Economic power

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives for an event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on 22 February 2021. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Bloomberg)

Biden's plan to join hands with the EU against China doomed to failure

Economics professor Zhu Ying notes that the new Biden administration is trying to rope in the EU in its efforts to contain China. However, the evidence so far seems to suggest that such a plan is unlikely to work, given the pragmatic stance exhibited by key countries such as Germany. The China-EU investment agreement is an early warning that the EU may not be a firm ally of the US, not forgetting that China has always leveraged the economy to divide the West.
This handout photo taken on 13 January 2021 by Indonesia's Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs shows Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) meeting with Indonesian Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investments Minister Luhut Pandjaitan in Parapat, on the edge of Lake Toba in North Sumatra, to discuss cooperation on investments. (Handout/Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs/AFP)

Wang Yi’s Southeast Asia tour: How China woos Southeast Asia in view of US-China competition

In January 2021, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited several ASEAN countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines, in an effort to push for collaboration in key projects under the BRI, and providing access to Chinese vaccines. However, Beijing’s passage of a new coastguard law has undermined Wang Yi’s outreach efforts. ISEAS academic Lye Liang Fook explains what is behind China's efforts and looks into its implications.
In this file photo taken on 24 January 2020, climate activists including Greta Thunberg (centre) march in a street of Davos on the sideline of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)

Post-pandemic 'Great Reset': Can the world pull it off with Big Tech and China in tow?

At last year’s WEF, Prince Charles and other leaders proposed the “Great Reset” — a global effort to rebuild the global economic structure. However, as appealing as this may sound, Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao points out that the current slate of world leaders and international organisations are probably unable to rein in private juggernauts and get a handle on the Chinese wild card.
People walk along a commercial street in central Paris, France, on 23 December 2020. (Christophe Archambault/AFP)

Securing its place in the world economic order: The EU can't afford to wait for the US

The conclusion of the EU-UK Trade Cooperation Agreement and the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) in the last days of 2020 sent a strong signal that the EU will not wait for the US to resume a leading role in the world economic order. Building partnerships with countries like China are just the impetus the EU needs to deepen integration and build better prospects for itself. In this move away from a US-centric view of the economic order, the EU is not alone.
A vendor grills bananas across buildings under construction in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 6 January 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

No more easy money: Will BRI projects in Southeast Asia slow and stall?

A new study suggests that official Chinese lending has dropped in recent years. This stems from lessons learnt after a decade of mistakes in overseas lending. How would this affect Belt and Road Initiative projects in Southeast Asia?
A technician checks hanging clocks at a workshop of a clock company in Yantai, Shandong province, China, on 15 December 2020. (STR/AFP)

Chinese manufacturing must grow in strength, not just size

China’s manufacturing sector is known to be the “world’s factory”, and its scale is unrivalled. However, Chinese academic Chen Hongbin notes that this manufacturing behemoth is not as strong as it seems.
People gather to celebrate the arrival of the New Year near the Bund in Shanghai, China, 31 December 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China expected to continue stellar economic performance in 2021

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, China registered 2.3% growth in 2020, the only major economy to do so. A combination of able pandemic containment efforts, expansion in industrial production and fixed asset investment, as well as prompt measures to help micro, small and medium enterprises brought them to this point. If this positive trajectory continues, China looks set to continue its remarkable rebound in 2021.
People wearing face masks attend a New Year's countdown in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on 31 December 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Shaping rules of the future: The goal for China's third opening up

Even if it might be a unilateral move, China should embark on its third phase of opening up, says Zheng Yongnian. The first phase of China’s opening up took place after the Opium War while the second was led by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. Now, in the face of unprecedented challenges of the new century, China must undertake a higher-order opening up, and work towards setting global standards and formulating rules at the international level. These endeavours begin at home, with the domestic standardisation of rules in different regions and localities.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping are seen on a screen during a video conference, in Brussels, Belgium, 30 December 2020. (Johanna Geron/REUTERS)

Why the Chinese public is unenthusiastic about further reforms and opening up

Talks on the China-EU investment deal were concluded on 30 December 2020, lending fresh impetus to China’s further opening up to the world. However, the response so far, both externally and internally, seems to be lukewarm to the idea of what some call China’s third opening up. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong ponders why this is so and analyses where China is likely to go from here.