Asian Insider: Taiwan tinderbox | Lottery fever

Dear ST reader, 

We hope you’ve been keeping well.

In our Asian Insider newsletter this week, China-Taiwan tensions stay high, with Beijing publishing a White Paper laying out its position on Taiwan. Over in Malaysia, the government of Ismail Sabri Yaakob faces a fresh scandal which could dent his ruling party Umno’s hopes of holding an early general election.

The Taiwan tinderbox

China has wrapped up its week-long military drills of unprecedented scale and intensity around Taiwan following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island last week. But Beijing has issued a stark warning: It will not tolerate any "separatist activities" and will take Taiwan by force if necessary.

Taiwan has rejected China’s stance and has since conducted its own military drills. Amid the heightened tensions, defence experts in Taipei have hashed out some possible invasion scenarios, writes Taiwan Correspondent Katherine Wei.

The worry remains that this episode signals a more confrontational relationship between Washington and Beijing, going forward. US Correspondent Charissa Yong and China Correspondent Danson Cheong look at how Mrs Pelosi's visit has affected the calculations of the US and China in their face-off over Taiwan. 

From Washington: China's show of force hardens US resolve to defend Taiwan 

From Beijing: Beijing is not ready for war, but it means business

Podcast: US calls China 'irresponsible' amid claims of attack rehearsals around Taiwan 

Read more: 

Taiwan's diplomatic victory over China could be pyrrhic in the long term 

Hong Kong taking cue from Beijing in its response to Pelosi's Taiwan visit 

Taiwan tensions mark a low in US-China relations, but it could have been worse

Chinese nationalists disappointed by Beijing's response to Pelosi's Taiwan visit

Asean wants US, China to cool tensions, which are hurting global economy 

Analysis: Chips and science law gives US boost as it competes with China  


Malaysia’s delayed ships

A multibillion-dollar scandal in Malaysia over long-delayed naval vessels has ignited a political firestorm that jeopardises ruling party Umno's hopes of holding an early election this year and winning it. 

Read more: Malaysia Finance Minister denies Budget will be brought forward to allow early election 

Podcast: Controversy over Malaysia's Budget 2023 and Navy scandal 

In the news: KL to end 5G negotiations this week; two Big Four telcos could miss out

Sign up for the Malaysia edition newsletter and follow us here for the latest developments from the country. 


Gotabaya Rajapaksa leaves Singapore for Thailand

Former Sri Lanka president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has left Singapore for Thailand, after he fled his island nation last month amid mass protests. Thailand confirmed it had received a request from the current Sri Lankan government for Mr Rajapaksa to visit the country. 

Read more: 

Sri Lanka's healthcare 'in a slow-moving crash' 

Sri Lanka crisis: How President Gotabaya's rule ended in a S'pore hotel 

Sri Lankans won't welcome ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa if he returns


Desperately seeking nurses

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on nurses, leading them to resign in record numbers across the globe. This has led to a severe shortage of nurses in hospitals. In this Asian Insider special report, find out why they quit and where some of them have gone to.

More on ST's Asian Insider special reports here.


Hot and cold for civil service jobs

Younger people in Japan and South Korea are shunning low-paying civil service jobs for a healthier work-life balance, report Japan correspondent Walter Sim and South Korea correspondent Chang May Choon. 

However, it is a different story in China and India, where youths are hoping to land government jobs amidst growing unemployment. India Bureau Chief Nirmala Ganapathy shines the spotlight on Bihar - one of India's poorest states - where centres offer coaching and mock tests for youths hoping to do well in civil service exams.


Shipping rates ease

Shipping fees are finally on the ebb now as port backlogs ease following the lifting of pandemic restrictions across countries. Although the rates have come down from their pandemic peak, they are still about double pre-pandemic levels, writes regional correspondent Jeffrey Hutton.


Asia's sprint queen Lydia De Vega dies

Track legend Lydia de Vega - once hailed as Asia's fastest woman and one of the Philippines' most decorated and beloved athletes - has died at the age of 57 after a four-year battle with breast cancer, reports Raul Dancel. Lithe and with movie star looks, she drew hordes of adoring fans. But it was her consistent performance on the tracks that turned her into a folk hero. 

In the news: Fidel Ramos restored the Philippines' credibility and self-respect


Lottery fever in Thailand

Thailand's love for the lottery reached fever pitch in June when the government launched the first sale of tickets online. However, the move has not gone down well with vendors who sell the paper lottery tickets, reports Thailand Correspondent Tan Tam Mei in the latest dispatch of Letter from the Bureau.


Elsewhere in Asia

Want more insights into fast-changing Asia from our network of correspondents? Get this article in your inbox by signing up here.