Sampling makgeolli or Korean rice wine with friends from the academic community in Seoul, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai is transported back in time to the world of ancient literati in China and Korea — would they also have exchanged a story or two over a bowl of makgeolli?
In the development of 1G to 4G technology, the US, Europe and Japan took turns to dominate. When it comes to 5G, China says that it has built the largest 5G network globally with other 718,000 5G base stations throughout the country, which is at least ten times the network in the US. China is also strong in 5G chip design and is making inroads in setting global standards for wireless networks. Is China getting a leg up in the tech race?
A survey in Japan shows that Japanese foreign policy decision-makers are most concerned with “US-North Korea denuclearisation negotiations and North Korea’s status as a nuclear power” in Northeast Asia. The Biden administration is likely to work with its allies to tackle the issue, but it is enmeshed in a web of complex geopolitical relationships. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima considers the deliberations of the key players involved.
Hong Kong-based commentator Zheng Hao notes that the Trump administration’s high-profiled meetings with North Korea established communication at the very least, even if long-term peace in the Korean peninsula is still out of reach. Will the Biden administration be able to do any better, with China’s help?
With the recent signing of the RCEP and China’s comment that it will “favourably consider” joining the CPTPP, are prospects looking up for greater domestic reform and regional economic integration across the board, and will dreams of a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific have a higher chance of eventually taking shape? Japan-based academic Zhang Yun looks at the potential outlook.
Like many ASEAN member states, South Korea has sought to avoid choosing sides between China and the US. It has adopted an uneasy equidistance between the two great powers and their respective Indo-Pacific Strategy and Belt and Road Initiative power plays.
The signing of the 15-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is significant, and not only due to the fact that the trade deal will cover a third of the world’s population and GDP. The RCEP also affirms the power of the East Asia concept and ASEAN’s centrality within it.
South Korea’s economy was one of the best-performing economies this year. Its GDP grew 1.9% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter. ISEAS academic Victor Teo observes that with its considerable soft power and economic weight, South Korea is well-positioned to become a more important power for Southeast Asia and ASEAN.