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People walk with umbrellas in Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, Shanghai, on the day of the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China, 5 March 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Post-Covid-19: Asia will be the beating heart of the world

Amid the gloom, there’s room for optimism in Asia in the post-Covid-19 landscape, says Benjamin Hung, CEO, Asia, Standard Chartered. The pandemic has speeded up structural changes in this growing region’s business landscape, and created greater opportunities which will pave the way for Asia’s strong rebound in 2021 and beyond.
People walk along a bridge that connects two shopping malls in Jakarta on 14 February 2021. (Adek Berry/AFP)

Chinese academics: How China and ASEAN can deepen digital economy partnership

With the conclusion of the 1st ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN) last month and the series of digital policies introduced, ASEAN is ready to move forward on building an integrated digital economy. Even as ASEAN aims to become an important player in the digital global value chain, there are areas where China and ASEAN can work together to achieve a win-win situation. Professor Zhai Kun of Peking University and Yuan Ruichen, member of the research group of the BRI Big Data Innovation Experimental Project, suggest cooperation in areas such as building smart cities, cybersecurity and digital governance.
A general view shows the ArtScience Museum (left) against the backdrop of the city skyline in Singapore on 28 January 2021. (Roslan Rahman/AFP)

Singapore's prominent role in China's trade strategy

After taking a hit in early 2020 due to the pandemic, Singapore-China trade quickly rebounded and looks set to be in healthy territory in 2021. China’s increasing focus on regional trade agreements and industrial chains will give an added push. Academics Li Wenlong and Zhang Shiming give their take on what is in store.
This handout photo taken and released by the Indian Navy on 18 November 2020 shows ships taking part in the second phase of the Malabar naval exercise in the Arabian sea. India, Australia, Japan and the US started the second phase of a strategic navy drill on 17 November in the Northern Arabian sea. (Indian Navy/AFP)

The Indo-Pacific strategy could turn into an empty shell under Biden

The Indo-Pacific strategy, with the China threat at the back of its mind, was a vital plank of the Trump administration’s foreign policy. Professor Xiang Lanxin considers the flaws of the concept when put into practice, and wonders if the policy will become something of a white elephant under the Biden administration.
People wearing face masks walk past the China Zun skyscraper at the central business district in Beijing, China, 15 January 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

'Driving the blade inwards': Why China may join the CPTPP

China’s willingness to consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is perhaps an admission that emphasising free trade but ignoring fair trade is no longer sustainable. Even sacred cows such as its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and insistence on the WTO platform for multilateral trade negotiations may be up for discussion. On a practical level, the CPTPP may just be the external push it needs to force its SOEs to reform.
People wearing face masks attend a New Year's countdown in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on 31 December 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Shaping rules of the future: The goal for China's third opening up

Even if it might be a unilateral move, China should embark on its third phase of opening up, says Zheng Yongnian. The first phase of China’s opening up took place after the Opium War while the second was led by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. Now, in the face of unprecedented challenges of the new century, China must undertake a higher-order opening up, and work towards setting global standards and formulating rules at the international level. These endeavours begin at home, with the domestic standardisation of rules in different regions and localities.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping are seen on a screen during a video conference, in Brussels, Belgium, 30 December 2020. (Johanna Geron/REUTERS)

Why the Chinese public is unenthusiastic about further reforms and opening up

Talks on the China-EU investment deal were concluded on 30 December 2020, lending fresh impetus to China’s further opening up to the world. However, the response so far, both externally and internally, seems to be lukewarm to the idea of what some call China’s third opening up. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong ponders why this is so and analyses where China is likely to go from here.
A pedestrian wearing a face mask walks near an overpass with an electronic board showing stock information, at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai, China, 17 March 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

China-EU investment deal can bolster the world’s post-pandemic recovery

Cai Daolu of the NUS Business School says that the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) between China and the EU can help to reduce uncertainty and facilitate the flow of investment, technology and know-how across borders. In fluid times, good old-fashioned economic integration and openness to foreign direct investment are just the booster shot that the world economy needs.
This picture taken on 28 October 2020 shows a customer (right) scanning a QR payment code (centre in green) to pay at a restaurant in Beijing, China. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China will continue to dominate the e-commerce landscape in 2021

China will continue to flex its e-commerce muscles in 2021, predicts Associate Professor Chu Junhong from the NUS Business School. Expect a strong dose of cross-border e-commerce, live-streaming e-commerce, and more eye-catching short videos that promise great returns on “retailtainment”.