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This aerial picture taken on 16 October 2021 shows trucks loaded with coal waiting near Gants Mod port at the Chinese border with Gashuun Sukhait, in Umnugovi province, in Mongolia. (Uugansukh Byamba/AFP)

Between a rock and a hard place: Mongolia’s ambivalent relations with China

Sandwiched between Russia to the north and China to the south, landlocked Mongolia has always had tough choices to make in its foreign policy strategies. Towards China, which it used to be a part of and continues to share kinship ties with the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, it harbours historical suspicion. But with China being its top export destination and key investment partner, the head may rule the heart.
People cross a street during sunset in Shanghai, China, 15 November 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

George Yeo: Charm and China in a multipolar world

George Yeo, Singapore’s former foreign minister, gave a talk titled “China in a Multipolar World” to students of the Master in Public Administration and Management (MPAM) programme taught in Chinese at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on 3 November. He spoke about time and patience needed for a multipolar superstructure to emerge, and for earlier dominant players such as the US to adjust to the new order. In the meantime, it is in China’s interest to master the art of charm, knowing when to go hard or soft in its relations with the US and Europe, its neighbours India and Japan, and issues such as the South China Sea and Taiwan. This is an edited transcript of his speech and excerpts from the Q&A session.
Paramilitary police officers keep watch as people climb the Great Wall of China in Beijing, China, 1 October 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Wang Gungwu: China, ASEAN and the new Maritime Silk Road

Professor Wang Gungwu was a keynote speaker at the webinar titled “The New Maritime Silk Road: China and ASEAN” organised by the Academy of Professors Malaysia. He reminds us that a sense of region was never a given for Southeast Asia; trade tied different peoples from land and sea together but it was really the former imperial masters and the US who made the region “real”. Western powers have remained interested in Southeast Asia through the years, as they had created the Southeast Asia concept and even ASEAN. On the other hand, China was never very much interested in the seas or countries to its south; this was until it realised during the Cold War that Southeast Asia and ASEAN had agency and could help China balance its needs in the maritime sphere amid the US's persistent dominance. The Belt and Road Initiative reflects China’s worldview and the way it is maintaining its global networks to survive and thrive in a new era. This is an edited transcript of Professor Wang’s speech.
Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing delivers a major address on 9 November 2021 at Fullerton Hotel as part of the IISS Fullerton Lectures, a prestigious series of events on regional and global security issues organised by IISS–Asia. (SPH)

Chan Chun Sing: Singapore amid great power rivalry

Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing gave the speech titled "Singapore amid Great Power Rivalry" at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Fullerton Lecture on 9 November 2021. He said countries around the world possess some agency even amid great power competition, and Singapore can work together with like-minded partners to help build a better world. And while the US and China might feel their differences sharply, there could be more common interests between them than they would probably want to acknowledge, as both countries share a single global system and biosphere with the rest of the world. Here is the full transcript of his speech.
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.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) and Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton stand for their national anthems during an honour cordon at the Pentagon on 15 September 2021 in Arlington, Virginia, US. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/AFP)

With AUKUS in place, now what for key players in the Indo-Pacific?

Former German diplomat Dr Anne-Marie Schleich analyses the impact of AUKUS from the perspective of key players in the region. This development sees important ramifications, not only for Australia, which has further thrown in its lot with the US, but for other stakeholders such as the Pacific island countries, who may see their nuclear-free Blue Pacific blueprint thwarted, as well as the European countries, who must decide how they can maintain a strategic presence in the region within the AUKUS framework.
In an aerial view, shipping containers and a container ship are seen at the Port of Los Angeles on 20 September 2021 near Los Angeles, California. (Mario Tama/AFP)

The truth behind the US’s huge trade deficit

Economics professor Zhang Rui notes that the US’s huge trade deficit cannot be looked upon in isolation from the dominance of the US dollar; when exporting countries hold more US dollars, they are more able to purchase US debt and support the US in issuing national debt and get US dollars to flow back to the US. This suggests that looking beyond the surface of its large trade deficit, the US's fundamentals remain strong and with the advantages it has in the capital account and services trade, there is little chance that its leading position in global trade can be usurped.
Caution tape is seen near the Chinese embassy as activists hold a demonstration calling on Chinese President Xi Jinping to "allow safe passage to North Koreans detained in China" in Washington, DC on 24 September 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

The war on terrorism has ended. Can the US win the next battle of great power competition?

Twenty years after the historic 9/11 attacks on the US, the threat of terrorism has largely been contained and a new era of great power competition has returned. ISEAS researcher Daljit Singh notes that in the past century, the US has been adamant about not letting any single power dominate East Asia, and will most probably continue to do so. What will this new era be like when the US's competitor is a rising China? And what can Southeast Asian states do about it?
This aerial photo taken on 7 September 2021 shows a view of cars at Lianyungang Port in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province. (STR/AFP)

Chinese academic: Less exports, more wealth redistribution needed in China

China’s imports and exports of goods totalled 18 trillion RMB in the first half of this year, 27% higher than the same period last year. However, instead of rejoicing over soaring numbers, Chinese academic Peng Shengyu warns that huge exports also point to a great loss of domestically created material wealth flowing overseas. He says by unreservedly supplying China-made goods to the US who has the power to print money in abandon, and leaving wealth accumulation in the hands of individuals, the Chinese government has not done enough to improve the lives of its people, especially the poor.