Dear ST reader,
US-China frictions and the war in Ukraine are set to take centre stage as Asia’s top security summit, the Shangri-La Dialogue, returns this weekend after a two-year break. The world is facing an inflation crisis, while in India, a diplomatic firestorm is brewing over officials’ remarks on Islam. Meanwhile, Thailand has been venturing with enthusiasm into the metaverse.
Asia’s top security summit returns
Asia's top security summit returns to Singapore this weekend after a two-year pandemic hiatus, with the first face-to-face meeting between American and Chinese defence leaders and Russia's invasion of Ukraine among the most anticipated items on the agenda. The Shangri-La Dialogue is expected to shed light on the United States' and China's thinking and posture in relation to the region, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is slated to give a special virtual address on Saturday. Catch all the latest news from the summit here.
Global inflation: The perfect storm
Food prices have risen spectacularly around the world as more countries set up trade barriers to protect their own supplies, adding to a confluence of disruptions already caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine and extreme weather due to climate change. The latest Asian Insider Special has Philippines correspondent Raul Dancel looking into what food staples have had their exports limited, and how the global inflation crisis may only get worse before it gets better.
Interactive: How ‘secure’ are your favourite nasi padang dishes?
Remarks on Islam sparks trouble for India
A big diplomatic firestorm is brewing for India, after comments on Islam by two ruling party officials sparked outrage in Gulf nations and calls for boycotts of Indian products. The government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have gone into damage control, punishing the two officials who made those comments and maintaining that the remarks were by “fringe elements”, India bureau chief Nirmala Ganapathy reports.
Thailand ventures into the metaverse
Big firms and start-ups in Thailand are jockeying to enter and build the metaverse world, allowing Thai Internet users to engage in a variety of immersive online activities ranging from touring durian orchards, grocery shopping at the supermarket to visiting the doctor in the hospital. The boom in these virtual trends, including non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrencies, have led the authorities to tighten regulations over them, Thailand correspondent Tan Tam Mei reports.
Hollywood's high-wire act with China
Before the movie Top Gun: Maverick made headlines for breaking box office records, it was in the news for a less welcome reason: eagle-eyed fans had spotted that its movie trailer had removed a Taiwan flag patch on movie star Tom Cruise's iconic bomber jacket. The scrutiny over that tiny change reflects the manoeuvres US film-makers have to undergo to satisfy American and Chinese audiences these days, US correspondent Charissa Yong writes in this week’s Power Play column.
Holiday gems in Jakarta
Whether you prefer strolling through kampung streets patronising the food-cart vendors, or partying at a fancy bar, Jakarta has something for everyone on any budget. A city of contrasts, the Indonesian capital lives up to its nickname, the Big Durian - thorny, but sweet, rich and unique on the inside. Click in for some holiday gems to explore and useful travel tips from Indonesia bureau chief Arlina Arshad. And get more travel ideas around the world from our correspondents in the ST First Flight Out series.
Other travel news: Quarantine rules for unvaccinated eased as South Korea opens up
Lessons from one of Hong Kong's last dai pai dong
In the latest Letter from Bureau column, a simple meal of instant noodles at one of Hong Kong’s last surviving traditional dai pai dong results in some profound lessons for Assistant Foreign Editor Magdalene Fung. These iconic street food stalls have dwindled drastically due to changing government policies over the past decades. But they hold a trove of treasured and deeply personal memories that many Hong Kongers can relive only by revisiting where they first played out.