International relations

This file photo taken on 15 October 2022 shows a man walking past portraits of (left to right) late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong and former Chinese leaders Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and current president Xi Jinping at Yan’an Revolutionary Memorial Hall in Yan'an city, Shaanxi province, China. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Did Jiang Zemin pave the way for greater centralised rule in China?

Taiwanese academic Wen-Hsuan Tsai notes that while the late former Chinese President Jiang Zemin had pushed forward economic development during his tenure, he had neglected political reform, and in so doing, possibly paved the way for ever greater centralised rule in China.
Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (C) walks with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (R) and National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue (L) as they attend the opening of the National Assembly's autumn session in Hanoi on 20 October 2022. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Vietnam not veering closer to the US or China

It is not in Vietnam’s national interest to be overly dependent on China or the US. Hanoi is expected to continue to press ahead with efforts to build on its ties with the two major powers as part of its multi-directional foreign policy. There are, however, limits to both approaches. Given General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong's health situation, a physical trip to the US may not be feasible, and any diplomacy might have to be carried out long distance.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin waves from his car following talks with Laurent Fabius, speaker of the French National Assembly, in Paris, France, 25 October 1999. (Charles Platiau/File Photo/Reuters)

Jiang Zemin: The Chinese leader whose achievements outweighed the shortcomings

US academic Zhu Zhiqun gives an assessment of the late former President Jiang Zemin’s policies during his time leading China throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s.
US President Joe Biden and Indonesian President Joko Widodo hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on 14 November 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Indonesia’s leadership in G20 shines amid contention between West and Russia

With all eyes on Indonesia as the G20 chair, the summit concluded successfully as Indonesian President Joko Widodo deftly balanced the demands of the G20 members amid the Russia-Ukraine war, along with a painstakingly crafted joint declaration that addresses the war. ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata gives us a look at how Indonesia managed to handle the situation while making it clear that the economic summit is not a platform to discuss security.
Pedestrians cross a road in front of the Bank of Korea headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on 12 October 2022. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP)

Is South Korea’s economy in trouble?

Often referred to as the world’s economic “canary in the coal mine”, South Korea has seen its economy tumble over the past year, impacted by external factors such as US interest rate hikes and signs of recession in key trade partners. The accumulation of domestic factors — currency crisis, tumbling stock market and rising inflation — is also hitting the South Korean economy hard. However, this industrial powerhouse has the domestic means to climb out of the doldrums.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with China's President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, 16 November 2022. (Adam Scotti/Prime Minister's Office/Handout via Reuters)

Why Xi thinks Canada's conduct was 'not appropriate'

After details of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s informal discussion during the G20 meeting was reported in Western media, Xi followed up with Trudeau to express his displeasure. However, the interaction sent Western media into a frenzy, reporting that Xi “confronted” or “scolded” Trudeau. In light of the sensationalisation of the incident, China may need to be more familiar with how the media in Western democracies work.
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Bali, Indonesia, 14 November 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

A Xi-Biden handshake does not bridge the Sino-US schism, but it's a start

The handshakes and smiles in Bali have triggered some optimism about Sino-US relations going forward. Yet the slight uptick in Sino-US relations post-Bali might well be short-lived, given the superpowers’ underlying structural competition and deep mutual distrust.
China's President Xi Jinping and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on 16 November 2022. (Willy Kurniawan/AFP)

China's 'international united front' diplomacy: When staying neutral means a win for China

Taiwanese academic Chiung-Chiu Huang explains the concept of China’s “international united front” strategy which remains a guiding principle today. By using this softly-softly approach that seeks common ground and low-hanging fruit, China has managed its relations with countries it deems not outrightly hostile. In doing so, it may not win friends, but it may at least make fewer enemies.
Delegates applaud during the handover ceremony at the G20 Leaders' Summit, in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, 16 November 2022. (Willy Kurniawan/Reuters)

The G20 Summit: Who makes the world’s rules?

The Group of 7 are relatively aligned in their perceptions of global challenges, particularly when it comes to strategic competitors such as China and Russia, but the same perceptions do not hold true when it comes to the remaining members of the bigger Group of 20.