Lye Liang Fook

Senior Fellow, Coordinator of Vietnam Studies Programme at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

Mr Lye Liang Fook is Senior Fellow and Coordinator of Vietnam Studies Programme at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.  His research interests cover China-ASEAN relations as well as China-Singapore relations, including the Suzhou Industrial Park - the first government-to-government project between Singapore and China and developments on the Tianjin Eco-city and Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, the second and third flagship projects between the two countries.

This handout photo taken on 13 January 2021 by Indonesia's Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs shows Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) meeting with Indonesian Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investments Minister Luhut Pandjaitan in Parapat, on the edge of Lake Toba in North Sumatra, to discuss cooperation on investments. (Handout/Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs/AFP)

Wang Yi’s Southeast Asia tour: How China woos Southeast Asia in view of US-China competition

In January 2021, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited several ASEAN countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines, in an effort to push for collaboration in key projects under the BRI, and providing access to Chinese vaccines. However, Beijing’s passage of a new coastguard law has undermined Wang Yi’s outreach efforts. ISEAS academic Lye Liang Fook explains what is behind China's efforts and looks into its implications.
This picture taken and released on 30 October 2020 by the Vietnam News Agency shows Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (R) bumping elbows to greet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before a meeting in Hanoi. (Bui Lam Khanh/Vietnam News Agency/AFP)

Overzealous attempts by China and the US to sway Southeast Asia countries counter-productive

Southeast Asian countries prefer a healthy balance of power between major powers in the region. This is often overlooked by China and the US, which want them to take a stand on issues of concern. ISEAS academic Lye Liang Fook suggests that recent attempts by China and the US to gain support from certain Southeast Asian countries may, in fact, drive them away.
Motorcyclists wearing protective masks sit in traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam, 18 September 2020. (Linh Pham/Bloomberg)

China’s Southeast Asian charm offensive: Is it working?

China has embarked on another round of “charm offensive” in Southeast Asia. In recent weeks, senior Chinese officials have stepped up their visits to Southeast Asia amid worsening US-China relations. It is clear that Beijing is trying to prevent Southeast Asia from veering too close to the US. However, China’s latest overtures have had mixed results — while Southeast Asia value diversification in their external relations, they are increasingly concerned with China’s actions in the South China Sea.
20 August 2020: Yang (left) visited the Deng Xiaoping Marker at ACM Green, which commemorates Deng’s landmark visit to Singapore in 1978 and his contributions to the friendship between Singapore and China. (SPH)

Yang Jiechi’s Singapore visit: Seeking strategic space

China appears to be making a concerted effort to reach out to friendlier countries in an effort to draw them closer. Yang Jiechi, who is a Politburo member and director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, is visiting Singapore and South Korea this week. ISEAS academic Lye Liang Fook thinks that both China and Singapore are seeking to broaden their strategic space amid a more unpredictable and precarious world.
Cambodian soldiers carry aid including medical equipment from China, to be used to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh, 25 April 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

China's aid to Southeast Asia amid adversity — a sign of deeper cooperation ahead? 

Even as China continues to handle the coronavirus, it is extending aid to other countries, not least in Southeast Asia. ISEAS academic Lye Liang Fook traces China's efforts to engage ASEAN in building a "community with a shared future". Does that point to better relations between ASEAN member states and China?
A woman walks in front of a drawing of Chinese President Xi Jinping on a wall at the Leishenshan Hospital that had offered beds for coronavirus patients in Wuhan, April 11, 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Covid-19: China’s shifting narrative and the role of Southeast Asia

Did Covid-19 originate in Wuhan? Were ASEAN countries friendly to China in this fight against the pandemic? Who provided aid to whom? Lye Liang Fook examines how China's narrative has changed since the coronavirus epidemic began and to what extent Southeast Asia has played a role in this process.
Chinese President Xi Jinping with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Great Hall of the People, 5 February 2020. (Xinhua)

Hun Sen’s China visit: Love in the time of coronavirus

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visiting China while the latter is knee-deep in efforts to contain the new coronavirus provides some food for thought. ISEAS academic Lye Liang Fook analyses what it means for China-Cambodia relations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi shake hands at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar January 17, 2020. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Xi’s visit to Myanmar and implications for Southeast Asia

Given the US-China competition, China is working to grow its influence in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia. ISEAS senior fellow Lye Liang Fook looks at the recent visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping to Myanmar, and China's other efforts in Southeast Asia.