East Asia

President-elect Joe Biden is briefed by expert members of his national security and foreign policy agency review teams at the Queen Theater on 28 December 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Mark Makela/AFP)

Japanese academic: Biden must not underestimate China's maritime ambitions

With US President-elect Joe Biden all but ready to be installed in the White House in January, Japanese academic Masafumi Iida explores how the new administration might shape the US's relations with East Asia, especially in terms of the US's military presence in the Indo-Pacific region. He argues that it is necessary for the US to learn from the failures of the Obama administration in underestimating the prowess and ambitions of China.
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army march during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, 24 June 2020, marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. (Sergey Pyatakov via REUTERS)

Japanese academic: Can the PLA succeed in its smart warfare transformation?

Japanese academic Masaaki Yatsuzuka examines the PLA's latest efforts to move towards smart technology and smart warfare, and what this might mean for China and other countries.
Ethnic Yi women walk past an installation featuring a logo of the Communist Party of China and numerous slogans at the Chengbei Gan’en Community, a residential complex built for a relocation programme as part of China's poverty alleviation effort, in Yuexi county, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, China, 11 September 2020. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Why East Asia has performed well in containing Covid-19

The liberalist discursive system leaves little room for one to contemplate the possibility that a strong government can also be a good government, much less the positives of the East Asian developmental state or Asian values. In fact, under the East Asian social contract, people are willing to empower the government for greater outcomes for all, and the government works to win the approval of the people as a means to preserve their legitimacy. Now, when the flaws of liberalism are laid bare by Covid-19 and other crises, it may be worth taking a closer look at the merits of the East Asian social contract. 
This handout photo taken and released by the Indian Navy on 17 November 2020 shows ships taking part in the second phase of the Malabar naval exercise in the Arabian sea. India, Australia, Japan and the United States started the second phase of a strategic navy drill on 17 November in the Northern Arabian sea. (Indian Navy/AFP)

US Navy's 1st Fleet to sail the 'Western Pacific and the Eastern Indian Ocean'?

The US has raised the possibility of reactivating its 1st Fleet in the Indo Pacific area. ISEAS academic Ian Storey notes that a reactivated 1st Fleet would boost the US naval presence in Asia, and demands on America’s allies and security partners in this region. What are the points of consideration for Asian countries and what is the likelihood that the reactivation will happen?
A supporter of US President-elect Joe Biden waves a flag as people celebrate on Black Lives Matter plaza across from the White House in Washington, DC on 7 November 2020. (Alex Edelman/AFP)

Can the US take a backseat in Asia and maintain peaceful coexistence with China?

Zheng Weibin assesses that the future of the US’s leading role in Asia depends on whether it can see itself retreating from the region and letting their allies in Asian exert influence by proxy. If that is the case, Taiwan may no longer be such a key set piece. Moreover, if both the US and China recalibrate their thinking about each other, they might reach a consensus on coexistence.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on screens in the media center as he speaks at the opening ceremony of the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China, 4 November 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China’s true intentions in wanting to join the CPTPP

After years of being excluded from the TPP that later became the CPTPP, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently commented that China is “favourably considering” joining the CPTPP. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks at why China seems to be keen to hop on this bandwagon which was originally set up to target China.
A girl sits on the shoulders of her father outside the Forbidden City during the national day marking the 71st anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the country's national "Golden Week" holiday in Beijing on 1 October 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

RCEP: The start of a new ‘China-centric’ order?

RCEP, the largest free trade agreement signed thus far, includes China, Japan and South Korea — the largest, second, and fourth largest economies in Asia. This heralds a new Asian era, says Zheng Weibin. Apart from the pure economic benefits that this will bring, the fact that the US is not a part of the grouping gives China some leverage against moves from the US such as its military presence in East Asia and attempts to reforge alliances against China. In this game of move and countermove, who will be the first to say "checkmate"?
ASEAN leaders are seen on a screen as they attend the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit as part of the 37th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, 15 November 2020. (Kham/REUTERS)

Why China is rejoicing over the RCEP

With the signing of the RCEP yesterday, the largest economic community in the world is very much in the making. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan examines what the RCEP means for China and the world, not least the US, which is not a member of the RCEP.
US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, US, 29 September 2020. (Brian Snyder/REUTERS)

Trump vs Biden: Who makes a better choice for Southeast Asia

US President Donald Trump did not meet a single leader from Southeast Asia since November last year. Despite his administration's seemingly disengaged approach, US relations with key Southeast Asian states including Vietnam and Thailand have improved. ISEAS academics Ian Storey and Malcolm Cook look at the Trump administration's engagement data with Southeast Asian countries over the past year, the party platforms of both the Republicans and the Democrats, as well as recent developments in the region, as they give their take on the possible regional geopolitical environment after the presidential election.