World Trade Organization

A general view of the first consignment of the Covid-19 vaccines from China, seen offloading from a plane at the PAF Base Nur Khan, Pakistan in this handout photo released by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on 1 February 2021. (Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR)/Handout via Reuters)

Vaccine diplomacy: China and India push ahead to supply vaccines to developing countries

More than three quarters of the vaccinations that have taken place worldwide have been done in just 10 countries that account for almost 60% of global GDP, while 2.5 billion people in almost 130 countries have yet to receive a single dose, according to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. China and India have since embarked on “vaccine diplomacy” in a bid to despatch vaccines to developing countries. They may have their own goals in doing so, but their timely humanitarian aid for others is exemplary, says Zhu Zhiqun.
People walk along a commercial street in central Paris, France, on 23 December 2020. (Christophe Archambault/AFP)

Securing its place in the world economic order: The EU can't afford to wait for the US

The conclusion of the EU-UK Trade Cooperation Agreement and the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) in the last days of 2020 sent a strong signal that the EU will not wait for the US to resume a leading role in the world economic order. Building partnerships with countries like China are just the impetus the EU needs to deepen integration and build better prospects for itself. In this move away from a US-centric view of the economic order, the EU is not alone.
People wearing face masks walk past the China Zun skyscraper at the central business district in Beijing, China, 15 January 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

'Driving the blade inwards': Why China may join the CPTPP

China’s willingness to consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is perhaps an admission that emphasising free trade but ignoring fair trade is no longer sustainable. Even sacred cows such as its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and insistence on the WTO platform for multilateral trade negotiations may be up for discussion. On a practical level, the CPTPP may just be the external push it needs to force its SOEs to reform.
People wearing face masks attend a New Year's countdown in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on 31 December 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Shaping rules of the future: The goal for China's third opening up

Even if it might be a unilateral move, China should embark on its third phase of opening up, says Zheng Yongnian. The first phase of China’s opening up took place after the Opium War while the second was led by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. Now, in the face of unprecedented challenges of the new century, China must undertake a higher-order opening up, and work towards setting global standards and formulating rules at the international level. These endeavours begin at home, with the domestic standardisation of rules in different regions and localities.
Students display their paper cutting portraits of the late former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong ahead of his 127th birthday which falls on 26 December, in Lianyungang in eastern China's Jiangsu province on 23 December 2020. (STR/AFP)

Multilateralism will work only if nations share the same values

Values underpin multilateral cooperation, asserts economics professor Zhu Ying. The Chinese case is no exception. Their international engagement has been driven by values, whether in the early period of “leaning to one side” and becoming an ally of the Soviet Union, or the present “multilateralism with Chinese characteristics” held up by mechanisms such as the BRI. Question is, what incentive does the international community have to meet them halfway?
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.
In this file photo taken on 7 November 2020, a woman waves a Joe Biden flag as people celebrate on Black Lives Matter Plaza across from the White House in Washington, DC, after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election. (Alex Edelman/AFP)

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: The world will not split into two, but neither can it return to the past

Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait interviewed Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ahead of the Bloomberg 2020 New Economy Forum on 17 November. Among the topics they discussed, PM Lee spoke at length about China, the US, global trade, the internet, and most of all, the China-US relationship. This is an excerpt of the interview transcript.
China paramount leader Deng Xiaoping (left) is seen shaking hands with Singapore founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew when Deng first visited Singapore, November 1978. (Ministry of Information and the Arts)

Reflections by George Yeo: Celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China

Singapore's former Foreign Minister George Yeo looks back at the years of engagement between Singapore and China, including the period before the two countries established formal diplomatic ties. He says that while Singapore’s “Chinese-ness” had some part to play in building strong ties over the years, it is paramount that this be distinguished from Singapore’s status as an independent, sovereign, multiracial country. As China continues to rise and US-China tensions continue to fester, ASEAN and Singapore would need to be watchful of issues that could derail relations with China. Notwithstanding, there is much room for cooperation that the region can be sanguine about.
A security guard wearing a face mask walks past the Bund Financial Bull statue, on The Bund in Shanghai, China, on 18 March 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

180 years later, China is still an outsider to the Western-led world order

The West has been setting up new rules and regulations targeting China's economic system, which they regard as a non-market economy that could undermine the proper functioning of international trade. These rules and regulations are formulated through international organisations, multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, and even as unilateral domestic laws. However, Chinese academic Zhu Ying says China is not buckling under pressure as its market economy is a mere means for China’s economic development, and not the end goal of its economic system.