Just like when it suffered diplomatic isolation after the 1989 crackdown, China will need its Asian neighbours to weather growing tensions with Trump’s America.

The upcoming Asean-oriented summits in Singapore will bring both opportunities and risks to China’s diplomacy. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang can use the occasions to woo support from Asian countries as a countermeasure against US pressures from the “trade war”. However, China might face some diplomatic setbacks over the South China Sea as well as infrastructure investments in the region.

China needs its neighbours to avoid a new cold war.

After the 1989 Tiananmen incident, the West led by the United States imposed economic sanctions against China. Beijing experienced diplomatic isolation in the international community for more than a year. It broke this diplomatic blockade by improving relations with Southeast Asian countries. In August 1990, China resumed its suspended diplomatic relationship with Indonesia. In October of the same year, China established diplomatic ties with Singapore. Japan was the first major economy to lift economic sanctions against China. To a considerable extent, it is Asian countries that helped China weather Western sanctions some 30 years ago.

This time, the conundrum China faces is seemingly different, but also quite similar. The escalating trade war between the US and China could be the start of a new cold war between the countries.

Please click here to read the full “China needs its neighbours as US threatens a new cold war” article at South China Morning Post, written by Griffith Asia Institute member, Professor Kai He.