China influence

A woman carries a stack of bowls during the annual Vegetarian Festival in the Chinatown area of Bangkok on 7 October 2021. (Jack Taylor/AFP)

The nature of recent Chinese migration to Thailand

New migrants from China refer to the wave of skilled and urban migrants from China who ventured to Asia and elsewhere after the reform era began in the 1980s. Since the 2000s, many have been moving into Southeast Asia. In Thailand, their number has doubled in the last two decades. These migrants are there for business, study and leisure or a combination of these pursuits. In the process, new communities such as Huai Khwang, the "new Chinatown" in Bangkok, have emerged.
This photo on 26 November 2021 shows journalists gathered at a train station in Kunming to join a preview ride on the China-Laos railway, which is set to start operating in early December 2021. (CNS)

Laos hopes for economic boost with the opening of Laos-China railway

ISEAS academic Nick Freeman says that Laos’ first major railway, inaugurated on 3 December 2021, will create a new link with the Chinese market and has the potential to be a game changer for the Lao economy. This comes at a good time, as Laos seeks post-pandemic recovery in 2022. But the opening of the railway alone does not guarantee such a prospect. While the railway might boost industries such as tourism and exports, leading to a shift away from traditional sectors such as power generation and mineral mining, Laos needs to develop economic "muscle tissue" to ensure that the potential of the railway is translated into tangible results through investing in both hard and soft infrastructure.
This file photo taken on 18 November 2021 shows the name plaque at the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, Vilnius. (Petras Malukas/AFP)

How Beijing should respond to Lithuania’s signals on Taiwan

Analyst Zheng Weibin says that the establishment of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, with “Taiwan” rather than “Taipei” in its name, should not be looked upon by Beijing merely as Taiwan gaining diplomatic space. China needs to understand better the dynamics underpinning China’s relations with Europe and the shifts in the EU's foreign policy strategy. Taking a heavy-handed approach is likely to be counterproductive for the Asian giant.
People pose for photos in front of a statue of American actress Marilyn Monroe Universal Studios Beijing, China, 21 September 2021. (CNS)

Universal Studios Beijing: With 5,000 years of culture, can China create its own theme park?

Universal Studios Beijing opened to much publicity, with tickets being snapped up in just one minute. But some detractors question if this is exactly the sort of imperialism that China has grown out of and it should be developing its own mega attractions with Chinese elements. Would doing so simply entail rejecting Western influences? How can it develop a concept that truly reflects a flavour of China or its popular culture?
A general view shows the Lujiazui financial district (left) in Shanghai, China, on 22 September 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China joining the CPTPP: It's a matter of time

Zhang Rui analyses that there are more pros than cons to China’s entry to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) whether one looks at it from China’s individual economy, regional industrial chains or global income gains. However, sizeable obstacles stand in the way of its entry, not least US-led political roadblocks, even if the latter is not currently a member of the reconfigured CPTPP. China’s internal system and regulations will also have to change to meet the rigours of the high-standard CPTPP. Can China play the long game and will the world truly move closer towards Asia-Pacific economic integration?
This photograph taken on 8 June 2021 shows a street vendor walking past narrow residential houses, known as "nha ong" in Vietnamese or "tube houses", in an urban area of Hanoi. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Vietnam needs to do more to reduce trade dependence on China

Vietnam’s trade deficit with China has grown rapidly since 2001, and its heavy dependence on Chinese intermediate and capital goods creates vulnerabilities in its entire production chain. Besides, China has a history of using trade as a weapon to punish countries with which it has disputes. To reduce its trade dependence on Beijing, Vietnam has signed a number of new-generation free trade agreements (FTAs) in recent years, but these efforts have not produced desired outcomes. Vietnam will need to increase the utilisation rate of these agreements and push forward economic and institutional reforms to strengthen its overall economic resilience.
Rescue workers and onlookers gather around a wreck after a bus plunged into a ravine following a bomb explosion, which killed 13 people including nine Chinese workers, in the Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan on 14 July 2021. (STR/AFP)

Chinese researcher: How to protect the BRI and keep Chinese enterprises overseas safe

As an increasing number of Chinese enterprises venture overseas and the BRI project continues its expansion, Peng Nian notes the rise in attacks targeted against these projects. He says much can be done to strengthen the safety awareness of Chinese enterprises, especially as many of them operate in unfamiliar or far-flung locations.
A tuktuk is parked at Camoes square in Lisbon on 14 July 2021. (Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP)

Washington threatening Portugal to choose between China and the US?

Portugal has in the past decade developed very lucrative relations with China. Chinese investment significantly assisted its recovery from the 2008 global economic crisis. However, Lisbon’s increasingly close ties with Beijing have raised serious concerns in Washington.
A man wearing a protective face mask, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, makes his way at a local shopping street in Tokyo, Japan, 5 May 2021. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Why Japan is investigating Confucius Institutes in Japanese universities

Last month, following a question by a Diet member, Japan's education minister announced a fact-finding investigation into the presence of Confucius Institutes in Japanese educational institutions. What influence do these Confucius Institutes have in Japan and should they be allowed to continue being in operation?