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This photo taken on 11 July 2020 shows competitors during an archery competition at the annual Naadam sports festival near Ulaanbaatar, in Mongolia. (Byambasuren Byamba-ochir/AFP)

Wary of Sino-Russian influence, Mongolia seeks better ties with the US

The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) won a strong mandate in recent elections where it secured 62 seats out of 76. While it has done well to manage the Covid-19 crisis in Mongolia, its foreign policy room for manoeuvre remains limited due to the need to juggle demands from its closest neighbours, China and Russia. How will it keep the balls in the air with the US thrown into the mix?
In this file photo a teacher and her students pose with Communist Party emblems during a class about the history of the Communist Party at a school in Lianyungang, in China's eastern Jiangsu province, 28 June 2020. (STR/AFP)

Chinese academic: Banning all CCP members from the US is to give up hope on China

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members and their families may soon be banned from travelling to the US, while there are other indications that the CCP is becoming a target for the US in a new global competition of ideology. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu examines the signs of worsening US-China relations.
A man wearing a protective mask passes by a billboard depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Belgrade, Serbia, 1 April 2020. The text on the billboard reads "Thanks, brother Xi." (Djordje Kojadinovic/REUTERS)

Why has China’s global publicity efforts backfired?

China has been wanting the world to acknowledge its contribution to international pandemic aid, to recognise its “one China” policy, and its growing influence based on goodwill and generosity. However, observes Chinese academic Sun Peisong, China’s international publicity efforts have often ended up coming across as immature or even petulant. He feels a deep mindset change is needed if China wishes to be understood and accepted by its peers in the world.
An angler fishes as buildings stand across the Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, China, 15 July 2020. (Lam Yik/Bloomberg)

End of special status with US will have little impact on Hong Kong's financial industry

The US has ended Hong Kong’s preferential treatment, sparking some concerns that Hong Kong may not be able to retain its status as an international financial centre. Zaobao journalist Tai Hing Shing examines whether these worries are valid.
This file photo taken on 13 October 2011 shows a P-3C patrol plane of Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea. A local assembly of Japan's southern Okinawa island on June 22, 2020 approved a plan to rename the area covering disputed islands in the East China Sea, sparking protests from Beijing and Taipei. (STR/AFP)

Japanese academic: China stoking tensions in East China Sea

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima says that increasingly aggressive moves by China in the East China Sea will be interpreted by Japan as provocation and contribute to deteriorating Sino-Japanese relations.
An outdoor screen shows live coverage of China’s President Xi Jinping attending the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, 28 May 2020. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

Cancelling Xi Jinping's visit to Japan? Vested interests split views of Japanese politicians

Factionalism within the LDP has cast the spotlight on the prospect of Japan cancelling a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan that was postponed earlier in the year. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima rationalises that such requests are not a unified LDP view, much less a government one. With a general election coming up in Japan, Sino-Japanese relations will no doubt continue to be part of the shadow play, but there being no smoke without fire, the deterioration of Sino-Japanese relations cannot be underestimated as well.
A woman walks past a Communist Party slogan urging people to "Follow the Party forever" outside a residential compound in Beijing on 6 July 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP)

The return of Mao-era practices: New threat to China's political and economic modernisation

EAI academic Lance Gore says that the Communist Party of China is reenacting the “great leader model” and reviving many practices of the Mao era. These include tightening control over information flow and restricting freedom of speech, enhancing propaganda and ideological and political indoctrination, emphasising obedience and absolute loyalty, advancing the ideal of the party acting for the government, among others. He says these anti-modernisation tactics need to be addressed as China attempts to modernise its governance and build institutions with soul.
This handout photo received on 9 June 2020 from the Department National Defense Philippines (DND), shows Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana (centre) along with military officials cutting a ribbon during the inauguration ceremony of the newly constructed beach-ramp at Philippine-held Pag-asa Island also known as Thitu Island in the Spratly archipelagos. (Handout/Department National Defense Philippines (DND)/AFP)

[South China Sea] Should the Philippines avoid playing the lead role amid rising tensions in SCS?

Chinese academic Lin Qi says following the arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016, which, inter alia, said that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’”, the Philippines has gone on to stake a firmer claim in the South China Sea such as by undertaking upgrading works on certain islands it inhabits and proposing draft amendments to the “national territory” article of its constitution. However, in many of its endeavours, it relies on the US and will continue to work closely with them amid rising tensions in the region.
A boy sits on a bench on Batu Burok beach in Kuala Terengganu, in Malaysia by the South China Sea, on 26 June 2020. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP)

[South China Sea] Is Malaysia adopting a more confrontational SCS policy? 

In recent years, Malaysia seems to have moved away from its role as a “low-profile pragmatist” in the South China Sea dispute as it seeks to assert its rights over oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters, and as its threat perceptions of China increase. It looks set to continue butting heads with China amid the ongoing global pandemic and increasing US-China competition in the region.