The Maldives is well aware that it is of a geostrategic importance to powers seeking to dominate the Indian Ocean and what some term the Indo-Pacific. It has responded well to China’s overtures in the past, but with political pushback against China, and other suitors, not least India and the US, calling on its door, how best should it play its cards?
EAI academic Yu Hong notes that the RCEP will bring greater regional economic integration by increasing trade in Asia-Pacific and generating new business opportunities for companies in the 15 member countries of ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. China and ASEAN in particular, are well-placed to reap many of the benefits.
One solution that ended the Vietnam war may provide some lessons for bringing the Afghan war to an end during Biden’s presidency. Forty years ago, the Nixon administration played the China card, enabling Washington to leave the Vietnam war. In the present, a replica of a Vietnam-inspired exodus — one moderated by China and its ally Pakistan — is worth pursuing. China has built relations with all of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries and has the capacity to build a regional infrastructure and economic network. US academic Ma Haiyun explores the possibilities.
From the signing of the 17-point agreement, or in full, the Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, to the inaugural meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet held at Lhasa Hall, Tibet’s first auditorium, historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao offers a glimpse of Tibetan history during the early 1950s.
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?
With both India-China and US-China relations grinding to a halt, the strengthening of India-US ties unnerves China the most, says Amrita Jash. Will recent high-signature events — such as the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) between the US and India, and the Malabar exercise involving the Quad countries of India, Japan, Australia and the US — have China walking on eggshells?
Much in the manner that a poor and a turbulent China became a critical element in the US-Soviet competition during the 1970s, even a weak India could have some bearing on the evolution of the Asian balance of power, vis-à-vis US-China relations, says Prof C. Raja Mohan. In recent years under the Trump administration, Delhi ended its historic hesitations about deeper military and security cooperation with the US by embracing the Indo-Pacific strategy and helping to revive the Quad. What will be the future direction of India-US relations under the new Biden presidency? What would that mean for China?
In China’s just-released "14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035", the centennial goal of modernising the PLA by the latter’s 100th anniversary in 2027 was set out. In the face of headwinds caused by turbulent US-China relations, does this spell China’s hardened mindset of getting prepared for war? What impact will such defensive thinking have on China and the world in the next 15 years?
While a lot of attention is currently on cross-strait relations and a possible hot war between Taiwan and mainland China, ISEAS academic Daljit Singh points out that the disputed India-China land border, more than the East or South China Sea, is the regional flashpoint that could flare up in the short term.