It has been nearly two decades since a Chinese head of state visited its southernly neighbour. The last time a Chinese head of state set foot in Myanmar, the country was still under full military rule and the capital was still Yangon. China was yet to be admitted as a WTO member and the champion of globalisation was still hiding its strength and biding its time.
On 14th January, the 15th round of the ‘China-Japan Strategic Dialogue’ was held in Xi’an, the ‘Terracotta Army’ city of China’s Shaanxi province. The mechanism is one of the few communication channels that remain active between the two countries: in addition to this Dialogue and regular diplomatic exchanges, the ‘China-Japan High-Level Economic Dialogue’, the ‘China-Japan Security Dialogue’ and the ‘China-Japan High-Level Political Dialogue’ make up for the entire system of bilateral consultations between Beijing and Tokyo.
South East Asia is set to be a key driver of global economic growth in the coming decades, with Indonesia alone projected to be the world’s fourth biggest economy by 2050. Vietnam and the Philippines, each with approximately 100 million people and fast-growing economies, will likely emerge as middle powers themselves. While Thailand and Malaysia have begun to age and are battling to avoid middle-income traps, they are already large, globalized economies.
A traditional stronghold for the US ‘pivot to Asia’, South East Asia has recently been on the receiving end of China’s courtship display. The conflicting messages conveyed by the US and China have also been aggravating the electoral challenges that many South East Asian states are currently facing. In particular, general elections in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have offered new evidence of the type of political transition that the region is en route to complete.
The more you discuss with China, the better you will understand each other. The more you cooperate with China, the more incentives Beijing will have to pursue a liberal reform agenda. So went the underlying logic of “constructive engagement”, an unofficial approach taken by the EU vis-à-vis China for the most part of the last two decades.
As the first-ever Russia-Africa summit made headlines around the world in the past few weeks, the comparison between the Russian and the Chinese approach to Africa was recurrent. It originated in the fact that both China and Russia are not Western countries, both have seemingly ‘returned’ to Africa in the 21st century for economic and political reasons, both advocate a non-interference approach in the internal affairs of other countries and both are perceived as great powers in international relations.
During his state visit to Russia in June 2019, Chinese leader Xi Jinping together with president Vladimir Putin oversaw several signings of investment cooperation agreements between Chinese and Russian companies. These documents promised over a billion dollars worth of Chinese foreign direct investments (FDI) in Russia in the years to come.
“The Monroe Doctrine is alive and well”, proclaimed former US National Security advisor John Bolton in April 2019, re-invoking an old vestige of American foreign policy dating back to 1823. A time when an infant United States was attempting to affirm its sphere of influence south of the Rio Grande, declaring that any interference in the region from European powers would be recognised as an unfriendly act against Washington.
The Fourth Plenary Session of the Communist Party of China (CPC) — better known as the ‘Fourth Plenum’ — is one of the most anticipated events in China’s political life. Yet, it is also one of the most secretive. Traditionally, the Fourth Plenum has been dealing with Party governance and the socialist system. In the past, fourth plenums have made history. At least, for China.