Wang Yanbo picks apart news of Baidu’s alleged plans to raise up to $2 billion over three years to invest in a biotech start-up, which would use AI technology to develop drugs and help diagnose diseases. Is this yet another example of business giants flailing into unchartered territory to seek new growth? Wasn’t China’s multi-billion dollar search market Baidu’s to harvest once Google ceased its Chinese operations in 2010 amid cyberattacks and censorship issues?
China’s new Unreliable Entity List seems to be an echo of US actions. But while the list looks like a potentially lethal tool, it has to be wielded prudently in order not to hurt China’s economy or cause anxiety. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu examines the factors involved.
Despite US efforts to reduce reliance on China and decouple from it, the process will not be easy, given China’s enormous economic influence. Even with countries such as Vietnam trying to take China’s place as the “world’s factory”, their capacity is limited. However, this does not mean that China’s position is assured, as other countries are noticing China’s penchant for using its economic might as a bargaining chip.
With Vietnam at the helm of ASEAN this year, the grouping has wielded the aegis of international law to ensure that international and regional concerns about the South China Sea are respected in Code of Conduct negotiations. ISEAS academic Hoang Thi Ha says that while China prefers to settle SCS issues between itself and ASEAN member states, this is not what ASEAN has in mind.
Both Taiwan and mainland China have indicated that they would not fire the first shot and would only do so if provoked. Yet signs are increasing that both sides could be stumbling into war. Most recently, the PLA sent its jets over the median line of the Taiwan Strait over three days. Seth Cropsey, director of the Center for American Seapower at Hudson Institute, even offered a date for mainland China to strike. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan takes a closer look at this quagmire.
Business cooperation will likely be a key theme of the China-Japan relationship under the new Suga administration, says Japanese academic Shin Kawashima. However, various challenges will continue to beset bilateral relations. All eyes are also on Nobuo Kishi, the new Defence Minister and Shinzō Abe’s younger brother, who has strong ties to Taiwan.
In recent times, the Indo-Pacific has evolved from being a geographical concept to a political and strategic construct that means different things to different countries. With Covid-19 turning the international tide against China, proponents of ensuring a “free and open Indo-Pacific” have found more incentive to rally together. Among them, dominant stakeholders such as India can play a bigger role to balance the perceived threat.
Companies like Disney hoping to capture the huge Chinese market must buck up and understand the cultural and political sensitivities involved even more. Otherwise, in an age of increased tension between China and the West, they might find themselves tripping up over landmines from both sides.
Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has been confirmed as Japan’s incoming prime minister, following a vote in parliament today. What would his foreign policy priorities be as prime minister?