Covid-19

Motorists pass the China-Myanmar border gate in Muse in Shan state on 5 July 2021. (STR/AFP)

Will the Chinese government's crackdown on cross-border crime in Myanmar work?

In recent years, Chinese criminal gangs have moved to Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Laos and Thailand as China tightened its crackdown on telecom fraud at home. These gangs even have the support of local authorities in some cases. Now that the Chinese authorities are cracking down on cross-border crime, will the situation improve? Or will it be a never-ending merry-go-round?
US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) talks to Vietnam's Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on 25 August 2021. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Deepening US-Vietnam ties: Less geopolitics, more human security

Discussions about the bilateral relationship between Vietnam and the US typically centre on the geopolitical aspects. A more meaningful way of developing the relationship is actually in the field of human security.
Vietnam police officers inspect authorised travel documents of commuters at a checkpoint during the first day of the extended lockdown in Hanoi, Vietnam, 6 September 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

Vietnam is balancing China-US rivalry with deft statecraft, but for how long?

Vietnam-US relations have continued to flourish even as China continues to express its displeasure and concerns. How has Vietnam maintained the balance between its ideological cohesiveness with China and pragmatic ties with the US? Is Hanoi taking a big risk by developing a deeper relationship with Washington while antagonising its giant neighbour?
Models gesture as they present creations for medical professionals, which are designed by Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology in collaboration with Dishang, during China Fashion Week in Beijing, China, 11 September 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

A zero-Covid strategy has worked in China, but will it work elsewhere?

Despite various waves of the coronavirus resurfacing in different parts of China, the authorities have effectively implemented a zero-Covid policy to control the spread of infections, including the more transmissible Delta variant. Academic Gu Qingyang notes that while the policy has largely worked and helped to keep China’s economy humming, it is specific to China's conditions and may not be replicable elsewhere.
A woman receives the Sinovac Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Denpasar, Indonesia's Bali island on 2 September 2021. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

Has China done well in its vaccine diplomacy in Southeast Asia?

China has supplied 190 million doses of its homegrown vaccines to Southeast Asia. However, although there has been sporadic support, perceptions of Chinese vaccines among the public in the region largely trend negatively, suggesting a non-linear relationship between China’s vaccine diplomacy and its soft power in the region. ISEAS researchers Khairulanwar Zaini and Hoang Thi Ha discuss the complex factors affecting vaccine hesitancy in six Southeast Asian countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
People clean up their flooded homes in a Queens neighborhood that saw massive flooding and numerous deaths following a night of heavy wind and rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on 3 September 2021 in New York City, US. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

What can China and the US cooperate on now?

US academic Zhu Zhiqun says that the future should not be decided solely by self-interested politicians in Washington or Beijing. Instead, real problems that affect or endanger ordinary people's lives should be of the highest priority. A failure to cooperate can lead to confrontation between the two most consequential nations of today and bring harm to the world.
A woman rides a scooter along a street decorated with Vietnamese national flags ahead of Vietnam's National Day celebrations in Hanoi on 1 September 2021. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Vietnamese still favours the US despite Afghanistan spectre

Many observers have drawn parallels between the US’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and memories of the “fall of Saigon”. But Vietnamese reactions to US Vice President Kamala Harris’s recent visit there shows continued favourable sentiments towards the US.
The silver grey skies of Chishang.

Taiwanese art historian: 'Severing all ties’ in a pandemic

Cloistered in Chishang township in Taiwan’s Huadong Valley for the past four months, Chiang Hsun has no choice but to face himself in all its foibles. At peace with himself, he is at peace with the world. He revels in beautiful sights, as if he’s the only one let in on nature’s little secret. Just as he readies to leave, tourists trickle back into Chishang, bringing a bit of a bustle with them. May their hearts be still, says Chiang, to see the beauty that lies before them.
A nurse shows vials of the Sputnik V vaccine, 19 August 2021. (Orlando Sierra/AFP)

Vaccine diplomacy in Southeast Asia: Russia trails far behind China and the US

For a country that was first off the blocks, Russia has a long way to go if it wants to catch up with China and the US in the game of vaccine diplomacy.