The passage of a resolution by the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 22 condemning North Korea’s missile launch of Dec. 12, 2012, and expanding sanctions against the country, has brought about a defiant and ferocious response from Pyongyang.
North Korea issued a series of pronouncements declaring the nullification of the Sept. 19, 2005, agreement on denuclearization, the end of further talks on denuclearization including the six-party talks, and vowing to strengthen its nuclear and missile capabilities by continuing rocket launching and nuclear testing, which North Korea declared explicitly as targeted against the United States.
That North Korea would respond with fury to a U.N. resolution was anticipated, but the barrage of intensified anti-American rhetoric and the blunt declaration to continue the quest for nuclear weapons with ICBM capabilities, especially at this juncture in time, probably came as a surprise to many analysts.
Given North Korea’s explicit renunciation of the agreement on denuclearization, it would be impossible for the United States to entertain any thought of altering the existing policy variously labeled “manage and contain” or “sanctions with limited dialogue” toward a policy of dialogue and engagement. For South Korea, despite President-elect Park Geun-hye’s professed willingness to resume talks with the North without preconditions and to improve the relations with North Korea through a confidence-building process, she will be constrained from pursuing a conciliatory policy of engagement.
It will be so especially since she has insisted she will not tolerate the North’s nuclear program and will deal sternly with North Korean provocations. Similarly for Japan, it is inconceivable for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to consider moderating his hard-line stance toward North Korea.
The impact of North Korea’s policy pronouncements on the policies of China and Russia will be no less significant.Continue Reading →
After decades of accepting US supremacy in Asia as the foundation of its foreign and security policies, finding the right distance between the U.S. and China is the most important strategic choice facing Japan today. “Getting it just right” with these two powers will require both military and economic readjustments. But it will not be easy. Some in Japan fret about a Washington-Beijing “G-2” condominium. Others doubt U.S. capabilities and commitments going forward. There are also those who insist that unless Japan accommodates to Chinese power, it will lose influence in the region and globally. Still others are concerned that rivalry with China is unavoidable. Because the debate is often so clamorous, and because the Sino-Japanese relationship is so frequently punctuated by tension, the possibility that improved relations with China might be compatible with sustained close relations with the United States is often lost in the noise.
Read the full Policy Brief here.Continue Reading →
There is no doubt about China’s rising stature in the world, but plenty of uncertainty about exactly what kind of global power China will become. Not only do American policymakers have different opinions on China’s rise, even within China there is a range of viewpoints on this question, from the stridently nativist camp to the multilaterally-oriented globalist position.Across this spectrum of thought, multiple voices contend for influence by shaping the discourse behind China’s foreign policy decision making.
Read more on what these voices are saying about China as a global power in our latest Policy Brief.
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In advance of the G8 and G20 meetings held at Camp David, Maryland, and in Los Cabos, Mexico, in May and June 2012, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted two workshops to examine the pressures placed on international institutions as a result of changing international power dynamics. Approximately forty thought leaders from the private sector, government, civic sector, and academia, including RPI Co-PI Deepa Ollapally, came together in New York and Chicago as part of an ongoing Chicago Council research project on Rising Powers and a New Emerging Order. This working paper by Ambassador Richard S. Williamson, Chicago Council senior fellow on multilateral institutions, and Jana Chapman Gates, project director, summarizes the findings of the two workshops. These workshops were made possible by the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Learn more and download the working paper.Continue Reading →
By Shawn McHale, Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, George Washington University
The South China Sea is one of the great connecting oceans of the world, acting as a major conduit of Asian and global trade. It has also been a worrisome site of conflict. In recent years, disputes over territorial claims have led to armed clashes involving China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It has also led to demonstrations. Arguments have spilled into cyberspace: on YouTube, Google Earth, online newspaper articles, and chat rooms, nationalist tempers have flared over their country’s claims to these tiny islands, atolls, and reefs.
Most of the territorial claims over the South China Sea are surprisingly weak, and none is incontestable. Here we must distinguish between arguments over the Paracels, the far-flung cluster of islands, reefs, and atolls closest to China, and those over the Spratlys, a similarly widely spread set of islands further to the south. Only China and Vietnam contest the Paracels, whereas six countries have claims to the Spratlys. Finally, the contemporary bitter arguments over sovereignty in this area repeatedly invoke historical evidence. It is the latter issue that will be the focus of this Policy Commentary.
Bluntly stated, we cannot impose contemporary notions of sovereignty on historical practices before the twentieth century. Despite much misinformation and inflamed rhetoric to the contrary, historical evidence overwhelmingly supports the view that states did not, traditionally, claim exclusive territorial rights over the vast majority of the South China Sea. To the contrary: the area has historically been an Asian maritime commons. What, then, does the historical evidence suggest? And how has argument over this evidence shaped Asian identity politics today?Continue Reading →
India’s foreign policy has become increasingly contested in domestic Indian politics, calling into question some of the assumptions and expectations that American policymakers may have about the future of US-India relations. This divergence in opinion was highlighted at the “India as a Global Power: Contending Views from India” conference, which took place on January 23, 2012 and was co-sponsored by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Center for a New American Security.
Assessing India’s Threat Environment
The conference’s Indian speakers disagreed on a wide range of issues, one of which was the question of India’s threat environment. Bharat Karnad, Professor at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, identified China’s military build-up and proliferation activities as the top threats to Indian security. Former Indian Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh also expressed grave concern over China’s naval presence in the Indian Ocean, though he did not consider it an imminent threat.
In contrast, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Member of the Indian Parliament, was more optimistic that India could forge cooperative solutions with China on issues of common interest, such as freedom of the seas. He instead argued that Pakistan remains the most prominent threat to India. T.N. Ninan, Chairman and Chief Editor of the Business Standard, while concurring on both the Chinese and Pakistani threats, emphasized economic development as India’s top priority and said energy security and international pressure to act on climate change could hinder India’s growth trajectory.
Whether or not India could or should become a global power appeared to frame the debate on threats to national security. (more…)Continue Reading →
China is a conflicted rising power with an increasingly pluralized foreign policymaking process, characterized by multiple viewpoints across different actors and institutions. What then are the implications for US foreign policy toward China? This question was addressed by a panel of China experts at a symposium on “Worldview of Rising Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates,” held on April 25th at George Washington University.
David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science at GWU, outlined seven schools of thought in China’s foreign policy discourse and recommended corresponding U.S. policy responses:
- Nativists are populists and nationalists who distrust the outside world and fiercely criticize the West. The US should be aware of them, but not overstate their influence. They can be ignored.
- Realists place a premium on building up a strong state that can navigate its own way in the world and resist outside pressures. In short, they want to strengthen China and challenge the United States. For the US, strategic hedging would be the response to this semi-revisionist tendency in China.
- Major Powers proponents are those who advocate a focus on relations with the world’s major powers and blocs. In other words, they are interested in working with the US, which complements an engagement approach in US foreign policy.
- Asia First proponents, as the name implies, have a regional focus. They seek to compete with the US and undermine American influence in Asia. In response, the US should maintain its presence, alliances, diplomatic partnerships and soft power in Asia. (more…)
China, Russia and India abstained on UN Security Council Resolution No. 1973, which authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and the use of force to protect civilians. As military intervention in Libya enters its sixth day, what are the Chinese, Russian and Indian views and reactions?
Officially-sanctioned views, as reflected in the People’s Daily, lambast the military intervention in Libya and cast it as a Western initiative.
- “How humanitarian is Western intervention in Libya?” asks one op-ed. “This so-called ‘humanitarianism’ is actually just the first step toward overthrowing of another country’s political power.”
- They point to Libya’s oil resources as the underlying motive. “The military involvement of Western coalitions in the Middle East is closely associated with oil reserves and strategic interests. Iraq was invaded for oil. Now it is Libya.”
- It is noteworthy that the criticism is generally directed at the “West,” and not specifically at the United States, since “the U.S. withdrew to the second line this time.” The U.S. position is understood to be “a compromise between the realism of the secretary of defense and the idealism of the secretary of state.” (more…)
As part of an ongoing outreach to the policy and media communities, the Rising Powers Initiative held a briefing on March 2 to present expert analysis of domestic debates and recent policy developments in Russia, India and China. The event took place at the Elliot School of International Affairs, and was sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation.
To understand the foreign policy behaviors of major countries in Asia and Eurasia, the main approach of the Rising Powers Initiative has been to focus on the domestic debates taking place within these countries. These debates reflect a certain intellectual orientation in a country, or its “intellectual DNA,” which is then reflected in that country’s foreign policy, explained Henry R. Nau, who moderated the panel as co-director of the Rising Powers Initiative and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at The George Washington University.
Moreover, domestic debates matter most when the external geopolitical environment is relatively stable, said Nau. For the past twenty years, international relations have been characterized by the unipolarity of the United States, and any shift in the international order is gradual. This brings into focus the domestic interpretations of such shifts, and how those interpretations shape the overall direction of a country’s foreign policy.
In Russia, the predominant intellectual orientation has seen a “a lot of volatility” in the past twenty years, said Andrew Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Beginning with the short-lived “Liberal Westernizers” of 1991-92, Russia’s political landscape then shifted to “Great Power Balancers / Realists” in the 1990s and early 2000s, who were disappointed in the West and believed in a more balanced, multi-vector foreign policy. (more…)Continue Reading →
Many people wonder if the crisis in Egypt, leading to Hosni Mubarak’s resignation on February 11, might spur similar popular upheaval for regime change in Asia. Asia has no shortage of potential candidates, including the biggest of them all: China. Then there are also Vietnam, Burma and North Korea.
In East Asia, one finds many recent assertions of ‘people’s power’ that one saw in the streets of Cairo: the Philippines in 1986 and 2001 when surging crowds ousted presidents Marcos and Estrada respectively, and Thailand in 2008, when protests ended the remnant of the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. But the situation in Asia is quite different. Asia has already seen more transitions to democracy than the Middle East. Although many Asian countries are not paragons of liberal democracy, outright dictatorships in the region have fallen in number relative to the past and to democratic or semi-democratic governments.
At 30 years, the Mubarak regime held power far longer than any regime in Asia under the same leader. The leader’s persona matters, as change of the top leader may mitigate popular anger even if the regime remains in place. China and Vietnam have replaced their top leadership before they became lightning rods for popular anger. (more…)Continue Reading →