Yu Hong

Senior Research Fellow, East Asian Institute

Dr Yu Hong is a Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore. His research interests cover regional development in China, the Belt and Road initiatives, and the reform of state-owned enterprises. He has published widely on these topics. His research articles have appeared in many internationally refereed journals such as Journal of Contemporary China; Cambridge Review of International Affairs; Asian Survey; Asia Policy; Asian Studies Review; The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies; China: An International Journal and Asian Politics & Policy. Dr Yu has been frequently interviewed by both local and international media outlets on a wide range of topics. He obtained his doctoral degree from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

This photo taken on 23 May 2021 shows a sanitation worker receiving the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) Covid-19 vaccine in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China. (STR/AFP)

How Chinese vaccines are paving the way for China’s Health Silk Road

With the aggressive vaccine diplomacy that China has embarked on involving countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, Chile and Pakistan, the “Health Silk Road” that China has long envisioned seems to be falling into place. While vaccine aid should not be political, says Yu Hong, China’s efforts will benefit developing countries. But can China continue to be a global provider while balancing its domestic needs?
Iranians drive down a street in the capital Tehran, on 11 April 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

China-Iran deal complements the BRI, but faces Iranian domestic opposition and US sanctions

The recently signed China-Iran Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement will be a linchpin for China’s BRI in the Middle East, says Yu Hong. In the best-case scenario, it will be a win-win arrangement, providing Iran with the foreign investment it needs and China the oil supply and strategic influence it hopes to get. However, a number of challenges stand in the way including US sanctions and domestic opposition within Iran.
A general view shows a cargo ship and cranes at the port of Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China, on 24 March 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Can Biden’s new infrastructure plan rival China's BRI?

US President Joe Biden has suggested an alternative to China’s BRI — one that is enterprise-led, rather than country-led, bringing together democratic nations to help developing nations to upgrade their infrastructure. How attractive would this option be amid some countries’ fears that China is extending its influence through the BRI?
People wearing face masks are seen at a shopping area in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 7 December 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

RCEP: The benefits, the regret and the limitations

EAI academic Yu Hong notes that the RCEP will bring greater regional economic integration by increasing trade in Asia-Pacific and generating new business opportunities for companies in the 15 member countries of ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. China and ASEAN in particular, are well-placed to reap many of the benefits.
A general view of Chongqing, September 2019. (SPH)

Connecting Chongqing and Southeast Asia: Challenges and potential of China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative

Chongqing’s GDP accounted for 2.3% of China’s total GDP in 2019, and roughly 2.4% of China-ASEAN bilateral trade volume. As the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative (CCI) enters its fifth year, EAI academic Yu Hong looks at the CCI and its major project, the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (western corridor), and discusses the challenges the western corridor faces in building itself as the foremost connectivity channel between western Chinese and ASEAN enterprises.
A news report on Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech in the city of Shenzhen is shown on a public screen in Hong Kong, 14 October 2020. (Roy Liu/Bloomberg)

Xi's five-year plan for Shenzhen: A hard road ahead?

Shenzhen has grown rapidly over the past 40 years, such that its GDP reached a massive 2.7 trillion RMB in 2019. Just this month, the Chinese government released a five-year plan to make Shenzhen a “pilot demonstration area for socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Amid plans for reforms and new initiatives, EAI academic Yu Hong asks: How much autonomy will Shenzhen have, and what challenges will it face?
Workers labor at the construction site of an elevated highway on the outskirts of Shanghai, 12 June 2020. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Even as the US obstructs its way, how can China build trust for the BRI?

Yu Hong says while the US is mobilising all of its national strength to try to convince the international community to stand against the BRI, there are ways that China’s Belt and Road Initiative can have a second wind. As China rises to the challenge of advancing its “grand strategy” amid a global economy ravaged by Covid-19 and an increasingly hostile international environment, the key to solving its woes is in building trust. 
An Indonesian woman walks past a mural created by Indonesian artist Bayu Rahardian amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Depok on 16 April 2020. (Adek Berry/AFP)

Covid-19: Is deglobalisation on the cards?

The pandemic has exposed the flaws of a globalised world characterised by interconnectedness. Dr Yu Hong asks: "If there are no safeguards in place for risk control and management, would it still be in the interest of each country to pursue globalisation? Do the economic and trade benefits of globalisation outweigh the impact of its potential systemic risks? How should each country safeguard domestic public health while driving economic globalisation forward?"
Cambodian workers exit their factory as they take a lunch break in Phnom Penh, March 2, 2020. Cambodia's multi-billion-dollar garment industry is at risk of chain disruption from the Covid-19 breakout, as its impacts hammer on Southeast Asia's key industries. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Wake-up call for ASEAN countries: Curb over-reliance on China and seize opportunities of global supply chain restructuring

After this battle with the Covid-19 coronavirus, each ASEAN country should step up its emergency preparedness and national resilience capacities in dealing with similar pandemics. But health concerns aside, the outbreak also highlights the region’s high reliance on China in economics and trade. As global supply chains realign in the wake of the crisis, Southeast Asian countries should implement bold domestic reforms and vigorously develop their manufacturing sectors to be in the best position to reap the benefits.