Visitors walk by images of Chinese President Xi Jinping displayed at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, China, 11 November 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Autumn succession: The main plot line of the 20th Party Congress

Vienna-based academic Li Ling gives a primer on four principles regulating the nominations of membership of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), the highest decision-making body of the Chinese Communist Party. Nothing is for certain until the curtain rises on the 20th Party Congress this autumn, but a closer look at these principles could help to narrow the field.
US President Joe Biden (centre) with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on 12 May 2022. (Michael Reynolds/Bloomberg)

US-ASEAN summit: Washington still has an uphill climb

The US hit all the right notes when it hosted ASEAN leaders in Washington last week. The fact remains, however, that Washington has an uphill climb if it wants to catch up with Beijing’s economic momentum in Southeast Asia. Not only that, Southeast Asian countries understand that in the end, it would be every man for himself.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr (left) with Mao Zedong (centre) and Imelda Marcos, on a visit to China in September 1957. (Twitter)

Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr, the president-elect who kissed Mao Zedong

With Ferdinand Marcos Jr achieving a landslide win in the Philippine presidential election, how will the Philippines’ China policy change? In particular, given the legacy of the Marcos family’s good relations with China as well as former President Duterte’s pro-China stance, how will the incoming president handle relations with the US?
Theary Seng, a US-Cambodian lawyer and activist who is facing treason and incitement charges, poses in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court ahead of her hearing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 3 May 2022. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Why Cambodia is leaning towards China and not the US

Sokvy Rim explains why Cambodia’s foreign policy options have been constrained by the leaders’ concerns of regime survival at various stages of its history. If this trajectory continues, it may be hard for it to conduct a hedging strategy in its relations between China and the US.
This picture taken on 1 April 2022 shows an aerial view of a giant sign being raised by protesters depicting Russia's President Vladimir Putin as an octopus with its arms wrapping around the countries of Georgia, Syria, Ukraine and the world globe during a demonstration in the city of Binnish in Syria's northwestern rebel-held Idlib province against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP)

How Putin became trapped by his own authoritarianism

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s misjudgement of the Ukrainian situation, its people’s resilience and his own military forces have led to a prolonged war. Economics professor Zhu Ying notes that Putin has been misguided by his beliefs, and his dictatorship over Russia has struck fear even in his top officials, leading to a circle of "yes men" that have shielded him from the realities of the war. Cracks are showing in this inner circle. How long more will Putin stay trapped in his ideology?
A woman walks past graffiti in Borovsk, some 100 km south-west of Moscow, 14 April 2022. (AFP)

The Russia-Ukraine war has accentuated the democratic-autocratic divide

The Russia-Ukraine war has galvanised NATO and the West to action, and it seems that two main camps are taking shape along the East-West divide, and between democratic and autocratic systems. Academic Zhu Ying examines how China and other countries have responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the implications of the splits.
Emergency workers remove debris of a building destroyed in the course of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, 10 April 2022. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Walking a tightrope to survive: Singapore's position in the Russia-Ukraine war and beyond

While the Russia-Ukraine war is geographically far from this region, the proxy US-China tussle and information war are having their impact on Singapore and the region all the same. In a recent discussion with Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, Lee Huay Leng, editor-In-chief of the Chinese Media Group of SPH Media, is reminded that the greatest test of a country’s principles comes when it is most inconvenient to exercise them. And most importantly, it is precisely because countries such as Singapore are small that they must ensure that their interests are protected in the international realm.
Workers in personal protective equipment (PPE) keep watch as residents queue for a Covid-19 test in a neighbourhood placed under lockdown in Shanghai, China, on 4 April 2022. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Shanghai's worsening Covid-19 outbreak is turning political

The latest Covid-19 outbreak in Shanghai has thrown the city into chaos, with the implementation of a full lockdown despite the authorities initially insisting otherwise to avoid the serious social and economic costs. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu looks at how the worsening situation in Shanghai is turning an epidemic containment issue into a political one.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on 18 March 2022. (Mikhail Klimentyev/SPUTNIK/AFP)

Why do Chinese people sympathise with Russia?

While most of the world have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and see it as unjust and even foolish, the Chinese people have shown their support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Chinese academic Andrew Huang notes that this is most likely driven by their perception that the US and the West are arrogant and have always made things difficult for China in various settings. This has led to the Chinese being willing to cheer for anyone that can stand up to the US.