Politics

People cross a street under the rain at dusk while a shinkansen N700A series, or high speed bullet train, leaves Tokyo on 21 March 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Balancing China: Can Japan continue to be a reliable power in SEA after Abe?

Academic Victor Teo says that Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has big shoes to fill as his predecessor Shinzō Abe had made visible and significant achievements on both the domestic and diplomatic fronts. With the Biden administration in place in the US, and a rising China amid a post-pandemic world, how will Suga's Japan engage Southeast Asia? Will he reaffirm the “silent” leadership role that Japan has played in the region through economic and security means? Furthermore, Japan has guided the US in regional matters during Trump's presidency and has been keen to include Southeast Asian countries in the Quad. Can Japan fulfil its security goals without seriously antagonising China?  
A general view shows the skyline of Tokyo's Shinjuku area on 22 March 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Chinese academic: Japan is the ‘hidden warrior’ behind China-US competition

Chinese academic Deng Qingbo examines the recent Alaska meeting between China and the US, and concludes that Japan plays a hidden but crucial role in how the China-US relationship is developing. As Japan has much to gain from conflicts and intense competition between China and the US, it may indulge in actions that could worsen such big power competition and land the world in a disastrous situation.
U.S. President Joe Biden (top left), Yoshihide Suga, Japan's prime minister (top right), Scott Morrison, Australia's prime minister (bottom left), and Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, on a monitor during the virtual Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) meeting at Suga's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on 12 March 2021. (Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)

Quad: A regional military alliance to contain China will not work

The Quad comprising US, Japan, Australia, and India is still in its early days. Some fear it could become an “Asian NATO” targeting China, but how likely is this, given the region’s history of multilateralism in the security arena? Japan-based academic Zhang Yun examines the issue.
The "Yellow House", Vietnam's Presidential Palace in Hanoi, is seen in the background during a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc (right) in Hanoi, Vietnam, 19 October 2020. (Minh Hoang/Pool via REUTERS)

Balancing China: Japan and Vietnam join hands in economy and security

Vietnamese academic Huynh Tam Sang notes that Japan’s economic and security concerns are becoming increasingly intertwined with those of Southeast Asia, and Tokyo sees Vietnam as the gateway for projecting its influence in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, Japan seeks to bolster its security and defence relationship with Vietnam, and does not rule out the possibility of Vietnam being a Quad-Plus member.
This file picture taken on 5 September 2018 shows flags from the Pacific Islands countries being displayed in Yaren on the last day of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). (Mike Leyral/AFP)

Power struggles and Chinese influence in the Pacific Island region

The Pacific Island Forum (PIF) has undergone some intense internal power struggle recently, and the region is also subjected to rising global geopolitical competition and tension. In fact, the "Taiwan-China conflict is virulent in this region", says former German diplomat Dr Anne-Marie Schleich.
A popular meme in China, showing the 1901 meeting involving Li Hongzhang's group, and the recent meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. (Internet)

Alaska meeting: A historic moment of China standing up to the West?

Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan notes the fiery start to the high-level dialogue between China and the US held in Alaska, with both sides trading barbs. However, amid the aggression and the "catharsis" some Chinese netizens felt from China standing up to the West after 120 years, some real communication did take place between the two countries where substantive issues were discussed.
Myanmar migrants in Thailand holds signs relating to the "Milk Tea Alliance" as they take part in a protest in Bangkok on 28 February 2021, against the military coup in their home country. (Jack Taylor/AFP)

Anti-Chinese populism on the rise in Southeast Asia?

Social media movements such as the Milk Tea Alliance are tapping into discontent with the regional decline of democracy and fears about the rise of China as a hegemonic power. ISEAS visiting fellow Quinton Temby explains why anti-China sentiments are gaining traction and how it is affecting local politics.
Protesters take cover behind homemade shields as they confront the police during a crackdown on demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, on 16 March 2021. (STR/AFP)

Why anti-China sentiments are growing in Myanmar and China is set to lose

As the Myanmar coup continues, researcher Hein Khaing traces the steady but relentless progression of how the situation has resulted in increasing hatred towards China and both tangible and intangible losses suffered.
This file photo taken on 18 April 2018 shows China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (centre), sailing during a drill at sea. (STR/AFP)

Can Taiwan fight for as long as it takes?

Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said in parliament yesterday that Taiwan stands ready to defend itself. His remarks come on the back of an assessment by a US commander that mainland China may take Taiwan by force in the next six years, and the US and Japan’s joint statement on the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Chuang Hui Liang reports.