Security

People walk past a Chinese flag near the Forbidden City during National Day holidays in Beijing, China, 5 October 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

China will be the US's most difficult opponent

While there may have been some minor tweaks from the US side to smoothen relations with China, the overall suppression and containment of China remains unchanged from the Trump to Biden eras as fundamental differences exist between the two countries, says Wu Guo.
Activists stage a protest outside the Chinese Consulate, guarded by Philippine police, on the fifth anniversary of an international arbitral court ruling invalidating Beijing's historical claims over the waters of the South China Sea, in Makati City, Philippines, 12 July 2021. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

While preserving good relations with China, the Philippines must exercise its maritime rights

Since taking office in 2016, Philippine President Duterte has downplayed the South China Sea Arbitration Award in the hope of gaining China’s infrastructure and financial offerings. This hope has so far remained largely unfulfilled. Despite Duterte's stance, various departments in the Philippine government have referenced the Award in defence of the Philippines' legal rights and jurisdiction in its maritime zones. Philippine academic Jay L. Batongbacal says that this and negative public opinion of Duterte’s China policy means that the Award continues to serve as a bedrock for the Philippines to exercise its rights and to delegitimise China’s claims and bullying actions in the South China Sea.
Coast guard officers stand on the deck of the Indian Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel 'VIGRAHA' during its commissioning ceremony, in Chennai, India, on 28 August 2021. (Indian Navy/AFP)

With China’s increasing assertiveness, India’s active role in the Indian Ocean matters more than ever

India’s geostrategic location enables it to occupy a central position in the Indian Ocean region, although it has traditionally shown a reluctance to get too involved. This is all changing with China exerting a greater presence in the region and India’s own involvement in the Quad and a greater alignment of its Indian Ocean strategy with the “free and open Indo-Pacific” concept. In the last few years, it has stepped up its aid and outreach missions, as well as military partnerships with various stakeholders in the Indian Ocean. Indian academic Amrita Jash examines the impetus for and extent of India's shift.
An Indonesian Airforce's F-16 jet fighter flies over an Indonesian Navy warship during an operation in Natuna, near the South China Sea, Indonesia, 10 January 2020. (M Risyal Hidayat/Antara Foto via Reuters)

Indonesian academic: China’s recent foray into the North Natuna Sea is problematic

A Chinese survey ship was reported to be operating in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone in the North Natuna Sea recently. This is not new, but this time the survey ship was reportedly accompanied by at least six Chinese naval vessels. Jakarta should consider a firm response to Beijing.
A police barricade is seen in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on 14 September 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

AUKUS: Aggravating tensions and dividing the world

Australia, the US and the UK recently launched the enhanced trilateral security partnership “AUKUS”. American academic Zhu Zhiqun believes that AUKUS is divisive and serves the interests of the US military-industrial complex. It has also raised the stakes in China’s threat perceptions, given the unspoken target of the grouping. And now that Australia has picked a side, how will power dynamics play out in the Indo-Pacific region? Will China also seek alliances to strengthen itself?
A boy stands with a wheelbarrow at the demolished former compound of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, 10 September 2021. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

Pakistan stands to gain from Afghanistan turmoil?

The recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has strong implications for Pakistan which faces various new challenges such as the influx of Afghan refugees, terror threats from Afghan-based militants and an increased insurgency by Balochistan rebels. China is also getting impatient with the Pakistan security situation as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects have come under threat. But Pakistan also has the opportunity to use its leverage with the Taliban to play a more significant role in regional diplomacy and decision-making, thereby advancing its regional standing.
A visitor takes a photograph in front of an electronic American flag in the Times Square neighborhood of New York, US, on 4 September 2021. (Amir Hamja/Bloomberg)

Chinese academic: China will pay the price for underestimating the US

The US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was ugly and messy, but certainly not anywhere catastrophic enough to say that this marks the end of US hegemony. China should not underestimate the US’s strength. In fact, while the US flexes its muscles in conventional warfare and pledges a “no first use” nuclear stance, China should beef up its nuclear deterrence quotient for greater insurance against the US.
Cyclists traverse the main quad on Stanford University's campus in Stanford, California, US, on 9 May 2014. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)

Why US academics are protesting against the Department of Justice’s ‘China Initiative’

The former Trump administration launched the China Initiative in 2018, ostensibly to protect US national security interests. However, a recent open letter by US academics calling for an end to the initiative seems to suggest that the programme is not what it set out to be. Zaobao’s China Desk examines the China Initiative and what it has achieved — or not.
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen (second from right) gestures as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (centre, left) looks on as they attend a handover ceremony of the Morodok Techo National Stadium, funded by China's grant aid under its Belt and Road Initiative, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 12 September 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/Pool/AFP)

How China became Cambodia's important ally and largest donor

While Cambodia is aware that its close relations with China may leave it vulnerable in many ways, it seems to think that this is still the better bet in light of shaky relations with the US and a historical distrust of Vietnam.