Economic power

This photograph taken on 8 June 2021 shows a street vendor walking past narrow residential houses, known as "nha ong" in Vietnamese or "tube houses", in an urban area of Hanoi. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Vietnam needs to do more to reduce trade dependence on China

Vietnam’s trade deficit with China has grown rapidly since 2001, and its heavy dependence on Chinese intermediate and capital goods creates vulnerabilities in its entire production chain. Besides, China has a history of using trade as a weapon to punish countries with which it has disputes. To reduce its trade dependence on Beijing, Vietnam has signed a number of new-generation free trade agreements (FTAs) in recent years, but these efforts have not produced desired outcomes. Vietnam will need to increase the utilisation rate of these agreements and push forward economic and institutional reforms to strengthen its overall economic resilience.
A general view shows buildings in Shanghai on 31 August 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Taishan Club: The rise and fall of a secretive roundtable of China's richest

Few may have heard of the Taishan Club, and even fewer would have been admitted. How did it come about, and why was it dissolved earlier this year? Commentator Yuan Guobao gives us a glimpse into this secretive group of super-elite businesspersons with high net worth.
A woman and baby inside a room of a greenhouse at a village on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, 3 June 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China is far from being affluent

Despite slogans and sayings about how China has progressed and become “amazing” or “self-sufficient”, making strides in eradicating absolute poverty does not equate to rising affluence on the whole. Looking at GDP per capita figures, China still has some way to go, says researcher Chen Hongbin. He notes that the Chinese people should not get caught up in their own rhetoric, but keep a clear head and be aware of the actual situation.
A Capitol police vehicle parks at the US Capitol in Washington, US, 22 May 2021. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

America’s negative turn against China: Role of the US Congress

In recent years, the US Congress has played a major role in America’s unprecedented turn against China. Will China prove to be the factor to bring both parties together in Congress?
This photo taken on 13 June 2021 shows people looking at the city view from a bridge in Shanghai, China. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

The Shanghai middle class: Embracing 'cosmopolitanism with Chinese characteristics'?

Around 400 to 500 million Chinese citizens are thought to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle today. They are an important political and economic force but their political outlook and worldviews are neither homogeneous nor clear-cut. Many of them share certain cosmopolitan values, but some among them are also those with the most strident nationalistic views. How will this key demographic influence China’s relations with the US and the world? Professor Li Cheng, author of Middle Class Shanghai: Reshaping US-China Engagement, tells us more.
A tuktuk is parked at Camoes square in Lisbon on 14 July 2021. (Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP)

Washington threatening Portugal to choose between China and the US?

Portugal has in the past decade developed very lucrative relations with China. Chinese investment significantly assisted its recovery from the 2008 global economic crisis. However, Lisbon’s increasingly close ties with Beijing have raised serious concerns in Washington.
People wearing face masks walk past a mural displaying Iran's national flag in Tehran, Iran on 17 June 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Chinese academic: Can China challenge the US’s standing in the Middle East?

Although China has made inroads into the Middle East as a major investor and economic partner, some are suspicious of its intentions in being all things to all countries in this fractious region. Thus, even if there is much hype about its ability to take over the US’s role in the region, China should remember that it still lacks the power and wherewithal to exert a major influence.
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.
People visit the promenade on the Bund along the Huangpu River, 1 May 2021, Shanghai, China. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Why the world will face a global leadership vacuum

Chen Kang explains why global governance is hard to achieve, not least due to the limited effectiveness of multilateral organisations, the waning willingness of the US to lead in global governance, and the conflicts between global governance and national sovereignty.