Human rights

US President Joe Biden arrives to speak about American manufacturing and the American workforce after touring the Mack Trucks Lehigh Valley Operations Manufacturing Facility in Macungie, Pennsylvania, US, on 28 July 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Could China-US trade relations be thawing?

High-level trade and foreign policy officials from the US and China have articulated their views recently on implementing the phase one trade deal and hopes for cooperation amid a state of strategic competition. Will more of such sessions help to chip away at the great wall of mistrust that has been built between the US and China?
People walk in a subway station in Shanghai on 12 October 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Can there be a China-style democracy?

In a speech last week, Xi Jinping painted the broad strokes of China’s views on democracy, including criteria for assessing democratic systems and what such systems ought to do for the people. However, with the West convinced that China lacks democracy and is not in a position to preach about it, how far can the country advance its brand of ‘whole-process people’s democracy’? Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan explores the topic.
Fumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister, center, during a group photograph with his new cabinet members at prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on 4 October 2021. (Stainislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/Bloomberg)

Can Japan rise above faction politics and become the 'bridge to the world' under new PM Kishida?

Fumio Kishida became the new Japanese prime minister despite a relatively weak political base. This shows that faction politics within the Liberal Democratic Party still provided some measure of stability in influencing outcomes. However, public opinion has landed on the side of wanting a leader with the gumption and vision to implement reforms and improve the plight of the Japanese people. But will this new administration be a force for change as the people want, or will the Japanese government go back to the days of having a new prime minister each year? Japan-based academic Zhang Yun takes us through.
Taliban fighters patrol along a road on the backdrop of a mural painted on the wall of a flyover in Kabul on 26 September 2021. (Hoshang Hashimi/AFP)

Japanese academic: Japan's role in Afghanistan after US withdrawal

Japanese academic Kazuto Suzuki observes conflicting approaches in how the West and China are handling Afghanistan matters after the Taliban takeover. He says while Japan had made some headway in helping to eliminate the Taliban and build up the country, its progress was disrupted by the US's withdrawal from Afghanistan and it now has to redefine its modus operandi in the changed landscape. How can Japan play a role now in building better lives for the people of Afghanistan?
People check their phones near a Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics-themed floral installation set up ahead of the Chinese National Day, in Beijing, China, 30 September 2021. (Florence Lo/Reuters)

China has a zero-Covid policy. Can it pull off a spectacular Winter Olympics?

With China's zero-Covid policy, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be one of those first events where China opens its doors amid the pandemic to a large number of foreign visitors. Beijing seems to have prepared itself, with recent announcements of explicit vaccination rules and a closed-loop management system to keep all involved in a supervised bubble. While the Covid-19 regulations for the Beijing Winter Olympics look set to be stricter than those for the Tokyo Olympics, domestic spectators will be allowed at the Beijing Games, unlike the Tokyo Games which limited the attendance of domestic spectators or totally banned them in certain venues. Can Beijing pull off a spectacular Winter Olympics despite heightening global tensions and the pandemic?
A boy stands with a wheelbarrow at the demolished former compound of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, 10 September 2021. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

Pakistan stands to gain from Afghanistan turmoil?

The recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has strong implications for Pakistan which faces various new challenges such as the influx of Afghan refugees, terror threats from Afghan-based militants and an increased insurgency by Balochistan rebels. China is also getting impatient with the Pakistan security situation as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects have come under threat. But Pakistan also has the opportunity to use its leverage with the Taliban to play a more significant role in regional diplomacy and decision-making, thereby advancing its regional standing.
Dr Zhang Wenhong, China’s top infectious diseases expert and head of the Center for Infectious Disease at Huashan Hospital. (Internet)

Who saved Dr Zhang Wenhong from punishment for questioning China's Covid-19 policy?

China's top infectious diseases expert Dr Zhang Wenhong was recently embroiled in an alleged academic fraud case but investigations have cleared his name later on. The investigation came after he put forward the view of "living with the virus", which is at odds with the official stance for achieving zero-Covid. Who protected Dr Zhang from punishment? Was it public opinion, the city of Shanghai or Dr Zhang's impeccable moral standards? Will this deter professionals from speaking the truth in the future?
A handout picture made available by the Iranian Red Crescent on 19 August 2021, shows a young Afghan refugee at the Iran-Afghanistan border between Afghanistan and the southeastern Iranian Sistan and Baluchestan province, as people fleeing AFghanistan try to enter the Islamic republic following the takeover of their country by the Taliban earlier this week. (Mohammad Javadzadeh/Iranian Red Crescent/AFP)

What China wants to see under a Taliban-led Afghanistan

Chinese academic Fan Hongda says that following the US troop pullout of Afghanistan, the Taliban have much to do to convince the international community that they can lead the country, and that they can rebuild Afghanistan. Will Taliban rule be any different this time round as compared to 20 years ago? How would China react to the new ruling power in Afghanistan?
Paramilitary police stand outside the Museum of the Communist Party of China, near the Bird’s Nest national stadium in Beijing, China on 25 June 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Tianjin meeting: China-US relations enter 'break-in period'

The recent high-official foreign ministry meetings between the US and China in Tianjin show two sides of a coin. On the one hand, both sides reiterated longstanding positions. On the other, any discussion is a step in the right direction. But as the two continue to test each other before making sudden moves, the road ahead could be a long and trying one.