Politics

Soldiers take part in a drill in a military base ahead of the Lunar New Year in Hsinchu, Taiwan, 19 January 2021. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Will American soldiers lay down their lives for Taiwan?

History shows that whether it was the Korean or Vietnam War, or the later military campaigns in Iraq or Afghanistan, the US rarely won the war as it was simply not their war to fight. With little real skin in the game, their opponents fighting tooth and nail for their homeland often got the upper hand despite being much weaker. Can the Taiwan case, if ever any skirmishes break out, be any different?
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (centre) attends the inspection of a Republic of China Navy fleet in Keelung on 8 March 2021. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

Taiwan is America's best asset against China, but for how long?

Despite concerns that Taiwan might lose US support under the Biden administration, so far it seems that the opposite is true — the US has in fact maintained or even stepped up its support for Taiwan. But as platforms and mechanisms evolve in relation to containing China, how valuable will Taiwan still be as a geostrategic asset?
John Sudworth says that he has been facing pressure and threats from the Chinese authorities following his reports on sensitive topics. (Screengrab from the BBC News YouTube channel)

BBC vs CCTV's Xinjiang: Which is the real Xinjiang?

BBC China correspondent John Sudworth's sudden move to Taiwan from Beijing has elicited opposing interpretations from China and the West; in fact, so has his reports on Xinjiang. Was Sudworth creating “false reports” of Uighur factory girls? Or were the Chinese officials coercing young Uighurs to leave their hometowns for work in the cities as asserted by the BBC? Han Yong Hong thinks the contradictory interpretations show a clash in ideological values and views between China and the West.
In this file photo taken on 25 January 2020, medical staff members wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

The world may never know the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic

A Joint WHO-China Study Team report has said that it is "extremely unlikely" that a Wuhan laboratory leak was the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet the US and other countries have cast doubts on the report, citing delay and access issues. China hit back, labelling this as another smear campaign. With each side singing their own tune, are the report results of any consequence?
A view of the Mekong between Don Det and Don Khon, Si Phan Don, Laos, May 2019. (Wikimedia)

American researcher: China's upstream dams threaten economy and security of Mekong region

China’s 11 hydropower dams built on the upper Mekong River held back massive quantities of water over the last two years, causing crop failure and depleting fish catches, and threatening the livelihoods of the 60 million people living downstream. Besides, China has financed half of Laos’ 60 dams on Mekong tributaries and two more on the mainstream, pushing Laos' debt levels to about US$17 billion in 2019, nearly equivalent to the country’s annual GDP. Furthermore, other projects in Thailand have been cancelled out of concern that it would give Beijing too much strategic and economic influence deep into mainland Southeast Asia. American researcher Murray Hiebert explains the situation.
A picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping overlook a street ahead of the National People's Congress (NPC), in Shanghai, China, 1 March 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

The US gets it wrong again

Rishi Gupta gives a critique of the strategy paper “The Longer Telegram: Toward a New American China Strategy”, by “Anonymous”, which was recently published by the Atlantic Council. He says that judging from the paper and several other important geostrategic content released by the US recently, the US has not read the situation in China and its leadership correctly, and hence has a skewed understanding of how it can draw strength globally to compete with its "most serious competitor".
In this file photo taken on 19 January 2021, Taiwan’s tank troops line up for photographs after a drill in Hsinchu military base. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

Taiwan: Why China-US relations are a zero-sum game

Chinese academic Ni Lexiong says that so long as a country's territorial sovereignty is in conflict with the hegemonic system governing the world, the likelihood of escalation to war is there. That is why despite any of the posturing at the recent Alaska talks, the situation between China and the US remains deadlocked in a zero-sum game.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin Wall to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia, 23 February 2021. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters)

Russia in Southeast Asia: Falling influence despite being largest arms seller

Although Russia has been increasing its defence diplomacy activities in Southeast Asia, its military cooperation with the region remains overwhelmingly focused on arms sales. However, Russia is at risk of losing its position as the number one arms seller to Southeast Asia due to increased competition from American, European and Asian defence companies. Besides, Russian navy port calls to Southeast Asia and combined military exercises in the region are infrequent and small-scale compared to those of the US and China. ISEAS academic Ian Storey examines how Russia might expand its influence.
Ai Weiwei in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal, 3 March 2021. (Pedro Nunes/Reuters)

Do artworks need to be patriotic? Hong Kong politicians fight over Ai Weiwei's 'middle finger photograph'

In itself, a subversive artwork by Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei to be shown at Hong Kong’s new M+ museum may not have drawn such attention. But under the shadow of the national security law in Hong Kong and the looming chief executive election, everything is magnified a hundredfold.