South China Sea

Women walk past a graffiti depicting US President Donald Trump, the Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in El Alto, Bolivia, 16 October 2020. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

There will be no hot war as the people will not allow it

China has already flexed its muscles and shown that it can retaliate if provoked. Hence, although the US continues to play the devil’s advocate and wades into issues pertaining to Hong Kong, South China Sea and Taiwan, China will not fall into the trap as both sides know that the stakes are too high to engage in a hot war.
In this file photo tourists wearing facemasks walk on the reopened Liberty Island in front of the Statue of Liberty on 20 July 2020 in New York City. (Johannes Eisele/AFP)

Setting the rules: 'Non-negotiables' in a US-Southeast Asia relationship

Since 2016, China has presented itself as a strategic competitor to the US. In turn, the Trump administration has been accused of incoherence in its policies toward China and its approach to the Indo-Pacific has led to concerns in regional states. Whether Trump or Biden wins in November, Washington needs to recognise some non-negotiables with regards to Southeast Asia: the avoidance of presenting binary choices for regional states to make amid Sino-US rivalry; the need for a looser cooperative approach in pushing back China’s assertiveness, particularly in the South China Sea; and the need to build regional connectivity networks and infrastructure.  
Prabowo Subianto looks on before taking his oath as appointed Defense Minister during the inauguration at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, 23 October 2019. (Willy Kurniawan/REUTERS)

After a 20-year ban, why was Indonesia's Prabowo invited to the US?

Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto's visit to Washington DC has raised many eyebrows and questions, says Leo Suryadinata. Is the US worried about Indonesia leaning too much towards China?
A street vendor pushes her cart in the rain in Hanoi, 15 October 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

How should Southeast Asian countries respond to an upsurge in Chinese investment

In this geostrategic climate, Southeast Asian countries should welcome rather than reject investments from China for their own developmental needs. Welcoming Chinese investment will also likely spur competing investments from the West and Japan.
A woman cycles in Hanoi on 21 September 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

How Vietnam is leveraging anti-China sentiments online

In this era of blossoming social media, anti-China sentiments have morphed and manifested online, compelling Vietnamese authorities to keep close tabs on it. ISEAS academic Dien Nguyen An Luong examines how the Vietnamese authorities have increasingly looked to social media to gauge anti-China sentiments and to calibrate their responses accordingly.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, 8 October 2020. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP)

Will Beijing hinder Moscow's operations in the South China Sea?

The South China Sea poses a stress test in Russia-China relations, pitting China’s claims against Russian energy interests.
Visitors wearing protective masks walk by Chinese national flags and red lanterns decorated to celebrate the National Day in Beijing, China, 4 October 2020. (Yan Cong/Bloomberg)

The US is helping to unite the Chinese people and the CCP by challenging China’s core interests

The US has been trying to delink the CCP from the Chinese people, thinking that this will give them a clear path to defining a tangible enemy. But they have forgotten that Western imperialists were abhorred by the Chinese and any form of neo-imperialism would be anathema to them. The US may have overlooked the uneasy truth that nationalism in China is a firm glue that binds the CCP and the people together.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pose for a picture prior the Quad ministerial meeting in Tokyo, Japan, 6 October 2020. (Kiyoshi Ota/Pool via REUTERS)

Containing China: Will the Quad become an Asian mini-NATO?

With the foreign ministers of the US, Japan, India, and Australia convening in Tokyo for their latest ministerial quadrilateral security dialogue meeting last week, and the US especially keen to contain China through this grouping, economics professor Zhu Ying wonders: Will the Quad become an Asian mini-NATO?
A visitor holds a Chinese flag while posing for a photograph at the Badaling section of the Great Wall in Beijing, China, on 1 October 2020. (Yan Cong/Bloomberg)

China feels maligned

China laments that it has not done anything wrong, amid the slew of bad reactions it has been getting internationally. Han Yong Hong points out while negative perceptions of China by major countries of the world are at an all-time high, this is not solely to do with strains in the US-China relationship. Individual countries have their beef with China for a host of reasons. When everything is all said and done, communication is still key, and China has just as much responsibility as everyone else to make the effort to bridge the gap.