ASEAN-China

A clown interacts with people at a main shopping area in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 6 December 2020. (Aly Song/REUTERS)

China has entered the 'gilded cage' of RCEP and is considering the CPTPP. What's next?

With the recent signing of the RCEP and China’s comment that it will “favourably consider” joining the CPTPP, are prospects looking up for greater domestic reform and regional economic integration across the board, and will dreams of a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific have a higher chance of eventually taking shape? Japan-based academic Zhang Yun looks at the potential outlook.
Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee. (SPH)

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee: The future of Singapore-China strategic collaboration

Professor Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-Large and Singapore’s former ambassador to the US, addressed the Lianhe Zaobao Singapore-China Forum on 4 December via Zoom. She said that there is still much that Singapore and China can work together on, such as in tightening the nuts and bolts of the recently signed RCEP, enhancing the ASEAN-China FTA, exchanging views on the CPTPP and WTO reform, and facilitating cooperation in the digital sector.
A street vendor walks past a billboard for a photo studio featuring an image of US President Donald Trump in Hanoi, 24 November 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

America's coming back — but ASEAN will cope, with or without her

Since President Donald Trump yanked the US out of the TPP as part of his “America First” doctrine in 2017, Southeast Asia has been more without Trump than with. In fact, America is increasingly seen as a declining power in Southeast Asia and countries in the region are adjusting to this reality. ISEAS academic William Choong explains what this means for the US, China and ASEAN.
Democratic US presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks during a drive-in campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, US, 30 October 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

America needs to value Southeast Asia for its own sake, and not just as a tool to fight China

Following years of neglect under the Trump administration, the Biden administration will need to get both its words and actions right to rebuild trust in the US in Southeast Asia. And one of the fundamentals of building a good relationship is to genuinely listen and respond to Southeast Asians about their interests and priorities, rather than just treating them as tools to counter China's influence.  
An electric-rickshaw transports passengers along a street in the old quarters of New Delhi on 15 September 2020. (Jewel Samad/AFP)

Hostile ties with China make it impossible for India to return to RCEP

Without India, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) stops short of being a regional construct for the Indo-Pacific, says ISAS academic Amitendu Palit. However, India is unlikely to reconsider its decision in the foreseeable future because of its worsening relations with China. While China has expressed its interest to be part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), might India’s domestic concerns lead it to miss the boat once again, to its own detriment?
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is pictured on the screen (right) as he addresses his counterparts during the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit being held online in Hanoi on 15 November 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

The overstatement of the RCEP

Chinese netizens and commentators have largely celebrated the RCEP as being China-led and a coup for China. Zhu Ying provides a reality check as to why the Chinese should instead have their feet firmly on the ground.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a bridge across the Bassac river in Phnom Penh on 26 October 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Cambodia needs to avoid putting all its eggs in the Chinese basket

Cambodia’s post-pandemic foreign policy is constrained by the need to sustain its economic growth while maintaining independence and sovereignty, amid the challenge and uncertainty caused by the growing strategic competition between China and the US. Academic Kimkong Heng says Cambodia needs to refrain from actions that appear to serve China’s core strategic interests, proactively engage all strategic partners, and walk a diplomatic tightrope between China and the US.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on screens in the media center as he speaks at the opening ceremony of the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China, 4 November 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China’s true intentions in wanting to join the CPTPP

After years of being excluded from the TPP that later became the CPTPP, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently commented that China is “favourably considering” joining the CPTPP. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks at why China seems to be keen to hop on this bandwagon which was originally set up to target China.
This illustration picture taken on 17 February 2019 shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a smartphone and a wireless signal sign. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP)

Southeast Asia a contested venue for telecommunication superpowers building 5G networks

Many Southeast Asian telecommunication providers have rolled out their 5G masterplans and selected vendors this year, with Covid-19 prompting the need to accelerate the upgrading of digital infrastructure. However, while most Southeast Asian countries welcome collaboration with Chinese telecommunication vendors including Huawei, some telecommunication providers in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines have recently moved away from partnering with Chinese companies. ISEAS academic Melinda Martinus finds out SEA's preferred vendors for developing 5G networks, and the reasons behind these shifts in preferences. Are Chinese companies still well-positioned to seize the opportunities in this arena?