Politics

A US-made CH-47 helicopter flies an 18-metre by 12-metre Taiwan flag at a military base in Taoyuan, Taiwan, on 28 September 28, 2021. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

Has the US shifted its position on Taiwan, again?

US academic Zhu Zhiqun notes that Beijing’s “one-China principle” has remained largely unchanged while Taiwan’s concept of cross-strait relations has morphed under the DPP to that of Taiwan being already independent. On its part, the US seems to be changing its stance, not least by adding Reagan-era, private assurances to Taiwan to the equation when defining its “one-China policy”. Tough questions need to be answered about how Beijing can curb Taiwan independence without alienating the Taiwanese public, or how the US can support Taiwan’s democracy without encouraging Taiwanese independence and dragging the US into a war with China.
US President Joe Biden listens as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a 'Quad nations' meeting at the Leaders' Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework held in the East Room at the White House in Washington, US, 24 September 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

AUKUS and Quad do not solve India's regional security problems

China’s efforts to reap strategic gains in Kabul, in partnership with Pakistan and Russia, are of real concern to India following the US pullout from Afghanistan. Will Beijing reinforce Islamabad’s navy in retaliation for the AUKUS pact? Is an alternative arrangement linking China, Pakistan and Russia emerging to rival the US-led Quad which includes India?
Visitors walk past military aircraft displayed at Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China, 29 September 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China displays its new weapons amid cross-strait tensions

Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan notes that over the past month, China has revealed several new military aircraft, such as stealth fighters and early warning aircraft, as well as a powerful missile system. This is a signal that China is catching up with the US in terms of aircraft technology. Furthermore, the timing of these unveilings might have more than a little to do with the current state of cross-strait relations.
Visitors look at models of military equipment displayed at the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation Limited (CASIC) booth at Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China, 28 September 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Taiwan and Indo-Pacific are the primary targets of China’s hypersonic glide vehicle

Recent news that China had launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle sounded an alarm. Mastery of such technology would mean that China would gain speed, manoeuvrability and surprise in their response, and the fine balance among nuclear-armed states could be upset. From China’s perspective, their nuclear deterrent would be more credible and they would be better able to defend their interests vis-à-vis Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific. No matter the intentions, this might mean rattled nerves and an increased presence of US missile defence systems in the Indo-Pacific.
US President Joe Biden participates virtually during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, US, on 26 October 2021. Biden plans to provide Southeast Asia with more than $100 million in funding to fight the pandemic and tackle the climate crisis as his administration seeks to bolster ties with a region seeking to balance its growing economic reliance on China. (Tom Brenner/Bloomberg)

The EU and ASEAN should join hands in cajoling China and the US towards peace

The EU and ASEAN are supporters of a rules-based global system, says Joergen Oerstroem Moeller. As such, they can use their collective weight to persuade Washington and Beijing to focus less on their bilateral tensions and more on solving contemporary problems.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) and Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton stand for their national anthems during an honour cordon at the Pentagon on 15 September 2021 in Arlington, Virginia, US. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/AFP)

With AUKUS in place, now what for key players in the Indo-Pacific?

Former German diplomat Dr Anne-Marie Schleich analyses the impact of AUKUS from the perspective of key players in the region. This development sees important ramifications, not only for Australia, which has further thrown in its lot with the US, but for other stakeholders such as the Pacific island countries, who may see their nuclear-free Blue Pacific blueprint thwarted, as well as the European countries, who must decide how they can maintain a strategic presence in the region within the AUKUS framework.
People cross a road in the Central district of Hong Kong on 25 October 2021. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP)

It may soon be illegal to discriminate against mainland Chinese in Hong Kong

With a strong push by the pro-establishment camp, the Hong Kong government has made a breakthrough in legislative efforts against discrimination against mainlanders. But negative feelings did not happen overnight. With increasing mainland arrivals over the years, Hong Kongers have been feeling that their space, rights and even property are being encroached upon. Without solving the underlying issues, will legislation improve the situation much?
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for a ceremony at the Monument to the People's Heroes at Tiananmen Square to mark Martyrs' Day, in Beijing, China, 30 September 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Is Xi Jinping really going back to Maoism?

Some analyses have sounded the alarm of China lurching to the left in a marked return to Maoism. On closer examination, says Loro Horta, China’s recent clampdowns on capital are rational and not exactly ideologically driven. Issues facing China, such as the need to tackle rising inequality, affect the ruling party’s legitimacy and longevity. These concerns may have a strong push effect on the authorities. In fact, rather than a reversion to Maoism, the Xi government seems to be embracing Confucianism as a basis to enforce social order and norms, just as it derides “evil fan culture” as a means to keep a tight rein on social control.
In this photo taken on 6 August 2021, police officers walk beside the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, as it was known before 1945 and now called the Atomic Bomb Dome, as the city marks the 76th anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP)

The real reason why Japan is following the US’s lead

Academic Toh Lam Seng traces Japan’s long-held foreign policy stance of “following the US’s lead”. Circumstances of history led to this default pattern, even though Japan did try to break out of this straitjacket. Domestic opposition aside, under the US's watchful eye, Japan has not been able to possess nuclear weaponry or have a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. But with the changing situation of a rising China, might Japan move closer to getting what it has always wanted?