Cardboard cutouts of US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping with protective masks, near a gift shop in Moscow, March 23, 2020. (Evgenia Novozhenina/REUTERS)

China raises its international game with ‘pandemic diplomacy’ in Europe

While China has been diligently making hay while the sun shines, so to speak, in conducting “pandemic diplomacy”, experts assess that its relations with countries in Europe will improve but the US will still hold on to its dominance in the international arena.
Chinese students hold a memorial for Dr Li Wenliang outside the UCLA campus in Westwood, California, on 15 February 2020. In the photo, the student has the words "freedom of speech" written on the duct tape over his mouth. (Mark Ralston/AFP)

Making the great leap forward: When will the Chinese person stand up?

Mao said that “the Chinese people have stood up” when he proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Lance Gore from the East Asian Institute says, more than 70 years later, if a Chinese person cannot speak his mind without fear of recrimination, one can hardly profess that the Chinese people have truly stood up.
A sign instructing tourists to "Stay Away" is seen beside the road in the village of Airton in northern England on 22 March 2020. (Oli Scarff/AFP)

Chinese doctor in the UK: Presumed words of surrender were exactly what Britons needed to hear

At first, it seemed that the UK was adopting a rather lax approach to handling the outbreak, hoping to delay its spread, rather than contain it. But Hayson Wang opines that the government's perceived posture of "surrendering to the outbreak“ has actually spurred the UK public into taking more precautions. In recent days, both in response to rising criticism as well as rising fatalities — the death toll is currently 335 — the UK looks to be going the harsher way of some of its neighbours, announcing a lockdown that will last for at least three weeks.
This photo provided by Italian news agency Ansa on 13 March 2020 shows Chinese medics posing for a group photo after landing on a China Eastern flight on 13 March at Rome's Fiumicino international airport from Shanghai, bringing medical aid to help fight the new coronavirus in Italy. (STRINGER/ANSA/AFP)

Amid pandemic chaos, will China seize the chance to shape the global narrative?

In part due to the US being caught on the back foot in handling Covid-19, China now has a lead on gaining diplomatic ground and shaping the global narrative through "pandemic diplomacy", says Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong. For a start, China has provided medical supplies to countries and regional organisations such as Pakistan, Laos, Thailand, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy and the African Union, in a strong show of camaraderie through actions.
Soldiers from the military’s chemical units take part in a drill organised by the New Taipei City government to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Xindian district on March 14, 2020. Over 450 medical staff, community volunteers, government employees and military personnel took part in the drill. Taiwan has won praise for its handling of the epidemic. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

Taiwan's ‘epidemic diplomacy' may invite reprisals from Beijing

Turning a corner in recent days in the fight against Covid-19, China may now take stock of those who have been nasty or nice during the crisis. Taiwan may have won international praise and recognition for its efforts against the Covid-19 epidemic, but incurred Beijing’s ire in the process. Zaobao correspondent Ng Soon Kiat finds out more about how mainland China might respond, and how things might turn difficult for Tsai Ing-wen’s second term in government.
The headquarter of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is pictured in Geneva, Switzerland on 3 March 2020. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

China and the US battle for influence at the UN

Singaporean candidate Daren Tang, chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, won the nomination for the post of the new director general of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on 4 March, pipping the Chinese deputy director general to the post. Chinese professor Zhu Ying analyses the push back from the US amid China’s rising influence in various UN bodies.
Pedestrians wear protective masks while walking in New York, 7 March 2020. The availability of testing in the US lags far behind the needs of public health workers on the front lines. (Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg)

China and the US spar over origin of Covid-19

With the Covid-19 epidemic worsening in the US and spreading all over the world, the US has criticised China for covering up the initial outbreak. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian also tweeted recently that Covid-19 could have been brought to Wuhan by US troops. Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong examines the possible considerations behind comments on both sides.
Johnny Chiang, newly elected chairman of Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), speaks after winning the KMT’s chairman elections in Taipei, 7 March 2020. (Handout/CNA/AFP)

Fresh, young, pragmatic chairman of Kuomintang signals new hope for Taiwan?

All eyes are on Johnny Chiang, the 48-year-old who was elected the new chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang. Chiang won all the elections he stood for in 2012, 2016, and 2020, and was the KMT Legislative Yuan member with the most votes in the 2020 general election. Political scientist Zhu Zhiqun says Chiang is, without a doubt, the most suitable candidate to be KMT chairman right now. But what are the challenges faced by the ailing party under new leadership, and the implications these may have on cross-strait relations?
China and Asia should take note of relations between the US and Europe. (iStock)

Why Asia needs to worry about transatlantic tensions

"If an American president tells Asians that 'we will not help Europe, but are certainly committed to defending Asia', could that be credible?" asks Associate professor Michito Tsuruoka from Keio University. He says that in view of a rising China, transatlantic relations have more impact on strategic imperatives in Asia than one might think.