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Two domestically-made armoured vehicles launch smoke grenades during the annual Han Kuang military drills in Taichung on 16 July 2020. - The military drills aimed to test how the armed forces would repel an invasion from China, which has vowed to bring Taiwan back into the fold — by force if necessary. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

Chinese academic: A ‘reunification by force’ would be Taiwan's last

Chinese academic Shen Jinhao says that when it comes to Taiwan, the mainland will not start a fight it is not ready to finish. If it launches a “reunification by force”, Taiwan would be subdued in one fell swoop, even before the US has a chance to make a meaningful intervention.
This aerial photo taken on 1 September 2020 shows elementary school students attending a flag-raising ceremony on the first day of the new semester in Shenyang, Liaoning, China. (STR/AFP)

America's ideological crusades against China highlight conflict of values

Chinese academic Zhu Ying says the US is reviving its rhetoric of ideological crusades against China that harks back to the time of the Truman doctrine. Such tactics will only get worse with post-pandemic tensions and greater strategic competition between the two countries.
A woman walks along along an alleyway decorated with Vietnamese national flags in Hanoi, 1 September 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Facing frenemy China, Vietnam shall edge closer to America

Vietnam is caught geopolitically between America, the dominant power, and China, the emerging power. While some observers argue that Vietnam can continue to maintain a neutral position, many smaller states are increasingly finding it difficult to maintain the balancing act. Vietnamese academic Huynh Tam Sang suggests that facing a more assertive China, Vietnam should edge closer to the US by adopting a US-Vietnam “soft alignment” framework where America provides more support for Vietnam’s defence and security needs.
In this photo taken on 4 September 2020, a man walks with the Chinese national flag in a park next to the Yangtze River in Wuhan. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Mixed signals to the US? China has revealed its bottom line

After a brief softening of its stance towards the US, China seems to be hardening its rhetoric again. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu says this has much to do with President Xi Jinping’s clear message not to trifle with the Chinese Communist Party’s bottom line — relations between the party and the people are sacrosanct.
A woman uses her mobile phone to take pictures at the Forbidden City in Beijing on 1 September 2020. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

China is waiting for the American bundle of nerves to calm down 

Sun Peisong believes that China actually understands the plot and knows why it is being vilified in American politics. Its strategy is to tough it out, particularly during the US elections season, and wait for the US to come back to the table.
An aerial view of the Kra Isthmus, the narrowest point of the Malayan Peninsula where the Kra Canal would be built. (iStock)

India’s obsession with Thailand’s Kra Canal and China's 'failure'

News that Thailand has “cancelled” its Kra canal project and replaced it with a land bridge has excited Indian observers. But you cannot scrap a plan that has not been approved. India's media reports highlighting both Chinese aggression and Chinese failure say more about the country's tensions with China than its concern with the idea of a century-old canal in Thailand.
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left, with mic) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe had a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 2019 ASEAN summit. (SPH)

Post-Abe: Japan-ASEAN partnership crucial in navigating great power rivalry

With Shinzō Abe's imminent departure from office, Japanese academic Mie Oba looks back at Japan-ASEAN diplomacy under his charge, and at the expansion of defence cooperation between Japan and certain Southeast Asian countries. She says Japanese partnership with ASEAN has become more important, as Japan and ASEAN continue to navigate the escalating rivalry between China and the US in the Indo-Pacific region.
This handout photo taken and released on 3 September 2020 by Taiwan's Presidential Office shows Czech Senate Speaker Miloš Vystrčil receiving a map of Taiwan from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the Presidential Office in Taipei. (Handout/Taiwan Presidential Office/AFP)

Failed 'coercive diplomacy'? Beijing might harden its stance on Taiwan after Czech delegation's visit

Was the recent visit of a Czech delegation led by Senate speaker Miloš Vystrčil penny wise but pound foolish? Zhou Wenxing analyses that the Czech visit may encourage further visits by democratic countries in a show of solidarity, but it is just such visible moves that might make Beijing go on the offensive.
The Empire State Building and the World Trade Center sit behind the Statue of Liberty in New York City, 26 August 2020. (Kena Betancur/AFP)

Did the US feed itself the wrong intelligence?

The CIA itself admitted that much of the intelligence it had gathered on China in the Mao era was proven wrong, says US academic Han Dongping. Later when it tried to cultivate academics in the US and when it supported pro-democracy groups, it arguably still did not achieve its aim of getting China to change. What were its missteps?