this national university entrance exam (gaokao). One phenomenon that got Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu curious was students wearing purple underwear to the exams. She examines this and other superstitions that give students a mental boost in the exam, and says that the gaokao needs to remain fair.

Australia boosting security relations with Southeast Asia and the US in the face of heightened threats

Australia’s recently-released defence update may be the most consequential document yet in terms of Canberra’s defence relations with Southeast Asia. Australia is asking its Southeast Asia partners to do more, while offering them more in return. It is also boosting its military self-reliance and its alliance relationship with the US.

Is Hong Kong the ‘ground zero of a China-US Cold War’?

Hong Kong and its uncertain future has become a political metaphor for China-US relations and the future of the world order, says Zheng Weibin. If the passage of the national security law portends that “one country, two systems” is not viable in practice, what else is there left except for an all-out duel between socialism and capitalism?

Modernise China’s governance? Get rid of deities and emperors

China has put a lot of effort into modernising its governance system over the decades, but it still seems to miss the mark or to have even regressed in some areas. EAI academic Lance Gore puts this down to a muddled understanding of what true modernisation entails. Cult of personality, formalism, and conformity still permeate the system to a large degree, such that decision-makers live in a bubble thinking that all is well.

The psychology of facial aesthetics: A cultural perspective

Hayson Wang, who specialises in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery, shares some insights into the way facial beauty is defined by science and in different cultures.

A 'left-wing cultural revolution' has come to America?

There is little doubt that the US is in disarray at the moment. Hong Kong political commentator Chip Tsao does not hold back in giving his views on the current situation in the US, claiming that America’s move to the left after eight years under the Democratic Party have worsened the culture of political correctness and left little room for policies that motivate disadvantaged groups to keep their feet on the ground and contribute to society. The middle class is also made to shoulder growing societal and financial burdens. In that light, would the prospect of a change in the US government in five months time be a boon or bane?

The fight over Hong Kong: Does it belong to China or the world?

From the speed and single-mindedness with which Beijing has passed the national security law for Hong Kong, it is evident that it is highly suspicious of foreign intervention and threats to national sovereignty. With the enactment of this law, it may have reaffirmed its authority and returned Hong Kong firmly under its wings, but has it achieved the return of the hearts and minds of the Hong Kong people? And while Beijing believes that it owns Hong Kong, some Hong Kongers and the Western world think otherwise.

A great America is in China's interest

Japan-based academic Zhang Yun says America's global strategy to create a unipolar order during the post-Cold War period is a mistake. But it does not mean that it has lost its window of “strategically opportune time” to be a great country. In asking "Who lost the US?" and "How America can truly be great again?", he comes to the conclusion that a great America will not only benefit itself and the world, but be in the interest of China.

Tang dynasty's Wu Zetian: Was she a wise emperor or did she ruin the country?

A television series about Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history, has Cheng Pei-kai reflecting about the semantics (read: politics) involved in the title bestowed on this charismatic figure. Did she live up to her many labels, or even more powerfully yet, was she really a character that defied any labels? History refuses to make a definite call.