Economic 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.
A girl sits on the shoulders of her father outside the Forbidden City during the national day marking the 71st anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the country's national "Golden Week" holiday in Beijing on 1 October 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

RCEP: The start of a new ‘China-centric’ order?

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"?
A screen grab taken from Vietnam Host Broadcaster's 15 November 2020 live video shows China's Premier Li Keqiang (L) clapping as Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan (R) holds up the agreement during the signing ceremony for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact at the ASEAN summit that is being held online in Hanoi. (Handout/Vietnam host broadcaster/AFP)

RCEP affirms ASEAN’s irreplaceable East Asian centrality

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.
President-elect Joe Biden waves to supporters as he leaves the Queen theater after receiving a briefing from the transition COVID-19 advisory board on 9 November 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

The US is getting old but China is still too green

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?
In a photo taken on 18 October 2020 people wearing face masks walk on a street in the Hongdae district of Seoul. (Ed Jones/AFP)

South Korea can do more in Southeast Asia

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.
People walk along a pedestrian street in Shanghai on 28 October 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China is now 'a moderately affluent society'?

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.
People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus commute during rush hour in Beijing on 15 October 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Why only China will maintain positive growth this year

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.
Li Hongzhang (L) and Henry Arthur Blake at the opening ceremony of the Kowloon-Guangzhou railway service, July 1900. (Wikimedia)

China's distrust of private enterprises goes back a long way

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.
People wearing facemasks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus crowd in a market area in the old quarters of New Delhi on 11 October 2020. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

China has a long-term strategy in Southeast Asia. But what about India?

China is taking action to deepen economic engagement with Southeast Asia. India, despite Prime Minister Modi’s Act East rhetoric, is not.