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.
RCEP, the largest free trade agreement signed thus far, includes China, Japan and South Korea — the largest, second, and fourth largest economies in Asia. This heralds a new Asian era, says Zheng Weibin. Apart from the pure economic benefits that this will bring, the fact that the US is not a part of the grouping gives China some leverage against moves from the US such as its military presence in East Asia and attempts to reforge alliances against China. In this game of move and countermove, who will be the first to say "checkmate"?
The signing of the 15-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is significant, and not only due to the fact that the trade deal will cover a third of the world’s population and GDP. The RCEP also affirms the power of the East Asia concept and ASEAN’s centrality within it.
Zhou Nongjian observes that there was a large slate of older candidates in this year’s US elections including incumbent President Trump who is 74 and President-elect Joe Biden who is 78. It is not an exact science of course, but he notes that this large crop of “oldies” is a metaphor for a greying America, or put bluntly, a country that is fast deteriorating and way past its prime. Notwithstanding, will China be fooled by such a veneer of weakness or stay watchful and humble?
South Korea’s economy was one of the best-performing economies this year. Its GDP grew 1.9% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter. ISEAS academic Victor Teo observes that with its considerable soft power and economic weight, South Korea is well-positioned to become a more important power for Southeast Asia and ASEAN.
The recent adjustment of China’s “Four Comprehensives” at the recent fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the CCP signals that China has gauged itself to have “achieved a moderately affluent society” and will be reaching for greater goals. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan reads the signs.
Chinese financial commentator Tan Haojun looks at what China has done right to quickly recover after the pandemic, and what makes international financial institutions and analysts confident about its economy.
Even back in the Qing dynasty, the concept of “state-owned enterprises” was not a foreign one. The Qing government had the habit of maintaining monopolies by running their own enterprises or looking out for profitable industries and private companies, and taking control of them. Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao notes that even grabbing profits could not prevent the fall of the Qing dynasty.
China is taking action to deepen economic engagement with Southeast Asia. India, despite Prime Minister Modi’s Act East rhetoric, is not.