ASEAN-China

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) greets Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana (right) as Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (centre) looks on at Camp Aguinaldo military in Manila on 30 July 2021. (Rolex Dela Pena/AFP)

US and Southeast Asia need to cultivate common interests and understanding

Compared to China, the Biden administration has been slow off the blocks in the game of winning friends and influencing people in Southeast Asia. It has its work cut out for it.
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.
A rapidKL train travels along an elevated track above streets in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 1 June 2021. (Samsul Said/Bloomberg)

Chinese companies see ASEAN as a bright spot for investment

According to a pulse survey conducted by Standard Chartered, Chinese companies are attracted to ASEAN’s large market and potential as regional production bases. External factors such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Agreement (RCEP) could also funnel greater Chinese investment into the region in areas such as high-value manufacturing, energy and digital services.
Shoppers and pedestrians walk along Nanjing Road in Shanghai, China, on 6 June 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Dual circulation strategy revisited: China deepens integration with the global economy

When China’s “dual circulation” strategy was launched last year, some analysts interpreted it to mean that China would be focusing more on its domestic market. Figures show otherwise. Studying trade and investment indicators over the past few months, Chen Gang concludes that China’s economic engagement with the world is increasing as it runs on dual domestic and external engines.
A UH-1J helicopter flies during a live fire exercise at Japan's Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF) training grounds in the East Fuji Manuever Area in Gotemba on 22 May 2021. (Akio Kon/AFP)

Japan’s weapons transfers to Southeast Asia: Opportunities and challenges

Research fellow Victor Teo says that Japan’s re-emergence as a weapon exporter is fuelled by desires to increase Japanese capabilities, counteract China’s rise, hedge against possible future strategic abandonment by the US, fund next-generation weapon research, and foster Japan’s global leadership and influence in Southeast Asia. Using its overseas development assistance to the region, it is promoting the transfer of weapon systems, naval vessels and surveillance planes, particularly to Southeast Asian claimant states in the South China Sea. What are the implications of these actions?
An elderly woman gets inoculated with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus at a drive-in vaccination facility in Mumbai on 11 May 2021. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP)

Indian academic: The Quad and ASEAN can find solutions together

With the pandemic sweeping through India, assistance from its neighbours and beyond has been crucial, not least from its partners in the Quad arrangement. Indian academic Shruti Pandalai says while the Quad is working with ASEAN on vaccine development and delivery during the pandemic, such collaboration can move into other areas such as technology and climate change in the future.
Morning commuters wearing face masks, amidst concerns about the Covid-19 coronavirus, ride past in Hanoi on 4 May 2021. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Southeast Asia: A hotspot for Chinese enterprises in the post-pandemic era?

With growing competition and tension between China and the US, one region that China is looking to is Southeast Asia. Many major Chinese companies are expanding their operations into ASEAN countries, using them as manufacturing and assembly bases or springboards to the region. Zaobao's associate foreign news editor Sim Tze Wei examines the possibilities.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, China on 25 April 2019. (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool via Reuters)

China's CPC deepens ties with Philippine political parties

Under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, party-to-party (P2P) relations have been forged and deepened between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and various Philippine political parties. Such P2P diplomacy offers China a new diplomatic channel to promote bilateral relations and complement confidence-building measures. It also enables Beijing to hedge at the sub-national level given the plurality of political bases in the Philippines. Philippine researcher Aaron Jed Rabena looks at the engagements thus far and examines how these may affect Philippine domestic politics.
A woman receives her first dose of China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) during a mass vaccination program for vendors and workers at a shopping mall in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, 1 March 2021. (Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters)

Will Indonesia-China vaccine cooperation affect Jakarta's South China Sea stance?

Indonesia is among the Southeast Asian nations most heavily stricken by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ASEAN country that conducts the most comprehensive vaccine cooperation with China. Still, it has tried to diversify its vaccine supply to avoid being over-reliant on China's vaccine. Unsurprisingly, China’s vaccine diplomacy in Southeast Asia carries an expectation that recipient countries should be more accommodating on the South China Sea issue. Will Indonesia's resolve to stand firm on ASEAN’s position on the South China Sea waver?