US President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Situation Room at the White House in Washington, US, 18 March 2022. (The White House/Handout via Reuters)

Xi Jinping's answer to Washington's expansionist moves in Asia and the world

Chinese President Xi Jinping has suggested a “balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture” to manage the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to ensure stability regionally and worldwide. He seems to suggest that the balance of national interests, not balance of power, is better at promoting a regional order for Asia or East Asia too.
An undated handout photo released on 29 March 2022 by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) shows a China Police Liason Team officer (centre) training local RSIPF officers. (Handout/RSIPF/AFP)

China-Solomon Islands security pact: Alarm bells ringing for Australia and New Zealand?

Dr Anne-Marie Schleich, a former German ambassador to New Zealand, explains why Australia and New Zealand are worried about a new security deal inked between China and Solomon Islands. Have they not been paying enough attention to their own backyard?
An undated handout photo released on 29 March 2022 by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) shows China Police Liason Team officers training local RSIPF officers. (Handout/RSIPF/AFP)

Will China-Solomon Islands security cooperation bring new tensions to the South Pacific?

The new policing and security agreements between China and the Solomon Islands have neighbouring countries such as Australia and New Zealand anxious about the potential militarisation of the region. Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong warns that small island nations in the South Pacific must be careful about choosing sides so as not to become pawns in great power competition.
JGSDF and JMSDF during TS21 (TalismanSabre) in Australia. (Japan Ministry of Defence)

Tacking towards Australia: Japan's move to diversify its security and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

Amid Chinese criticism of the recent Quad Foreign Ministers' Meeting as an act of "outdated Cold War mentality", Japan is drawing closer to Australia in a bid to have greater flexibility as it builds up a range of security and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Nonetheless, it believes that dialogue with China is necessary to truly improve the regional situation, says Japanese academic Shin Kawashima.
French President Emmanuel Macron waves at the Elysee Palace in Paris on 28 February 2022. (Ludovic Marin/AFP)

France's Indo-Pacific strategy in creating a multipolar global order

Considering itself part of the Indo-Pacific on the grounds of history and overseas territories, France has released its Indo-Pacific strategy to guide its international action in this region. It has an active naval diplomacy and about 8,000 French soldiers permanently deployed in five military bases across the region. And while it lacks the capacity to provide extensive financial or military assistance to countries in the Indo-Pacific, it can offer knowledge and expertise in environmental and climate security and in the governance of territorial waters. Crucially, France is keen to convey that its vision for an inclusive Indo-Pacific offers a third path that moves beyond the current Sino-US bipolarity. 
US President Joe Biden hosts a virtual roundtable at the White House in Washington, US, 22 February 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Can the US keep its promises in Southeast Asia?

Under President Joe Biden, the US seems to be stepping up its engagement of Southeast Asia, not least with frequent mentions of the region in the US’s new “Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States” document, say Chinese academics Zhai Kun and Yuan Ruichen. However, countries in the region should question whether the US will deliver on its promises and really has the capacity to further their development goals. This flurry of activity may in fact just be another means of containing China with the region’s buy-in.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) and Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (right) shake hands after a bilateral meeting at Camp Aguinaldo military camp in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, 30 July 2021. (Rolex Dela Pena/Pool via Reuters)

Mind the gaps, fill the needs: A strategic outlook for the Philippine-US alliance

The Philippines begrudgingly notes the disparity of treatment across US alliances in Asia, as well as Washington’s shift to enhancing engagements with non-treaty partners, such as visits by top US leaders to Singapore, Hanoi, Seoul, and Tokyo, while leaving out Manila. Washington has also shifted to enhancing engagements with alliances such as AUKUS, even as Philippines-US cooperation seems to be deficient in several areas and in security, greatly focused on counter-terrorism operations in Mindanao. Academic Julio S. Amador III says the Philippines must step up to play its part and articulate its key interests better.
In this file photo taken on 3 November 2021, activists rally in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, California, calling for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics due to concerns over China's human rights record. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP)

Beijing Olympics diplomatic boycott: Does China care?

Following the announcement of the US’s diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Australia, the UK, and Canada have also joined the boycott, while New Zealand has cited the pandemic as its reason for not sending ministerial-level officials to the Games. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong examines the moves by these countries, and notes that perhaps the real reason for the US boycott has more to do with US-China competition and the need to play to the domestic gallery. And while China has reacted strongly to the boycott, is it truly concerned?
Sailors assigned to the submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) return home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, April 2017. (US Navy/flickr)

Submarines overcrowding the South China Sea: A major accident could happen

In early October, the US submarine USS Connecticut hit an "uncharted seamount" underwater, prompting an investigation leading to the removal of the captain and two officers. However, this is not the only incident involving US Navy vessels, which only underscores issues such as operational demands in keeping up with China's activities, as well as the fact that the South China Sea is indeed becoming congested with submarines, with little communication between various users. ISEAS academic Ian Storey tells us more.