Surveys show that the elite’s opinion toward China diverges with those of citizens in Singapore and Indonesia. Elites tend to weigh long-term geopolitical strategies and have more access to information, but increased citizen engagement will enhance foreign policy.
While there are risks involved in pursuing deeper cooperation with Taiwan beyond trade and economics, ASEAN should not shy away from exploring possibilities even while abiding by the "one China" policy. This is where greater trade cooperation and city-to-city linkages could come in.
Although geopolitics is encroaching onto climate change discussions, a poll shows that Southeast Asians remain objective and pragmatic. Achieving climate goals in the region depends on realpolitik and ASEAN leaders’ shrewdness in tapping resources from all major powers.
The 26th Conference of Parties in Glasgow (COP26) concluded with several high-level political pledges delivered, but it is another matter if they will be followed through. For the Southeast Asian region, Indonesian commitments to the phase down of fossil fuel subsidies and the global goal to end deforestation by 2030 will be critical. The broken promise of climate finance may also affect several Southeast Asian countries' ability to see through their pledges. China's climate leadership on the phasing out of coal has taken a hit but amid the gloom, there are some bright spots, not least China and the US finally finding some common ground.
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?