On April 12, 2017, the UN Security Council voted on a resolution which aimed to condemn the reported use of chemical weapons in northern Syria on April 4 and to demand that all parties provide speedy access to investigation. How did key rising powers react to the reported use to chemical weapons in Syria and the subsequent US intervention? Find out here.Continue Reading →
As part of the Rising Powers Initiative’s efforts to analyze and compare the foreign policy thinking in today’s rising powers, we are pleased to announce the launch of the RPI Research Database, a specialized bibliography of books and articles on targeted subjects that reflect the RPI’s ongoing research. Each entry contains an abstract or summary of the article or book. The Database has been compiled by our research staff and is frequently updated with articles and books from 1990 onwards, with emphasis on the latest academic and policy publications.
Countries and regions in the Database include:
- South Korea
- Southeast Asia and ASEAN
Topics and subjects in the Database include:
- Identity and foreign policy
- Energy security, maritime security, and Asian security
- Nuclear energy and nuclear proliferation
- Regional political economy
- U.S. foreign policy in Asia
The Research Database can be accessed here. We hope that this interactive Database is a useful tool for conducting research on rising powers in Asia and for keeping up to date on the latest relevant academic and policy publications. We encourage you to share the Database as a resource with your colleagues, and welcome your feedback and suggestions.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 →
Gregg Brazinsky, RPI author and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at GWU recently wrote in the Chicago Tribune:
The North Koreans are at it again. In the past few weeks, their erratic young leader Kim Jong Un, 30, has raised tensions in the Asia Pacific with a string of alarming actions and an almost incessant torrent of threats against the United States and its allies. He has vowed, among other things, to hit American cities with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, to turn Seoul into a sea of fire and to strike newly elected South Korean President Park Geun-hye with a “bolt of lightning.”
Although Kim’s vitriolic attacks are unprecedented in their intensity and sense of urgency, rhetorical bluster does not necessarily correlate with actions when it comes to North Korean foreign policy. The situation is not without its dangers, but Americans don’t need to stock the shelves in their fallout shelters any time soon. There are a few good reasons to think that the leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea won’t carry through on their threats: (more…)Continue Reading →
“In recent months, North Korea has been the problem that nobody in the Obama administration wants to deal with. Since the Kim regime defied Washington last April and went ahead with its previous rocket launch attempt, the United States has had no consistent approach for dealing with the reclusive regime. South Korean strategy has not been much better. Guided by the conservative Lee Myung-bak government, Seoul has often rung alarm bells about North Korea’s behavior without a workable plan for changing it. Together, their policies have served only to confirm the adage that ignoring problems makes them worse.”
Read the full article here.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 →
For the past several years, foreign policy circles both inside and outside Japan have been anxious to determine whether Japan should or would develop new strategies to deal with a changing security environment in Asia. The catastrophic impact of the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster has only heightened the sense of anxiety over Japan’s future direction. At a time of great uncertainty about Japan’s future and the implications for its foreign policy, one might instead look to Japan’s national identity for signs of continuity and consistency.
For decades, Japan’s outlook and external behavior have been shaped by its identity as a “peace state” – a pacifist state associated with the so-called Yoshida Doctrine of cheap riding on U.S.-provided security while concentrating on economic development. That identity runs deep in the Japanese outlook, acting as both a guiding compass and an ideological constraint on state behavior. As the scholar Richard Samuels describes it, an identity is “a platform of ideas about a nation’s place in history and its people’s aspirations for the future.” For Japan, its identity as a peace state means that it is “essentially a reactive or adaptive state” which is not interested in becoming a great military power.
This peace state identity has been consistently evoked in Japanese discourse and followed in practice, even as Japanese defense policy has seen increased debate and contestation in recent years, argued Mike M. Mochizuki at an April 14 Policy Briefing on “Identity and Rising Asian Powers: Implications for Regional Cooperation,” organized by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies. (more…)Continue Reading →
The Indian Defense Ministry’s announcement that it has shortlisted two European fighter jets, shutting out two American competitors from Lockheed Martin and Boeing, for its once in a generation purchase of 126 multi-combat aircrafts may be disappointing, but not surprising. This has as much to with what is seen as the technical superiority of the Eurofighter (UK, Spain, Italy and Germany) and Dassault’s Rafale (France), as much as New Delhi’s attempts to stay clear of perceived geopolitical undertones involved in buying Lockheed’s F-16 and Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet. Despite the very real improvement in relations between India and the U.S., India seems to have fallen back to its longstanding instinct for strategic autonomy. In a domestic context where there has been an intense debate taking place over the last five plus years about India’s new and growing role as a rising power—especially about how close is close enough to the U.S—the “safest” course of action for Manmohan Singh’s government was to do what it did.
Simply put, a purchase from Europeans is seen in purely commercial terms, while any major deal with the Americans immediately takes on strategic and political meaning in India. Prime Minister Singh had already gone out on a limb in 2008 when he put his government on the line with a vote of confidence over the US-India civil nuclear deal. This unprecedented deal with a price tag of $11 billion had led to enormous lobbying over several years by all the potential suppliers, most noticeably by the American companies. From Washington, there was an implicit, if not explicit, expectation of “payback” for the landmark U.S.-India nuclear deal. No doubt, had the government gone with Lockheed and Boeing, there would have been loud accusations at home of India caving into American “pressure.” At least since 2004, domestic voices comprising a diverse group of Nationalists and Leftists have been at the forefront in urging India to stay closer to its traditional un-aligned stand in international relations.
For all practical purposes, the metric for gauging India’s autonomy comes down to proximity to the U.S. And on this question, the decades old consensus against close ties with the U.S. has clearly eroded since the end of the Cold War, opening it to hot contestation between old and new opinion groups. (more…)Continue Reading →
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have flared up again since North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on November 23. Here is a round-up of Chinese, Japanese and Russian views on this latest crisis:
The Global Times, the official English newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, has been running daily editorials on the crisis:
- It emphasizes that a peaceful Korean Peninsula is in the core of Chinese interests, and warns that tensions on the Korean Peninsula have “now reached a dangerous breaking point… What is happening is not a game. No one can guarantee the situation will not turn into a real war.”
- The paper criticizes South Korea’s rejection of China’s proposal to restart the Six Party Talks, and says North Korea’s actions are proof of the “failure of the hard-line policies of the Lee Myung-bak administration.” South Korea should work with China and “reconsider its security strategy,” since “its alliance with the US cannot guarantee its security.” The headline of the Dec. 2 editorial says “the ball is now in South Korea’s court.”
- There were also strong words for the US role in Asia: (more…)
President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia was a mixed bag of achievements and disappointments. This was the assessment of a panel of experts at a recent public event on “Obama’s Asian Journey: Prospects for US Policy,” co-hosted by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Asia Society. Speaking on the panel, Deepa M. Ollapally, Alasdair Bowie, Gregg A. Brazinsky and Mike M. Mochizuki assessed the outcomes of Obama’s visit to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, respectively:
Obama’s visit to India was a case of “low expectations, high results.”
Concrete gains for India included: clear support for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council; lifting of nearly all embargos on dual-use technologies; and U.S. commitment to work toward India’s inclusion in a number of nuclear regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Missile Technology Control Regime.
More importantly, the visit marked a shift in U.S.-India relations from the narrow, sectoral engagement of the past, to a truly broad spectrum relationship. Obama is the first US President to view relations with India as a multi-layered partnership: (more…)Continue Reading →