In the Summer 2014 issue of Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs, RPI authors Deepa Ollapally and Robert Sutter explore the implications of economic ties and security rivalries in the Sino-Indian and Sino-American relationships, respectively.
In “China and India: Economic Ties and Strategic Rivalry,” Deepa Ollapally examines how well theories of economic and interdependence and structural realism explain the India-China divergence between growing economic relations and continuing strategic mistrust. Her article looks at the Indian side and argues that we need to go beyond economic and strategic factors, and brings in a more contingent approach based on domestic elite discourse and thinking. The article suggests that a more nuanced and complex debate on China is emerging in India than that posited by interdependence or realism, a debate that is framed by what the nationalist, realist and globalist schools of thought, with the latter two groups currently holding the center of gravity.
Robert Sutter continues the discussion regarding integration and divergence in “China and America: The Great Divergence?” arguing that although there have been many sources of tension in U.S.-China relations since the Cold War, they generally have been held in check by circumstances that have inclined the governments to cooperate. Nonetheless, the multi-faceted U.S.-China relationship remains fragile. Given the complicated situations, such frameworks as the contemporary “great divergence,” and forecasts based on them, have proven to be incomplete and incorrect.
The full Orbis issue can be found on their website.Continue Reading →
Announcing his Cabinet decision to enable Japan to exercise its collective self-defense rights, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the public that the new security policy will serve as deterrence and ensure peace. This explanation, however, overlooks the fact that a robust military posture could also trigger a security dilemma and invite conflict. Abe must explain to his people and neighbors how he will address the potential negative aspects of the new policy.
On July 1, the Abe administration announced a historic revision to Japan’s pacifist postwar security policy. It provided a new constitutional interpretation that will enable the country to exercise its collective self-defense rights, meaning that the Japanese force can now defend friends and allies under attack for the first time in history. Prime Minister Abe explained the new policy as one of deterrence, which will prevent aggression and ensure peace in today’s rapidly changing international security environment. Some Japanese newspapers supported Abe’s views.
“Deterrence maintains peace.” The logic is by no means a new one. It underlines balance-of-power politics throughout history, as well as the U.S. military “rebalancing” toward Asia, or more specifically, toward a rising China. The logic also applies to Japan’s new defense policy. “The most important thing is that this [collective self-defense] makes it possible for us to work more closely with countries in the region to maintain the balance of power and deterrence vis-à-vis China,” explains Narushige Michishita, director of the Security and International Studies Program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo.
The logic tells only half the story, however. The other half of the story is this: deterrence can also invite conflict. One’s purely defensive military posture can appear offensive and trigger the adversary’s assertive reaction, which in turn sets off a negative spiral of security competition that can ultimately lead to war (remember World War I). Military efforts alone cannot solve this so-called “security dilemma.” Diplomatic efforts are necessary to avoid such unnecessary conflict. (more…)Continue Reading →
The 2014 World Cup games came to a close on Sunday, July 13 after an exciting final match between Germany and Argentina. In our latest Policy Alert, we examine commentary on how the games played out for Brazil, China, Russia, India, South Korea, and Japan.
Host nation Brazil finished a disappointing fourth in the tournament, punctuated by a humiliating 7-1 defeat to eventual champion Germany in the semi-finals. Concerns about overtaxed infrastructure, unfinished stadiums and massive protests leading up to the games proved unfounded, as the tournament proceeded with relatively few setbacks. (more…)Continue Reading →
Nuclear Debates in Asia project scholar Dr. Hui Zhang recently wrote an analysis piece for PacNet exploring the expanded U.S.-Chinese cooperation on nuclear security. While China was reluctant to address nuclear security challenges before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Dr. Zhang argued leaders in Beijing have moved in recent years to coordinate efforts with the United States in civilian nuclear sectors, measures to lock down military-grade nuclear material, and other venues.
Why the change in policy? According to Dr. Zhang:
The Chinese government has taken significant steps to develop and apply approaches to nuclear security and nuclear accounting in the aftermath of 9/11. One driver of Chinese improvements has been international cooperation, in particular with the US. Since the 9/11 attacks, China has actively cooperated with the US to improve its nuclear security in the civilian sector. Such cooperation should continue and grow stronger. More importantly, China-US cooperation should extend to the military sector that has custody of the largest stocks of weapon-usable fissile materials and all nuclear weapons.
At the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that increased cooperation regarding the nuclear security of one country is beneficial to all nations. As Xi pointed out, “The amount of water a bucket can hold is determined by its shortest plank. The loss of nuclear material in one country can be a threat to the whole world.” President Barack Obama has emphasized that the biggest threat to US security is the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon. The three Nuclear Security Summits have focused the top leaders in Beijing and Washington on nuclear security issues and enhanced consensus on the danger of nuclear terrorism. It is time to extend China-US cooperation on nuclear security to the military sector. Since the threat of nuclear terrorism is a top US priority, Beijing’s cooperation on the issue would benefit the Sino-US relationship. Moreover, Beijing’s active participation in building a robust global nuclear security system would improve its international image.Continue Reading →
Sectarian conflict erupted earlier this month as Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, swept through northern Iraq, inflicting violence against the Shiite majority and Shiite-ruled government. In this Policy Alert, we examine reactions to the ongoing Iraqi crisis from India, China, South Korea, and Japan.
The crisis in Iraq touched India in a personal way after 40 Indian construction workers in Mosul were abducted by ISIS aligned forces, prompting strong reactions from Indian leaders and the Indian public; thousands of Shiite Muslims living in India have pledged to defend Iraq’s holy shrines and join the fight against ISIS. (more…)Continue Reading →
The 2014 World Cup games kicked off on Thursday amidst protests of poor public services, corruption, and the high cost of staging the World Cup in host country Brazil. In addition to the ongoing protests, soccer federation FIFA is under scrutiny for its decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar due to recent allegations that the nation handed out bribes in exchange for votes to win the bid. This PolicyAlert examines reactions from Brazil, India, China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia on the corruption charges and predictions for the World Cup.
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, wrote an op-ed for The Economic Times where he warned “great power politics in Asia today seems to resemble very much Europe a hundred years back” before the start of a series of world wars. Rajagopalan offers five major pieces of evidence for this comparison: 1) changing and uncertain balance of power; 2) hyper-nationalism among emerging powers; 3) intensifying arms races; 4) general optimism both about the unlikelihood of war as about the prospects for victory; and 5) plenty of minor disputes that could provide the necessary spark.
He noted the presence of nuclear weapons in Asia is a significant difference compared to pre-WWI Europe: ”Nuclear weapons are a new factor which induces at least some caution in how leaders behave. But on the other hand, this works only if both sides have them and many East Asian states, including Japan, do not. They are protected by Washington’s extended nuclear deterrent which makes Japan and others dependent on an increasingly fickle America.”
While the author does not conclude war in Asia is inevitable, he wrote that it will take both “prudent behavior” as well as “providence” to avoid conflict: (more…)Continue Reading →
Iran and the P5 + 1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are currently engaging in historic negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The Joint Plan of Action (JPA), signed in November 2013 and entered into force in January 2014, gives the parties six months to solve the international dispute with a final deal. This fragile détente followed the election of Hassan Rouhani – considered by some to be a voice for moderation in Iran – as president last June. These developments triggered enthusiastic reactions within Asian powers soon after the interim agreement was signed. Several countries in the region have vested interests in Iranian oil for their energy needs as well as important concerns regarding nuclear nonproliferation and regional security issues.
On June 9-10, U.S. officials held bilateral meetings with their Iranian counterparts in Geneva on the status of Iran’s nuclear program. Analysts have predicted the talks will be extended an additional six months to resolve outstanding issues, but the JPA formally expires a year after it entered into force. As the July 20, 2014 extension deadline approaches, this Nuclear Debates in Asia Digest highlights the evolution of diplomatic relations over the past months between Iran and countries in the Nuclear Debates in Asia project. (more…)Continue Reading →
Despite Japan’s announcement at the Nuclear Security Summit last March that it would return significant quantities of plutonium and highly enriched uranium to the United States, Nuclear Debates in Asia project scholar Dr. Hui Zhang concluded “Chinese experts and officials cannot help but view Japan’s plutonium stocks with considerable alarm.” In an op-ed for Asia Times Online, he explored why China believes Japan’s existing nuclear material stockpiles are “far exceeding… [the] normal needs” of a civilian nuclear energy program and a non-nuclear weapon state. He made a similar case in a recent article for The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
In the Asia Times Online op-ed, Hui, who is also a senior scholar at Harvard University’s Project on Managing the Atom, urged Tokyo to “address concerns over its reprocessing plans and plutonium stocks,” including “specific steps to abide strictly by its ‘no surplus plutonium policy’” or else risk “negative consequences for regional security in Asia.” (more…)Continue Reading →
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victory in India’s general election was hailed as a critical juncture for the country’s economy – some going as far as to state that it ‘remakes our world.’ While predicting the future of India’s may be an invigorating task, we should take notice of the more immediate implications of these elections: the installment as Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy of a man with murky links to an anti-Muslim pogrom.
For those not familiar with the events, a brief explanation is called upon here. In September 2001, the ruling BJP in the western state of Gujarat suffered a twin defeat in a crucial by-election. Faced with an impending defeat, the party leadership called upon Narendra Modi, a life-long member of the Rashtriya Samyamsevak Sangh (a paramilitary Hindu nationalist organization), to take over the post of Chief Minister. Then, in February 2002, 58 Hindu pilgrims were killed inside a burning train in the Gujarati town of Godhra after an altercation with Muslims. While responsibility for the train fire remains intensely disputed, Modi supported the nationalists’ call for an unconstitutional general strike and ordered the dead bodies to be brought to Gujarat’s capital Ahmedabad, where they were displayed publicly.Continue Reading →