As we may have expected, the historic agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers at Vienna in the mid-July has already begun creating ripple effects on the geopolitics of South Asia. Although the relief from sanctions afforded to Iran won’t come into full effect until later in 2015 or early 2016, when Iran meets its obligations under the deal, the economic and strategic opportunities opening up with Iran’s reintegration into the global economy is a prime concern for the countries in the region. And these countries will be looking to factor in the new development into their national policies. India and Pakistan, specifically, will be looking to readjust their policies with respect to Iran and each other to take into account the central role that Tehran can play in the region, not in the least as a potentially major trading partner and energy provider.
With regards to the latter, the dominant theme has been pipeline politics. The lifting of sanctions on Iran has been touted by Pakistan as boding well for progress on the much-trumpeted $7 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, a massive energy infrastructure project that can prove essential in easing Pakistan’s energy woes. This is despite recent statements by the U.S. State Department on the matter indicating that Pakistan shouldn’t bank on the project just yet, at least not until Iran has met its obligations under the agreement – “We do not consider Iran open for business yet,” said Mark Toner, a U.S. State Department Spokesman. (more…)Continue Reading →
Europe is currently witnessing a massive refugee influx as millions of people flee war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Libya. While Germany has taken on leadership by welcoming 800,000 migrants this year, European countries have yet to come up with a unified EU policy to address the refugee issue. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil on the ongoing refugee crisis.
Chinese commentary blamed the United States and the European Union for causing the refugee crisis as a result of U.S. intervention in the Middle East. (more…)Continue Reading →
A near-9 percent dive in China shares sent world stocks and commodity prices tumbling on Monday amidst deepening concerns about a China-led global economic slowdown and crashing commodities prices. This Policy Alert examines reactions from China, India, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and Russia to the ‘Black Monday’ stock turmoil.
Following a poor week that saw an 11-percent drop in its market value, Chinese stocks nosedived again on Monday with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plummeting 8.49 percent to close at 3,209.91 points, the sharpest decline in more than eight years. (more…)Continue Reading →
A series of ASEAN meetings including the 22nd ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) took place from August 1-6 in Kuala Lumpur. Concerns over territorial disputes in the South China Sea came under the spotlight at these meetings, with ASEAN’s foreign ministers struggling until the eleventh hour to issue a joint statement. In this Policy Alert, we examine reactions from China, Russia, India, Japan, and South Korea to last week’s ASEAN meetings.
Chinese media defended accusations by other nations regarding China’s land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. (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 →
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his first visit to China since taking office a year ago. The much anticipated three day trip began May 14 and yielded 26 deals worth $22 billion between the two countries spanning a wide range of industries including renewable energy, power infrastructure, and steel. Prime Minister Modi began his trip in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province and the hometown of Chinese President Xi Jinping, followed by meetings in Beijing and Shanghai. This Policy Alert covers reactions to Modi’s visit from India, China, and South Korea.
Media coverage on Modi’s visit spanned a wide range of topics including addressing the India-China trust deficit, the trip’s emphasis on soft power diplomacy, and Modi’s capacity to expand Sino-Indian ties. (more…)Continue Reading →
A massive earthquake in Nepal on April 25 has claimed thousands of lives and left many survivors camped in the streets for fear of aftershocks. International humanitarian aid has poured into the country as the victim toll continues to rise. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from India, China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea on the humanitarian disaster in Nepal.
The Indian government responded to the earthquake by sending 300 disaster-response personnel and a mobile hospital. Newspapers in India praised the country’s swift response, while noting the lack of regional cooperation. (more…)Continue Reading →
Last Thursday, the 18-month-long negotiations between the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5 + 1) and Iran finally reached a framework agreement designed to curtail the Iranian nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions against the country. President Barack Obama called the deal a “historic understanding” between Washington and Tehran, urging Congress, U.S. allies in the Middle East, and the Iranian regime to work toward a final agreement by a June 30 deadline. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, South Korea, Japan, and Brazil on the Iran nuclear deal. (more…)Continue Reading →
After sixteen-hours of diplomatic talks in Minsk last week, leaders from Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany reached a ceasefire agreement, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel described as a “glimmer of hope” for the longstandng military conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Although the ceasefire came into effect on Sunday, there have already been reports of fire by pro-Russian rebels in some towns. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Russia, China, Japan, and India on the ceasefire agreement and the future of the Ukraine crisis.
Russians took a cautious wait-and-see approach to the ceasefire, with some pondering the casefire’s implications for the global and regional order. (more…)Continue Reading →
RPI author Deepa Ollapally discusses Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s worldview in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India. This op-ed originally appeared in the Indian Express.
In the wake of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India, there has been no dearth of pronouncements about Narendra Modi, with the prime minister variously described as a problem-solver, a strategic thinker, a public relations master. Behind these appellations, however, lies a deeper question: what is Modi’s worldview? The series of high-profile summits with the Japanese, Chinese and American leaders in fairly rapid succession, and now Modi’s proposed visit to China in May, give us a better idea of his foreign policy worldview — one country at a time. Even the optics of these meetings is giving us markers of Modi’s thinking.
Modi’s own worldview has not been easy to read — his postures and policies have not gone according to the hard nationalist script that many expected, given his base. For hard nationalists, their main foreign policy goal would be to make India a global military power. Economic strength is important, but secondary; power is paramount, and diplomacy is just a weak appendage to power.
Modi, however, started off with a bold diplomatic gesture of issuing an unprecedented invitation to neighbouring leaders for his inauguration. Since then, whether it is pouring tea under a shamiyana for the American president, sitting and chatting on a traditional Indian swing in Ahmedabad with the Chinese president, or strolling the grounds of the famous Toji Buddhist Temple in Kyoto with the Japanese prime minister, it is hard to miss the diplomatic disarming. (more…)