The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) recently convened in Tehran for its 16th Summit, drawing attention to the relevance of the NAM, members’ relations with Iran, and the ongoing turmoil in Syria. This post highlights commentary on the summit in the Indian, Russian and Chinese press.
The NAM summit drew considerable attention and commentary in India, due to both India’s status as a founding member of NAM and the bilateral meetings that PM Manmohan Singh had with leaders of Iran and Pakistan on the sidelines of the summit.
- The Hindu, known for its mix of leftist and soft-nationalist viewpoints, printed an editorial hailing the NAM’s significance and outlining two reasons why the summit was important for India: Singh’s public opposition to intervention in Syria was India’s “clearest statement of differences with the US on this issue,” and his meetings with the Iranian leadership demonstrated that “New Delhi’s relations with Tehran would not be dictated by the U.S.”
- In contrast, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri of the Hindustan Times acknowledged that anti-Americanism no longer characterizes the NAM. Instead, the paper’s foreign editor argued, the NAM as potential as a multilateral forum that could “provide a means to limit or slow down the expansion of Chinese interests in the world.”
- C. Raja Mohan, known for his great-power realist views in his Indian Express column, dismissed the “utter incoherence of the NAM as a collective political entity.” According to Mohan, the real winner at the NAM summit was Egypt’s new president Mohamed Morsi, whose attendance defied America’s wishes and whose public statement in support of the Syrian opposition riled the Iranian host.
- In the usually liberal-globalist paper The Times of India, an opinion piece similarly lauded Egyptian president Morsi for asserting an independent course of foreign policy: “NAM enables its member nations to…reject Washington’s current foreign policy… (more…)
Southeast Asia is unlikely to see an Egyptian-style popular protest leading to regime change in the near future, though it still offers lessons to the current wave of uprisings taking place across the Middle East and North Africa, said Southeast Asia expert Catharin Dalpino at a public lecture organized by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at George Washington University.
Catharin Dalpino, who is also an Adjunct Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at GWU, outlined five main reasons that the recent experience of Tunisia and Egypt will not be replicated in Southeast Asia:
- The region is not prone to contagion effects. Historical experience shows that political disturbances in one country have had limited impact beyond borders. Even during the Vietnam War, the ripple effect extended only to Cambodia and Laos, despite what the domino theory of the time had predicted.
- Southeast Asian countries have little in common. Whereas the Middle Eastern and North African countries generally share an anti-Western sentiment, there is no such “regional angst” in Southeast Asia, said Dalpino. In contrast, Southeast Asia is “more at peace with itself and the outside world than ever before.” However, it is possible that anti-China sentiments are brewing in the region, as seen by recent tensions over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, or reactions to China’s economic maneuvers throughout the region. (more…)
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 →
As Washington is closely following developments in Egypt, what are other countries saying about events in Egypt and the Middle East? Read about the domestic viewpoints in Japan, China, Russia, Iran and India:
The press appears preoccupied with Japan’s domestic politics, paying surprisingly little attention to events in Egypt.
- The Asahi Shimbun, however, has explicitly called for President Hosni Mubarak to “resign immediately.” It also points out that Japan is one of the main providers of foreign aid to Egypt, and urges the Japanese government to work with Western countries in pressing for a democratic transition in Egypt.
The Chinese government has blocked keyword searches of Egypt on the internet, while official reporting and commentary are downplaying any prospects of democratic change.
- “Color revolutions will not bring about real democracy,” runs the headline of an editorial in the Global Times. “Whether the [democratic] system is applicable in other countries is in question, as more and more unsuccessful examples arise,” says the Communist Party-sponsored English daily. (more…)