Archive for August, 2015

Policy Alert: Rising Powers React to ‘Black Monday’

policyalert_blackmonday2A near-9 percent dive in China shares sent world stocks and commodity prices tumbling on Monday amidst deepening concerns about a China-led global economic slowdown and crashing commodities prices. This Policy Alert examines reactions from China, India, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and Russia to the ‘Black Monday’ stock turmoil.

CHINA

Following a poor week that saw an 11-percent drop in its market value, Chinese stocks nosedived again on Monday with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plummeting 8.49 percent to close at 3,209.91 points, the sharpest decline in more than eight years. (more…)

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Policy Alert: ASEAN Meetings Spark Reactions from Asian Powers

policyalert_ASEAN2015_flagA series of ASEAN meetings including the 22nd ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) took place from August 1-6 in Kuala Lumpur. Concerns over territorial disputes in the South China Sea came under the spotlight at these meetings, with ASEAN’s foreign ministers struggling until the eleventh hour to issue a joint statement. In this Policy Alert, we examine reactions from China, Russia, India, Japan, and South Korea to last week’s ASEAN meetings.

CHINA

Chinese media defended accusations by other nations regarding China’s land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. (more…)

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Tensions in Japan-China Relations over the East China Sea Could Exacerbate in Coming Years

For long, Japan-China relations have largely been acrimonious due to historical and territorial factors. Despite strong economic ‘bonhomie’, the two countries have failed to resolve these disputes amicably. The situation could deteriorate further in coming months following the release of Japan’s latest Defense White Paper expressing strong concern over China’s ‘coercive’ maritime advances in the East and South China Seas. The White Paper expresses strong opposition to the ongoing construction of new gas fields by the Chinese near the median line between China and Japan in the East China Sea region. These constructions have raised strong economic and security concerns within Japan. On the other hand, China has taken few steps to assuage Japanese concerns while maintaining a critical stance on Japan’s White Paper.  Such developments could widen the gulf between the two countries further.

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Dangers of Anti-Foreign Nationalism in China

Popular anti-foreign sentiments have been an important part of modern China’s historical interactions with the outside world, from the Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the 20th century to nationwide street protests against Japan in 2012. In recent years, nationalism has been cited as a key factor in the PRC’s more assertive foreign policy behavior. Some commentators have argued that popular nationalism is increasingly intense, and that officials may be increasingly responsive to public pressure. It is true that such sentiments play an increasingly important role, but the reasons have little do with either increasing levels of nationalism amongst the populace or official responsiveness to public opinion. Instead, this influence stems from the contradictions of party propaganda, a narrowing in the sources of Party legitimacy, and the content (or more accurately, vacuity) of modern Chinese nationalism itself. Together, these factors make anti-foreign nationalism in China even more worrisome than previously thought.

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What’s So New About Xi Jinping’s Silk Road Diplomacy?

A dominant theme in China’s current diplomacy is the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, aimed to promote economic integration and “connectivity” across Asia, Europe, and Africa.  Since its introduction during President Xi Jinping’s visits to Central and Southeast Asia in 2013, Beijing has identified the initiative as its highest foreign policy priority in 2015 and most important new driver of national opening.  The National Development and Reform Commission, Foreign Ministry, and Ministry of Commerce released an action plan for the initiative in March, pushing ahead various new bilateral and multilateral deals in support of the plan, most notably the AIIB, whose charter was signed in Beijing last month.

But what is so new about Xi Jinping’s Silk Road diplomacy?  To many Chinese, “One Belt, One Road” marks a new, advanced phase in China’s reform and opening since 1978.  On the other hand, outside observers have raised alarm over the strategic intentions behind what is perceived as an effort to reconstruct the postwar international order in competition with the United States.  Such concerns, however, distract attention from the long-term significance of the Silk Road initiative, which ties together China’s enduring foreign policy goals and domestic development priorities.

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Policy Alert: “Philippines v. China”: The Next Round of Energy and Maritime Disputes in the South China Sea

Protesters call for China to cease alleged restrictions on Philippines in the disputed waters (Souce: Getty Images/Dondi Tawatao)

Protesters call for China to cease alleged restrictions on Philippines in the disputed waters (Souce: Getty Images/Dondi Tawatao)

The launch of a UN arbitration tribunal on the China-Philippines maritime dispute has Asian powers watching closely as these debates unfold. From July 7 to 13 at The Hague, the Philippine delegation argued China violated the Philippines’s rights to exploit waters within a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as established by the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The treaty – which set rules on countries’ exercise of maritime activities – counts China, the Philippines, ASEAN countries, and many others as member-states. Sea-lanes through the South China Sea account for $5 trillion in trade every year. Therefore, the case could have a significant impact on many Asian nations, including Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam who attended the hearing as formal observers.

While Beijing refused to formally participate in the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) – the chosen UNCLOS dispute resolution mechanism – Chinese officials have taken opportunities to state their case through formal and informal channels, raising legal questions about whether China can dip its toes in the water without getting drowned by the tribunal’s verdict. Before the tribunal can begin to consider the case, the PAC will first decide if it has jurisdiction over the dispute in question before a later possible hearing to determine the legal merits of the Philippine complaint.

This Policy Alert — written by Timothy Westmyer, the program and research assistant at the Sigur Center, is part of our 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. (more…)

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