South China Sea

The Chinese flag flutters on Tiananmen Square before the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, 21 May 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/REUTERS)

China wants 'co-opetition' with the US, but can that happen?

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima says that China had until recently reined itself in while working to form new power relations in the face of friction with the US. Since the spread of the coronavirus however, it has become more brazen in criticising the US. While it has said several times that it is not out to replace the US and that it seeks to build a “shared future for mankind”, will China stay the path of seeking cooperation amid competition?
Motorists wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus travel along a busy traffic intersection in Hanoi on 13 May 2020. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

China should be worried about political developments in Vietnam, not economic rivalry

Vietnam is fast becoming the factory of the world and is well-placed to capitalise on changes to global supply chains. Chinese academic Qiao Xinsheng feels that contrary to popular opinion, though Vietnam is striving to be the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia, it is not going to be an economic threat to China any time soon. What China should look out for, is how the Vietnam government negotiates domestic political and social reforms, and whether the Communist Party of Vietnam is able to avoid the kind of tragedy that befell the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
People's Liberation Army soldiers march to their barracks opposite the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 24 February 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Chinese military starts 79-day exercises amid pandemic to deter Taiwan and warn the US

Chinese PLA forces will be undertaking rigorous training at Bohai Bay near Tianjin for two and a half months. It is probably not a coincidence that Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration day — 20 May — is well within that period and the military’s activities will serve as a constant reminder that any overstepping of the boundaries can be met with sharp reprisals.
Japan's strategy in Southeast Asia is moving, despite difficulties. (Aris Messinis/REUTERS)

Targeting China, Japan’s Indo-Pacific strategy in Southeast Asia runs into headwinds?

Japan has taken the lead in propagating a vision of regional order for more than a decade. Its geopolitical strategy seeks to constrain China at a time when Southeast Asian countries fret about China’s military buildup, its expansion in the South China Sea and its controversial Belt and Road Initiative. ISEAS academic William Choong explains why Japan's endeavours have not been smooth, yet should not be discounted yet. 
People walk past a tree with a mask and eyes stapled on it, in Melbourne, on 20 April 2020. (William West/AFP)

Chewing gum on the sole of China's shoes? Australia-China relations take a nosedive

China's Global Times editor Hu Xijin called Australia the “chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes”. The Chinese public seems to agree and wants to “find a stone to rub it off”. This is but a sampling of Chinese reactions to recent statements by Australian leaders. That Australia's calls for China to be part of a Covid-19 independent international inquiry strike a strident tone is not unexpected, given that negative attitudes towards China have been simmering in Australia for quite a while now.   
A mural featuring US President Donald Trump (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing face covers in Berlin on April 28, 2020. (John Macdougall/AFP)

Unfavourable views: Southeast Asia's perceptions of China and the US worsen amid Covid-19

Even amid the coronavirus, US-China rivalry has not eased, but has been ramped up instead. This has not helped the image of either country. ISEAS academics Malcolm Cook and Ian Storey look at how negative impressions of both countries have been reinforced in Southeast Asian countries.
The Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt is pictured on 1 March 2020 with the Chinese flag projected on it in solidarity with the Chinese people amid the Covid-19 pandemic. (AFP)

‘Wolf-warrior diplomacy’: China's new normal?

Taking an aggressive stance will do Chinese diplomats little good in their efforts to control the narrative, says Zhu Zhiqun. In fact, such behaviour offends the very people they hope to persuade. However, is wolf-warrior diplomacy becoming the new normal?
A jetty in Sabah, Borneo. Malaysia has claims in the South China Sea against China as well as other SEA countries. (iStock)

Amid domestic political change, Malaysia sticks to trusted formula for South China Sea disputes

After decades, claims by various countries in the South China Sea remain unresolved. ISEAS senior fellow Ian Storey focuses on Malaysia, noting that while its leadership has changed, its strategy towards handling China with regard to the South China Sea has remained the same.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is pictured as it enters the port in Da Nang, Vietnam, on 5 March 2020. (Kham/Reuters)

US aircraft carrier visit and Vietnam's delicate balancing act

This week, the USS Theodore Roosevelt will become the second US aircraft carrier to visit Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War. While it is in Vietnam's interest to maintain a stable relationship with China due to strong economic ties, on matters of strategic interest, Vietnam finds no other power more compatible to work with than the US, to create a counterbalance against China.