Global governance

Two girls wearing face masks ride a scooter past a mural reading "whatever Indonesia" in Tangerang on 23 May 2020. (Fajrin Raharjo/AFP)

Beyond ASEAN: More 'no-superpower coalitions' needed as US-China rivalry upsets global interests

With China more aggressive and the US more unpredictable, and both more unilateralist, the US-China rivalry has ended the post-Cold War order that benefited Southeast Asia and ASEAN. ISEAS academics Malcolm Cook and Hoang Thi Ha note that Southeast Asian states should consider joining more or establishing minilateral informal coalitions that do not include China and the US.
Protesters burn China-made goods at a demonstration requesting consumers to boycott Chinese goods organised by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) at Karol Bagh market in New Delhi, India, on 22 June 2020. (T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Could fallout from China-India standoff hurt China's global ambitions?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deleted his account on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo as tensions between India and China continue to simmer over a border conflict. While the skirmish could be seen as the latest chapter in a long-running bilateral tussle, political commentator Zheng Hao suggests that the fallout from China-India conflict is enmeshed in a web of implications in the multilateral arena of global relations and cooperation. He examines the issue and concludes that the damage to China will be greater in this case.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspects Indonesian navy ships at Lampa Strait Navy Base, 8 January 2020. (Indonesia Cabinet Secretariat website)

Indonesia crosses swords with China over South China Sea: 'Bombshell to stop China's expansionism'?

Indonesia has recently taken a firmer position vis-à-vis China on the South China Sea (SCS). This was described by some as the first time that any of Manila’s Southeast Asian neighbours had stood up and endorsed the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Ruling, which rejected Beijing's claims to most of the critical waterway in SCS and ruled in favour of the Philippines. Is Indonesia's assertive stance “a bombshell to stop China’s expansionism” or “an extension of the Indonesian existing policy”?
A sticker of the Statue of Liberty wearing a mask is seen on 10 May 2020 in the Manhattan borough of New York City. (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images/AFP)

The US empire will not fall anytime soon, going by ancient China’s experience

In his writings, Norwegian academic Johan Galtung predicted the fall of the US empire in 2020. At this mid point of the year, Deng Xize takes stock and holds fast to his earlier opposition to Galtung’s hypothesis, saying that the US empire is not going anywhere just yet — there is simply no other country that can take on a dominant role in its place.
US President Donald Trump turns away and departs as reporters try to ask questions after the president made an announcement about US trade relations with China and Hong Kong in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, US, on 29 May 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

A divided America is losing its footing in the Cold War with China

Dr Peter Chang says the US is fighting a Cold War with China as well as a culture war with itself, marked by deep polarisation and vindictiveness. Some US media seem less vigilant about telling China's side of the story, fuelling a narrative that reinforces a fear of China. Chang opines that this disturbing silence could make American journalism complicit in worsening the domestic and global situation. While the US battles to maintain global dominance, he feels it is best that smaller countries and powers stay centred to help the world achieve its much-needed balance.
Protesters hold up an upside-down US flag at a demonstration in Edinburgh on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. (Andy Buchanan/AFP)

In a world split apart, where do you belong?

With a US that is withdrawing from the world stage, yet not ready to relinquish its dominance so easily, and a China that does not look like it wants to take on the mantle of being a hegemonic power, the international world order seems to be facing a crisis that will not be resolved any time soon. Instead, expect a state of flux where international organisations hobble on and the prospect of “one world, two systems, and two markets” becomes very real. Political analyst Zheng Yongnian explains why.
A man holds up a sign reading "democracy instead of virology" as he attends a protest against the government's restrictions following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Cannstatter Wasen area in Stuttgart, Germany, May 16, 2020. (Kai Pfaffenbach/REUTERS)

Western democracy's worst enemy is itself, not China

Zheng Yongnian reminds political watchers of today that fascist regimes of the past grew out of once-democratic systems. What is to say that cannot happen in today’s world, even in mature democracies such as the US? Is the coronavirus crisis putting democratic systems to their greatest test yet? And despite what some think, China, where the pandemic first spread to the world, may not be Western democracy's biggest enemy after all. 
A woman wearing a protective mask looks at blossoms in a park in Beijing on 21 March 2020. (Thomas Peter/File Photo/Reuters)

The world has become greener because of Covid-19, but will it last?

The world has become greener and cleaner because of a drastic drop in human activity brought about by the pandemic. Professor Koh Lian Pin opines that these effects may be only temporary but the fact remains that the world needs to direct more attention to climate change. He sees China playing a bigger role in implementing nature-based solutions for climate and sustainable development. With its experience and immense investments in scientific research and development, it could even lend a hand to countries in the Asian region.
A man looks at a globe in a park in Wuhan, 8 April 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

What is China's next move? It has two alternatives

Economics professor Yu Zhi points out that the ball is in China’s court as to whether it will continue being plugged in to the international economic system and whether globalisation itself will continue on its path. In the medium- to long-term, he sees that it is in China’s interest to stay the course and scenarios of decoupling between China and the West are much exaggerated. However, how China sees its strategic role in the world in the future is something its leaders and people have to give great thought to, not in the future, but right now.