Opinion

Our experts on Asia guide you through the big issues facing the region
  1. This year Indonesia and China will celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations. But the journey has not always been smooth sailing. When Indonesia broke off diplomatic ties in 1967, the relationship went into a deep freeze.Even when ties were restored in 1990, it took more than a decade until the two sides could sign a Strategic Partnership in 2005 (upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2013).Since then, Indonesia and China have enjoyed closer economic and diplomatic engagements…
  2. When it comes to crucial elections for the highest office, there is no place in the world where outside factors take precedence over local issues – other than in Taiwan.Mainland China’s increasingly hawkish attitude towards the island, Hong Kong’s anti-Beijing protests, and Washington’s support of the democratic aspirations in those two Chinese communities have all contributed to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) landslide victory in the just…
  3. The US president is not that keen on the government of Taiwan. In fact, he is about to cut the island loose and leave it to the Chinese Communist Party to do what they will with it. Beijing looks certain to be the deciding power on the island. Then, it scores an own goal, making a move that alienates much of the rest of the world and, perversely, saves Taiwan’s autonomous government. Not the story of the past year, culminating in Tsai Ing-wen’s decisive victory over Han Kuo-yu in last week’s…
  4. Since Donald Trump became the American president in January 2017, he has frequently called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping “a friend”, even throughout the on-off trade war between the world’s two largest economies over the past 18 months.At the ceremony on Wednesday when he and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He inked the phase one trade agreement, Trump, true to form, called Xi “a very, very good friend of mine” and promised to visit China “in the not-too-distant future”.Xi appears to have…
  5. As Indonesia faced off against China in the Natuna Sea earlier this month, it agreed to strengthen maritime cooperation with Japan, in a sign of how it intends to balance its ties with its largest foreign investors. On January 11, three Indonesian military vessels expelled more than 50 Chinese ships from its exclusive economic zone in the Natuna Sea off the coast of Borneo, after days of incursions in the fishing-rich waters bordering the South China Sea. A day earlier, Indonesian President…
  6. Regional trade and investment in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) cannot be discussed without reference to the larger world. From the earliest days, the people of Southeast Asia have been in continuous interaction with those of East Asia, South Asia and beyond.That larger world is again in flux. Facing the prospect of a competing superpower in China, the United States now defines its national interest in narrower terms. Many Americans no longer see the post-World War II…
  7. This week’s first-ever visit by a Chinese coastguard ship to Manila can be seen as a milestone in confidence building between two key claimants in the South China Sea, but it comes amid growing concerns over Chinese activities in the contested waters.Since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power, the Philippines and China have done much work on their coastguard diplomacy, establishing a two-way consultation mechanism that has convened five times in three years, proposing a joint resource…
  8. America’s assassination of Iran’s second-most powerful commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, has sparked fears of a war in the Middle East.But it is not just the United States that risks getting drawn into a conflict, given the emerging Moscow-Beijing-Tehran axis.Days before the US strike on January 3 – which also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of Iraq’s Kataib Hezbollah militia group – China and Russia completed unprecedented joint military drills with Iran. Further evidence of…
  9. Does Beijing’s unorthodox appointment of a hardened provincial politician with no relevant experience as its top envoy to Hong Kong signal a reset of its approach and policy towards a city that has been embroiled in its biggest crisis in decades?That question, and the possible implications of the answers, have been the talk of the town since the surprise announcement last Saturday of Luo Huining’s appointment as the new director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong.Hong Kong…
  10. Tiananmen Lite visited Delhi on Sunday night and left a trail of blood at one of India’s most famous universities amid a growing student protest against moves by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government’s new citizenship initiatives.Unlike the crackdown in Beijing three decades ago, however, it came without tanks or assault rifles. Instead, the state crackdown on dissenting students in the Indian capital hid itself in the anonymity of masked strangers wielding sticks, rods…