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An aerial view shows snow-covered terraced fields and houses in Congjiang county, in China's southwestern Guizhou province on 22 January 2024. (AFP)

China’s 'Two Mountains' framework: Varied responses from Southeast Asia

China has long been propagating its “Two Mountains” concept and has expanded it into the Green Silk Road concept as a sustainable climate governance framework. But many Southeast Asian countries have tailored the concept according to their own needs.
An aerial view of shipping containers stacked at a port in Lianyungang, in eastern China's Jiangsu province on 12 January 2024. (AFP)

Does China still need the CPTPP?

Academic Jianyong Yue notes that despite China’s seeming eagerness to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), doing so may in fact hinder it from realising its full potential, given the strict regulations of the group. Perhaps it might be better for China to focus on developing its domestic market and turning into a strong consumption power capable of supporting its industrial upgrading and economic transformation.
A woman takes a picture along the moat outside the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, on 21 November 2023. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

Where is China now?

Only by absorbing the essence of modern civilisation can they rise above it, and only by standing on the peak of Western civilisation can they go on to the next level, says East Asian Institute senior research fellow Lance Gore. When one scans the terrain of Chinese public opinion and even academia, we see that very little remains of the constructive mentality once prevalent from the late Qing dynasty onwards — i.e., the spirit of humbly learning from the West for self-strengthening. Instead, we see "cultural self-confidence" that is not substantiated by proper analysis. Furthermore, political reform cannot always revolve around the consolidation of the ruling party’s position, and not make plans with the long-term interests of the Chinese people in mind.
Shoppers outside a department store in Berlin, Germany, 14 December 2023. (Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)

De-risking from China easier said than done for German companies

In theory, the Germans are supportive of the government’s call for greater economic independence from China. In practice, this is hard to implement. A roadmap and a better explanation to companies of how this will work and who will pay the price is needed, says The Berlin Pulse editor Jonathan Lehrer.
A Mixue Ice Cream & Tea outlet in Johor Bahru. (Photo: Claudia Liao)

Mixue, ChaGee, Luckin: F&B brands boosting China's soft power in Southeast Asia?

As China tries to sell its soft power, one channel it is tapping into is its food and beverage industry, with brands like Mixue and Luckin Coffee moving into overseas markets. Alongside its tech exports like smartphones, can China convince others of its products and improve its image?
(Left to right) China's President Xi Jinping, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo and Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev head to a group photo session at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 18 October 2023. (Suo Takekuma/AFP)

China’s Belt and Road Forum: Pressing ahead without the West

The lack of Western representation at the recent Belt and Road Forum has strengthened China’s resolve to push ahead with the Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing is using the Forum as a vehicle to engage the developing world in a more concerted manner.
US President Joe Biden attends a welcoming ceremony hosted by Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (2L) at the Presidential Palace of Vietnam in Hanoi on 10 September 2023. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

How Communist Party of Vietnam achieves 'quantum leaps' in Vietnam-US relations

Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is actively promoting “Vietnamese bamboo diplomacy” as his foreign policy legacy. The concept is not altogether new but it has been riding upon Trong’s political ascendency and Vietnam’s geopolitical fortunes.
The Invictus International School campus at Nanshan, Shenzhen announced its shuttering in July. (Photo: Daryl Lim)

Closure of international schools in China due to economic downturn

The current wave of closures among international schools in China can be attributed to factors such as high tuition fees, options in other countries, and falling birth rate. But the biggest factor is undoubtedly financial tightening by parents, in turn due to China’s economic situation. Zaobao journalist Daryl Lim finds out more.
Containers at the Nanshagang area in Guangzhou port, 18 September 2023. (CNS)

Will the BRI's future be impacted by the slowing Chinese economy?

Japanese academic Toshiya Tsugami notes that while China's economy is likely to fall into medium- to long-term stagnation, its outward investments and financing through the Belt and Road Initiative may not be immediately affected. However, other factors may have a ripple effect on China's ability to maintain the momentum of the BRI.