Several nuclear armed countries in Asia have expanded their arsenal over the past year according to a new report. China, India, and Pakistan added 10 to 20 nuclear weapons to their stockpiles and made qualitative improvements to their delivery systems. Last week, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) – an international security think tank based in Sweden – published their latest SIPRI Yearbook, a helpful and comprehensive reference guide on global armaments.
Continue Reading →
Since taking office as Japan’s Prime Minister for the second time, Shinzo Abe’s foreign policy posture has been under close scrutiny. Most have been concerned about his proposal to revise the Japanese Constitution, and how he has handled various expressions of nationalist sentiment from members of his ruling coalition. Some are also taking note of Abe’s recent visits to Russia and the Middle East. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentaries from Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and India.
Opinion is sharply divided on the question of revising Japan’s constitution to allow the country’s Self-Defense Forces to strike hostile nations if Japan comes under threat.
- Liberal-leaning papers have been strongly opposed to such constitutional revisions. “We are alarmed by this move,” worried the Asahi Shimbun. “Isn’t it more likely to aggravate, rather than ease, regional tensions and lead to an arms race?”
- The Mainichi News was more moderate in its criticism, saying that “the question of the SDF’s use of weapons in U.N. peacekeeping operations should be considered separately from operations to protect Japanese nationals.” It also voiced concern that procedural changes which would make it easier to initiate constitutional amendments risked undermining parliamentary democracy.
- In contrast, the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun declared, “The time has come to consider enabling SDF to attack enemy bases,” suggesting specific weapons systems (more…)
Dr. Hui Zhang, a participant in the RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project focusing on China and senior scholar at Harvard University’s Project on Managing the Atom, recently wrote an op-ed for the The Diplomat:
On April 16, the Chinese Ministry of Defense released the eighth edition of China’s bi-annual white paper on defense since 1998. However, unlike the previous editions, this one does not reiterate China’s long-standing doctrine of no-first-use nuclear weapons. The obvious omission has sparked a debate over whether China is changing its nuclear doctrine. If China abandons its no-first-use nuclear pledge, which has guided China’s nuclear strategy since its first nuclear test in 1964, it would severely undermine the global disarmament process, potentially preventing the U.S. and Russian from further reducing their nuclear arsenals and even encouraging the U.S. to expand its nuclear forces. Is China really changing its nuclear policy? (more…)Continue Reading →
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming visit to India next Monday has been overshadowed by recent tensions over the two countries’ border dispute in the Ladakh region, which had flared up since late April. In this post, we examine the evolution of Indian and Chinese views on this crisis and the future of their bilateral relationship.
In the past few weeks, Indian media and politics have seen a deluge of commentary on this border dispute and India’s relationship with China. During the initial confusion when it was reported that Chinese troops had set up camp in Ladakh on April 15, many called for a stern Indian response , while others urged restraint .
With the withdrawal of troops on May 6 and the visit of Indian external affairs minister Salman Khurshid to Beijing on May 9, the stand-off was temporarily relieved. Commentary then focused on explaining China’s motives and assessing the Indian government’s handling of the crisis.
- According to Ananth Krishnan, journalist for The Hindu, Indian analysts have attributed Chinese actions in Ladakh to one of four factors : 1) a general trend of growing Chinese assertiveness; 2) Chinese President Xi Jinping’s need to consolidate support from the military; 3) China’s anxieties over India’s recent build-up of infrastructure at the border; and 4) moves by local PLA commanders. (more…)
Reviewed by Meredith Oyen (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Published on H-Diplo (April, 2013)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach
The impact of domestic politics on foreign policy is a subject of long-standing interest for both historians of American foreign relations and political scientists concerned with international relations. A new volume edited by Henry R. Nau and Deepa M. Ollapally, Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan, and Russia, brings together prominent scholars from across the world to explore the domestic dimension of foreign policy in five important countries. The core argument of this book is that domestic debates powerfully affect foreign policy, sometimes exerting as much influence as external factors. The authors consider the implications of the contesting worldviews not only for each country’s foreign policy, but also for U.S. foreign policy responses. Worldviews of Aspiring Powers therefore offers both a model for future studies of domestic debates in other rising or aspiring powers as well as some thoughtful advice for policymakers.
In order to develop a common vocabulary for discussing and analyzing these debates across the countries under study, Nau’s introductory chapter discusses three aspects of foreign policy under debate everywhere: the scope, means, and goals of policy. By analyzing these three aspects across three broad categories of worldviews–national, regional, and global–he sets up a broad framework of twenty-seven possible worldviews, which the authors of the individual chapter then use as a guide to explore the unique variations of the country under their consideration. Nau makes clear from the outset that reality does not fit the generalized model perfectly, and each country under consideration possesses attributes that make it unique. (more…)Continue Reading →
In this post, we examine the contrasting reactions of Russia, China and India to last week’s bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon. Commentaries from these Asian powers reflect the differences in their attitudes on how to define and respond to problems of terrorism.
Editorials expressed mixed views on how the Boston bombings may impact US-Russia security relations while also using the incident to criticize US actions and policies against terrorism.
President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed their commitment tostrengthen US- Russia security coordination in a recent telephone conversation. However, others expressed skepticism:
- Though Russia’s Federal Security Service and the FBI have promised to focus on “all aspects of the challenge,” intelligence sharing efforts are “hampered by mistrust, bureaucracy, and self-interest,” said Russian intelligence expert Andrei Soldatov.
- “The Boston terrorist attack may provide for an uptick in the U.S.-Russian security partnership, but we should be careful not to overdramatize its significance for overall U.S.-Russia relations,” wrote George Washington University’s Cory Welt. “The history of post-9/11 relations suggests that a stable and constructive U.S.-Russian relationship cannot be built mainly on a counterterrorism foundation.”
- Duma Deputy Speaker and Liberal Democratic Party member Vlidimir Zhirinovsky predicted that the U.S. faces a grim future of repeated attacks. “There is a clash of civilizations. The United States bombs the Islamic world, and what can they do in return? As long as Islamic countries are being bombed, attacks will occur in London and New York.”
Several editorials criticized the U.S. for holding double standards regarding terrorism (more…)Continue Reading →
The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in Durban last week for the 5th BRICS Summit, where the group appeared to make some progress on the idea of a BRICS development bank. In today’s Policy Alert, we examine and contrast Russian and Chinese optimism in BRICS, with the much more cautious and cynical views from India and South Korea.
Commentary in Russia uniformly praised the BRICS countries for establishing a “polycentric system of international relations,” and noted the importance of Russia-China relations within the BRICS framework.
- “BRICS has transformed itself from a political idea into a tangible symbol of a multipolar world,” said Vadim Lukov, the Russian foreign ministry’s special envoy to BRICS. Lukov also highlighted the importance of Russia-China relations within the BRICS. “China’s approach to BRICS is characterized by a deep understanding of the significance of creating a new multi-polar international system. Russia-China cooperation within BRICS is one of the important engines of its development.”
- The absence of consensus on a BRICS development bank, initiated during the previous summit in India, elicited mixed views from Russian experts:
- Leonid Gusev, expert at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), predicted that making progress on the bank is unlikely, noting that the BRICS economies, particularly China and India, are too closely integrated with the American market for significant changes to take place.
- Sergei Katyrin, chairman of Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was more optimistic, stating that “while no ultimate decisions have been made on the bank’s quantitative parameters, its authorized capital, its contributors and the volume of contributions…I think this project will eventually take shape.”
Most Indian views on the BRICS were either skeptical that the bloc can have any real impact, or were wary of China dominating a BRICS bank in the future. (more…)Continue Reading →
Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, died of cancer last week. In this post, we examine Russian, Indian and Chinese reactions to the death of this legendary and controversial icon in contemporary Latin American politics.
Russian leaders sent warm condolences to Venezuela, praising Chavez for strengthening Russo-Venezuelan ties during his presidency and expressing hope for continued partnership.
- Referring to Hugo Chavez as “a dear friend of Russia,” Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed hope on Thursday that Moscow and Caracas will continue developing friendly bilateral relations, while Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev commended Chavez for his life’s devotion to “justice and equality.”
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov praised Chavez for helping Moscow to reach a new level of partnership with Latin American countries.
- Meanwhile, Gennady Zyuganov, leader of Russia’s Communist party, speculated that Chavez’s death may have been “part of a plot by the United States to infect its enemies in Latin America.”
Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign has evoked much surprise and commentary in the Western media. But in Asia, a region where Catholicism is a minority religion, the reactions have been more subdued. Today’s post compares the responses of South Korea, India and China.
In a country where close to 8% of the population is Catholic, members of Korea’s Catholic community thanked the Pope for his service:
- “People have a conservative image of Pope Benedict XVI. But through his resignation announcement, I believe he has shown a liberal and reformist mind,” said Priest Lee Kyung-sang of the Archdiocese of Seoul, who teaches church law at the Catholic University of Korea.
- In a statement by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea, Rev. Peter Kang U-il said, “We cannot hide our surprise at the Pope’s abrupt decision to step down, but we know the Pope’s heart is filled with love and care for the church…he has also shown deep interest for people in North Korea and sought to help them through economic aid…we accept his brave and spiritual decision with great respect.”
INDIAContinue Reading →
Chinese reactions have been called “at most tepid and reserved” by Yun Sun, a Chinese visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.
- Officially, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has expressed support for the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2085.
- French intervention, however, is evoking concern. As He Wenping, director of African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote in a Global Times op-ed: ”China has certain interests in Mali through its investment projects. It is not necessarily a bad thing for China if France’s decision to send in troops can stabilize the situation in this West African country. However, despite all the potential benefits, there is one possible cause for alarm – French forces’ involvement in Mali will provide the case for legalization of a new interventionism in Africa.”
In contrast, Indian commentary has (uncharacteristically) mostly supported French intervention and larger efforts to combat terrorism. (more…)Continue Reading →