Trust

In this file photo taken on 25 January 2020, medical staff members wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

The world may never know the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic

A Joint WHO-China Study Team report has said that it is "extremely unlikely" that a Wuhan laboratory leak was the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet the US and other countries have cast doubts on the report, citing delay and access issues. China hit back, labelling this as another smear campaign. With each side singing their own tune, are the report results of any consequence?
Bicycle and car commuters are seen crossing a busy intersection at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany, on 7 December 2020. (Odd Andersen/AFP)

Will the EU be setting global standards in a post-pandemic world? 

US-based researcher Yu Shiyu notes that the EU seems to have gained greater unity and internal coherence from the stress test of Covid-19. In contrast, the US seems to be more divided and has not found its way around the pandemic as well as its many other domestic issues. What has the EU done right to be able to be a standard setter in the post-pandemic era?
An officer checks a container with COVID-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd., as they arrive at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the first shipment to Indonesia, in Tangerang, near Jakarta, 6 December 2020. (Dhemas Reviyanto/Antara Foto via Reuters)

Survey: China the most influential and distrusted power in Southeast Asia

The State of Southeast Asia 2021 survey published by the ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute indicates that Southeast Asians’ trust in China continues to trend downward. China’s success in containing the pandemic domestically, and its "pandemic diplomacy” in the region have had little effect on Southeast Asians' trust deficit towards Beijing, as they are anxious over China’s ability to constrain their countries’ sovereignty and foreign policy choices. ISEAS academic Hoang Thi Ha notes that this trust deficit undermines China’s “discourse power”, and Beijing would do well to consider recalibrating its approach to the region.
People stand at a vaccination site after receiving a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, in Shanghai, China, 19 January 2021. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

War of words over efficacy and safety of vaccines: Will China win?

A media war is underway between the state media in China and the media in the US and Europe over vaccine development, distribution and reception. With loud hailer tactics used all round, it’s not the truth but what people perceive to be true that counts most. Whose voice will be the loudest to drown out the din and shape the vaccine narrative?
In this file photo taken on 19 October 2020, US President Donald Trump dances as he leaves a rally at Tucson International Airport in Tucson, Arizona. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Why Trump should have two Twitter accounts

The Chinese need to do better to counter misleading tweets from US President Trump’s Twitter propaganda machine, say China academics Li Yongning and Wen Jiandong. As controversial a figure as he is, Trump commands a Twitter following of more than 80 million. Some of his questionable tweets have likely contributed to the deterioration of people-to-people relations between the US and China.
A visitor holds a Chinese flag while posing for a photograph at the Badaling section of the Great Wall in Beijing, China, on 1 October 2020. (Yan Cong/Bloomberg)

China feels maligned

China laments that it has not done anything wrong, amid the slew of bad reactions it has been getting internationally. Han Yong Hong points out while negative perceptions of China by major countries of the world are at an all-time high, this is not solely to do with strains in the US-China relationship. Individual countries have their beef with China for a host of reasons. When everything is all said and done, communication is still key, and China has just as much responsibility as everyone else to make the effort to bridge the gap.
US President Donald Trump participates in a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, 4 October 2020, in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. (Tia Dufour/The White House/Handout via REUTERS)

Chinese pundits question Trump's diagnosis: Is it the biggest show on earth?

With Trump testing positive for the coronavirus, reactions in China range from schadenfreude among the internet community, to more dignified responses from the Chinese authorities. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan scans sentiments in China and thinks about possible implications for the upcoming US presidential election and the future of US-China relations.
A man under a bridge of the Yangtze river in Wuhan, 15 April 2020. (Aly Song/REUTERS)

When the only option is fraud: How institutional faults led to the spread of the coronavirus in Wuhan

Chen Kang attributes the blindspots in China’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak to the tendency of officials to withhold information and put up appearances for their own interests. As such, decision-making could be impaired by the asymmetry of information and misaligned interests between superiors and subordinates, especially at the local level. Results then vary based on how well one navigates the minefields of groupthink, collusion and that seemingly innocuous aim of not rocking the boat. Using the prism of formalism, or what is prizing form over substance, Chen points out the weakness of a centralised system.
Staff members wearing face masks are seen at the Leishenshan Hospital, a makeshift hospital for treating patients infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Wuhan, Hubei, China on 11 April 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

How to get the world to believe in China's case?

Experts say China is much mistaken if it thinks that serving up nitty-gritty details on the initial stage of the Covid-19 outbreak will help it deal with the groundswell of negative international opinion against the country.