Opinion

Our experts on Asia guide you through the big issues facing the region
  1. As we move deeper into July, the effects of the national security law are already making themselves felt – not only within Hong Kong, but far beyond its borders, thousands of miles away in the territory’s former colonial ruler.Britain, which opposes the law, worries that the enactment of the law establishes a precedent for China to thwart British interests anywhere in the world.This is because, despite China’s furious assertions to the contrary, Britain sees its national interest as being…
  2. As the coronavirus situation in East Asia and Europe stabilises, countries are inventing a new vocabulary to describe their efforts to reopen borders. Many countries have begun the process, calling their policies “travel bubbles”, “travel corridors”, “air bridges” or “green lanes”. Australia and New Zealand announced a possible trans-Tasman bubble in early June, but implementation could be as far away as September with parts of Melbourne entering a new lockdown on July 4. On June 8, Singapore…
  3. ABDUCTING TAPPY One dark night in May of 2013, T-Mobile’s top smartphone testing robot ‘Tappy’ was abducted from its Bellevue lab and spent the night in the company of Huawei employees who were doing exactly what they had been told repeatedly not to do – try to copy it. Huawei was at the time trying to develop its own smartphone screen-testing robot and was apparently struggling. Its smartphones were not doing well in T-Mobile’s endurance tests. The robot’s tapping arm was returned in a…
  4. Back in July last year when the anti-government and anti-Beijing mass protests in Hong Kong were at their peak and turning increasingly violent, George Yeo, Singapore’s former foreign minister with a deep knowledge of China’s culture and politics, made an intriguing analogy between Hong Kong and the Monkey King Sun Wukong in the great Chinese classic Journey to the West.In the classical novel, the Monkey King is rebellious in nature and possesses magical powers, including the ability to travel…
  5. For a regional bloc well known for subtlety and nuance in its dealings, the chairman’s statement from last week’s 36th Asean Summit might have churned out some small surprises.Buried in the middle of two paragraphs, in wording not unfamiliar to keen watchers of past statements about the South China Sea disputes, is this line: “We reaffirmed that the 1982 Unclos [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] is the basis for determining maritime entitlements, sovereign rights, jurisdiction…
  6. Reaction from most Asian countries towards Hong Kong’s new national security law has been largely lukewarm if not downright muted, with the exception of Japan.On Tuesday China passed and enacted the new legislation which Beijing said will help the special administrative region restore stability after a year of social unrest.Japan’s immediate response was to say the move would erode international confidence in the “one country, two systems” principle. On Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary…
  7. The United States and China’s strategic competition for dominance and differences in their value systems have fuelled a strategic and ideological rift that has led to talk of a coming second Cold War.The Trump administration is convinced China wants to offer an alternative model and shape a world antithetical to the values and interests of the US.China on the other hand believes the US cannot accept it as a communist country and deep down wants to change its political system. There is no…
  8. Very few Singaporeans would remember M.P.D. Nair, a unique political figure long forgotten and reduced to the footnotes of history. He was a former opposition politician with the Workers’ Party (WP), who had the honour of being the best loser in the 1984 general election.Up till then in the island republic’s history, being the best loser was a meaningless title which would at best elicit a rueful sigh and a consolation toast from party comrades. But Nair was different.He was offered the chance…
  9. June is usually a period of revelry for many university students. Lecture halls and classrooms are emptied out as undergraduates finish their semester exams and dive into the summer break – a time filled with anything from holidays to internships.Unfortunately, we face a different reality today. In Singapore, university campuses have been empty for several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Lessons and tests have been held online, extracurricular activities have ground to a halt, and staff…
  10. In 1956, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev notoriously told Western ambassadors in Moscow: “We will bury you.” The statement was emblematic of the Cold War as an existential global struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union.There seems to be a consensus that the US and China are now in or heading toward a “new Cold War”. The phase has become a trope to describe the relationship, and not just by the lazy or historically illiterate. No less a personage than Henry Kissinger warns that…