International relations

A man holds a US flag as he looks at the West Lawn of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on 19 November 2021. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP)

Will the Summit for Democracy unite or divide the world?

Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong notes that while its objectives remain vague, the upcoming US-led Summit for Democracy is likely to reinforce “us versus them” divisions along “democracy versus autocracy” lines. Is this helpful? One thing for certain is that it has got countries, not least China, bolstering their narratives on democracy. How will the summit pan out?
A television screen shows a news programme about a virtual meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden at a restaurant in Beijing on 16 November 2021. (Jade GaoAFP)

US-China relations: Taiwan could be the most dangerous trigger point

ISEAS academic William Choong notes that amid intense China-US competition in domains such as trade, technology, security and values, there is much virtue for smaller states, particularly those in Southeast Asia, in upholding high principles and expressing a desire for a rules-based regional order. These elements, however, are premised on continued stability in Sino-US relations, which is not guaranteed, particularly given the increasingly entrenched positions of China and the US on the Taiwan issue.
This file photo taken on 18 November 2021 shows the name plaque at the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, Vilnius. (Petras Malukas/AFP)

How Beijing should respond to Lithuania’s signals on Taiwan

Analyst Zheng Weibin says that the establishment of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, with “Taiwan” rather than “Taipei” in its name, should not be looked upon by Beijing merely as Taiwan gaining diplomatic space. China needs to understand better the dynamics underpinning China’s relations with Europe and the shifts in the EU's foreign policy strategy. Taking a heavy-handed approach is likely to be counterproductive for the Asian giant.
A screen shows Chinese President Xi Jinping attending a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden via video link, at a restaurant in Beijing, China, 16 November 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Xi-Biden virtual summit: Only a 'more polite' meeting

Zaobao correspondent Wong Siew Fong notes that the virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping was cordial, with Xi describing both countries as “two giant ships” and Biden calling US and China “major world leaders”. However, academics say that given previous tensions and current tussling, perhaps it is too soon to say for sure that relations will improve from now on.
This handout photo released by the host broadcast, ASEAN Summit 2021, on 27 October 2021 shows Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah (centre), Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (top L), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (top 2nd L) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (top 2nd R) taking part in the ASEAN-Plus Three Summit on the sidelines of the 2021 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, held online on a live video conference in Bandar Seri Begawan. (Handout/ASEAN Summit 2021/AFP)

ASEAN’s deft diplomacy with its dialogue partners

Kong Tuan Yuen notes that this year’s virtual 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits achieved several deliverables, including commitments from dialogue partners such as China, Japan and the US for increased Covid-19 assistance and other cooperation. The grouping also agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership with China and Australia respectively. ASEAN’s desire to maintain its centrality is clear from the way it has timed the two comprehensive strategic partnerships and the stance it adopted on ASEAN member state Myanmar's representation.
This file combination of pictures created on 8 June 2021 shows Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and US President Joe Biden, who are scheduled to hold a virtual summit next week. (Nicolas Asfouri and Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

Will a Biden-Xi virtual summit change anything?

A virtual summit between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will allegedly be held next week. However, with comments from the White House that the meeting is not about deliverables, and the US’s continued attacks such as Biden’s criticism of China’s non-appearance at the recent UN climate change conference in Glasgow, are prospects for major breakthroughs bright? Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong looks at what the session might bring.
This picture taken during a government organised media tour shows a seller holding a portrait of the Chinese President Xi Jinping next to pictures of the former Chinese leader Mao Zedong at Dongfanghong Theatre in Yan'an, the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party from 1936 to 1947, in Shaanxi province on 10 May 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

From ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’ to ‘lovable China’

At a study session on international communications for the Chinese Communist Party, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on China to build an image of a “credible, lovable and respectable China”. Putting aside the euphemism, says Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong, what is most important is how the goal can possibly be achieved in China’s current diplomatic context.
A woman holds the US and China flags at a Lunar New Year ceremony in Chinatown on 12 February 2021 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/AFP)

China must understand the 'tragedy complex' of Biden's team

Understanding the psyche of Biden’s team will help China in its strategic calculations. First of all, members of Biden’s inner circle are different from the hawkish officials in the Trump administration, but they do have a “tragedy complex” that could leave them expecting the worst to happen. Could the upcoming China-US dialogue in Alaska be a first step towards re-orienting bilateral relations? Switzerland-based academic Xiang Lanxin takes a look at the factors at play.
A giant Olympic symbol at the Olympic Tower, during an organised media tour to 2022 Winter Olympic Games venues in Beijing, China, 22 January 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Will the West boycott Beijing's Winter Olympics over Xinjiang?

As Beijing prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, the spectre of human rights violations in Xinjiang looms large, with campaigners clamouring for the Games to be used to pressure Beijing. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu finds out how China is planning to handle the situation.