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Policy Brief: Abe and Modi: Nationalist Leaders versus Nationalist Leadership

ModiAbeThe issue of nationalism in Asia has gained attention in recent years as two new nationalist leaders—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi—came into office with aspirations to play a greater role in shaping the regional economic and security order. How does nationalism affect the foreign policies of the world’s third-largest economy and its largest democracy? This question was addressed by Richard Samuels, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Deepa M. Ollapally, Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Research Professor of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University (GWU), at a Rising Powers Initiative conference on “Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: A Resurgence of Nationalism?” held on November 18 at GWU. (more…)

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Policy Alert: SAARC Summit Spurs Debates on Regional Integration in South Asia

saarc2On November 26-27, leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka gathered in Kathmandu to attend the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit. Under this year’s theme of “regional integration,” leaders sought to conclude three much-expected, showpiece agreements concerning road, rail, and power connectivity, aimed to boost the intra-regional trade for the energy-starved region. However, they fell short of expectations and were only able to agree on the energy deal. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from India and China on the outcomes of the SAARC summit.

INDIA

Expectations for the SAARC summit were high in India given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise invitations to the leaders of SAARC member states to his inaugural ceremony in May, a decision that has stood out as a “game changer.” Indian commentators especially focused on the summit’s economic promises for South Asia, whose intra-regional trade is less than 5% of its total trade and accounts for less than 2% of its GDP. (more…)

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Policy Alert: Ferguson Protests Spark Reactions from Rising Powers

policyalert_fergusonProtests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, and spread across the country after a grand jury on November 24 decided not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown. This triggered nationwide discussions about racism in American society. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, and Brazil on the Ferguson incident.

CHINA

China, a frequent target of US criticism over its human rights record, used the Ferguson incident to blast the United States for what the Chinese media deemed “human rights violations.” (more…)

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Policy Alert: Asian Powers Discuss Their Foreign Policies Post Regional Summits

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stands near Russian President Vladimir Putin after officially welcoming him to the G20 leaders summit in BrisbaneFollowing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing two weeks ago, world leaders participated in a number of multilateral forums, including the East Asia Summit in Naypyidaw, Myanmar and the G-20 in Brisbane, Australia, as well as bilateral and trilateral meetings with allies and partners. The leaders sought to expand their interests and influence in the region as they discussed issues ranging from regional economic integration to international security. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Russia, China, India, and Japan on the implications of this summit diplomacy for the regional order.

RUSSIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin left the G20 meeting early in response to repeated criticism from Western leaders over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. Putin said his decision to fly home had nothing to do with tensions over Ukraine and cited a need to catch up on sleep before returning to work. The majority of Russian media was supportive of Putin, praising him for defending Russia’s national interests. (more…)

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Policy Brief: Nationalism and Chinese Foreign Policy

chinese nationalismIn recent years, observers in the Asia and the West have raised concerns about how nationalism will affect the trajectory of China’s rise. While awareness of nationalism’s role in shaping a country’s identity and foreign policy has grown, the phenomenon is by no means a recent occurrence, particularly in China’s case. The historical roots of Chinese nationalism and its manifestations in Chinese foreign policy were examined by David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University (GWU), at a Rising Powers Initiative conference on “Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: A Resurgence of Nationalism?” held on November 18 at GWU. (more…)

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Policy Alert: Asian Powers Comment on the 2014 APEC Summit

apec2014Over the past several days, world leaders gathered in Beijing to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, where they discussed regional economic integration, including China’s proposal of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). On the sidelines, many bilateral summits were held among the participating nations, including a much-awaited meeting between China and Japan. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and India on the outcomes of these diplomatic meetings.

CHINA

China played an active role at APEC summit, proposing a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), pledging $40 billion USD to set up a Silk Road Fund to strengthen connectivity and improve cooperation in China’s neighborhood, launching the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) designed to fund infrastructure projects in underdeveloped Asian countries, and Chinese president Xi Jinping holding bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit with U.S. president Barack Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Chinese media responded positively to outcomes of the APEC meeting, defending China’s activities at the summit as part of its “peaceful rise” strategy. (more…)

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Policy Alert: Brazil’s Presidential Elections and Reactions from Rising Powers

Dilma RousseffOn Sunday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff won her second term in a hotly contested runoff election against the center-right Social Democratic Party’s candidate Aecio Neves. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Brazil, China, Russia, India, and Japan on one of the tightest races in Brazil’s politics in recent years.

BRAZIL

Brazilian media focused on the unusually heated and polarizing campaign, the apparent regional divide between the poorer north and richer south, and the negative reaction of international markets to Dilma Rousseff’s victory over Aécio Neves in Sunday’s second round. (more…)

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A New Indian Foreign Policy Under Modi?

Modi for John blog postAstute readers will recall Betteridge’s law of headlines—an answer to any question in a headline is always no.  ­India’s foreign policy—seen through its history, grand strategy, elites, and institutions—operates in an enduring and narrowly defined band of elite consensus, and therefore will likely not change under the new leadership.

Narendra Modi’s successful campaign focused on economic growth through reform, good governance, and courting of investment—he sold himself as a man who would make Indians forget about the disappointing growth and corruption of the second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of Manmohan Singh.  Modi has a track record as a proud Hindu nationalist, albeit a pragmatic one who recognized the foundation of India as inclusive and secular. During his campaign, he downplayed the earlier divisive communal rhetoric of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) and its spiritual well-spring, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) (a right-wing Hindu nationalist group Modi is a member of).

With the new Modi administration, will there be a dramatic reorientation of foreign policy and relations with China and the United States? As part of a sequel, this first blog post tackles this question by examining India’s history, grand strategy, and foreign policymaking institutions and inputs. Relations with China will continue to be marked by bilateral engagement (economically and diplomatically) and hedging (multilateral engagement and self-strengthening), both driven by India’s relative weakness. Modi’s energy and focus have brought new optimism in America, but the relationship will still be shaped within the contours of strategic autonomy, special sensitivity, and capacity constraints. This is a challenging relationship for both the United States and India—as proud and occasionally dissenting equals—to manage.  The second blog post will further analyze these bilateral relationships under the Modi administration. (more…)

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RPI Scholar Rajesh Rajagopalan: U.S.-India Ties In Need of Serious Help

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets President Barack Obama at White House. (Source: Press Information Bureau)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets President Barack Obama at White House. (Source: Press Information Bureau)

Rajesh Rajagopalan, a participant in RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia and Worldviews of Aspiring Powers projects and professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, delved into the state of U.S.-Indian relations after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United States. In his article for the East-West Center’s Asia Pacific Bulletin, Rajagopalan lamented what he saw as strained ties after years of both sides “busily dug their relationship into a hole.” Despite the U.S.-India nuclear energy cooperation agreement signed almost a decade ago, Rajagopalan felt India’s “foolish” nuclear liability law “negated the key benefits” of the deal and will unlikely be resolved anytime soon. Furthermore, the scholar sensed that India and U.S. allies in Asia were increasingly doubting “Washington’s dependability” as the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia strategy falls short of its intended goals.

Rajagopalan offers some guarded optimism for the future after Modi’s visit: strong personal rapport between Modi and Obama as well as several high-level diplomatic efforts to jumpstart the relationship. He concluded “what all this suggests is a decidedly mixed picture, with some scope for optimism but also a healthy respect for the still unchanged rhythm of the U.S.‐India relationship.”

To read the full article, click here.

The Rising Power Initiative’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project will continue to explore the role of nuclear issues in the U.S.-India relationship. Follow the project on Twitter at@Westmyer or visit the project website at http://www.risingpowersinitiative.org/projects/nuclear-debates/.

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Policy Brief: Can ASEAN Sell Its Nuclear Free Zone to the Nuclear Club?

nukefreezoneOn November 13-14, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein will host the East Asia Summit, the apex of his country’s debut as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Myanmar has inherited a daunting agenda, notably the need to move ASEAN toward completion of an economic community and to maintain dialogue with China on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, however slowly. At the beginning of the year, Myanmar had set as one goal for its chairmanship persuading the five permanent members (P-5) of the U.N. Security Council to sign the protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty, in which they would promise to uphold the treaty’s principles. This has been a continuing but elusive goal for ASEAN since SEANWFZ went into force in 1997.

In this Policy Brief, Catharin Dalpino, Contract Course Chair in Southeast Asian Studies at the Foreign Service Institute and Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall University’s Washington program, discusses whether the ASEAN countries will be able to sell the SEANWFZ to the P-5 nations. She argues that “there is scant evidence that Myanmar will be able to meet its self-imposed goal this year – none of the P-5 has signed the protocol – but the prospects in the future are by no means dim.”

Read the full Policy Brief here

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