Richard Heydarian

Richard Heydarian

Richard Javad Heydarian is Asia-based academic, currently a Professorial Chairholder in Geopolitics at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and author of, among others, “The Indo-Pacific: Trump, China and the New Struggle for Global Mastery”.

Latest from Richard Heydarian

Opinion | RCEP is a good thing for global trade but will it stand the test of time? That’s doubtful

The important issues of non-tariff barriers, unbalanced terms of trade and the increasingly digitalised and protectionist economic environment are not addressed. In short, the RCEP exposes all the limitations of a traditional trade agreement.

The important issues of non-tariff barriers, unbalanced terms of trade and the increasingly digitalised and protectionist economic environment are not addressed. In short, the RCEP exposes all the limitations of a traditional trade agreement.

10 Jan 2022 - 8:45AM
Opinion | Will US shadowboxing with China in Southeast Asia reap rewards in 2022?

In 2021, the US has reset frayed relations with Asean, institutionalised defence and strategic cooperation with fellow Indo-Pacific powers, and effectively countered China’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ in Asia. The Biden administration may end up disappointing regional allies if it doesn’t follow through next year.

In 2021, the US has reset frayed relations with Asean, institutionalised defence and strategic cooperation with fellow Indo-Pacific powers, and effectively countered China’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ in Asia. The Biden administration may end up disappointing regional allies if it doesn’t follow through next year.

27 Dec 2021 - 9:15AM
Opinion | China-US rivalry: how Vietnam’s deft balancing act keeps it from having to pick sides

Hanoi has shunned overreliance on any foreign power and enhanced its defensive capabilities by developing a global network of partnerships. Thanks to its strategy, a self-reliant Vietnam is neither too dependent on, nor fully vulnerable to, any superpower.

Hanoi has shunned overreliance on any foreign power and enhanced its defensive capabilities by developing a global network of partnerships. Thanks to its strategy, a self-reliant Vietnam is neither too dependent on, nor fully vulnerable to, any superpower.

18 Dec 2021 - 9:15AM
Opinion | How ‘poisonous shrimp’ Singapore became the US’ undeclared ally in Asia

The city state has deftly fortified strategic ties with the West while remaining a trusted interlocutor to and top investor in China. Although it was overlooked for the US’ upcoming democracy summit, Singapore remains America’s most reliable strategic partner in Southeast Asia.

The city state has deftly fortified strategic ties with the West while remaining a trusted interlocutor to and top investor in China. Although it was overlooked for the US’ upcoming democracy summit, Singapore remains America’s most reliable strategic partner in Southeast Asia.

6 Dec 2021 - 2:41PM
Opinion | End of Duterte’s presidency could signal era of more moderate Philippines foreign policy

The Philippines has seen a major overhaul of its strategic orientation, but the wild policy swings of the last six years could soon be a thing of the past. Duterte’s successor will face pressure to adopt assertive, calibrated foreign policy towards China and the US.

The Philippines has seen a major overhaul of its strategic orientation, but the wild policy swings of the last six years could soon be a thing of the past. Duterte’s successor will face pressure to adopt assertive, calibrated foreign policy towards China and the US.

20 Nov 2021 - 9:15AM
Opinion | Malaysia’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ and expanded defence ties show it’s no pushover in the South China Sea

Despite years of building warm ties with China, Malaysia looks to be hedging its bets and resisting Beijing’s growing footprint. Deft diplomacy and deepened defence ties with external powers have helped it carve out space to uphold its interests,

Despite years of building warm ties with China, Malaysia looks to be hedging its bets and resisting Beijing’s growing footprint. Deft diplomacy and deepened defence ties with external powers have helped it carve out space to uphold its interests,

5 Nov 2021 - 10:30AM
Opinion | US-Philippines alliance back on track as Duterte’s China charm offensive crumbles

After years of Duterte pledging separation from the US and courting China, Manila and Washington appear to be on good terms again. Unfulfilled Chinese promises, maritime incidents involving Chinese vessels and pro-US advocacy within the government have changed Duterte’s tune.

After years of Duterte pledging separation from the US and courting China, Manila and Washington appear to be on good terms again. Unfulfilled Chinese promises, maritime incidents involving Chinese vessels and pro-US advocacy within the government have changed Duterte’s tune.

23 Oct 2021 - 8:45AM
Opinion | How the Aukus ruckus exposes the rifts between US allies in Southeast Asia

While France and the EU have raged against the deal, Southeast Asia will feel its geopolitical impact the most. The potential presence of nuclear submarines in Southeast Asian waters has rekindled fears of the region being a theatre for great power competition.

While France and the EU have raged against the deal, Southeast Asia will feel its geopolitical impact the most. The potential presence of nuclear submarines in Southeast Asian waters has rekindled fears of the region being a theatre for great power competition.

30 Sep 2021 - 9:15AM
Opinion | As India aligns itself with the West, is it entering a cold war with China?

After decades of uneasy peace, China has stepped up its territorial claims, while India has abandoned non-alignment in favour of robust ties with the West. An uptick in patriotic populism in China and India has also increased the appetite for territorial assertiveness.

After decades of uneasy peace, China has stepped up its territorial claims, while India has abandoned non-alignment in favour of robust ties with the West. An uptick in patriotic populism in China and India has also increased the appetite for territorial assertiveness.

15 Sep 2021 - 4:15AM
Opinion | 3 reasons Afghanistan withdrawal could ruin US influence in Southeast Asia and beyond

Biden’s decision to press ahead with leaving Afghanistan was meant to free up US resources for full-spectrum competition with China. However, polarised domestic politics, doubts over US commitment and worries about terrorism emanating from Afghanistan could all backfire.

Biden’s decision to press ahead with leaving Afghanistan was meant to free up US resources for full-spectrum competition with China. However, polarised domestic politics, doubts over US commitment and worries about terrorism emanating from Afghanistan could all backfire.

31 Aug 2021 - 10:21AM
Opinion | Could tensions with China threaten Indonesia’s tradition of superpower diplomacy?

China’s rapid ascent and the threat of a Sino-US cold war are making Indonesia’s pragmatic balancing increasingly difficult. Anti-Chinese sentiment, heated domestic politics and the Natuna Islands dispute could push Jakarta into Washington’s embrace.

China’s rapid ascent and the threat of a Sino-US cold war are making Indonesia’s pragmatic balancing increasingly difficult. Anti-Chinese sentiment, heated domestic politics and the Natuna Islands dispute could push Jakarta into Washington’s embrace.

20 Aug 2021 - 9:15AM
Opinion | In US-China tussle over Southeast Asia, America must do more than speak softly and carry a big stick

Turbocharging its diplomacy is not enough. The US will have to boost its trade and military footprint in the region, as well as vaccine diplomacy.

Turbocharging its diplomacy is not enough. The US will have to boost its trade and military footprint in the region, as well as vaccine diplomacy.

3 Aug 2021 - 2:38AM
Opinion | To woo Asean, Russia needs to offer trade, not just arms

Over the past decade, Moscow has consciously pursued its own pivot to Southeast Asia, hoping to exploit booming markets and the space opened up by intense US-China rivalry in the region.

Over the past decade, Moscow has consciously pursued its own pivot to Southeast Asia, hoping to exploit booming markets and the space opened up by intense US-China rivalry in the region.

24 Jul 2021 - 8:45AM
Opinion | Japan can be a dynamic alternative to superpower hubris – just ask Southeast Asia

As a pre-eminent middle power with sufficient autonomy and resources, Japan can help prevent conflict between the US and China. Not only did Japan, under Abe, rescue the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it has offered a constructive alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

As a pre-eminent middle power with sufficient autonomy and resources, Japan can help prevent conflict between the US and China. Not only did Japan, under Abe, rescue the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it has offered a constructive alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

7 Jul 2021 - 8:00AM
Opinion | Why the US-led response to China’s belt and road is a cause for celebration, not alarm

The Blue Dot Network and Build Back Better World initiatives signal constructive competition among superpowers for the hearts and minds of the world. They can bring about better investment options for developing nations and help reduce geopolitical competition.

The Blue Dot Network and Build Back Better World initiatives signal constructive competition among superpowers for the hearts and minds of the world. They can bring about better investment options for developing nations and help reduce geopolitical competition.

25 Jun 2021 - 5:30AM
Opinion | Why Biden has been a disappointment to Southeast Asia so far

While Asean policymakers welcomed Biden’s election, four months into his presidency, Southeast Asian nations feel they have been largely frozen out. In contrast, Chinese leaders have maintained robust communications with their regional counterparts.

While Asean policymakers welcomed Biden’s election, four months into his presidency, Southeast Asian nations feel they have been largely frozen out. In contrast, Chinese leaders have maintained robust communications with their regional counterparts.

8 Jun 2021 - 9:43AM
Opinion | How Biden’s broken Middle East policy will complicate the US’ Indo-Pacific pivot to compete with China

The tragedies in the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan underscore the fragility of Biden’s efforts to disengage from the region. Unless the US radically overhauls its Middle East strategy, it will struggle to compete with China in the Indo-Pacific.

The tragedies in the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan underscore the fragility of Biden’s efforts to disengage from the region. Unless the US radically overhauls its Middle East strategy, it will struggle to compete with China in the Indo-Pacific.

24 May 2021 - 3:34AM
Opinion | How the Myanmar coup and South China Sea disputes are deepening Asean’s irrelevance

With Myanmar heading into a full-blown civil war and the South China Sea a powder keg of disputes, Asean’s ineffectual leadership has never been more obvious. Asean’s insistence on consensus sounds good on paper, but in practice it is a recipe for institutional dysfunction.

With Myanmar heading into a full-blown civil war and the South China Sea a powder keg of disputes, Asean’s ineffectual leadership has never been more obvious. Asean’s insistence on consensus sounds good on paper, but in practice it is a recipe for institutional dysfunction.

12 May 2021 - 10:59AM
Opinion | Little sign of Duterte’s promised ‘separation’ from the US as China-Philippines relations crumble

The pivot to China has stalled amid unfulfilled promises of Chinese investment and contentious interactions in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the Philippine-US alliance is growing stronger as anti-China sentiment rises ahead of the 2022 election.

The pivot to China has stalled amid unfulfilled promises of Chinese investment and contentious interactions in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the Philippine-US alliance is growing stronger as anti-China sentiment rises ahead of the 2022 election.

23 Apr 2021 - 5:18AM
Opinion | Why US and China’s push to set up rival power blocs are likely to fail

China’s biggest ally Russia has concerns about Beijing’s influence in its backyard while US allies in the Asia-Pacific favour neutrality and maintaining Chinese ties. Meanwhile, the middle powers from Japan and India to Australia and the EU have every incentive to prevent a ‘digital iron curtain’ and outright war.

China’s biggest ally Russia has concerns about Beijing’s influence in its backyard while US allies in the Asia-Pacific favour neutrality and maintaining Chinese ties. Meanwhile, the middle powers from Japan and India to Australia and the EU have every incentive to prevent a ‘digital iron curtain’ and outright war.

10 Apr 2021 - 1:57AM
Opinion | US-China relations: how superpower cooperation in three areas can overcome Alaska acrimony

Despite the fire and fury on display at their recent meeting, both sides have ample reason to explore a ‘grand bargain’.They must address the trade and tech wars, rising military tensions and existential threats such as climate change and Covid-19.

Despite the fire and fury on display at their recent meeting, both sides have ample reason to explore a ‘grand bargain’.They must address the trade and tech wars, rising military tensions and existential threats such as climate change and Covid-19.

24 Mar 2021 - 2:39AM
Opinion | Why Biden’s plans to turn the Quad into an anti-China Asian Nato are far from assured

There are doubts over long-term US foreign policy direction and what Washington could offer economically against China’s trade and investment inducements. An Asian Nato is becoming more likely, but the future of the Asian order is still up for grabs.

There are doubts over long-term US foreign policy direction and what Washington could offer economically against China’s trade and investment inducements. An Asian Nato is becoming more likely, but the future of the Asian order is still up for grabs.

17 Mar 2021 - 2:28AM
Opinion | A Biden administration that’s tough on China faces three main challenges in Southeast Asia

Biden officials favour a refined version of Trump’s strategy in Asia. However, they face shaky alliances, scepticism about US foreign policy and an increasingly dominant China, which has brought tangible economic benefits to the region.

Biden officials favour a refined version of Trump’s strategy in Asia. However, they face shaky alliances, scepticism about US foreign policy and an increasingly dominant China, which has brought tangible economic benefits to the region.

18 Feb 2021 - 11:16AM
Opinion | Why Biden needs to pursue ‘strategic empathy’ with the Philippines

As part of a multilateral approach to constrain rivals such as China, Russia and Iran, Biden will solicit support from its treaty allies. While the Philippines has been a pivotal part of US projection of power in the Indo-Pacific, the future of the alliance is in doubt.

As part of a multilateral approach to constrain rivals such as China, Russia and Iran, Biden will solicit support from its treaty allies. While the Philippines has been a pivotal part of US projection of power in the Indo-Pacific, the future of the alliance is in doubt.

13 Nov 2020 - 9:50AM
Opinion | Scepticism rises in Philippines about Chinese projects and Duterte’s support of them

Concerns are growing, especially within the military, that large-scale Chinese investment is a Trojan horse.

Concerns are growing, especially within the military, that large-scale Chinese investment is a Trojan horse.

17 Feb 2020 - 3:21PM
Opinion | As Indonesia stands up to China, who will follow in Southeast Asia?

Richard Heydarian writes that major Southeast Asian nations are beginning to resist China

Richard Heydarian writes that major Southeast Asian nations are beginning to resist China

17 Feb 2020 - 8:06PM
Opinion | Twilight of Duterte presidency might also mean last days of Philippines’ long entanglement with the US

US human rights sanctions against leader’s inner circle far outweigh affinity between the straight-talking populists in Manila and Washington.

US human rights sanctions against leader’s inner circle far outweigh affinity between the straight-talking populists in Manila and Washington.

17 Feb 2020 - 8:46PM
Opinion | What will Beijing do now that Malaysia has discovered the art of the deal in the South China Sea?

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad piles another problem on China with sovereignty claim that pushes into heart of disputed waters.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad piles another problem on China with sovereignty claim that pushes into heart of disputed waters.

29 Dec 2019 - 10:58PM
Opinion | Beijing unlikely to back down over South China Sea despite growing international pushback

Despite growing resistance from rival nations, Xi Jinping’s tough stance is unlikely to change in the year ahead.

Despite growing resistance from rival nations, Xi Jinping’s tough stance is unlikely to change in the year ahead.

21 Dec 2019 - 11:33PM
Opinion | Do military leaders hold the keys to peace for China and the US?

Tensions between the two powers have been rising, but the heads of the Pentagon and PLA are keen to ensure the conflict does not become militarised.

Tensions between the two powers have been rising, but the heads of the Pentagon and PLA are keen to ensure the conflict does not become militarised.

15 Dec 2019 - 10:50PM