Dear ST reader,
A potential war looming over Ukraine has put the world on edge, including Asia. At the Olympics, teenage skiing gold medallist Eileen Gu – bred in the United States but representing China – has sparked heated debate. And Malaysia’s new political party Muda is proving to be an interesting addition into the mix ahead of the Johor state polls.
Asia on edge over Ukraine
A potential war in eastern Europe – the simmering conflict on Ukraine’s border with Russia – has cast a cloud over Asia with significant consequences for the region that risks getting caught in the crossfire, ST correspondents report in the latest Asian Insider special.
China is aligned with Russia, but unlikely to support any Ukraine invasion. India’s walking a tightrope between Moscow and Washington. Taiwan and Japan are watching closely and treading carefully, while in Australia – influenced by its Western ties – there’s a growing sense that war may be inevitable. Ukraine, meanwhile, remains calm.
Follow global affairs correspondent Jonathan Eyal’s analyses as he examines the latest developments on the Ukraine crisis.
Olympics: The Eileen Gu enigma
China’s teenage ski champion Eileen Gu didn’t become an Olympic gold medallist and media darling overnight by chance. Many of her biggest life decisions stemmed from her mother, China correspondent Elizabeth Law reports.
Born and bred in the US, Gu’s move to represent China in the Games – and the national response to it – are challenging the notions of what it means to be Chinese, China correspondent Danson Cheong writes in the weekly ST Power Play column. It has also sparked debate over China’s apparent double standards over Gu’s nationality.
Malaysia’s new party in the mix
Malaysia’s new political party Muda, looking to contest in the upcoming Johor state elections, has laid bare the tribalism across the country’s political landscape, Malaysia bureau chief Shannon Teoh writes. The youth-centric party, which stands opposed to the current government, has received flak from other opposition members after recruiting a diverse – and controversial – group of figures into its top leadership committee.
Meanwhile, the Pakatan Harapan coalition is struggling to realise its “big tent” - or united front - approach for the opposition, Malaysia correspondent Ram Anand reports.
More on the Johor polls:
America’s Indo-Pacific strategy
The US has unveiled a broad strategy for deeper engagement with the Indo-Pacific, professing that the region’s freedom and openness is of utmost importance to American interests, US correspondent Charissa Yong reports. US President Joe Biden says he wants to grow America’s relationship with the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean).
A recent survey of South-east Asian nations shows that the US has gained significant ground against China in the battle to win friends and influence countries. But getting the balance right will be tricky for Mr Biden, and there remains the risk of distractions at home and elsewhere down the road, writes Joseph Chinyong Liow.
Xi’s order for Hong Kong
The possibility of a wider coronavirus lockdown in Hong Kong has risen dramatically after Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the city’s government to “use every necessary measure” to contain a rapidly spreading Omicron-led outbreak, Hong Kong correspondent Claire Huang reports. The city’s entire 7.4 million population is set to undergo three rounds of mandatory Covid-19 testing from early March.
Japan’s amazing vending machines
Japan’s vending machines are making a comeback as they evolve beyond just dispensing drinks and light snacks. From Korean ginseng chicken soup to caviar and even special surprises, the newfangled machines are offering more than just convenience, Japan correspondent Walter Sim writes in the weekly Letter from Bureau column.
More from Japan: Feel the spiritual power of Japan’s remote islands