Military power

People watch a television news programme reporting on the US presidential election showing images of US President-elect Joe Biden (right) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, at a railway station in Seoul on 9 November 2020. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP)

South Korea and America’s Indo-Pacific strategy: Yes, but not quite

Like many ASEAN member states, South Korea has sought to avoid choosing sides between China and the US. It has adopted an uneasy equidistance between the two great powers and their respective Indo-Pacific Strategy and Belt and Road Initiative power plays.
This handout photo taken and released by the Indian Navy on 18 November 2020 shows a ship refuelling during the second phase of the Malabar naval exercise in the Arabian sea. (Indian Navy/AFP)

India warms up to the US amid 'new cold' in India-China relations

With both India-China and US-China relations grinding to a halt, the strengthening of India-US ties unnerves China the most, says Amrita Jash. Will recent high-signature events — such as the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) between the US and India, and the Malabar exercise involving the Quad countries of India, Japan, Australia and the US — have China walking on eggshells?
People wearing face masks, following the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, hold China flags attend a flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square on National Day to mark the 71st anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China, in Beijing, China, 1 October 1, 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/REUTERS)

The problem of inappropriate language in China's diplomacy

In today’s complex world of international relations, it seems that China has much to learn about the art of diplomacy. Boston University PhD candidate Pang Ruizhi says that China needs to stop using coarse, overly hostile and inappropriate diplomatic language, or risk diminishing, rather than growing its influence.
Military personnel stand in formation next to a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping (back) outside the Forbidden City in Beijing on 22 October 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

What has changed in China’s South China Sea policy under Xi Jinping?

Li Nan sees that China has been using more aggressive “defensive” strategies in the South China Sea (SCS) under Xi Jinping, which includes the building of several artificial islands and the consolidation of administrative control of Chinese possessions and claims in the SCS. While policy insiders in China often see these actions as defensive, those who have a stake in the SCS have cause to disagree.
The Military Assistance Advisory Group training KMT troops to use automatic rifles provided by the US, 1951. After the Korean War broke out, the US government sent an advisory group to Taiwan to strengthen its military.

The Taiwan Strait Crises of the 1950s and the evolution of Sino-US relations [Photo story]

What was behind the web of complicated relations between the US, the Kuomintang (KMT) in Taiwan and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing in the 1950s? What impacts do these complex relationships and interlinked issues have on the present? Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao gives a pictorial overview of the situation.
Sand dredgers around the Matsu islands. (Internet)

Over 100 mainland Chinese sand dredgers 'surround' Matsu islands

Sand dredgers from mainland China are congregating in the waters off the Taiwanese-controlled Matsu islands with increasing frequency. What does this mean for cross-strait relations? ZB correspondent Woon Wei Jong finds out.
Prabowo Subianto looks on before taking his oath as appointed Defense Minister during the inauguration at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, 23 October 2019. (Willy Kurniawan/REUTERS)

After a 20-year ban, why was Indonesia's Prabowo invited to the US?

Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto's visit to Washington DC has raised many eyebrows and questions, says Leo Suryadinata. Is the US worried about Indonesia leaning too much towards China?
Indian soldiers stand in a formation after disembarking from a military transport plane at a forward airbase in Leh, in the Ladakh region, 15 September 2020. (Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS)

Containing China: US and India to sign third military agreement in ‘strategic embrace’

The US and India are set to sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement at the third US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue later this month, rounding out the trio of foundational agreements between them for comprehensive military cooperation. Hong Kong-based commentator Zheng Hao says this portends greater threats for China, the unspoken target of closer US-India military ties.
A mining/crushing supervisor at MP Materials displays crushed ore before it is sent to the mill at the MP Materials rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California, 30 January 2020. (Steve Marcus/File Photo/Reuters)

How to break China's monopoly on rare earths

Much attention has been focused on the burgeoning US-China tech war and the US’s suppression of Chinese companies. But less is known about China’s firm hold on the rare earths supply chain, which has the potential to derail the world’s production of products from the humble smartphone to F-35 aircraft and guided missile systems. In response, the US and its allies, including the EU, Japan and Australia, are actively coalescing around new rare earths strategies. But private investment alone will not be enough to challenge China’s global monopoly in rare earths. Can new international public-private partnerships be the answer?