Politics

The TikTok logo is displayed in the app store in this photograph in view of a video feed of US President Donald Trump, 3 Aug 2020. (Hollie Adams/Bloomberg)

US wants it banned while the Chinese calls it a traitor. Is this the end of TikTok?

As TikTok edges towards its deadline of 15 September to either be sold to a US buyer or banned in the US, it is ironic to think that Bytedance, its parent company, is getting bruised from all sides. Some of its harshest critics, in fact, are intensely patriotic Chinese citizens who think that it has not gone far enough in pushing back on unreasonable US demands. Can ByteDance appease the gods and the hoards before the deadline is up?
The TikTok app icon sits displayed on a smartphone in front of the national flags of China and the US in this arranged photograph in London, 3 August 2020. (Hollie Adams/Bloomberg)

Chinese companies going global? Take heed of TikTok's crisis

With its “China DNA” and despite its popularity, TikTok may end up being blocked in the US and eventually elsewhere in the world. Will its discussions with Microsoft work out? Or will it have to pull out of the US? And beyond TikTok, what does this episode mean for Chinese companies in the process of internationalising their businesses?
A People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy soldier stands in front of a backdrop featuring Chinese President Xi Jinping during an open day of Stonecutters Island naval base, in Hong Kong, China, on 30 June 2019. (Tyrone Siu/File Photo/Reuters)

Why is the West ganging up to fight the Chinese ruling party?

“The new Cold War” is becoming a catchphrase for the state of relations between China and the US. But the China of today and the web of connections it shares with the US is very different from the former Soviet Union. Is calling the conflict a clash of ideologies oversimplifying the issue? Even further, is it in the US’s interest to do so to corral support for its actions against China at home and abroad? Zhu Ying examines the issue.
A protester holds a US flag outside of the Chinese consulate in Houston on 24 July 2020, after the US State Department ordered China to close the consulate. (Mark Felix/AFP)

Playing the China card — how far will Trump go?

As US-China relations continue to deteriorate, political scientist Zhu Zhiqun worries that there is a real risk of an accidental hot war breaking out if cool heads do not prevail. While China must do its part not to react disproportionately, the US is very much in the driver’s seat when it comes to de-escalating tensions. With China hawks at the helm in the Trump administration and elections just months away however, US-China relations are set for a rocky road ahead.
The skyline of Singapore's central business district, 27 May 2016. (Edgar Su/REUTERS)

Can small states continue to avoid choosing between China and the US?

With the jostling between China and the US, one country that seems to have found a balance between these two powers is Singapore. In fact, other ASEAN countries are also seeking not to take sides, which appears to be the most prudent strategy. However, ISEAS academic William Choong thinks that the choice of not making a choice may not be feasible in the near future.
A South Korean soldier stands at a checkpoint on the Tongil bridge, the road leading to North Korea's Kaesong joint industrial complex, in the border city of Paju on 24 June 2020. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP)

When giants fight, even the wisest Southeast Asian leaders are left helpless

Hawaii-based academic Denny Roy notes the growing tension between North and South Korea, as well as US relations with China and the rest of the world, and explores how these might affect the situation in Southeast Asia.
Da Nang beach, Vietnam, where the American MASH unit operated during the Vietnam War. (iStock)

Should Vietnam file a case against China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea?

Vietnam’s recent decision to cancel deals for oil and gas activities in waters around Vanguard Bank has caused significant financial and reputational damage. ISEAS academic Le Hong Hiep says while there are several reasons for Vietnam cancelling the deals, Chinese pressure is high on the list and Hanoi needs to rethink its strategy to avoid similar incidents in the future.
Iranian-Americans protest China's bypassing of US sanctions in doing business with Iran, as well as what they believe as the handing over of Kish island in the Persian Gulf to China in exchange for military, regional and international support, in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, California on 10 July 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP)

Deepening China-Iran relations could change global geopolitics

Following The New York Times’ report that China and Iran are about to conclude a mega investment-for-oil deal, speculations have gone into overdrive about the US sending Iran into the arms of China with its recent hostile policies towards both countries. Ma Haiyun looks at the implications of ever-closer relations between China and Iran and argues that if strategic partnerships weave a web of interconnectivity between countries that are both on the Indo-Pacific rim and Eurasian continent, global geopolitics would be fundamentally changed.
Chinese and US flags flutter before a trade meeting in Shanghai, China, 30 July 2019. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Chinese academic: 'China will walk its chosen path and let Western countries talk!'

In the current political climate, the possibility of a phase two trade deal between China and the US is practically a non-starter. So be it, says Zhu Ying. China has shown that it wants to walk its own path, and will probably do so even more resolutely as it bristles at criticism of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.