Diplomacy

A man wearing a face mask amid Covid-19 concerns waits on his scooter near a billboard of the late Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, 4 May 2021. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Feisty and delicate: Vietnam's approach to handling great power rivalry

Vietnam’s domestic and foreign policy structures held up well in 2020 in the face of significant challenges involving Covid-19, chairing ASEAN, and relations with China and the US. Vietnam continued to maintain a delicate balance between China and the US, while at the same time retaining a strategic option to pursue deeper defence and military relations with the US. Its ability to maintain and enhance agency, in particular in its relations with Beijing, offers lessons for other Southeast Asian countries facing the same dilemma.
A food delivery motorist rides on a street as deliveries rise due to lockdown restrictions introduced to try to halt a surge in cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Phnom Penh on 26 April 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Japan passes China in the sprint to win Cambodian hearts and minds

Since 2010, Japan’s foreign policy toward Cambodia includes a new geopolitical dimension of balancing China’s influence in Cambodia, including strategies such as non-interference in Cambodia’s domestic affairs and providing development assistance that aligns with the Cambodian government’s development plan, focusing on infrastructure, human capital development, and agriculture. Japan has been relatively successful given the Cambodian population’s mixed reactions to China’s engagement in Cambodia. And it seems that Cambodia will continue to benefit from Japan's balancing-China strategy, as long as China-Japan rivalry stays manageable.   
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, China on 25 April 2019. (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool via Reuters)

China's CPC deepens ties with Philippine political parties

Under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, party-to-party (P2P) relations have been forged and deepened between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and various Philippine political parties. Such P2P diplomacy offers China a new diplomatic channel to promote bilateral relations and complement confidence-building measures. It also enables Beijing to hedge at the sub-national level given the plurality of political bases in the Philippines. Philippine researcher Aaron Jed Rabena looks at the engagements thus far and examines how these may affect Philippine domestic politics.
A man is called forward while waiting in line at a medical oxygen refilling facility in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India on 4 May 2021. (Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

India's coronavirus crisis is the world's crisis. Politics needs to take a back seat.

In hindsight, Zhu Zhiqun analyses some of India’s missteps that have left it ill-prepared to handle the second wave of Covid-19. China and other countries should learn from this: it is still not time to slacken one's vigilance against Covid-19, and a friend in need is a friend indeed.
A woman receives her first dose of China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) during a mass vaccination program for vendors and workers at a shopping mall in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, 1 March 2021. (Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters)

Will Indonesia-China vaccine cooperation affect Jakarta's South China Sea stance?

Indonesia is among the Southeast Asian nations most heavily stricken by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ASEAN country that conducts the most comprehensive vaccine cooperation with China. Still, it has tried to diversify its vaccine supply to avoid being over-reliant on China's vaccine. Unsurprisingly, China’s vaccine diplomacy in Southeast Asia carries an expectation that recipient countries should be more accommodating on the South China Sea issue. Will Indonesia's resolve to stand firm on ASEAN’s position on the South China Sea waver?
Iranians drive down a street in the capital Tehran, on 11 April 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

China-Iran deal complements the BRI, but faces Iranian domestic opposition and US sanctions

The recently signed China-Iran Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement will be a linchpin for China’s BRI in the Middle East, says Yu Hong. In the best-case scenario, it will be a win-win arrangement, providing Iran with the foreign investment it needs and China the oil supply and strategic influence it hopes to get. However, a number of challenges stand in the way including US sanctions and domestic opposition within Iran.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi bump elbows during the signing ceremony of a 25-year cooperation agreement, in Tehran, Iran, 27 March 2021. (Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Chinese academic: China-Iran deal will benefit China, Iran and Middle Eastern countries in the long run

A 25-year cooperation agreement was signed recently between China and Iran. The West and countries in the Middle East are alarmed by what closer China-Iran ties could mean for their interests, while the Iranians and the Chinese have different reactions to the news. Fan Hongda weighs the pros and cons of the agreement and what it means for all its stakeholders.
US President Joe Biden meets virtually with leaders of the Quad countries of Australia, India, Japan and the US in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on 12 March 2021. (Olivier Douliery/AFP)

Biden’s impressive ‘three-in-one’ policy to deal with China

Biden’s brilliant stroke of sending his close advisors to Taiwan while sending the US climate envoy to Beijing shows that the US is certainly prepared to be “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be”. How can China create room for manoeuvre within this framework?
Malaysia's Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, 1 April 2021. (Hishammuddin Hussein/Facebook)

Malaysia's ‘big brother’ controversy and ASEAN’s dilemma

Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein sparked a reaction when he referred to China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi as “big brother”, as some quarters in Malaysia felt that the term was overly deferential. Chinese academic Zhang Jingwei looks at how ASEAN countries are stuck between a rock and hard place in their relations with China and the US.