Asian Insider: China’s new top diplomat | Indonesia’s Queen of Slay

Dear ST reader, 

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s press conference on the sidelines of the Parliament’s annual meetings on Tuesday was packed. And with good reason. It was his first public outing, and ears were pricked for what he had to say, in particular on China’s relationship with the United States. Our China bureau chief Tan Dawn Wei got him to shed some light on the so-called wolf-warrior diplomacy that had defined how China conducts its affairs with other countries in recent years - and whether this is set to continue. His answer: he is ready to dance with wolves.

A full house - on social media - is what Indonesian celebrity chef Vindy Lee is used to as well. She speaks to Indonesia bureau chief Arlina Arshad about how she schools her followers of nearly 1 million on Tik Tok in the finer art of table manners.


Dances with wolves

Does China’s new foreign minister and former Wimbledon umpire Qin Gang herald a gentler style of Chinese diplomacy after his abrasive predecessor (and now boss) Wang Yi? Some wondered if there would be any softening of tone towards the US to dial down tensions, as China looks to prioritise rebooting its economy in the coming year.

Well, Mr Qin put paid to that notion, as he evoked a slew of metaphors to warn of catastrophic consequences if the US continues down its “wrong path” in trying to contain China. Here is one more: “In Chinese diplomacy, there is no shortage of kindness and generosity. But when the hungry wolves are coming in droves, you must be ready to dance with them." 

Together with strongly-worded criticisms by Chinese Xi Jinping on Monday singling out the US for “all-round containment, encirclement and suppression of China”, the rhetoric out of Beijing this week underscores just how tense the US-China relationship has become.

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The park where Chiang Kai-shek statues are sent to crumble away

Meanwhile, across the Taiwan Strait, there has been much chatter about the island’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu’s recent visit to Washington. It was the first time – at least publicly – that Taiwan’s top diplomat was visiting the US capital area since 1979, when Washington switched official diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing. 

Taiwan correspondent Yip Wai Yee notes that as the relationship between the US and China sours, Taiwan under President Tsai Ing-wen's government is emerging as a beneficiary of diplomatic manoeuvring, though detractors said such developments inflame cross-Strait ties.

Wai Yee did a little side-trip herself - to a park in Taoyuan city. There, some 200 statues of the same man - Chiang Kai-shek, Taiwan’s longest-serving head of state - stand, some in a circle, like old friends talking to one another. This park is where unwanted statues of Chiang were placed after being gradually removed from schools, commercial buildings and public parks across the island, and a reflection of the man’s complicated legacy.

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Eat durian with a spoon

SPH Brightcove Video
Indonesian chef Vindy Lee gives correspondent Hariz Baharudin some pointers on how to eat durian in a formal setting.

Ever wanted to know how you can eat durian dripping with elegance? Well, now you can. Indonesia influencer-etiquette guru-celebrity chef Vindy Lee, otherwise known as Queen of Slay, shows us how. She explains that she conducts her tutorials on table manners on her social media platforms in an effort to democratise such knowledge. In Indonesia, etiquette lessons are expensive. 

She says: Only the atas people get this kind of access. Why should this be the case? Why can’t this be free?”

Signing India’s first “living will”

It is a difficult topic for a son or a daughter to talk about to a parent in India, says Dr Nikhil Datar. But he wants to get the conversation going - on instructions to others on what to do including withdrawing medical intervention when he is terminally ill. Last month, the 53-year-old gynaecologist and obstetrician formalised a “living will” - reportedly India’s first - after the country relaxed rules on doing so. India Correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta examines the challenges involved. 

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