Soft power

A child stands near a giant screen showing the image of the Tianhe space station at China Science and Technology Museum in Beijing, China, 24 April 2021. (Tingshu Wang/File Photo/Reuters)

India-China space race: The role of the private sector

As geopolitical competition among global powers extends into outer space, major players are looking at how the private sector can play a bigger part in the space race and boost national space venturing capabilities. Yogesh Joshi and Ashmita Rana note that while India's space expenditure stands at only one-sixth of China's, and the latter seems to be leading the way in working with its private space firms, India's great ambitions and edge over China in working with global partners may give it a greater push to catch up.
In this picture taken on 13 November 2021, Taliban fighters stop next to destroyed armoured vehicles displayed along a road in Ghazni, Afghanistan. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China and Russia compete for influence in Central Asia

China-Russia rivalry in the Central Asian region is intensifying, with the US's departure from Afghanistan and the two countries seeking to fill the power vacuum by working within their Central Asian spheres of dominance. Can the two powers work together to foster greater regional stability or will they let their competitiveness get the better of them?
People walk along at financial district of Lujiazui in Shanghai, China, 15 October 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

How China's 'poor' ultra-rich can truly become world-class entrepreneurs

Deng Qingbo finds that those who have “grown rich first” during China’s initial period of reform and opening up, and who have grown rich a second time by consolidating their holdings, now find themselves locked in an endless pursuit of wealth with no clear direction to better themselves. He thinks it is high time that they “grow wealthy for the third time” in the spiritual sense, and give back to society by developing a truly influential and well-respected corporate culture. It works out well that this would be in line with China’s “common prosperity” goals.
Tourists wearing face masks walk along Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, on 20 October 2021. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP)

China’s alliance with Russia is solidifying

Even though several analyses have it that the China-Russia relationship is filled with underlying tensions and can break without warning, Loro Horta believes that the alliance they have can stand the test of time, given a mutual dependency for resources as well as common geopolitical interests and threat perceptions. Instead of warning Russia about China, Washington may want to worry more about the state of its own alliances.
Chinese national flags displayed at Wong Tai Sin Temple to mark National Day in Hong Kong, China, on 1 October 2021. (Paul Yeung/Bloomberg)

China's reputation in major countries is at its worst. Can it save itself?

China’s accomplishments in the past four decades deserve respect and emulation from many countries across the globe, despite disparagement from the West. However, China may squander this opportunity to gain goodwill by erring on two fronts: its attitude towards liberalism, and its handling of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s legacy. Making a wrong move on either of these fronts can easily diminish its chances of becoming “one of the good guys” in international politics.
This handout image courtesy of Netflix shows a scene from season one of South Korea's Squid Game. (Youngkyu Park/Netflix/AFP)

Does China need its own Squid Game?

Despite Netflix not being in the China market, Chinese viewers have still managed to watch the global hit show Squid Game, prompting questions on whether China can come up with its own global hit. It is not so much a question of box office ticket sales or viewership revenue, but the gains of soft power and cultural diplomacy that can be reaped. What are China’s barriers to creating global hits?
A health worker inoculates a woman with a dose of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination at a zoo in Surabaya, Indonesia, on 13 September 2021. (Juni Kriswanto/AFP)

China's vaccine diplomacy in Southeast Asia is working, but can it keep up the good work?

For several years now, China has sought to increase its soft power, spending resources to do so, including through providing funding for its Belt and Road Initiative and Confucius Institutes. But its plan has not been very effective, not least because it is often perceived to use coercion more than persuasion. But after conducting rounds of vaccine diplomacy during Covid-19 pandemic, are its efforts finally bearing fruit?
People pose for photos in front of a statue of American actress Marilyn Monroe Universal Studios Beijing, China, 21 September 2021. (CNS)

Universal Studios Beijing: With 5,000 years of culture, can China create its own theme park?

Universal Studios Beijing opened to much publicity, with tickets being snapped up in just one minute. But some detractors question if this is exactly the sort of imperialism that China has grown out of and it should be developing its own mega attractions with Chinese elements. Would doing so simply entail rejecting Western influences? How can it develop a concept that truly reflects a flavour of China or its popular culture?
A woman rides a scooter along a street decorated with Vietnamese national flags ahead of Vietnam's National Day celebrations in Hanoi on 1 September 2021. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Vietnamese still favours the US despite Afghanistan spectre

Many observers have drawn parallels between the US’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and memories of the “fall of Saigon”. But Vietnamese reactions to US Vice President Kamala Harris’s recent visit there shows continued favourable sentiments towards the US.