The $400 billion natural gas agreement concluded by Russia and China in May 2014 was hailed by both countries’ leaders as a game-changing development in international affairs. Many Russian and Chinese analysts also seized upon the deal as evidence of an emerging Sino-Russian partnership set to challenge the U.S.-led global order. Is the gas deal part of a broader shift in Russia-China relations and the global balance of power? Are the two countries ready to construct a formidable alliance to challenge the United States and Europe? Or should the agreement be viewed in simpler economic terms?
The gas deal is the latest in a series of political, economic, and military developments between the two countries over more than two decades that illustrates a stronger and more integrated Russia-China relationship. However, the evolution of the Russia-China relationship over the past quarter of a century has been marked by as many policy failures as successes. Economic ties are not as deep as they could be and continue to be dominated by Russian raw materials exports to China. Diplomatic relations are also characterized by a grandiose rhetoric that overstates the progress made between the two countries and undersells underlying cultural and political differences. Complications continue to surround the implementation of the May 2014 gas deal, reflecting these dynamics as well as wider political and economic events that have transformed the global energy landscape since the gas deal was concluded. (more…)Continue Reading →
Expanding ties between the U.S. and India now span the entire spectrum of foreign policy, inevitably giving rise to convergences and divergences. What are some of the biggest challenges and greatest opportunities in U.S.-India relations? The “Perspectives on U.S.-India Relations” panel, held at the George Washington University on October 5, outlined the contours of the U.S.-India relationship and prospects for its future. The session, sponsored by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and hosted by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, was part of a broader daylong FICCI-GWU Foreign Policy Leadership Workshop introducing a leading group of Indian parliamentarians to U.S. foreign policy on current issues that are of major importance to India. Members of the Indian delegation included: (more…)Continue Reading →
Earlier this month, twelve Pacific Rim countries, including the United States and Japan, reached a final agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest regional trade pact in history with its member states accounting for nearly 40 percent of global GDP. The pact also constitutes a cornerstone of President Obama’s “rebalance” toward Asia. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and India on the trade deal.
Chinese commentary urged the government to push forward with the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) while downplaying the potential impact of the TPP for China. (more…)Continue Reading →
History means a lot in East Asian international politics. Past histories that are related to ongoing issues are reinterpreted, revised and debated among countries. The most prominent topic in the region involves the controversies between Japan and countries that were colonized or occupied by the Japanese Empire. Regarding this issue, China and South Korea are on the same boat. In 2014, for example, China built a memorial for An Jung Gun, a Korean independence activist who assassinated Ito Hirobumi, then Prime Minister of the Empire of Japan, in Harbin at Korean President Park Geun-hye’s request.
As two neighboring countries, however, China and Korea also have their own history issues. In the 2000s, the Sino-Korean relationship was soured by the history debates over an ancient kingdom in Northeast Asia, Goguryeo. In the Northeast Project, a Chinese government-sponsored research project that was launched in 2002, a group of Chinese historians revised the ancient history of the northeast regions of contemporary China. One notable revision was the inclusion of Goguryeo in Chinese history. Goguryeo was an ancient kingdom which occupied the Northern regions of the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria between B.C. 37 and A.D. 668. Before this revision, the kingdom was generally regarded as a part of ancient Korean history. However, the project rejected this conventional wisdom and defined the kingdom as a local Chinese ethnic regime. Moreover, the Chinese government registered the remains of Goguryeo as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2004, and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ official website deleted the Goguryeo entry from its pages on Korean history in the same year. (more…)Continue Reading →
Russian airstrikes in Syria since September 30, portrayed by the Kremlin as an attack against the Islamic State (IS), have been met with widespread criticism. The United States has accused Russiaof targeting U.S.-backed rebel groups against the Assad regime and refused to cooperate with Moscow. European foreign ministers have called on Russia to end its attacks. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Russia, China, India, and Japan on Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict.
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The summit between Prime Minister Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama last Friday produced mixed results. Both sides reached an agreement on climate change and on cyberattacks, following the recent Chinese attacks against American businesses and government agencies, but made little progress on the maritime security issues in the South China Sea. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Japan, India, and South Korea on Xi’s visit to the U.S.
Chinese officials and media regarded the summit as highly successful, noting that Xi’s visit purportedly assuaged U.S. concerns regarding a rising China. (more…)Continue Reading →
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a $46 billon development megaproject which aims to connect Gwadar Port and Xinjiang via a network of railways, highways, and pipelines—is being hailed by both countries as another testament to the “iron-clad” friendship between the two neighbors, which stands “higher than the Himalayas.” Given the massive economic payoffs that could be reaped from their joint ventures, it seems apt that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef calls the relationship “sweeter than honey.”
If the CPEC proceeds as planned, it will provide China with a shorter access route to the Middle Eastern and European markets, both for its exports and its growing energy needs. The route allows China to circumvent the narrow Malacca Strait, which is both longer and prone to being sealed. China is looking at the CPEC as an initial part of its “One Belt, One Road” project, an attempt to tap into markets to its west through a transportation and infrastructure network in Asia reminiscent of the Silk Road. Pakistan views it as a windfall opportunity to upgrade its infrastructure. The project includes $33 billion worth of energy projects and coal-fired electricity plants which can help Pakistan with its existing energy crisis that leaves it at a loss of billions annually. (more…)Continue Reading →
As we may have expected, the historic agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers at Vienna in the mid-July has already begun creating ripple effects on the geopolitics of South Asia. Although the relief from sanctions afforded to Iran won’t come into full effect until later in 2015 or early 2016, when Iran meets its obligations under the deal, the economic and strategic opportunities opening up with Iran’s reintegration into the global economy is a prime concern for the countries in the region. And these countries will be looking to factor in the new development into their national policies. India and Pakistan, specifically, will be looking to readjust their policies with respect to Iran and each other to take into account the central role that Tehran can play in the region, not in the least as a potentially major trading partner and energy provider.
With regards to the latter, the dominant theme has been pipeline politics. The lifting of sanctions on Iran has been touted by Pakistan as boding well for progress on the much-trumpeted $7 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, a massive energy infrastructure project that can prove essential in easing Pakistan’s energy woes. This is despite recent statements by the U.S. State Department on the matter indicating that Pakistan shouldn’t bank on the project just yet, at least not until Iran has met its obligations under the agreement – “We do not consider Iran open for business yet,” said Mark Toner, a U.S. State Department Spokesman. (more…)Continue Reading →
Europe is currently witnessing a massive refugee influx as millions of people flee war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Libya. While Germany has taken on leadership by welcoming 800,000 migrants this year, European countries have yet to come up with a unified EU policy to address the refugee issue. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil on the ongoing refugee crisis.
Chinese commentary blamed the United States and the European Union for causing the refugee crisis as a result of U.S. intervention in the Middle East. (more…)Continue Reading →