Trust

People wearing face masks walk at Shibuya district in Tokyo, Japan, on 19 January 2022. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP)

What explains Southeast Asia’s trust in Japan?

Japan has consistently come up tops in a local research institute’s survey question on trust among ASEAN’s major dialogue partners. This is despite the history of Japan’s relations with countries in the region. But will the status quo remain unchanged? As Japan and ASEAN gear up to mark 50 years of friendship and cooperation next year, how will Japan work to maintain a strong relationship with the region amid growing US-China tensions?
Rescuers work next to a building damaged by air strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, 14 March 2022. (Vitalii Hnidyi/Reuters)

Will the Ukraine crisis help to improve US-China relations?

Some analyses say that US-China relations may actually improve given the need for the US and the West to seek help from China in dealing with Russia. However, other indications are that recent events are engendering greater mistrust between the two countries, especially now that Congress has approved an omnibus bill that includes banning the use of maps that inaccurately depict Taiwan.
People walk through the snow in Manhattan on 7 January 2022 in New York City, US. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

US academic: Polarisation causing Americans to lose faith in the US system

Americans are losing confidence in their own country while the Chinese are gaining confidence in China. This change is profoundly significant, says US academic Han Dongping. The crux of America’s decline is the deep polarisation in a country which is no longer the land of opportunity and optimism for many who live in the cycle of poverty and crime. Is it a surprise that many college students are supporting socialism and looking for new models that might work?
Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey, 1 October 2021. (Dilara Senkaya/Reuters)

The Xinjiang problem: Can Washington be the defender of all?

Amid revived calls for countries to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing over Xinjiang, academic Peter Chang reflects that the Xinjiang issue has drawn the attention of the West, Muslim populations and others around the world. But the issue, while important, has been further politicised in the wider US-China contest. Moral grandstanding by the West when confronting China does not help the situation either. How much collateral damage will there be in this strategic game?
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.