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 →
The rise in global demand for nuclear energy is heavily concentrated in emerging and aspiring Asian powers. While nuclear power may alleviate energy shortages and climate change concerns, the promotion of nuclear energy compounds Asia’s nuclear weapon proliferation problems alongside nuclear power safety risks. All this is exacerbated by rising geopolitical tensions in Asia with more assertive policies – especially from China – in the region testing regional stability.
Against this perilous setting, Nuclear Debates in Asia: The Role of Geopolitics and Domestic Processes – a new book by the Rising Powers Initiative (RPI) at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies – questions the extent to which we can infer nuclear thinking simply from external conditions and instead considers policy thinking on nuclear power and proliferation in Asia to be more complex and variegated than often posited. In this Asia Report, we present analysis offered at a recent RPI book launch event at the Elliott School for International Studies at George Washington University (GWU) with commentary by several of the authors on South Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan. You can also listen to the event’s audio on the Sigur Center’s website.
Five Important Findings in the Book
The Nuclear Debates in Asia book found several illuminating common features across Asia:
- First, decision making on nuclear issues is still largely centrally controlled in a process dominated by elites in both democratic and authoritarian states.
- Second, this stranglehold on nuclear decision making has at times been confronted by grassroots level movements often focused on a specific nuclear question (e.g. protests against nuclear power plants or reprocessing facilities, anti-nuclear weapon groups) especially as pluralism is on the rise in parts of Southeast Asia, Japan, India, and even China.
- Third, nuclear weapons policy has been remarkably consistent despite tremendous external security challenges (particularly China’s ascendancy) and the rise of so-called “resource nationalism” alongside growing energy demands. Instead, nuclear policy appears to be relatively insulated from the whims of populist Nationalism.
- Fourth, the overall center of gravity in most of the countries studied shows the dominance of a Realist-Globalist coalition.
- Finally, Pakistan remains the outlier in this trend with nuclear debates essentially dominated by elites with Nationalist
What does the trade of nuclear materials have to do with reducing greenhouse gas emissions? The connection between the two may be more complex than you might think. India’s recent failed candidacy to earn membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has discouraged New Delhi’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement was drawn up at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last year and sought, among other things, to reduce global greenhouse emissions around the world in an effort to protect the environment and stop global warming. On April 22, 2016, India and 177 other countries signed the treaty with an understanding that the accord would take effect once 55 countries that account for 55 percent of the world’s emissions ratified it. Prior to India’s rejection from the NSG, 18 countries had already ratified it and a ratification by India would have meant that countries accounting for 55.49 percent of the emissions would have been committed to the agreement. This would have meant that only the remaining countries accounting for a meager .51 percent would have needed to ratify the agreement to finally make it binding on all signatories. (more…)Continue Reading →
Dr. Deepa M. Ollapally, Research Professor of International Affairs and Associate Director, Sigur Center for Asian Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission during a hearing on China and South Asia.
On the question of whether India sees China as a threat, Dr. Ollapally considered:
India’s top priority is to achieve the status of an economically developed country. Thus even a Nationalist-leaning governing party like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sees the value of economic integration as a way of stimulating economic growth. Economic growth in turn will lay the foundation for India’s military and political power in the region and beyond. For this to happen, India needs a peaceful extended neighborhood and good relations with China. After all, China is India’s largest trading partner too. Indian Globalists and Realists seem to be confident that economic development is China’s top objective as well. In interviews with Indian business and political leaders, the sentiment I hear most often is that Chinese leaders are first and foremost business-minded. There seems to be a level of confidence that the leaders of both countries will not let relations get out hand. For example, in fall 2014 as Xi Jinping and Modi were meeting in India for a bilateral summit, the spectre of a border encroachment by China at the very same moment, threatened to derail relations. Instead, the two leaders skillfully managed the crisis and averted a blow up on the ground or in the diplomatic arena. This type of crisis management augers well for a Realist/Globalist perspective to continue to hold in India.
With South China Sea debates already on the agenda at last week’s U.S.-ASEAN summit, new satellite images showing China deployed missiles to a disputed island tested ASEAN’s ability to manage the maritime domain. A joint statement at the close of the gathering did not mention China by name, but it outlined support for “mutual respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality, and political independence of all nations” as well as for “ensuring maritime security and safety, including the rights of freedom of navigation and overflight.” As host for the summit, the role of the United States in these maritime disputes was also center stage with President Barack Obama calling for “tangible steps” from all sides to resolve the region’s evolving maritime disputes “peacefully and through legal means,” including a “halt to further reclamation, new construction, and militarization of disputed areas.”
On February 17, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense broke the news China deployed two batteries of eight advanced surface-to-air missile launchers and a radar system in recent weeks. Taiwan provided satellite images showing the HQ-9 missile systems with a range of 125 miles now located on Woody Island – called Yongxingdao by China – in the Paracel Islands chain, which has administrated by Beijing since 1974 but is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. The Pentagon confirmed the presence of the missile systems and considered the moves to be “increasing tensions in the region and are counterproductive.” Secretary of State John Kerry pledged to have a “very serious conversation” with China about U.S. concerns Beijing is militarizing the South China Sea.
This Policy Alert covers the reactions in China, India, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam to these developments and is part of our series on Energy and Maritime Security for the Rising Powers Initiative’s project exploring the linkages between energy security debates and maritime strategies in the Indo-Pacific. (more…)Continue Reading →
On December 12, leaders from more than 190 countries reached a consensus on how to combat climate change after two weeks of intense negotiations and years of diplomatic wrangling. The Paris Agreement will succeed the expiring Kyoto protocol and seeks to keep the average global temperature from rising above two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels through reductions in greenhouse emissions, changes in energy policies, shifts in agriculture and livestock production, and other far reaching measures. Countries outlined their plans to reach these targets and pledged to share funding and technology to poorer states needing to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. This Policy Alert is a companion to Policy Alert #114 and illustrates the reactions on the final deal within India and China, two rising powers central to the negotiations and future success or failure of the accord.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the outcome in Paris where “every nation rose to the challenge, working towards a solution” that “has no winners or losers” save for the preservation of “climate justice” and “a greener future.” While many analysts worried India could play a “spoiler” in the negotiations due to its developing economy’s reliance on coal, New Delhi ultimately agreed to the final deal. (more…)
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 →
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 →
The launch of a UN arbitration tribunal on the China-Philippines maritime dispute has Asian powers watching closely as these debates unfold. From July 7 to 13 at The Hague, the Philippine delegation argued China violated the Philippines’s rights to exploit waters within a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as established by the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The treaty – which set rules on countries’ exercise of maritime activities – counts China, the Philippines, ASEAN countries, and many others as member-states. Sea-lanes through the South China Sea account for $5 trillion in trade every year. Therefore, the case could have a significant impact on many Asian nations, including Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam who attended the hearing as formal observers.
While Beijing refused to formally participate in the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) – the chosen UNCLOS dispute resolution mechanism – Chinese officials have taken opportunities to state their case through formal and informal channels, raising legal questions about whether China can dip its toes in the water without getting drowned by the tribunal’s verdict. Before the tribunal can begin to consider the case, the PAC will first decide if it has jurisdiction over the dispute in question before a later possible hearing to determine the legal merits of the Philippine complaint.
This Policy Alert — written by Timothy Westmyer, the program and research assistant at the Sigur Center, is part of our series on Energy and Maritime Security for the Rising Powers Initiative’s new project: The Linkages between Energy Security and Maritime Strategies in the Indo-Pacific. The research effort looks at how energy security debates shape and influence maritime strategies and vice-versa in China, India, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam and the implications of these linkages for U.S. policy toward the region. (more…)Continue Reading →
With the United States and South Korea at a loss how to end talks on their future nuclear energy ties, Nuclear Debates in Asia project scholar Scott Snyder offers a way forward. In a Policy Innovation Memorandum for the Council at Foreign Relations, where he is a senior fellow for Korea studies, Snyder outlined three steps that may allow the United States and South Korea to continue their collaboration on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy despite an on-going dispute over how South Korea handles U.S.-origin nuclear material.
To accomplish this diplomatic breakthrough, Snyder suggested to:
- Make the results of the U.S.-ROK joint study on spent fuel methods, including the viability of pyroprocessing, the basis for determining whether or not the United States will provide advanced consent to alter U.S.-origin nuclear fuel in a new agreement.
- Make negotiations on the renewal of the U.S.-Japan nuclear cooperation agreement in 2018 the benchmark for cooperation between the United States and countries with advanced nuclear power industries.
- Encourage South Korea to purchase an investment stake in a fuel-enrichment service provider, such as the new Urenco enrichment plant currently being built in the United States.
This innovative strategy, Snyder argued, would allow South Korea to reap the energy security and economic benefits of its robust domestic nuclear industry, for the two allies to expand their nuclear trade, and for the United States to develop “a consistent standard for cooperation with advances nuclear countries.”Continue Reading →