South China Sea

A coast guard official raises the Indian national flag on board the Indian Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel "Vajra" during its commissioning ceremony, in Chennai, India, on 24 March 2021. (Arun Sankar/AFP)

Indian academic: The Quad gains momentum and China feels threatened

Amrita Jash notes that the Quad has gained momentum since its inaugural virtual leader-level summit in March. China is worried, but she reasons that the Quad is taking a macro view by having a vision for a “free, open rules-based order, rooted in international law” in the Indo-Pacific, and this is a much larger endeavour than just simply targeting China. But whatever the suspicions or discomfort, the Quad mechanism looks set to stay.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin Wall to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia, 23 February 2021. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters)

Russia in Southeast Asia: Falling influence despite being largest arms seller

Although Russia has been increasing its defence diplomacy activities in Southeast Asia, its military cooperation with the region remains overwhelmingly focused on arms sales. However, Russia is at risk of losing its position as the number one arms seller to Southeast Asia due to increased competition from American, European and Asian defence companies. Besides, Russian navy port calls to Southeast Asia and combined military exercises in the region are infrequent and small-scale compared to those of the US and China. ISEAS academic Ian Storey examines how Russia might expand its influence.
This file photo taken on 18 April 2018 shows China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (centre), sailing during a drill at sea. (STR/AFP)

Can Taiwan fight for as long as it takes?

Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said in parliament yesterday that Taiwan stands ready to defend itself. His remarks come on the back of an assessment by a US commander that mainland China may take Taiwan by force in the next six years, and the US and Japan’s joint statement on the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Chuang Hui Liang reports.
People walk in Times Square in Manhattan, New York City, New York, US, 14 February 2021. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

Has the US walked into China's trap?

Han Dongping calls out the weaknesses in US foreign policy, explaining that its foreign policy missteps have contributed to the deep-seated issues it faces today. If having to learn from the past is not enough, it is as if the US has walked into China’s trap, getting mired in interventions while China watches and waits as the US slowly exhausts its power. If nothing changes, the impact on the US and the rest of the world could be catastrophic. 
(left to right) China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and US national security adviser Jake Sullivan. (Photos: Pool, AFP, Reuters)

US-China talks in Alaska — how far can they go?

Top officials in the Biden administration and the Chinese government are meeting in Alaska this week for what has been touted as the first high-level contact between the two countries under the new US administration and one to watch. Can this meeting turn the page on testy US-China relations? Yu Zeyuan gives a preview.
In this file photo taken on 31 January 2018, Taiwanese sailors salute the island's flag on the deck of the Panshih supply ship after taking part in annual drills, at the Tsoying naval base in Kaohsiung. (Mandy Cheng/AFP)

Will China take Taiwan by force within six years? Taiwanese think not and experts are worried

At a recent US senate hearing, Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, assessed US capabilities in the Indo-Pacific, adding that Beijing may invade Taiwan in the next six years. Zaobao correspondent Woon Wei Jong speaks to Taiwan academics about the issue.
A view of the Mekong river bordering Thailand and Laos is seen from the Thai side in Nong Khai, Thailand, 29 October 2019. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Role of Vietnam in Mekong: A middle power in another US-China geopolitical battleground

Hanoi is applying its South China Sea playbook to the Mekong. It is putting effort into enmeshing all stakeholders while carefully balancing relationships with major powers interested in the Mekong. What does this mean for Southeast Asia and the region's relationship with China and the US? RSIS graduate research assistant Phan Xuan Dung examines how Vietnam can make a difference.
This handout file photo taken and released by the Indian Navy on 18 November 2020 shows Indian army fighter jets on the deck on an aircraft carrier during the second phase of the 2020 Malabar naval exercise in the Arabian sea involving India, Australia, Japan and the US (the Quad). (Indian Navy/AFP)

South China Sea: The new frontier of Sino-Indian tussle in the Himalayas?

India’s step to send a warship to the South China Sea (SCS) following the clash in the Galwan Valley in the middle of last year proved a point — that it is prepared to link security in the Himalayas to the SCS, which it had erstwhile regarded as a secondary area of interest. Will China bristle at India’s continued quest for leverage and will chances of an accidental escalation in the SCS be raised overall?
An officer checks a container with COVID-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd., as they arrive at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the first shipment to Indonesia, in Tangerang, near Jakarta, 6 December 2020. (Dhemas Reviyanto/Antara Foto via Reuters)

Survey: China the most influential and distrusted power in Southeast Asia

The State of Southeast Asia 2021 survey published by the ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute indicates that Southeast Asians’ trust in China continues to trend downward. China’s success in containing the pandemic domestically, and its "pandemic diplomacy” in the region have had little effect on Southeast Asians' trust deficit towards Beijing, as they are anxious over China’s ability to constrain their countries’ sovereignty and foreign policy choices. ISEAS academic Hoang Thi Ha notes that this trust deficit undermines China’s “discourse power”, and Beijing would do well to consider recalibrating its approach to the region.