Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan highlights his bid to advance his vision of the China dream. This, however, will require changes in the global balance of power that countries around the world, including Southeast Asian countries, will find hard to manage. How will China proceed from here, and will it be able to win allies along the way?
ISEAS researcher David Arase says that following Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, China has sought to bully the island with a series of import bans and a de facto blockade. China's moves seem to follow the pattern of Russian bluster and military mobilisation preceding its invasion of Ukraine, which might then lead to armed conflict that would destabilise and divide Southeast Asia.
China has doubled down on its alignment with Russia against the West. This has led to a proliferation of minilaterals and security partnerships aligned with the US. China's launch of its Global Security Initiative is not helping to assuage Western worries of Chinese ambitions and countries in the region are also wary. What will this mean for Southeast Asia?
Since the coronavirus pandamic hit, Japan has been trying to reduce an overdependence on China vis-à-vis its supply chains. But this is by no means a sign that it wants to decouple from the Chinese economy. Several Japanese firms in fact have the intention to expand their operations in China. However, the geopolitical situation and other factors have meant a sharp deterioration in bilateral relations including the stalling of a planned state visit by President Xi Jinping. International politics professor David Arase opines that even with the best of intentions and efforts, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would find it difficult to maintain meaningful relations with China in a divisive world. Closer Japan-ASEAN ties may be one of the upsides out of the chaos.