Politics

Indonesian President Joko Widodo shows Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida a souvenir following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, Indonesia, 29 April 2022. (Muchlis Jr./Indonesia's Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters)

Kishida’s charm diplomacy in Southeast Asia: Moral suasion does the trick

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visits to Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand have burnished Japan’s regional credentials, particularly on contentious issues such as the war in Ukraine, the South China Sea disputes and the evolving order in the Indo-Pacific.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, alongside Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, waves as the two board the plane to Japan to attend the Quad leaders meeting in Tokyo, in Canberra, Australia, 23 May 2022. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch via Reuters)

Don’t expect a reset in Australia-China relations anytime soon

While the Scott Morrison government has bowed out to a new team from the Labor Party following the elections, it will be hard to change the downward trajectory of Australia-China relations. This is in large part due to the strength of Australia’s alliance with the US, says Associate Professor Yuan Jingdong of the University of Sydney.
US President Joe Biden and Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hold a bilateral meeting alongside the Quad Summit at Kantei Palace in Tokyo, Japan, 24 May 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Australia's turn towards the US: ASEAN centrality at risk

ASEAN’s goal of remaining at the centre of regionalism in Asia is at risk. Australia is something of a bellwether middle-ranking country in the region. It was an enthusiastic participant in the proliferation of new multilateral mechanisms in the 1990s and 2000s but has clearly changed its priorities, reflecting a preference for more result-oriented mechanisms like the Quad and AUKUS.
A destroyed Russian T-72 tank is seen, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the village of Dmytrivka in Ukraine, 1 April 2022. (Oleksandr Klymenko/Reuters)

Chinese academic: Ukraine war shows a corrupt Russia inside and out

Outdated military equipment, expired rations and the plundering of household appliances — these are the realities of Russia’s military fighting in Ukraine. Meanwhile, those at home face a leadership characterised by corruption and impunity. Economics professor Zhu Ying highlights the incidents that have been laid bare for the world to see and how they may lead to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s downfall.
Students take part in an evacuation drill in a primary school in Kunming, Yunnan province, China, 11 May 2022. (CNS)

China wants to create a new democratic system. Is that possible?

Domestic and external pressures compel China to face the issue of democracy. With growing affluence and diversity in the population, the government needs to find a way to incorporate various views that goes beyond the Mao-era “mass line”. In forging a new path, the Chinese Communist Party is feeling its way around bringing about a socialist neo-democracy, or what has been verbalised as “whole-process people’s democracy”. But what stands in the way of putting thought into action?
A man holds a cutout of Russian President Vladimir Putin during the "Immortal Regiment" march in Belgrade on 9 May 2022. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP)

Putin and Russia's greatest 'contribution' to history

Researcher Wei Da notes that the end of the Cold War left many questions unanswered, including the role of ideological tussles and the clash of civilisations. Among other things, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shows that a truly strong state is one with a limited government and a developed civil society. The international community has been jolted into action, and it is time to recognise that there is still some way to go to achieve modernisation.
Visitors walk by images of Chinese President Xi Jinping displayed at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, China, 11 November 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Autumn succession: The main plot line of the 20th Party Congress

Vienna-based academic Li Ling gives a primer on four principles regulating the nominations of membership of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), the highest decision-making body of the Chinese Communist Party. Nothing is for certain until the curtain rises on the 20th Party Congress this autumn, but a closer look at these principles could help to narrow the field.
Japanese foreign minister Hayashi Yoshimasa (second from right, in grey suit) walks with G7 countries foreign ministers during their summit in Weissenhaeuser Strand, Germany, 12 May 2022. (Marcus Brandt/Pool via Reuters)

It's hard to be neighbours: When will Japan advance its diplomacy with China and South Korea?

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima notes that Japan has been active on the international front, engaging the West as well as the Southeast Asian nations. However, it seems that with an eye to public sentiment, it is maintaining a cautious approach towards China and South Korea. When will it be opportune for Japan to advance to the next stage of foreign policy engagement?
US President Joe Biden (centre) with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on 12 May 2022. (Michael Reynolds/Bloomberg)

US-ASEAN summit: Washington still has an uphill climb

The US hit all the right notes when it hosted ASEAN leaders in Washington last week. The fact remains, however, that Washington has an uphill climb if it wants to catch up with Beijing’s economic momentum in Southeast Asia. Not only that, Southeast Asian countries understand that in the end, it would be every man for himself.