How to win friends and influence people - Shinzo Abe style

AUGUST marks the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan (VJ Day) that finally brought closure to World War II. While Japan was a major US foe then, today Tokyo's importance in the Western alliance is of significant, and growing, strategic importance again.

'Landing zone' opens up for London and Brussels to reach Brexit deal

AMID all the pessimistic mood music of July's intensive rounds of Brexit talks, which concluded on Friday, a key, under-reported story is emerging. For despite continuing European Union-United Kingdom tensions, bilateral differences are narrowing to the point that a trade deal could be agreed in...

The Johnson rollercoaster could derail in the year of Brexit and virus

BORIS Johnson celebrates his first year in Downing Street this week. While he scored a huge election win last December, which could see him in office for much of the 2020s, the rollercoaster ride that his premiership is proving to be means his term could yet end far sooner.

Germany's Merkel could help secure EU breakthrough

PRESIDENTS and prime ministers from the EU-27 convene for their first face-to-face summit on Friday and Saturday since the coronavirus crisis began. The session is the first major test of the new leadership in Brussels to get big political deals "over the line", yet is also a legacy building...

Britain headed for double whammy of spike in virus cases and no-deal Brexit

ENGLAND'S latest round of lockdown lifting began on the weekend, with the multi-billion-pound hospitality sector re-opening its doors. Yet, amid this mini buzz of excitement, the nation could yet be heading for a "perfect storm" this Autumn - of coronavirus case spikes and a no-deal Brexit.

Will 'worst trade treaty' ride to Trump's rescue?

THE new United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA), one of the most comprehensive trade agreements outside the EU, comes into force on Wednesday. While the deal remains shrouded in deep political controversy, its achievement underlines the limits to the current deglobalisation era that has...

Trump reshuffles US ties with its Europe partners

DONALD Trump holds on Wednesday his first face-to-face meeting since the pandemic with a world leader, Polish President Andrzej Duda. His strong relationship with Mr Duda highlights the way that US policy toward Europe is being re-calibrated towards stronger ties with states like Poland that...

The Putin referendum will affect not just Russia, but the world

VLADIMIR Putin made his first public appearance over the weekend after more than a month of lockdown asserting that an "absolute majority" of Russians back his controversial plan to change the constitution to extend his term in the Kremlin. While the ballot is primarily being seen through the...

Trump's failure with North Korea might come back to bite him

TWO years on from his Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, US President Donald Trump's signature foreign policy initiative lies in tatters. Yet, while the president's grand diplomacy risks collapsing completely, there remains a significant possibility that several inter-Korean...

UK leads in coronavirus global response, despite Brexit introspection

BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson is making final preparations to host on Thursday a major international vaccine conference with the goal of raising at least US$7.5 billion. At a time when the United Kingdom has been widely seen to be withdrawing from the world with Brexit, this is only the...

HK, Huawei could 'deep freeze' UK-China ties

BORIS Johnson's government has begun a new review into the impact of allowing Huawei telecommunications equipment in UK 5G networks. While bilateral ties are chilly already, they now threaten to enter a "deep freeze" in the midst of a potential major British U-turn on this issue and the strains...

Don't write off globalisation just yet

COVID-19 is only the latest "earthquake" to buffet globalisation. However, it could prove to be the most potent force yet in reversing the post-Cold War era of open markets and borders that is already under pressure from political populism to the climate crisis.

Trump needs to harness soft power resources more

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump threatened last week to "cut off the whole relationship" with China, fuelling concerns of a new cold war. Yet, that historical analogy is far from perfect to describe the growing tensions between the two superpowers.

No-deal Brexit could be second shock for Europe in 2020

JUST as Europe gets over the peak of the novel coronavirus health crisis, a second major "shock" could be on the horizon: A new Brexit crisis is brewing between London and Brussels that could see talks collapse in May or June.

UK plan to lift lockdown shatters political consensus

BORIS Johnson unveiled on Sunday night his much-anticipated roadmap to ease the United Kingdom's lockdown.

Storm clouds gather as EU-China mark 45 years of diplomatic ties

THE European Union (EU) and China mark 45 years of diplomatic relations this week, with 2020 previously intended to significantly deepen bilateral relations sealed at an upcoming key summit in September. Yet, bilateral ties have been jolted by the novel coronavirus crisis leading to what has...

Near-term global conflict unlikely, despite decaying post-war order

THIS week marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) day, a momentous moment in World War II which remains the largest armed conflict in human history. Three quarters of a century on, while another great power conflict cannot be ruled out, the odds are currently lower than during the...

'Business as usual' is being transformed by pandemic

ONE of the consequences of the coronavirus crisis has been that a number of previously unthinkable political and economic outcomes have rocked the globe. Even a few weeks ago, few would have predicted the scale of change that has ensued from massive government intervention in many economies, to...

Boris Johnson faces pivotal decision on easing of UK lockdown

BORIS Johnson returns to full-time work this week, after a three-week coronavirus absence, to make the toughest decisions of his premiership. While Mr Johnson has much goodwill from the nation after his brush with death, the government is losing public support and he very quickly must make a big...

Pandemic digital disputes underline why firms need a foreign policy

FRENCH digital minister Cédric O on Tuesday became the first major government minister to publicly call for Google and Apple to weaken privacy protections around its coronavirus digital contact tracing system. The development underscores the apparently growing potential for businesses to become...

Why a chill is creeping into China-UK ties

UK FOREIGN Secretary Dominic Raab said at the weekend that UK-China ties cannot return to "business as usual" post-coronavirus. His warning underlines that it is not just relations between Washington and Beijing that have been strained by the pandemic, and that this could have major...

Covid-19 pandemic may cause another stormy decade

THE World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are gearing up for this week's annual spring meetings - this year conducted virtually - from Friday to Sunday. Amid one of the most rapid deteriorations in the global economy since at least the Great Depression, concerns are growing not just...

Can economic deal help EU weather coronavirus crisis?

EUROPEAN Union presidents and prime ministers are seeking to ratify in coming days a deal agreed by finance ministers last Thursday for a 500-billion-euro package to combat the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis. Yet, while this has been called the "most important economic plan" in EU...

Has coronavirus tide turned in Asia and Europe?

THIS week has seen growing optimism in Asia and Europe that the coronavirus crisis may have passed its peak there. Yet, while global markets have been buoyed by these developments from Wuhan to Western Europe, it is still too early to conclusively say that the tide has turned, even in these...

Why climate change cannot be deprioritised, despite Covid-19 crisis

UNITED Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday that climate change cannot be deprioritised by world policymakers - despite the novel coronavirus crisis. This comes only days after the UK government announced that this year's UN climate summit is being postponed till 2021,...