Hard power

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks during a Voter Mobilization Event campaign stop at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio, 12 October 2020. (Tom Brenner/REUTERS)

A Biden presidency: Revenge of the 'Asia-Pacific' over the 'Indo-Pacific'?

The much-ballyhooed “Indo-Pacific” term has gained much traction in the region in recent years. It is believed that the term helps to expand the regional framework to include India as a major power, and balance against China’s growing influence. The new Democratic Party platform, however, pointedly excludes the use of the term, and touts the older “Asia-Pacific” instead. Is this Biden’s attempt at getting at Trump?
A general view shows a market in Phnom Penh on 2 October 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Cambodia: Hard landing for China’s soft power?

Since the early 2000s, there has been an influx of Chinese nationals, investment, and development assistance as part of China’s projection of its soft power in Cambodia, most prominently in Sihanoukville. All this has led to resentment among Cambodians, amid China's seeming efforts to turn Sihanoukville into Cambodia's Shenzhen.
US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, US, 29 September 2020. (Brian Snyder/REUTERS)

Trump vs Biden: Who makes a better choice for Southeast Asia

US President Donald Trump did not meet a single leader from Southeast Asia since November last year. Despite his administration's seemingly disengaged approach, US relations with key Southeast Asian states including Vietnam and Thailand have improved. ISEAS academics Ian Storey and Malcolm Cook look at the Trump administration's engagement data with Southeast Asian countries over the past year, the party platforms of both the Republicans and the Democrats, as well as recent developments in the region, as they give their take on the possible regional geopolitical environment after the presidential election.
Flags of the United States and China are placed for a meeting between the U.S. secretary of agriculture and China's minister of agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing, China. (Jason Lee/REUTERS)

The biggest challenge in China's diplomacy

US-China strategic competition has had an adverse effect on Indo-Pacific tensions, from issues such as Taiwan, the South China Sea, to China-India border conflicts and China-Australia relations. Political scientist Zhu Zhiqun says China’s international and regional outlook will not improve if this underlying issue is not resolved.
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis transits the South China Sea at sunset, 25 February 2019. (US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan D. McLearnon/Handout via REUTERS)

Apart from ASEAN and China, international community and law are part of South China Sea discourse

With Vietnam at the helm of ASEAN this year, the grouping has wielded the aegis of international law to ensure that international and regional concerns about the South China Sea are respected in Code of Conduct negotiations. ISEAS academic Hoang Thi Ha says that while China prefers to settle SCS issues between itself and ASEAN member states, this is not what ASEAN has in mind.
This handout picture taken on 15 July 2020 and released by Taiwan's Defense Ministry shows a warship launching a US-made Harpoon missile during the annual Han Kuang military drill from an unlocated place in the sea near Taiwan. (Handout/Taiwan Defense Ministry/AFP)

The median line of the Taiwan Strait: No longer a boundary for mainland China

Both Taiwan and mainland China have indicated that they would not fire the first shot and would only do so if provoked. Yet signs are increasing that both sides could be stumbling into war. Most recently, the PLA sent its jets over the median line of the Taiwan Strait over three days. Seth Cropsey, director of the Center for American Seapower at Hudson Institute, even offered a date for mainland China to strike. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan takes a closer look at this quagmire.
A man reads a newspaper on a street in Tokyo, 29 August 2020. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

How Japan will deal with China-US conflict and the Taiwan issue under the new Suga administration

Business cooperation will likely be a key theme of the China-Japan relationship under the new Suga administration, says Japanese academic Shin Kawashima. However, various challenges will continue to beset bilateral relations. All eyes are also on Nobuo Kishi, the new Defence Minister and Shinzō Abe’s younger brother, who has strong ties to Taiwan.
A neon sign of the American flag and neon lights at One Times Square in New York, 31 July 2020. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP)

No country can be the world's policeman: Debt-ridden US needs to focus on itself

For all of President Trump’s failings, says US academic Han Dongping, he did persist in his belief that the US has over-extended itself abroad and sought ways to pull it back. Whoever becomes the US president next will have to recognise that the US’s global role has changed irrevocably since 1945.
Two domestically-made armoured vehicles launch smoke grenades during the annual Han Kuang military drills in Taichung on 16 July 2020. - The military drills aimed to test how the armed forces would repel an invasion from China, which has vowed to bring Taiwan back into the fold — by force if necessary. (Sam Yeh/AFP)

Chinese academic: A ‘reunification by force’ would be Taiwan's last

Chinese academic Shen Jinhao says that when it comes to Taiwan, the mainland will not start a fight it is not ready to finish. If it launches a “reunification by force”, Taiwan would be subdued in one fell swoop, even before the US has a chance to make a meaningful intervention.