Europe

US President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet announcement event in Wilmington, Delaware, on 24 November 2020. (Chandan Khanna/AFP)

Can Biden’s US lead the world?

US President-elect Joe Biden has said that the US is back and ready to lead the world. Can he really turn things around? The US-China relationship, for one, is already in a serious state of distrust and acrimony. While the methods differ, says Hong Kong-based commentator Zheng Hao, the intended outcomes of the Biden administration’s China policy would likely be very similar to the previous administration’s. But before playing a global leading role of any kind, Biden will have to find a way to prevent his every step from being hindered by conservative Republicans in Congress.
A US flag being hoisted on cranes outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware on 3 November 2020. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP)

America and Europe are coming together against China, but will it work?

Even under the incoming Biden administration, it is likely that the US will continue seeking to work with allies such as the EU against China. However, says Zhu Ying, having a common agenda, and even a certain amount of willingness, is very different from being able to achieve the goal of joining hands against China.
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.
People climb the Great Wall, illuminated to mark the first day of Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chinese National Day, in Beijing, China, 1 October 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Wang Gungwu: The high road to pluralist sinology

Professor Wang Gungwu, eminent historian and university professor of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore, was awarded the 2020 Tang Prize in Sinology earlier this year. At the 2020 Tang Prize Masters’ Forums — Sinology held last month, Professor Wang traced the evolution of sinology in the West and East, observing that today, a “pluralist sinology” is emerging alongside a rising China. This allows for the term “sinologist” to be applied to a much larger group of scholars, and for the bringing together of various knowledge traditions and academic disciplines in the study of China. While there is much to be cheered by this, Professor Wang also urged his fellow scholars to be ready to “douse the fires that others had fanned”, as knowledge gathered by pluralist sinology could be used as a weapon amid intense rivalry between the US and China. This is the transcript of his speech. 
A mining/crushing supervisor at MP Materials displays crushed ore before it is sent to the mill at the MP Materials rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California, 30 January 2020. (Steve Marcus/File Photo/Reuters)

How to break China's monopoly on rare earths

Much attention has been focused on the burgeoning US-China tech war and the US’s suppression of Chinese companies. But less is known about China’s firm hold on the rare earths supply chain, which has the potential to derail the world’s production of products from the humble smartphone to F-35 aircraft and guided missile systems. In response, the US and its allies, including the EU, Japan and Australia, are actively coalescing around new rare earths strategies. But private investment alone will not be enough to challenge China’s global monopoly in rare earths. Can new international public-private partnerships be the answer?
Residents dine at a 500-metre-long table spanning across the length of the medieval Charles Bridge as restrictions ease following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Prague, Czech Republic, 30 June 2020. (David W Cerny/REUTERS)

Are the Czechs alarmed by China's buying power?

From media companies to hotels and football clubs, the Chinese have gone on a shopping spree in the Czech Republic over the past few years. Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao notes that the Czech Republic was the first European country to fall in love with China, allowing the latter to acquire large stakes in Czech entities. But now, it seems that the love affair is not so rosy any more. The recent visit of Senate Speaker Miloš Vystrčil to Taiwan is just one chink in the relationship’s armour.
This handout photo taken and released on 3 September 2020 by Taiwan's Presidential Office shows Czech Senate Speaker Miloš Vystrčil receiving a map of Taiwan from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the Presidential Office in Taipei. (Handout/Taiwan Presidential Office/AFP)

Failed 'coercive diplomacy'? Beijing might harden its stance on Taiwan after Czech delegation's visit

Was the recent visit of a Czech delegation led by Senate speaker Miloš Vystrčil penny wise but pound foolish? Zhou Wenxing analyses that the Czech visit may encourage further visits by democratic countries in a show of solidarity, but it is just such visible moves that might make Beijing go on the offensive.
US President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with China's President Xi Jinping during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, 29 June 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS)

China wants a multipolar world order. Can the world agree?

As China takes pole position in the international constellation of countries, Pang Ruizhi argues that the reality China faces in the new decade is not so much a rising bipolarity of global influence as some posit, but an uneasy multipolarity in which it must manage its relations with countries within its geopolitical region and beyond wisely. Only then can it reap the utmost benefits and continue on its path of progress.
Employees at a plant of Daimler-BAIC joint venture’s Beijing Benz Automotive Co in Beijing, 13 May 2020. (Thomas Peter/REUTERS)

Germany’s China policy: Will economic interests override values?

Economics professor Zhu Ying notes that German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a pragmatic approach towards China — specifically, economic interests come first. She has held on to that maxim despite questions from within and outside the government as to whether Germany should be tougher on China on matters that seem to run counter to their value system. In the face of mounting pressures in the wake of Covid-19 and developments in Hong Kong, can Merkel stay the course of balancing economic interests with values?