Politics

Vietnam police officers inspect authorised travel documents of commuters at a checkpoint during the first day of the extended lockdown in Hanoi, Vietnam, 6 September 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

Vietnam is balancing China-US rivalry with deft statecraft, but for how long?

Vietnam-US relations have continued to flourish even as China continues to express its displeasure and concerns. How has Vietnam maintained the balance between its ideological cohesiveness with China and pragmatic ties with the US? Is Hanoi taking a big risk by developing a deeper relationship with Washington while antagonising its giant neighbour?
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video conference call with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 28 June 2021. (Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters)

Russia and China in Southeast Asia: Pragmatic cooperation against US primacy

Russia-China relations are at a historic high due to mutual concerns over US primacy, economic synergies and strong interpersonal ties between their national leaders. However, despite deepening military cooperation and closer diplomatic coordination, a formal alliance between Russia and China is not likely as this would constrain their strategic autonomy and undercut key foreign policy narratives. The South China Sea dispute is the most complex issue and a potential fault line in Russia-China relations in Southeast Asia. While Moscow has been broadly supportive of China’s position, Beijing’s jurisdictional claims threaten Russia’s lucrative energy interests in Southeast Asia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping waves at the end of the event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, 1 July 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Can the CCP avoid the Stalin curse under Xi Jinping?

Fatal flaws in the Soviet system, or the Stalin curse, led to the eventual demise of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. These systemic flaws had different manifestations at different levels of the system. The current CCP leadership is aware of these problems and has tried hard to avoid travelling down the same path of the Soviet Union, but tinkering with the same Leninist vanguard party is not going to ensure its survival. Instead, a new model of party building is needed to break the Stalin curse.
Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's president, attends a commissioning ceremony for a new Ta Chiang guided-missile corvette in Suao, Yilan County, Taiwan, on 9 September 2021. (I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg)

Serious consequences if Washington allows renaming of Taiwan’s US office

The US is reportedly considering a request from Taiwan to change the name of its mission in Washington from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” to “Taiwan Representative Office”. What are the implications, and is it likely to happen? Political scientist Zhu Zhiqun examines the situation.
People queue to board a tourist bus before a display showing a US flag in Times Square in New York City, US on 30 July 2021. (Ed Jones/AFP)

Chinese academic: It’s time to make the US safe for the world

The US has said that withdrawing from Afghanistan will give it more bandwidth to deal with Russia and its “serious competitor” China. The latter in particular, has become a key target. Chinese academic Wang Zhengxu asserts that the US should learn from its Afghanistan experience that the military option should only be used in self-defence. If it gets involved in China’s core concerns and insists on building an anti-China alliance, China will bristle and regional instability can only increase.
People carry umbrellas as they visit Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Japan, 15 August 2021. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Yasukuni Shrine visits: A mirror reflecting Sino-Japanese relations

Some Japanese politicians have the practice of marking the anniversary of the end of WWII for Japan by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine to pay tribute to the war dead. Even after more than 75 years, emotions run deep especially in China, which has registered its unhappiness at these visits. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima examines how Yasukuni Shrine visits can be used to gauge the state of Japan-China relations.
People celebrate in the streets with members of Guinea's armed forces after the arrest of Guinea's president, Alpha Conde, in a coup d'etat in Conakry, Guinea, 5 September 2021. (Cellou Binani/AFP)

Guinea coup: Why did non-interventionist China speak up?

Many were caught off-guard when China made forceful statements against the military coup in Guinea. Hasn't China always been circumspect and asked countries to resolve their internal issues well in past such cases? Perhaps Guinea being China’s leading source of bauxite for its aluminum industry is a key motivation. Or perhaps it is a case of finally feeling the need to step up to a greater international role? Zaobao’s China Desk examines the issue.
People clean up their flooded homes in a Queens neighborhood that saw massive flooding and numerous deaths following a night of heavy wind and rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on 3 September 2021 in New York City, US. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

What can China and the US cooperate on now?

US academic Zhu Zhiqun says that the future should not be decided solely by self-interested politicians in Washington or Beijing. Instead, real problems that affect or endanger ordinary people's lives should be of the highest priority. A failure to cooperate can lead to confrontation between the two most consequential nations of today and bring harm to the world.
A woman rides a scooter along a street decorated with Vietnamese national flags ahead of Vietnam's National Day celebrations in Hanoi on 1 September 2021. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Vietnamese still favours the US despite Afghanistan spectre

Many observers have drawn parallels between the US’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and memories of the “fall of Saigon”. But Vietnamese reactions to US Vice President Kamala Harris’s recent visit there shows continued favourable sentiments towards the US.