European Union

US President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet announcement event in Wilmington, Delaware, on 24 November 2020. (Chandan Khanna/AFP)

Can Biden’s US lead the world?

US President-elect Joe Biden has said that the US is back and ready to lead the world. Can he really turn things around? The US-China relationship, for one, is already in a serious state of distrust and acrimony. While the methods differ, says Hong Kong-based commentator Zheng Hao, the intended outcomes of the Biden administration’s China policy would likely be very similar to the previous administration’s. But before playing a global leading role of any kind, Biden will have to find a way to prevent his every step from being hindered by conservative Republicans in Congress.
A US flag being hoisted on cranes outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware on 3 November 2020. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP)

America and Europe are coming together against China, but will it work?

Even under the incoming Biden administration, it is likely that the US will continue seeking to work with allies such as the EU against China. However, says Zhu Ying, having a common agenda, and even a certain amount of willingness, is very different from being able to achieve the goal of joining hands against China.
A mining/crushing supervisor at MP Materials displays crushed ore before it is sent to the mill at the MP Materials rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California, 30 January 2020. (Steve Marcus/File Photo/Reuters)

How to break China's monopoly on rare earths

Much attention has been focused on the burgeoning US-China tech war and the US’s suppression of Chinese companies. But less is known about China’s firm hold on the rare earths supply chain, which has the potential to derail the world’s production of products from the humble smartphone to F-35 aircraft and guided missile systems. In response, the US and its allies, including the EU, Japan and Australia, are actively coalescing around new rare earths strategies. But private investment alone will not be enough to challenge China’s global monopoly in rare earths. Can new international public-private partnerships be the answer?
Residents dine at a 500-metre-long table spanning across the length of the medieval Charles Bridge as restrictions ease following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Prague, Czech Republic, 30 June 2020. (David W Cerny/REUTERS)

Are the Czechs alarmed by China's buying power?

From media companies to hotels and football clubs, the Chinese have gone on a shopping spree in the Czech Republic over the past few years. Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao notes that the Czech Republic was the first European country to fall in love with China, allowing the latter to acquire large stakes in Czech entities. But now, it seems that the love affair is not so rosy any more. The recent visit of Senate Speaker Miloš Vystrčil to Taiwan is just one chink in the relationship’s armour.
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.
Employees at a plant of Daimler-BAIC joint venture’s Beijing Benz Automotive Co in Beijing, 13 May 2020. (Thomas Peter/REUTERS)

Germany’s China policy: Will economic interests override values?

Economics professor Zhu Ying notes that German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a pragmatic approach towards China — specifically, economic interests come first. She has held on to that maxim despite questions from within and outside the government as to whether Germany should be tougher on China on matters that seem to run counter to their value system. In the face of mounting pressures in the wake of Covid-19 and developments in Hong Kong, can Merkel stay the course of balancing economic interests with values?
A person carries groceries in a neighbourhood in Wuhan, April 20, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China faces avalanche of calls for coronavirus compensation

The US is leading a drive to seek accountability and compensation from China for losses and damages sustained due to the coronavirus. Economics professor Zhu Ying looks at whether these efforts will bear any fruit.
A man in front of a screen displaying a propaganda image (top), on a street in Beijing, April 20, 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Covid-19: China's missing narrative in the global battle of narratives

While it appears that China is going all out to shape the global narrative in a vacuum left by the West, Zheng Yongnian says this is a non-starter as China is often reactive to Western narratives, resorting to tit-for-tat tactics, rather than projecting its own clear narratives. The arduous task of establishing a voice and a narrative remains the biggest international challenge that confronts China.
A woman in Prague walks past a poster of the late Li Wenliang, a Chinese ophthalmologist who tried to raise the alarm about COVID-19 and later died from it, March 27, 2020. (David W Cerny/REUTERS)

Can a messed up world fight the pandemic together?

Did China make up the numbers? Did it waste precious time before getting information out to the world? Belgian writers Ng and Dirk answer these questions and opine that instead of knuckling down and fighting the pandemic together, everyone, from countries to regional blocs to international organisations, seems to have been shell-shocked into “safe-distancing” from each other. This means that the virus is not only attacking our health, economies and mental resilience, but the very international institutions that have been built up since the end of WWII. If a lot of that debilitation has to do with the China threat writ large, it is too high a price to pay. To reverse this dire trend, the world must look beyond finger-pointing and think long and hard about how it will go on once this storm passes.