China influence

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?
This handout photo from the Royal Malaysian Air Force taken on 31 May 2021 and released on 1 June shows a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft that Malaysian authorities said was in the airspace over Malaysia's maritime zone near the coast of Sarawak state on Borneo island. (Handout/Royal Malaysian Air Force/AFP)

PLA overflight near Malaysian airspace: A precarious provocation

Malaysian researchers Abdul Razak Ahmad, Kuik Cheng-Chwee and Lai Yew Meng comment that China’s deployment of People’s Liberation Army Air Force aircraft near Malaysia’s air space last month smacks of hypocrisy and creeping hegemony. They warn that Beijing may not be as benevolent as it wants smaller states to believe.
Anti-coup protesters hold a Chinese flag before burning it down during a demonstration against China in Yangon, Myanmar, 5 April 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

Why Myanmar people are wary of a 'pauk-phaw' (sibling) relationship with China

China and Myanmar are said to have a “pauk-phaw” or sibling relationship. Many people in Myanmar, however, are clear-eyed about the limits of the bond. Who are the true beneficiaries of Chinese investment in Myanmar? Why are the people protesting while the higher-ups eagerly sign huge contracts with China and other countries?
A banner marking the centenary of the Chinese Community Party is seen at a subway station in Shanghai, China on 28 June 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Former Singapore FM George Yeo on CCP’s centenary: The Chinese revolution continues

George Yeo, Singapore’s former foreign minister, shares his thoughts on China’s evolution with Lianhe Zaobao on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. He sees the milestone as just a pitstop in the long journey of the Chinese nation. Fresh thinking and innovation will be needed as the country progresses. Equally important, developing a “broad-minded and big-hearted nationalism” which is humble and learns from others will keep China on the path of being a great nation. Here are edited excerpts from the interview.
A girl reacts and laughs as she loses a game of rock-paper-scissors with her father (left) on a street outside the Forbidden City in Beijing, China on 1 May 2021. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China stories: Let’s not always focus on the negatives

Andrew Delios, vice dean of the Master of Science Programmes Office at the National University of Singapore, observes that media reports have often cast a suspicious eye on China’s actions, even those that deserve to be celebrated such as the development of the Sinovac vaccine. Imbalanced and agenda-driven reports will only lead to greater distrust and suspicion among countries, just when the world needs to work together on constructive solutions.
A general view of Laos, January 2020. (SPH)

Is Laos mining itself into a crisis?

Despite low global commodity prices, the mining sector in Lao PDR still constitutes a key source of state revenue and an important destination for foreign direct investment, especially from China, Vietnam and Thailand. However, economic development through industrial mining has not translated into employment opportunities for local communities. Rather, the Lao mining sector is marked by a parallel structure of medium- to large-scale mining operations and informal artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), which often operate in a legal grey zone. ASM communities thus suffer from the sector’s high social and environmental costs and conflicts with foreign investors over allocated land.
A view of the Mekong between Don Det and Don Khon, Si Phan Don, Laos, May 2019. (Wikimedia)

American researcher: China's upstream dams threaten economy and security of Mekong region

China’s 11 hydropower dams built on the upper Mekong River held back massive quantities of water over the last two years, causing crop failure and depleting fish catches, and threatening the livelihoods of the 60 million people living downstream. Besides, China has financed half of Laos’ 60 dams on Mekong tributaries and two more on the mainstream, pushing Laos' debt levels to about US$17 billion in 2019, nearly equivalent to the country’s annual GDP. Furthermore, other projects in Thailand have been cancelled out of concern that it would give Beijing too much strategic and economic influence deep into mainland Southeast Asia. American researcher Murray Hiebert explains the situation.
Protesters hold coffins displaying a picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (right) during a demonstration in New Delhi on 3 March 2021, to protest against the military coup in Myanmar. (Prakash Singh/AFP)

Why the Chinese are confused by ‘ungrateful’ anti-China sentiments in Myanmar

Chinese academic Fan Hongda notes that mutual benefit is the real driver of bilateral relations, and expecting “gratitude” for maintaining ties is not the way to go. China would do well to rethink its mindset in international relations and the role it plays in the world.