Archive for June, 2015

Policy Alert: South China Sea Disputes is at Center of Debates by Asian Powers

As the United States and China meet this week for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, territorial disputes in the South China Sea will be near the top of the agenda. This event follows last month’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore where U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and several other Asian powers expressed strong concerns over China’s now completed island-building reclamation efforts in disputed waters.

This Policy Alert is the first in a series on Energy and Maritime Security for the Rising Powers Initiative’s new project: The Linkages between Energy Security and Maritime Strategies in the Indo-Pacific. The research effort looks at how energy security debates shape and influence maritime strategies and vice-versa in China, India, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam and the implications of these linkages for U.S. policy toward the region.

UNITED STATES

Secretary Carter’s address to the Shangri-La Dialogue presented his vision for a “regional architecture” to tackle five major challenges: “long-standing rules and norms, strengthening our institutions, modernizing alliances, enhancing capabilities and improving connectivity.” (more…)

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Three Anti Sentiments Driving China’s Partnership with South Korea

South Korea’s joining of the AIIB on April 11 and signing of the China-ROK FTA on June 1 signified China and South Korea’s growing interdependence under Presidents Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye, whose two summits since 2013 were an early affirmation of the upgraded China-ROK partnership.  Yet in the first half of 2015, this heightened optimism gave way to recurring tensions over South Korea’s military alliance with the United States, reinforcing what many identify as Seoul’s biggest strategic dilemma of how to balance ties with the two major powers.  Underlying such tensions, however, are China’s own dilemmas on the Korean peninsula, as reflected in current debates on the evolving Sino-South Korean relationship.  Three anti sentiments are shaping China’s orientation toward South Korea, namely anti-US alliance, anti-North Korea, and anti-Japan sentiments. (more…)

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RPI Author David Shambaugh: China’s Soft Power Push

RPI Author David Shambaugh recently published an article in Foreign Policy’s July/August 2015 Issue entitled, “China’s Soft Power Push: The Search for Respect.” He writes:

foreignpolicyDSAs China’s global power grows, Beijing is learning that its image matters. For all its economic and military might, the country suffers from a severe shortage of soft power. According to global public opinion surveys, it enjoys a decidedly mixed international image. While China’s economic prowess impresses much of the world, its repressive political system and mercantilist business practices tarnish its reputation. And so, in an attempt to improve perceptions, Beijing has mounted a major public relations offensive in recent years, investing billions of dollars around the world in a variety of efforts.

Although Beijing’s publicity blitz began in 2007 under President Hu Jintao, it has intensified under President Xi Jinping. In October 2011, as Xi was preparing to take power, the 17th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) devoted a whole plenary session to the issue of culture, with the final communiqué declaring that it was a national goal to “build our country into a socialist cultural superpower.” And in 2014, Xi announced, “We should increase China’s soft power, give a good Chinese narrative, and better communicate China’s messages to the world.” Under Xi, China has bombarded the world with a welter of new initiatives: “the Chinese dream,” “the Asia-Pacific dream,” “the Silk Road Economic Belt,” “the Twenty-First-Century Maritime Silk Road,” “a new type of major-country relations,” and many others. It is easy to dismiss such talk as “slogan diplomacy,” but Beijing nonetheless attaches great importance to it.

In China, “propaganda” is not a derogatory term. (more…)

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Policy Alert: MERS Outbreak in South Korea Sparks Reactions from Asian Powers

mersThe Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in South Korea has killed 16 people and infected nearly 150 in the largest outbreak outside of the Middle East. In this Policy Alert, we examine reactions from South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia to the MERS outbreak.

SOUTH KOREA

South Korean authorities have placed more than 5,200 people nationwide under isolation to impede the transmission of the virus. Meanwhile, one of South Korea’s largest hospitals has suspended many of its services after being identified as the source of almost half the cases. South Korea’s economy has also suffered from the outbreak, with over 100,000 canceled tourist visits to the country and decreased department and retail store sales. (more…)

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