Politics

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend the first working session of the G20 Summit. (G20 OSAKA)

Four turning points: How Abe got China-Japan relations out of negative territory

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima examines the evolution of Japan-China relations in the eight years under the Abe administration, and concludes that though Abe helped to normalise Japan-China relations, the future development of bilateral relations remains unpredictable and more precarious. 
Buildings are seen in the central business district of Beijing on 3 September 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP)

If the world needs a new ideology, can the Chinese model be accepted?

China should de-emphasise Chinese exceptionalism if it wants to be accepted by the international community, says senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute, Lance Gore. But that is not the same as lying low or blending into the background. The fact is, China did build a post-reform hybrid system that has worked well for the country. What it really needs is to disassociate itself from the ossified stereotypes of socialism under Stalin or Mao, and rebuild its image on the strengths of market socialism. Only then can it let people sit up and take notice, rather than be given notice.
People walk past a giant screen showing a news footage of Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing a face mask, at a shopping area in Beijing, 31 July 2020. (Tingshu Wang/REUTERS)

Xi Jinping's possible visit to South Korea sparks speculations

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Japan in March was postponed, but next on his list of possible destinations for an official visit might be South Korea. Following Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit in December 2019, Politburo member Yang Jiechi visited South Korea in late August, possibly paving the way for a visit by Xi. What does that mean for China's relations with South Korea and with Japan as tensions between China and the US continue to escalate?
This file photo taken on April 21, 2017 shows an aerial shot of a reef in the disputed Spratly islands. (Ted Aljibe/AFP)

SEA states have few options to mitigate escalating South China Sea tensions

Tensions in the South China Sea have surged since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. China has pressed its jurisdictional claims prompting the US to increase its criticism of Beijing’s actions and its military presence in the South China Sea. In response to China’s activities, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have rejected Beijing’s nine-dash line claims and invoked international law and the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling in support of their maritime sovereign rights. ISEAS academic Ian Storey takes stock of the situation and gives a broad sweep of what we can expect in the next 18 months.
Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Marine Corps are seen in training in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, China, 20 July 2017. (Stringer/File Photo/Reuters)

Chinese academic: Why the PLA conducts simultaneous exercises across different territorial waters

The PLA must guard against the US trying to keep it busy by creating several battlegrounds at the same time, says military affairs commentator Song Zhongping. To be best prepared, the PLA should view the threats from the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea in toto and plan accordingly. This will help them to have more options at their disposal and to de-escalate conflicts as they arise.
People wearing protective face masks walk past a large screen broadcasting a news conference of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan, 28 August 2020. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Post-Abe: Japan's first-rate society will be ballast for stable China-Japan relations

Fears that the post-Abe era will mean Japan paying less attention to keeping China-Japan relations on an even keel are unfounded, says Japan-based academic Zhang Yun. Based on Japan’s one constant — social stability — Japanese society will react strongly if Japanese politics returns to the factional or closed-door politics of the past. Their sentiments will be the political compass guiding Japan’s policies. Hence now more than ever, it is in China’s interest to build strong social relations with the Japanese.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is seen on a large screen during a live press conference in Tokyo on 28 August 2020, as he announced that he will resign over health problems.

The bleak future of China-Japan relations in post-Abe era

With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announcing his resignation due to health reasons, it is difficult to say what China-Japan relations will be like in the post-Abe era under a new prime minister. But Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan says one thing is clear: the outlook is not positive.
A view of the Mekong river bordering Thailand and Laos is seen from the Thai side in Nong Khai, Thailand, 29 October 2019. (Soe Zeya Tun/REUTERS)

Chinese academics: Mekong must not become second South China Sea

China said that it would share year-round hydrological information of the upper Mekong with downstream countries during the recently concluded 3rd Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting held via video conference. Will this help assuage fears that China is using the control of water flow in the Mekong as a lever, literally, to exert greater influence on the CLMVT (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand) countries in ASEAN? Chinese academics Zhai Kun and Deng Han warn that China and Southeast Asian countries must be wary of external forces politicising matters in the Mekong region.
People wear protective face masks at a shopping complex in Beijing, China, on 17 July 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Is the US just a ‘paper tiger’ or is she able to derail China’s progress?

Even though the countries are in a state of “non-war”, US-China tensions will not go away, says Chinese scholar Deng Qingbo. The US can only be expected to continue using China as a bogeyman even after the presidential election. While he is confident that China will be able to handle containment measures thrown at it deftly, he warns that it needs to guard against being increasingly withdrawn from the world as it nurses its bruises from its battles with the US. Failing to do so would only mean the US has succeeded in thwarting its goal of greater reform and opening up.