Infrastructure

People shop at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran, on 13 June 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran seeks greater regional role through full membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

While some pundits have it that Iran sees gaining full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in terms of geopolitics, Fan Hongda thinks that the more bread-and-butter concern of strengthening economic and trade cooperation is on its mind. But this is not to say that Iran does not harbour ambitions of playing a greater regional role.
People walk along a street near a closed market in Srinagar, India, on 17 June 2022. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP)

From US to India: China's shifting tech investments shows overriding influence of politics

Over the past several years, Chinese private firms have ferociously invested in India’s tech start-ups. Initially welcomed, China’s diversion of interest from erstwhile US investment has been viewed with some measure of suspicion since the Galwan Valley conflict. Are we living in a world where investment patterns are determined by statecraft? ISAS academic Karthik Nachiappan examines the issue.
An aerial shot of the collapsed "self-built" building in Changsha, Hunan province, China, on 29 April 2022. (CNS)

Building collapses in China call for more stringent checks on structural safety

An eight-storey building adjacent to the Changsha Medical University collapsed on 29 April, killing 54 people, mainly students. It turned out that the building was a "self-build" that had been modified by the owners rather than constructed by developers. Authorities are now clamping down on safety inspections of building structures, but is it a case of too little, too late?
Theary Seng, a US-Cambodian lawyer and activist who is facing treason and incitement charges, poses in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court ahead of her hearing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 3 May 2022. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Why Cambodia is leaning towards China and not the US

Sokvy Rim explains why Cambodia’s foreign policy options have been constrained by the leaders’ concerns of regime survival at various stages of its history. If this trajectory continues, it may be hard for it to conduct a hedging strategy in its relations between China and the US.
A farmer walks next to a harvester operating at a wheat field in Wei county of Handan, Hebei province, China, 11 June 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Chinese farmers struggling with excessive anti-epidemic measures

With China seeing virus outbreaks in various areas, local governments have been ramping up anti-epidemic measures. The farming sector has been hit hard, especially considering the spring planting season that needs all hands on deck. But despite recent notices from the authorities calling for smooth movement of agricultural supplies and labour, the implementation on the ground may not be easy.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspects an area that will be the site of the new capital city, during sunrise in Penajam Paser Utara regency, East Kalimantan province, Indonesia, 15 March 2022. (Courtesy of Agus Suparto/Indonesian Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters)

Will China invest in Indonesia's new capital 'Nusantara'?

Amid fears of an increasing dependence on China being played up with regards to foreign investment for Indonesia's new capital in East Kalimantan, one must first ask if Indonesia offers an attractive enough proposition for Chinese (and other) investors, says Indonesian researcher Siwage Dharma Negara.
A general view of the China-funded Kipevu Oil Terminal at Mombasa Port in Mombasa on 6 January 2022. (AFP)

China wants to win the world over with the BRI, but something's amiss

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has gone beyond just infrastructure projects to other areas such as digital development, health and green energy. In the face of negative perceptions of China, Beijing has sought to show its commitment to forging a multilateral BRI that would generate benefits for all participating countries and not China alone. But do old habits die hard?
A railway worker checks shipping containers at the Altynkol railway station near the Khorgos border crossing point on the border with China in Kazakhstan, 26 October 2021. (Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters)

China's BRI carrots for Central Asia come with potential pitfalls

China-Central Asia relations have been growing for mutually beneficial reasons, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a chief conduit of that. Projects have gone beyond just infrastructure to other areas such as health and digital development. But the Central Asian countries will have to navigate possible pitfalls in order to reap the benefits while minimising the threats to national sovereignty and risk of social backlash.
A train on the China-Europe Railway Express, commemorating more than 10,000 trips made, March 2022. (Internet)

Russia-Ukraine war impacting China-Europe rail transportation and trade

With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, logistics providers have been hard put to keep goods moving between China and Europe. One route is the China Railway Express (CRE) that cuts through Russia and Ukraine, which gives sellers and suppliers cause for concern, leading to a sharp drop in the volume of goods being transported via that route. Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong takes a look at the impact of the war and how the CRE can get through the challenging period that is coming.