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.

A general view of the China-funded Kipevu Oil Terminal at Mombasa Port in Mombasa on 6 January 2022. (AFP)

China wants to win the world over with the BRI, but something's amiss

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has gone beyond just infrastructure projects to other areas such as digital development, health and green energy. In the face of negative perceptions of China, Beijing has sought to show its commitment to forging a multilateral BRI that would generate benefits for all participating countries and not China alone. But do old habits die hard?
A railway worker checks shipping containers at the Altynkol railway station near the Khorgos border crossing point on the border with China in Kazakhstan, 26 October 2021. (Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters)

China's BRI carrots for Central Asia come with potential pitfalls

China-Central Asia relations have been growing for mutually beneficial reasons, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a chief conduit of that. Projects have gone beyond just infrastructure to other areas such as health and digital development. But the Central Asian countries will have to navigate possible pitfalls in order to reap the benefits while minimising the threats to national sovereignty and risk of social backlash.
Pedestrians cross a busy intersection in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong on 4 January 2022. (Peter Parks/AFP)

China's grand plans to further integrate Hong Kong and Macau. Will they work?

The Hengqin Plan and Qianhai Plan released by the Chinese central government aim to deepen economic cooperation and promote cross-border integration within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA). The Plans will involve greater integration of Hong Kong and Macau with the mainland. While Macau has always embraced this trajectory and the Hengqin Plan could bring greater dynamism to the SAR, Hong Kong’s fears of “mainlandisation” and the territorial instincts of mainland cities may present some obstacles to the Qianhai Plan. EAI academic Yu Hong tells us more.
This photo taken on 4 December 2021 shows the China-Laos Railway international freight train departing from Chongqing International Logistics Hub Park. (CNS)

The China-Laos railway: How Laos can make the most of its hefty investment

The China-Laos railway linking China’s Yunnan province to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, was officially opened in December 2021. This mega project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative is expected to improve connectivity and stimulate the economy but Laos has incurred hefty external debt to achieve this, says EAI academic Yu Hong. The railway alone is also just the hardware; the Laotians will have to do more to make the best of its investment.
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.