Covid-19

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen delivers her inaugural address at the Taipei Guest House in Taipei, Taiwan on 20 May 2020. (Wang Yu Ching/Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters)

Taiwan's Tsai surprised the world with her achievements, but can her good fortune last another term?

Qi Dongtao reads into signs of change in President Tsai Ing-wen’s second term inauguration speech, sussing out that compared to four years ago, the president is placing greater emphasis on the idea of Taiwan as a national entity on its own. Such fateful steps augur potential clashes in the next four years as Taiwan runs the risk of being an unwitting pawn in US-China competition.
A woman wearing a protective mask looks at blossoms in a park in Beijing on 21 March 2020. (Thomas Peter/File Photo/Reuters)

The world has become greener because of Covid-19, but will it last?

The world has become greener and cleaner because of a drastic drop in human activity brought about by the pandemic. Professor Koh Lian Pin opines that these effects may be only temporary but the fact remains that the world needs to direct more attention to climate change. He sees China playing a bigger role in implementing nature-based solutions for climate and sustainable development. With its experience and immense investments in scientific research and development, it could even lend a hand to countries in the Asian region.
A man looks at a globe in a park in Wuhan, 8 April 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

What is China's next move? It has two alternatives

Economics professor Yu Zhi points out that the ball is in China’s court as to whether it will continue being plugged in to the international economic system and whether globalisation itself will continue on its path. In the medium- to long-term, he sees that it is in China’s interest to stay the course and scenarios of decoupling between China and the West are much exaggerated. However, how China sees its strategic role in the world in the future is something its leaders and people have to give great thought to, not in the future, but right now.
This handout picture taken and released on 20 May 2020 by the Taiwan Presidential office shows Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (centre) and Vice President William Lai waving during an inauguration event for their respective terms in office, at the Taipei Guest House in Taipei. (Handout/Taiwan Presidential Office/AFP)

Chinese academic: Tsai's true intention was to redraw boundaries in cross-strait relations

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration speech yesterday delved into various areas concerning the future direction of Taiwan, but the most important aspect was the strong tone she set regarding the handling of cross-straits relations. Chuang Hui Liang and Edwin Ong analyse the nuances of her speech and gather reactions from Taiwan and mainland China.
A couple poses for a wedding photographer as they postponed their marriage due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in Wuhan, China, on 14 April 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Chinese couples queuing up for divorce: Blame it on the coronavirus?

Appointments for divorce are fully booked on Shenzhen Civil Affairs Bureau’s marriage registry system. The next slot will only be available after mid-June. Divorce rates are on the rise in China, presumably due to increased frictions between couples brought about by extensive lockdowns. But a complicated web of social policies tied to one’s marital status, be it buying a house or getting a loan, may be the hidden lever tipping decisions towards divorce.
Military delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after a meeting ahead of National People's Congress (NPC), China's annual session of parliament, in Beijing, 4 March 2019. (Aly Song/REUTERS)

China's military spending amid the pandemic: Will it go up or down this year?

China's economy has taken a hit from the pandemic, but in the face of external challenges from the US and concerns over cross-straits relations, military spending is expected to be one major topic at China’s upcoming "two sessions". Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan examines the evidence as to whether it will go up or down.
The world is waiting for a coronavirus vaccine. (Dado Ruvic/REUTERS/illustration photo)

Covid-19 vaccine: Who will win the race?

The race for a vaccine for Covid-19 has begun, with the US and China in the lead with clinical trials and testing. Oxford University visiting researcher Hayson Wang points out that countries will have to work together in order to develop an effective vaccine, rather than compete against one another.
Workers put up a mural on a Northwell Healthcare building featuring healthcare workers who are on the frontlines during the Covid-19 pandemic on 5 May 2020 in New Hyde Park, New York. (Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP)

America's tussle with WHO: Are UN specialised agencies 'toothless and useless'?

Zhang Yun reminds those bent on reforming UN specialised agencies such as the WHO of the genesis of such institutions. They were never meant to be supranational bodies overriding the authorities of sovereign states, but vehicles, hence “agencies”, that facilitate international cooperation. As politics is part and parcel of the running of any organisation, it can never be fully taken out of the equation. Rather, the question is how politics can be a positive means of achieving fruitful outcomes.
Professor Wang Gungwu speaks on China, the coronavirus, and the prospect of a divided world. (SPH)

Wang Gungwu: Even if the West has lost its way, China may not be heir apparent

In a wide-ranging email interview with ThinkChina editor Chow Yian Ping, sinologist Wang Gungwu shares his thoughts on how China and the world have changed because of the pandemic. He keenly observes that Chinese leaders have sought greater control over the population in recent years, and the situation will worsen as the pandemic deepens their insecurities. On the international stage, an intense clash of interests among the major powers looks set to keep nations divided. On the micro-level however, he takes heart that a “globalisation from below” is taking place; the fact that the virus knows no borders has brought people closer together, with opportunities for reset.