Indian views on President Obama’s visit

This week, President Obama will visit India for the first time since taking office. What are commentators and experts in India saying about this historic visit?

The Rising Powers Initiative has compiled a summary of recent news and op-eds from major Indian newspapers about Indian expectations of Obama’s visit and the future of India-U.S. relations:

There is a sense of disappointment foreshadowing the visit, as it appears that the U.S. is more interested in an economic agenda rather than strengthening strategic ties with India.The Indian Express reports that a personal letter from President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed America’s expectations of the visit but did not mention issues important to India. Commentators lament that China and Pakistan loom larger on the U.S. radar screen, and that the official visit has an undue business focus, when the private sector will carry on with expanding India-U.S. business ties anyway.

Nevertheless, the general public likes Obama. A spring 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than 70% of Indians have confidence in the American president, and about two-thirds express a favorable opinion of the United States.


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Back to the Future? A Revival of Realpolitik in Asia and Eurasia

By Nikola Mirilovic

In each of three key Asian and Eurasian powers, China, India, and Russia, a realpolitik approach plays a larger role in the foreign policy outlook today than it did in the period following the end of the Cold War.

China, India, and Russia all possess the key traditional attribute of great powers: size. All three countries are among the largest in the world in both territory and population. While size is a necessary prerequisite of great power status, it is not a sufficient one. Size creates potential which political capacity and economic efficiency can activate. Over the past decade (and longer in the case of China), all three countries have tended to benefit from a remarkable economic dynamism. This dynamism was due in large part to economic liberalization in the case of China and India, and to high global energy prices in the case of energy-rich Russia. Assuming these trends continue, all three of these states are likely to play an important role in shaping the future of Eurasia. It is of great importance to understand their foreign policy outlook, and the nature of the balance between realist and idealist thinking within that outlook. (more…)

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Exploring India’s Foreign Policy Debates

By Nikola Mirilovic

Among the most contested questions in Indian foreign policy today are those related to the extent and type of power that India should use to project itself internationally. Should India rely on military, economic or ideational power? How should Indian policymakers make trade-offs between military, economic and normative objectives? What mechanisms does India prefer for global leadership?

Deepa Ollapally and Rajesh Rajagopalan of the Rising Powers Initiative have classified India’s domestic debates about the country’s foreign policy into three main schools of thought: hyper-power, national-power and liberal power proponents.

The hyper-power proponents view military power as not only a means to an end, but as an end in and of itself. They claim that extensive military power is a necessary component of India’s greatness. This is a minority perspective. National-power proponents also advocate greater military strength and expenditures, but they view them as means of achieving other goals. Finally, the proponents of the liberal power perspective argue that hard power is not an effective means of projecting India’s influence abroad, and that trade and diplomacy should be relied on instead. (more…)

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Senkakus/Diaoyu incident: reinforced trends or a harbinger of change?

The jury is still out on how Japan-China relations will be affected by their recent dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. By now we have seen efforts on both sides to defuse tensions, but China’s intentions remain unclear, while Japan might choose to respond with more robust defense measures.

Aside from developments in the region’s security structure, a key variable to observe is the shifting perceptions of domestic actors in both countries, says Mike Mochizuki in a recent interview in The Oriental Economist.

In Japan, the security policy community had already been concerned about China’s increasingly assertive behavior. However, Mochizuki notes,

“The real question is whether this incident will convince others in Japan: those that have, up to now, been less concerned about Chinese military activities and were much more focused on the benefits that the Chinese market gives to the Japanese economy. If this incident has changed [their] perceptions, that would be a sea change.”

The obscurity of China’s decision-making process makes it more difficult to determine what is driving China’s behavior, and whether political competition between domestic actors can explain the mix of restraint and assertiveness we see from China. (more…)

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Besides the Realists, who is shaping China’s foreign policy?

The Wall Street Journal characterizes China’s recent assertiveness in the region as “a new state of mind,” citing the recent island dispute with Japan, China’s backing of North Korea in the Cheonan incident, and aggressive behaviors in the South China Sea.  The WSJ writes in its Oct. 1 editorial:

Ever since Deng Xiaoping dumped the Marxist half of Marxism-Leninism some 30 years ago, the Chinese regime has depended on the twin pillars of economic growth and nationalism for its legitimacy. Usually the world sees more of the former than the latter. Perhaps not anymore.

As social pressures build within China, some in the leadership may be falling back on one of their core claims to legitimacy—that only the Communist Party can restore China’s dignity after a “century of humiliation” at the hands of foreign powers.

Indeed, there are reasons to be concerned about rising Chinese nationalism and its implications for China foreign policy behaviors. However, it is just one of many dimensions of the domestic debates in China that are shaping the country’s view of itself in the world. Professors David Shambaugh and Ren Xiao of the Rising Powers Initiative have identified a range of seven schools of thought within China: Nativists, Realists, Major Powers, Asia First, Global South, Selective Multi-lateralists and Globalists.

China’s international relations debates tend to revolve around the characteristics of the international system and China’s identity within that system. (more…)

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Policy Briefing – Worldviews of China, India and Russia: Power Shifts and Domestic Debates

Yesterday the Sigur Center hosted a policy briefing on “Worldviews of China, India and Russia: Power Shifts and Domestic Debates,” drawing an audience of over 200 academics, journalists, and policymakers.  The event was moderated by Henry R. Nau, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University, and featured the following experts: Andrew Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Deepa Ollapally, Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, and David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University. Read more about the event in the GW Today.

NEW: Watch the video of the event here.

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Another Confucius Institute opens, but does it boost China’s soft power?

By Ren Zhe

Another Confucius Institute has opened in Strasbourg, adding to the list of more than 500 CIs the Chinese government has set up in 87 countries around the world. In the United States and other countries where CIs operate, the explosive growth of CIs gives rise to questions regarding their purpose and function. Experts are debating the problems encountered by CIs and ask whether CIs represent the expansion of China’s soft power.

Confusion and uncertainty about the CI’s purpose, ideology, and connection with the Chinese government constitute a hindrance to their expansion in top universities. (more…)

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