Politics

China's State Councilor and Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe walks to attend a bilateral meeting with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, 10 June 2022. (Caroline Chia/Reuters)

Framing China’s actions: From ‘assertive’ to ‘aggressive’

US-led Western rhetoric has not been friendly to China, with “assertive” being the operative word. However, at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, that term was “upgraded” to “aggressive”, prompting a strong response from China. Is this portrayal deserved and are tensions likely to persist in the region? What should the ASEAN countries’ response be?
A visitor holds his mobile phone near a screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan Parlor Convention Center in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 31 December 2020. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

China's softening stance on its ‘no limits’ relations with Russia

The lateral move of “Russia expert” Le Yucheng from the Chinese foreign ministry to the National Radio and Television Administration is undoubtedly a career setback for the man once tipped to be the next foreign minister. Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong explores possible reasons for the move and opines that it could indicate Beijing's changing attitude towards Russia and the war in Ukraine.
People cycle on a road at the central business district in Beijing, China, 16 May 2022. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Xi’s Global Security Initiative: In pursuit of China’s own interests and ambitions

Indian academic Amrita Jash believes that China’s proposal of the Global Security Initiative was made primarily out of its own interests and the world is left no more convinced that it can be a responsible stakeholder in the international system.
A member of security personnel stands guard behind a perimeter fence at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, on 20 May 2022. (Pawan Sharma/AFP)

India's choice: Pro-US, pro-China or stay autonomous?

With his visit to Asia in May and the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity which includes India, US President Joe Biden clearly seeks to recast the strategic environment in which China operates. On its part, China had earlier launched the Global Security Initiative and is articulating its vision of a changing world order. For India, therefore, the long-term choice is either strategic autonomy, or the role of a pro-US or even pro-China “swing state”.
Le Yucheng, the new deputy head of the National Radio and Television Administration. (CNS)

China's foreign ministry Russia expert lost chance for a ministerial job

Among the recent appointments and removals of Chinese officials, Vice-Foreign Minister Le Yucheng’s move is of particular concern. As Le was seen as a potential leader in the foreign ministry, analysts believe that his appointment as deputy head of the National Radio and Television Administration is a career setback that might have to do with his misjudgement of the war in Ukraine.
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) arrives at the convention center with Chief of Malvatumauri National Council Willie Plasua (second from left) after a meeting with the Vanuatu President Tallis Obed Moses in Vanuatu capital city of Port Vila on 1 June 2022. (Photo by ginny stein / AFP)

China gearing up for intense competition in the Pacific

China knows it needs to soften its tone as the US, Australia, New Zealand and others bristle at its interest in the Pacific island countries. The traditional powers are stepping up their game as well. But whether it likes it or not, the region will likely see greater power tussles as the strategic imperatives are simply too great for China to back off completely.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (on screen) addresses participants at the Shangri-La Dialogue summit virtually via a video link in Singapore on 11 June 2022. (Roslan Rahman/AFP)

Shangri-La Dialogue 2022: The paradox of peace and power

The duel between the ‘rule of law’ and the ‘right of might’ took centre-stage as the Shangri-La Dialogue resumed under the shadow of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Southeast Asian countries found it a hard sell to promote cooperative security and ASEAN’s broad-based mechanisms against tough talk by representatives of the major powers.
ASEAN leaders at the plenary session with US President Joe Biden in Washington during the US-ASEAN special summit on 14 May 2022. (SPH Media)

ASEAN needs unity of purpose to survive great power contestations

ASEAN and its constituent states must not neglect the crucial importance of maintaining a balance of influence and power between the great powers to secure space for their own independence. However, it can only make the most of its strategic endowments through greater unity of purpose and managing the sensitivities of treading on China's toes by endorsing new US-sponsored security arrangements.
A woman rides a bicycle along a street in Beijing, China, on 6 April 2022. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Why China's 'peaceful rise' will be particularly difficult

EAI academic Lance Gore notes that China’s “peaceful rise” is a particular hard sell because it involves the rise of a major heterogeneous civilisational power, which is different from the mere transfer of hegemony between states from the same civilisation. Thus China needs to work on gaining acceptance from the international community by conveying the merits of its civilisational traits and avoiding pitfalls such as a reversion to cultural dead wood or failed Marxist orthodoxy.