BRI

A vendor grills bananas across buildings under construction in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 6 January 2021. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

No more easy money: Will BRI projects in Southeast Asia slow and stall?

A new study suggests that official Chinese lending has dropped in recent years. This stems from lessons learnt after a decade of mistakes in overseas lending. How would this affect Belt and Road Initiative projects in Southeast Asia?
Members of Indonesian Trade Unions carry giant handcuffs during a protest against the government's labor reforms in a "job creation" bill in Jakarta, Indonesia, 10 November 2020. (Willy Kurniawan/REUTERS)

Indonesia: Why China-funded companies are targeted by the anti-Jokowi camp

Recently, a Chinese subsidiary nickel factory in Konawe, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, was crippled by fiery worker protests. This latest incident in a string of labour protests in Indonesia may seem to be about discontent among Indonesian workers at their treatment by China-funded companies. However, ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata says that there may be more to the stoking of anti-Chinese sentiment than meets the eye.
Students display their paper cutting portraits of the late former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong ahead of his 127th birthday which falls on 26 December, in Lianyungang in eastern China's Jiangsu province on 23 December 2020. (STR/AFP)

Multilateralism will work only if nations share the same values

Values underpin multilateral cooperation, asserts economics professor Zhu Ying. The Chinese case is no exception. Their international engagement has been driven by values, whether in the early period of “leaning to one side” and becoming an ally of the Soviet Union, or the present “multilateralism with Chinese characteristics” held up by mechanisms such as the BRI. Question is, what incentive does the international community have to meet them halfway?
Visitors walk on the Bund in Shanghai, China, on 21 December 2020. China’s central bank is striking out on its own with signals of tighter monetary policy, widening a divergence with other large economies that will shape global capital and trade flows next year. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

How China’s dual circulation strategy will affect the world economy

In May this year, China’s leaders proposed a new dual circulation strategy featuring both domestic and international circulation, with emphasis on the former. Associate Professor Gu Qingyang of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) notes how this new strategy will complement the current global economic system, and how it will affect the rest of the world.
This photograph taken on 8 December 2020 shows a vendor steering her boat while looking for customers at the Damnoen Saduak floating market, nearly deserted with few tourists due to ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus travel restrictions, some 100km southwest of Bangkok. (Mladen Antonov/AFP)

What Southeast Asia wants from the impending Biden presidency

ISEAS academics Malcolm Cook and Ian Storey note that Southeast Asia would welcome a Biden administration policy towards Asia that is less confrontational and unilateralist, and firmer and more action-oriented. The region's governments prefer the new US administration to adopt a less confrontational stance towards China and lower US-China tensions. But while they welcome increased US economic and security engagement with the region, they are less enthusiastic about Biden’s emphasis on human rights and democracy.
Military personnel walk past a banner promoting the ASEAN summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, 11 November 2020. (Kham/Reuters)

Former Chinese Vice-Minister He Yafei: Singapore and ASEAN have important roles to play in a multipolar world

Professor He Yafei, a former vice-minister at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered the keynote address at the Lianhe Zaobao Singapore-China Forum on 3 December. He touched on the imperatives of a new multipolar world, highlighting that being economically close to China, but relying on the US for security protection, is not going to work for the Southeast Asian region. He also spoke about Singapore and China working together bilaterally, for instance in terms of China’s new dual circulation economy, as well in the regional and international arena. Below is the edited transcript of his speech and QnA.
US President-elect Joe Biden listens as he holds a video conference meeting with members of the US Conference of Mayors at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, US, 23 November 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Now more than ever, Southeast Asia values a firm American security presence

President-elect Joe Biden will restore a more traditional style of diplomacy to the US, but domestic considerations will weigh heavily on American foreign policy — and Washington’s approach to Southeast Asia.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a bridge across the Bassac river in Phnom Penh on 26 October 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Cambodia needs to avoid putting all its eggs in the Chinese basket

Cambodia’s post-pandemic foreign policy is constrained by the need to sustain its economic growth while maintaining independence and sovereignty, amid the challenge and uncertainty caused by the growing strategic competition between China and the US. Academic Kimkong Heng says Cambodia needs to refrain from actions that appear to serve China’s core strategic interests, proactively engage all strategic partners, and walk a diplomatic tightrope between China and the US.
Ambassador Hong Xiaoyong says that at this crucial juncture, there is a greater need for a close alignment of development strategies between China and Singapore, and to work together for the future. (Graphic: Jace Yip)

Chinese ambassador Hong Xiaoyong: New journey for China’s development; new opportunities for China-Singapore cooperation

China's next phase of development will focus on achieving high-quality development and building a modern socialist country, says China's ambassador to Singapore, Hong Xiaoyong. Much attention will be paid to fostering innovation and green growth, and in pursuing a coordinated approach in building prosperity for the Chinese people. China will also continue to engage the world through its dual circulation strategy, turning the China market into a market accessible to all. In these efforts, there are many opportunities for Singapore and China to work together, building on their years of cooperation and synergies. Ambassador Hong wrote this article in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Singapore.