Indo-pacific

This screen grab made from a video released by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV shows the launch ceremony of the Fujian, a People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft carrier, at a shipyard in Shanghai, China, on 17 June 2022. (CCTV/AFP)

China’s third aircraft carrier: No need to panic just yet

China’s third aircraft carrier is not yet nuclear-powered and won’t be battle-ready for some years yet. Besides, in terms of possible warfare, it’s the numerous surface combatants China possesses that the US should be worried about, says Loro Horta. But with every iteration of China’s aircraft carrier, its ambitions of eventually taking on the US in the open Pacific is increasingly clear.
US President Joe Biden speaks with members of the media before boarding Marine One for a weekend in Rehoboth, Delaware, at the White House in Washington, US, 17 June 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

US sets up strategic obstacles against 'autocratic' China

Political commentator William He notes that the Biden administration is clear and sharp with its China policy and strategy. It is setting up strategic obstacles to contain "autocratic" China, addressing long-term fundamental issues such as the right to speak on global values and order, and maintaining the lead in military powers and forming alliances.
US President Joe Biden gestures during the commencement ceremony at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, US, 28 May 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Biden has good strategies, but can he implement them?

Chinese academic Zhang Jingwei notes that while US President Joe Biden has cast a wider net in building alliances compared with his predecessors, much of these frameworks are lacking in substance. Will the US be able to benefit from them and use them against its strategic rival China?
China's State Councilor and Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe walks to attend a bilateral meeting with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, 10 June 2022. (Caroline Chia/Reuters)

Framing China’s actions: From ‘assertive’ to ‘aggressive’

US-led Western rhetoric has not been friendly to China, with “assertive” being the operative word. However, at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, that term was “upgraded” to “aggressive”, prompting a strong response from China. Is this portrayal deserved and are tensions likely to persist in the region? What should the ASEAN countries’ response be?
A visitor holds his mobile phone near a screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan Parlor Convention Center in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 31 December 2020. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

China's softening stance on its ‘no limits’ relations with Russia

The lateral move of “Russia expert” Le Yucheng from the Chinese foreign ministry to the National Radio and Television Administration is undoubtedly a career setback for the man once tipped to be the next foreign minister. Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong explores possible reasons for the move and opines that it could indicate Beijing's changing attitude towards Russia and the war in Ukraine.
A member of security personnel stands guard behind a perimeter fence at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, on 20 May 2022. (Pawan Sharma/AFP)

India's choice: Pro-US, pro-China or stay autonomous?

With his visit to Asia in May and the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity which includes India, US President Joe Biden clearly seeks to recast the strategic environment in which China operates. On its part, China had earlier launched the Global Security Initiative and is articulating its vision of a changing world order. For India, therefore, the long-term choice is either strategic autonomy, or the role of a pro-US or even pro-China “swing state”.
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) arrives at the convention center with Chief of Malvatumauri National Council Willie Plasua (second from left) after a meeting with the Vanuatu President Tallis Obed Moses in Vanuatu capital city of Port Vila on 1 June 2022. (Photo by ginny stein / AFP)

China gearing up for intense competition in the Pacific

China knows it needs to soften its tone as the US, Australia, New Zealand and others bristle at its interest in the Pacific island countries. The traditional powers are stepping up their game as well. But whether it likes it or not, the region will likely see greater power tussles as the strategic imperatives are simply too great for China to back off completely.
China’s General Wei Fenghe and his delegates arrive at Dutch Pavilion at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, for a meeting with his counterparts from the US. (SPH Media)

Shangri-La Dialogue 2022: A tougher diplomatic battle for China?

Given the tough stand of Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe at the previous Shangri-La Dialogue in 2019, and the current tense relations between China and the US, this week’s Shangri-La Dialogue is set to offer some sparks. Zaobao’s associate editor Han Yong Hong examines some points of contention and what previous rhetoric suggests.
US President Joe Biden participates in the US-ASEAN Special Summit at the US State Department in Washington, DC, US, on 13 May 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

Finland and Sweden today, Southeast Asia tomorrow?

With Finland and Sweden applying to join NATO, some in Asia are asking if Southeast Asian countries will follow suit and seek an alliance with “like-minded” powers. Malaysian academics Kuik Cheng-Chwee, Abdul Razak Ahmad and Lai Yew Meng explain why such realignment is unlikely in Asia (for now).