Asian Insider: Fresh US-China tensions | Earth Overshoot Day

Dear ST reader, 

All eyes are on the call between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden amid fresh tensions between the world's two largest economies.

Today is Earth Overshoot Day, when mankind has used up its allowance of natural resources such as water, soil and clean air for all of 2022. The Straits Times looks at the crisis and some of the solutions.

Fresh US-China tensions

When US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping make that long-awaited phone call today, the world will be looking out for signs on how the conversation will steer US-China relations already fraught with issues such as Taiwan and the South China Sea. 

Tensions heightened this week after reports of a planned trip to Taiwan by US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Despite the Biden administration saying the visit was "not a good idea", signs are increasingly pointing to Mrs Pelosi going ahead with her plan, writes US bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh.

Read more: Worries mount as US conservative hawks say Pelosi should visit Taiwan

Opinion: US being predictably unpredictable on Taiwan

On the South China Sea, a US official warned that the Chinese military's actions in the contested waters risked a major incident in the region, reports US correspondent Charissa Yong.

China, on the other hand, said the South China Sea is not a "safari park" for powers outside the region, reports China correspondent Elizabeth Law.


Living like we have 1.75 Earths

Rapid population growth, rising demand for food and materials, and consumer lifestyles are pushing nature to the brink. Mankind is living well beyond its means, like it needs 1.75 Earths. This special report looks at where things are headed and what can be done about it.

ST Explains: What is Earth Overshoot Day, and how is it calculated?

Analysis: Humanity’s demands pushing planet to its limits

Interactive: How many earths would we need if everyone lived like Singaporeans?


Election season?

Malaysia's Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz will be appointed treasurer of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional’s Selangor chapter on Sunday, reports bureau chief Shannon Teoh in this ST exclusive. This paves the way for the ex-CIMB boss to fly the ruling party’s flag at the next general election due in a year.

In a sign that elections may be around the corner, Malaysia's Parliament today passed a landmark Bill to ban party-hopping.

ST Explains: All you need to know about Malaysia’s anti-party hopping law

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said that the government continues to work on legislative reforms outlined in the deal between his administration and opposition bloc Pakatan Harapan, even though the accord to hold off dissolving Parliament expires this Sunday.

In this Saturday's Asian Insider special, ST Malaysia bureau examines the factors at play and how prepared the parties are as election season draws near.

Sign up: Asian Insider Malaysia edition


Jokowi in East Asia

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is on a whistle-stop tour of China, Japan and South Korea this week. 

On Tuesday, he became the first foreign head of state to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping face-to-face since February. During the meeting in Beijing, Mr Xi sought Mr Widodo's support in upholding “open regionalism”, as Beijing steps up efforts against Washington’s push to marshal regional countries against China. 

In Tokyo yesterday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that Japan will take part in a multinational military exercise in Indonesia for the first time next month, another sign of US allies ramping up efforts to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

In his final stop in Seoul today, Mr Widodo and President Yoon Suk-yeol agreed to step up cooperation in areas such as defence and infrastructure, including the relocation of Indonesia’s capital.

Podcast: Indonesia, China vow stronger ties


Gota going home?

Sri Lanka's ousted ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who arrived in Singapore two weeks ago, has had his short-term visit pass extended by another 14 days.

Gota, as he is known in Sri Lanka, is likely to face charges of graft and war crimes, and encounter a new wave of protests should he return to the crisis-hit country, reports India correspondent Rohini Mohan.


New security challenges

For Japan, the war in Ukraine has highlighted the importance of hybrid warfare and altered its security calculations as Tokyo faces a regional security environment that it describes as the worst since World War II, writes correspondent Walter Sim in this week's Power Play column.


Vanishing beaches

From Tioman Island to Port Dickson, beaches across Malaysia are battling the problem of land loss due to coastal erosion. Studies have shown that 15 per cent of Malaysia’s beaches shrink by more than 4m annually, reports correspondent Hazlin Hassan.



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