Zhai Kun

Zhai Kun

Professor, School of International Studies, Peking University

Zhai Kun is a professor at the School of International Studies, the associate dean of the Institute of Area Studies, and a research fellow at the Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Peking University. He is also an expert and eminent person (EEP) of the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the deputy director of the Global Center for Lancang-Mekong River Studies. His research interests include China's international strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Southeast Asia. He has established a leading interdisciplinary research team to systematically carry out academic and applied research on BRI. He is also the founder and convener of the BRI Big Data Innovation Application Alliance.

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.
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 view of the Mekong river bordering Thailand and Laos is seen from the Thai side in Nong Khai, Thailand, 29 October 2019. (Soe Zeya Tun/REUTERS)

Chinese academics: Mekong must not become second South China Sea

China said that it would share year-round hydrological information of the upper Mekong with downstream countries during the recently concluded 3rd Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting held via video conference. Will this help assuage fears that China is using the control of water flow in the Mekong as a lever, literally, to exert greater influence on the CLMVT (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand) countries in ASEAN? Chinese academics Zhai Kun and Deng Han warn that China and Southeast Asian countries must be wary of external forces politicising matters in the Mekong region.