Hard power

People watch the annual Fourth of July parade on 4 July 2021 in Saugerties, New York. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

SEA nations may need to pick a side as US-China rivalry intensifies

There is bipartisan support under the Biden administration to compete with and confront China, reflecting the American desire to maintain its dominant position in the international system. However, the US’s ability to act as a reliable security partner is heavily constrained by its domestic political paralysis caused by ideological divisions as well as social and economic upheavals. And while Southeast Asian countries want the US to remain militarily and economically engaged in the region to act as a counterweight to China, they do not want to take sides between the two superpowers. Canadian academic Shaun Narine believes this may be an increasingly difficult balance as US-China rivalry intensifies.
In this file photo, a street artist paints a mural depicting Covid-19 coronavirus frontline workers along a street in Hanoi on 15 June 2021. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

American academic: US-Vietnam military relations hampered by Chinese influence

Relations between Vietnam and the United States have advanced markedly, particularly in trade and diplomatic cooperation. But bilateral military relations will continue to be stymied by Vietnam’s approach to China.
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.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting via video conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not seen) at the Kremlin in Moscow on 28 June 2021. (Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP)

Extension of China-Russia friendship treaty does not mean ties are solid

Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing notes that even as China and Russia extend their friendship treaty, their relationship could still fluctuate in the face of US-China tensions and the uneasy China-US-Russia strategic triangle.
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.
G7 leaders attend a working session during the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, 12 June 2021. (Leon Neal/Pool via Reuters)

D10 group of democracies: A stronger alliance to contain China?

Chinese PhD candidate Du Zhiyuan notes that the recent G7 summit in the UK involving G7 members and guests was in fact a gathering of a “D10” club of democratic partners, along the lines proposed by British PM Boris Johnson. And the D10, in turn, could ultimately lead to a trans-Atlantic/Indo-Pacific alliance better fit to contain China.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi walk as they attend the ASEAN leaders' summit at the the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretariat building in Jakarta, Indonesia, 24 April 2021. (Muchlis Jr/Indonesian Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters)

Is Indonesia's foreign policy tilting towards Beijing?

Indonesian academic Aristyo Rizka Darmawan looks at Indonesia's engagement with China in recent years and notes that Indonesia has adopted a foreign policy that is driven by economic interest and transactional considerations. Despite its increased engagement with China, Jakarta would need to upkeep its relationships with other regional powers for a good balance.
A Taiwan Navy honour guard looks on in front of a Taiwan flag during the launch ceremony for the Taiwan Navy's domestically built amphibious transport dock "Yushan" in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 13 April 2021. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Will the Taiwan Strait issue be internationalised under Biden?

Mainland China has most recently sent 28 aircraft close to Taiwan, prompting concerns that the situation in the Taiwan Strait might boil over, not least with US-led actions possibly internationalising the issue. What’s the true temperature of the situation? Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu reports.
A man poses for a photo on the Red Steps in Times Square as an image of the Statue of Liberty wearing a mask is projected on a billboard amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US on 20 April 2021. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong: If America and China clash, everything will be lost

The US Chamber of Commerce held its inaugural Global Forum on Economic Recovery on 18-19 May 2021. In a fireside chat with US Chamber of Commerce executive vice-president Myron Brilliant, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared his views on getting the US-China relationship on a stable path, among other topics. At heart is the need to forge common ground and work together, not just on climate change but a host of issues such as nuclear non-proliferation, public health and pandemics. To do so, both countries need to reconcile their international stances with their domestic political opinions, and see each other as partners sharing one planet.