Politics

People at Schlossstrasse shopping boulevard, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic during lockdown in Berlin, Germany, 25 January 2021. (Fabrizio Bensch/REUTERS)

Germany's Indo-Pacific vision: Building a multilateral world order with ASEAN

German academic Jan Kliem says the Indo-Pacific that Germany envisions is neither unipolar nor bipolar, but led by multilateralism, which forms the key principle throughout its Indo-Pacific policies, from climate cooperation to security. However, while implicitly repudiating much of China’s behaviour regarding the international rules-based order, Germany is not directly criticising or shutting the door on China. This is good news for Southeast Asia and ASEAN, signalling increasing cooperation and support by both Germany and the EU for ASEAN’s multilateral (security) architecture.
Myanmar citizens living in India hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against the military coup in Myanmar, in New Delhi, India, 5 February 2021. (Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters)

India needs a united, democratic Myanmar outside China's strategic orbit. Can that happen?

In recent decades, India’s engagement with Myanmar has been shaped by Delhi’s growing regional contestation with Beijing as well as its growing strategic partnership with the US. As a close neighbour with clear stakes in the region, India has to tread carefully. In the aftermath of Myanmar’s latest military coup, how will it tread even more lightly, neither helping to drive Myanmar into the arms of China, nor forsaking the values it shares with allies such as the US?
In this file photo from 6 January 2021, supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol, in Washington, DC. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

America's flawed democracy: When power and cognitive abilities of the people fail to match

Academic Deng Xize notes that the 2020 US election demonstrates what he terms the Socratic Trap, referring to the gap between people’s cognitive abilities and the power they hold. How will this affect the democratic process, and what are the shortcomings of democracy?
Chinese coast guard personnel on duty, 2 May 2020. (Xinhua)

Indonesian academic: China’s new coast guard law escalatory and without legal basis

A new Chinese law, which gives its coast guard legal cover to fire on foreign vessels in contested waters, is worrying. Indonesian academic Aristyo Rizka Darmawan feels that countries seeking peace and stability in the South China Sea should do something about it.
A Chinese coast guard vessel patrolling north of the Natuna islands, undated. (Internet/SPH)

Japanese academic: China's new coast guard law could damage relations with neighbours

China's new law gives its coast guard greater powers in the South China Sea. However, is this in line with international law and expectations? Japanese academic Shin Kawashima explores the issue.
A general view of the first consignment of the Covid-19 vaccines from China, seen offloading from a plane at the PAF Base Nur Khan, Pakistan in this handout photo released by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on 1 February 2021. (Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR)/Handout via Reuters)

Vaccine diplomacy: China and India push ahead to supply vaccines to developing countries

More than three quarters of the vaccinations that have taken place worldwide have been done in just 10 countries that account for almost 60% of global GDP, while 2.5 billion people in almost 130 countries have yet to receive a single dose, according to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. China and India have since embarked on “vaccine diplomacy” in a bid to despatch vaccines to developing countries. They may have their own goals in doing so, but their timely humanitarian aid for others is exemplary, says Zhu Zhiqun.
In this file photo taken on 4 December 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with then-US Vice President Joe Biden (left) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Since his inauguration, Biden has yet to speak to Xi on the phone. (Lintao Zhang/Pool/File Photo/Reuters)

When will Biden call China?

Even with a new US president in place, US-China relations look set to remain uncertain as poor communication between them continues, like chickens and ducks trying to have a conversation. Except they’re not talking to each other at the moment — not on the phone at least. 
US President Joe Biden salutes as first lady Jill Biden puts her hand over her heart during the pass in review after the inauguration ceremony, in Washington, US, 20 January 2021. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

What can we expect from Biden's 'approach of patience' towards US-China relations

Those in China hoping that the Biden administration’s new broom will sweep US-China relations clean may be in for a disappointment. Truth be told, Trump’s words were harsh and actions brash, but his sentiments reflected the times. US academic Wu Guo unravels the true meaning of the Biden administration's “approach of patience” towards China.
Royal Australian Navy, Republic of Korea Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and United States Navy warships sail in formation during the Pacific Vanguard 2020 exercise, 11 September 2020. (Official Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force photo)

Japan's diplomatic note to counter China's growing assertiveness in South China Sea

Academic Nguyen Hong Thao observes that Japan’s latest note verbale to the United Nations on the South China Sea was done out of its national interest. Nonetheless, it shows that Tokyo — and a growing coalition of countries — are digging in their heels to uphold the aegis of international law in the region.