Decoupling

Paramilitary police stand guard as people gather to celebrate the arrival of the New Year near the Bund in Shanghai, China, 31 December 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Covid-19 will be overcome, but can China and the US avoid the risk of war and conflict?

US-based researcher Wei Da feels that both China and the US need to make significant adjustments in their relations with each other, or else the scenario of a new Cold War and a real threat of hot war will not be far off. Who needs to understand that the world is different now, and adjustments have to be made? And who is the more backward party that has to adjust more?
Paramilitary police officers wearing face masks patrol on a street in Beijing on 13 October 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China's wolf-warrior tactics confusing, misleading and unprofessional

When it would have been advantageous to watch and wait while the US leadership transition is carried out, China has decided to up the ante with a high-profile show of wolf-warrior diplomacy. Is it setting itself up for a boomerang effect?
A girl sits next to the paintings of US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on display alongside a road in Mumbai, India, 8 November 2020. (Niharika Kulkarni/Reuters)

India gets ready for shifts in US-China relations under Biden 

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?
Members of the PLA Honour Guard attend a flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square on National Day to mark the 71st anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China, in Beijing, China, 1 October 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

50 years later, is China ‘preparing for war’ again?

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?
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pose for a picture prior the Quad ministerial meeting in Tokyo, Japan, 6 October 2020. (Kiyoshi Ota/Pool via REUTERS)

Containing China: Will the Quad become an Asian mini-NATO?

With the foreign ministers of the US, Japan, India, and Australia convening in Tokyo for their latest ministerial quadrilateral security dialogue meeting last week, and the US especially keen to contain China through this grouping, economics professor Zhu Ying wonders: Will the Quad become an Asian mini-NATO?
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?
In this photo taken on 4 September 2020, a man walks with the Chinese national flag in a park next to the Yangtze River in Wuhan. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Mixed signals to the US? China has revealed its bottom line

After a brief softening of its stance towards the US, China seems to be hardening its rhetoric again. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu says this has much to do with President Xi Jinping’s clear message not to trifle with the Chinese Communist Party’s bottom line — relations between the party and the people are sacrosanct.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US President Donald Trump shake hands after signing the US-China phase one trade agreement in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, 15 January 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/File Photo/Reuters)

US-China trade talks resume on a wary note

​After days of delay, the US and China reviewed their phase one trade agreement in a telephone call on 25 August. Both sides sidestepped the question of recent US actions against Chinese companies, but there is no guarantee that this uneasy truce will hold up as the 2020 US presidential race intensifies.
A paramilitary police officer wearing a face mask following the Covid-19 outbreak, stands guard outside the Great Hall of the People before the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, on 22 May 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

China must endure the storm, for time is on its side 

Senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute Lance Gore says that China must learn to rein in its rage and impatience and do its fair share of self-reflection. What good would it do if it gives in to petty emotions and provokes a US-led coalition against it? For sure, it still has room for manoeuvre, thanks to the attractiveness of its huge consumer market. But it must not miss the woods for the trees: the US is still more powerful than it is and the two are better off as friends than enemies. Question is, will China be able to be humble, look itself squarely in the mirror, and refrain from doing the things it must not?