Politics

This file photo taken on 13 October 2011 shows a P-3C patrol plane of Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea. A local assembly of Japan's southern Okinawa island on June 22, 2020 approved a plan to rename the area covering disputed islands in the East China Sea, sparking protests from Beijing and Taipei. (STR/AFP)

Japanese academic: China stoking tensions in East China Sea

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima says that increasingly aggressive moves by China in the East China Sea will be interpreted by Japan as provocation and contribute to deteriorating Sino-Japanese relations.
An outdoor screen shows live coverage of China’s President Xi Jinping attending the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, 28 May 2020. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

Cancelling Xi Jinping's visit to Japan? Vested interests split views of Japanese politicians

Factionalism within the LDP has cast the spotlight on the prospect of Japan cancelling a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan that was postponed earlier in the year. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima rationalises that such requests are not a unified LDP view, much less a government one. With a general election coming up in Japan, Sino-Japanese relations will no doubt continue to be part of the shadow play, but there being no smoke without fire, the deterioration of Sino-Japanese relations cannot be underestimated as well.
A woman walks past a Communist Party slogan urging people to "Follow the Party forever" outside a residential compound in Beijing on 6 July 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP)

The return of Mao-era practices: New threat to China's political and economic modernisation

EAI academic Lance Gore says that the Communist Party of China is reenacting the“great leader model” and reviving many practices of the Mao era. These include tightening control over information flow and restricting freedom of speech, enhancing propaganda and ideological and political indoctrination, emphasising obedience and absolute loyalty, advancing the ideal of the party acting for the government, among others. He says these anti-modernisation tactics need to be addressed as China attempts to modernise its governance and build institutions with soul.
This handout photo received on 9 June 2020 from the Department National Defense Philippines (DND), shows Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana (centre) along with military officials cutting a ribbon during the inauguration ceremony of the newly constructed beach-ramp at Philippine-held Pag-asa Island also known as Thitu Island in the Spratly archipelagos. (Handout/Department National Defense Philippines (DND)/AFP)

[South China Sea] Should the Philippines avoid playing the lead role amid rising tensions in SCS?

Chinese academic Lin Qi says following the arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016, which, inter alia, said that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’”, the Philippines has gone on to stake a firmer claim in the South China Sea such as by undertaking upgrading works on certain islands it inhabits and proposing draft amendments to the “national territory” article of its constitution. However, in many of its endeavours, it relies on the US and will continue to work closely with them amid rising tensions in the region.
A boy sits on a bench on Batu Burok beach in Kuala Terengganu, in Malaysia by the South China Sea, on 26 June 2020. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP)

[South China Sea] Is Malaysia adopting a more confrontational SCS policy? 

In recent years, Malaysia seems to have moved away from its role as a “low-profile pragmatist” in the South China Sea dispute as it seeks to assert its rights over oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters, and as its threat perceptions of China increase. It looks set to continue butting heads with China amid the ongoing global pandemic and increasing US-China competition in the region.
President Jokowi listens to explanation on Natuna Water map at Lampa Strait Integrated Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Center Natuna Regency, 8 January 2020. (Cabinet Secretariat of Indonesia website)

[South China Sea] Pandemic and US-Japan support reasons for Indonesia’s strong stance on SCS

In late May, Indonesia wrote to the UN to register its objection to China’s nine-dash line in the South China Sea (SCS), saying that there is no legal basis for China’s claim. China academic Long Yan notes that this is quite an unexpected move from the relatively quiet Indonesia, who is not a main player in the SCS dispute. It remains to be seen if external support from countries such as Japan and the US will boost Indonesia’s confidence in protecting its rights and interests in the SCS, despite its strong economic ties with China.
HMAS Parramatta (C) breaks away from USS America (R) and USS Bunker Hill (L) on completion of officer of the watch manoeuvres in the South China Sea, in this 18 April 2020 handout photo. (Australia Department Of Defence/Handout via REUTERS)

Australia boosting security relations with Southeast Asia and the US in the face of heightened threats

Australia’s recently-released defence update may be the most consequential document yet in terms of Canberra’s defence relations with Southeast Asia. Australia is asking its Southeast Asia partners to do more, while offering them more in return. It is also boosting its military self-reliance and its alliance relationship with the US.
A government supporter wearing a protective mask holds Chinese and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) flags to celebrate the passage of a national security law in Hong Kong, China, on 30 June 2020. (Lam Yik/Bloomberg)

There will be no peaceful rise — China-US relations enters a new phase

In a recent report outlining its approach to China, the US indicated that it will be guided by “principled realism” in strategic competition with China. Chinese academic Yu Zhi believes that this is a sign of the two countries moving into a “curtailment and containment” phase in their relations. Whoever the next President is, the US line on China looks set to hold. This stance harks back to the beginning of US-China relations, albeit with some adjustments. In any event, both countries are bracing themselves for a rough ride ahead.
Anti-national security law protesters throw mock paper money during a march against national security law on the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China, 1 July 2020. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Is Hong Kong the ‘ground zero of a China-US Cold War’?

Hong Kong and its uncertain future has become a political metaphor for China-US relations and the future of the world order, says Zheng Weibin. If the passage of the national security law portends that “one country, two systems” is not viable in practice, what else is there left except for an all-out duel between socialism and capitalism?