Trust

US President Joe Biden arrives to speak about American manufacturing and the American workforce after touring the Mack Trucks Lehigh Valley Operations Manufacturing Facility in Macungie, Pennsylvania, US, on 28 July 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Could China-US trade relations be thawing?

High-level trade and foreign policy officials from the US and China have articulated their views recently on implementing the phase one trade deal and hopes for cooperation amid a state of strategic competition. Will more of such sessions help to chip away at the great wall of mistrust that has been built between the US and China?
A woman receives the Sinovac Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Denpasar, Indonesia's Bali island on 2 September 2021. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

Has China done well in its vaccine diplomacy in Southeast Asia?

China has supplied 190 million doses of its homegrown vaccines to Southeast Asia. However, although there has been sporadic support, perceptions of Chinese vaccines among the public in the region largely trend negatively, suggesting a non-linear relationship between China’s vaccine diplomacy and its soft power in the region. ISEAS researchers Khairulanwar Zaini and Hoang Thi Ha discuss the complex factors affecting vaccine hesitancy in six Southeast Asian countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
US Vice President Kamala Harris Harris (left) and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold a joint news conference in Singapore on 23 August 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/AFP)

China-US competition: Why small countries will not choose sides

The recent visit by US Vice President Kamala Harris to Singapore and Vietnam has brought the spotlight on Asia. Is Asia and the Indo-Pacific really a priority for the US, or is that just lip service? And as Singapore’s former ambassador to the US Chan Heng Chee asked: what does the US expect from the region? Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong reflects on small countries' limited options amid great power competition.
Health workers wait for their turn as Vietnam starts its official rollout of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine for health workers, at Hai Duong Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hai Duong province, Vietnam, 8 March 2021. (Thanh Hue/Reuters)

Why the Vietnamese embrace US vaccines but shun Chinese ones

The public reactions to the arrivals of Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam — one from China, the other from the US — underscore a geopolitical dilemma for the country.
A girl reacts and laughs as she loses a game of rock-paper-scissors with her father (left) on a street outside the Forbidden City in Beijing, China on 1 May 2021. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China stories: Let’s not always focus on the negatives

Andrew Delios, vice dean of the Master of Science Programmes Office at the National University of Singapore, observes that media reports have often cast a suspicious eye on China’s actions, even those that deserve to be celebrated such as the development of the Sinovac vaccine. Imbalanced and agenda-driven reports will only lead to greater distrust and suspicion among countries, just when the world needs to work together on constructive solutions.
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?