Politics

A vendor grills bananas across buildings under construction in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 6 January 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

No more easy money: Will BRI projects in Southeast Asia slow and stall?

A new study suggests that official Chinese lending has dropped in recent years. This stems from lessons learnt after a decade of mistakes in overseas lending. How would this affect Belt and Road Initiative projects in Southeast Asia?
People wearing face masks attend a New Year's countdown in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on 31 December 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Shaping rules of the future: The goal for China's third opening up

Even if it might be a unilateral move, China should embark on its third phase of opening up, says Zheng Yongnian. The first phase of China’s opening up took place after the Opium War while the second was led by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. Now, in the face of unprecedented challenges of the new century, China must undertake a higher-order opening up, and work towards setting global standards and formulating rules at the international level. These endeavours begin at home, with the domestic standardisation of rules in different regions and localities.
US President Donald Trump speaks, with a flag behind him, during a campaign rally at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, Florida, US, 24 September 2020. (Tom Brenner/REUTERS)

Decoding the 'hyperactive' outgoing Trump administration

The US State Department recently cancelled all overseas trips, including the planned trips by UN envoy Kelly Craft to Taiwan, and Secretary of State Pompeo to Europe. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong takes a look at what it says about the outgoing Trump administration and the implications for President-elect Joe Biden’s team going forward.
A sign welcoming US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is placed near the US Capitol days after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol in Washington, US, 10 January 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Can America find its way under Biden?

His divisive ways had earned President Donald Trump the moniker “Trump who builds our nation” amongst Chinese netizens. When President-elect Biden assumes power, will he be straitjacketed by the radical left in his party and be turned unwittingly into another “Biden who builds our nation” to the Chinese? Will America's troubles translate to opportunities for China?
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather at the west entrance of the Capitol during a "Stop the Steal" protest outside of the Capitol building in Washington D.C., 6 January 2021. (Stephanie Keith/REUTERS)

Capitol siege: Is American democracy doomed?

US academic Zhu Zhiqun gives his take on the future of US leadership and the state of its democracy, making the sad observation that from now on, no one in the world is likely to see, respect, or depend on the US in the same way again. But is American democracy truly doomed?
Paramilitary police stand guard as people gather to celebrate the arrival of the New Year near the Bund in Shanghai, China, 31 December 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Covid-19 will be overcome, but can China and the US avoid the risk of war and conflict?

US-based researcher Wei Da feels that both China and the US need to make significant adjustments in their relations with each other, or else the scenario of a new Cold War and a real threat of hot war will not be far off. Who needs to understand that the world is different now, and adjustments have to be made? And who is the more backward party that has to adjust more?
This handout photo taken and released by the Indian Navy on 17 November 2020 shows ships taking part in the second phase of the Malabar naval exercise in the Arabian sea. India, Australia, Japan and the United States started the second phase of a strategic navy drill in the Northern Arabian sea. (Indian Navy/AFP)

Indo-Pacific: The central theatre of 21st century great power struggle

ISEAS academic Daljit Singh notes that the new great power contest has spilled over into the Indian Ocean, and the term “Indo-Pacific” will better reflect the strategic geography of this central theatre of the 21st century great power struggle.
This photo taken on 4 January 2021 shows Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers assembling during military training at Pamir Mountains in Kashgar, northwestern China's Xinjiang region. (STR/AFP)

Japanese academic: China needs to show more self-restraint in PLA's military activities

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has ramped up its military activities in the South China Sea, East China Sea and around the island of Taiwan in the year 2020. Japanese academic Sugiura Yasuyuki believes that such actions will continue to escalate this coming year. He thinks China needs to exercise some restraint to avoid destabilising the status quo in the East Asia region.
A button featuring President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' inauguration is on display by a street vendor in Eatonton, Georgia, 2 January 2021. (Alex Wong/AFP)

Japanese academic: The Chinese and Japanese differ in their perceptions of Biden's China policy

With US President-elect Joe Biden poised to take office in a week, Japanese academic Shin Kawashima compares how China and Japan view the incoming administration, and how their differing views may impact on foreign relations and geopolitics.