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RSIS-CAES International Relations Exchange Workshop
09 Sep 2021
Kannan Reghunathan Nair

On 9 September 2021, RSIS in partnership with the Center for Asia-Europe Studies (CAES), Xian-Jiaotong University, held the inaugural International Relations Exchange workshop, which is a platform for scholars from the two institutes to exchange views. The virtual workshop saw scholars exchanging perspectives on pressing issues such as the US-China competition, Sino-Indian relations, the evolution of China’s ties with Europe, and China’s public diplomacy with respect to overseas Chinese affairs.

The first of the three panels included two presentations. Associate Professor Liu Jing from CAES discussed China’s public diplomacy efforts with respect to overseas Chinese affairs before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. She pointed out that the pandemic had in fact made little impact on overseas Chinese societies, contrary to growing xenophobic attitudes in Western countries towards the ethnic Chinese. In the second presentation, Associate Professor Hoo Tiang Boon from RSIS highlighted the impact of US-China competition on Southeast Asia. He assessed that the US-China power rivalry may yield transient advantages for ASEAN but the long-term effects will entail costs to the organisation.

The second panel featured Dr Sinderpal Singh, Senior Fellow at RSIS, and Li Jiasheng, Associate Professor from Xian-Jiaotong University. The panel yielded different perspectives on Sino-Indian relations and their regional impact. Dr Singh identified a shift in India’s China policy since 2014, when Narendra Modi came to power, with more vocal diplomacy, in contrast with the Manmohan Singh government’s quiet diplomacy. Prof Li Jiasheng posited that although India sees China as a threat, that threat is an imagined one. He argued that border disputes are not the mainstay of China-India relations and concluded that the future of China-India relations depended on India, not China.

The third panel discussed the European Union’s ties with both China and the ASEAN countries. Feng Guangyi, Associate Professor at Xian-Jiaotong University, called for mutual acknowledgement of concerns between EU members and China, and pointed out the existence of common thinking, objectives, and interests in their interactions.  Dr Yeo Lay Hwee, an Adjunct Fellow at RSIS, outlined the evolution of the EU’s ties with ASEAN. She highlighted similarities in the EU and ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific strategies and identified possible areas of cooperation such as (i) ocean governance (ii) strengthening connectivity and (iii) strengthening regional organisations by endorsing ASEAN centrality and the EU’s strategic autonomy.

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