On November 25, Fidel Castro, the long-serving revolutionary leader of Cuba, passed away at the age of 90. After assuming power in 1959, Castro’s efforts to transform the Republic of Cuba into a communist country faced fierce opposition, economic blockades, and a myriad of assassination attempts from the United States. Throughout the Cold War, Castro inserted himself into global affairs – including the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and his close bonds with the Soviet Union and China – to a degree that outstripped the relatively small size of his island nation.
While his death was a moment of celebration for many Cuban-Americans, Cuban exiles, and U.S. politicians, several rising powers in Asia and Latin America took time to praise Castro’s leadership in fighting for the rights of developing countries. Fidel’s younger brother, Raúl, will remain as president – a position he has held since 2006 – until 2018 when he pledged to step down. In this Policy Alert, we survey the reactions from China, Brazil, India, Russia, Japan, and South Korea to the passing of Fidel Castro and the future of Cuba.
In offering his condolences to Cuba, President Xi Jinping called Castro a “great figure of our times” who made “immortal historic contributions to the world socialist development” and was a “close comrade and sincere friend” to China. Premier Li Keqiang praised Castro’s contributions to the bilateral relationship between China and Cuba and that Beijing was “willing to work with Cuba to inherit and carry on the traditional friendship.”
The vast majority of China’s media and expert commentary mourned Fidel Castro’s passing and noted the strong Sino-Cuban ties under his rule.
- To China Daily, Castro’s death was a “reminder the Cold War is already over,” and now it is time for world leaders to focus on joint cooperation between developed and developing countries based on “peace and development instead of confrontation.” The paper, which also ran a detailed biography of Fidel and his ties with China, concluded “the world cannot afford to relive the Cold War.”
- Xinhua’s Chen Shilei called his death a “great loss to the Cuban and Latin American people as well as to the world socialist development.” Castro protected Cuba’s “national sovereignty and dignity against the long-time U.S. isolation and embargo,” and his “glorious image and great achievements” will be “remembered forever.”
- Hailing Castro as an “old friend to the Chinese people,” Global Times said Cuba “never wanted to make enemies and sour U.S.-Cuba relations to a large extent were caused by” the United States.
- Han Han, general secretary of the Center of Cuban Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, saw “time and history” having “vindicated and awarded Fidel Castro’s hard fight to uphold Cuba’s sovereign integrity and independence.” China and Cuba have a “comradely relationship” with China teaching the island how to open up to the world and achieve reform while staying true to its socialist roots.
- Global Times did not think Fidel’s death would have “political ramifications globally” since power has already transferred to Raúl Castro, but his passing “stirs ideology clash in China.” On Chinese social media, some Chinese youth have attacked Castro as being too close to the Soviet Union instead of China during the Cold War. The paper argued, however, these views were misguided as Castro was a “good friend” to China.
Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. After the polls closed and the votes were counted in a nail biter of an election on November 8, the Trump campaign won enough electoral college votes to defeat Hillary Clinton and retake the White House. Along with a GOP majority in the Senate and the House, President-Elect Trump and Republicans will have free rein over the instruments of American government. As demonstrated by previous Policy Alerts on the nominating conventions and the debates, rising powers have been closely watching the U.S. presidential election to understand how the next administration might change U.S. foreign policy and the global economy. In this Policy Alert, we explore the reactions from China, Russia, India, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea to the surprise conclusion of the 2016 race for the White House.
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed congratulations to President-elect Trump and his desire to work closely together to “manage differences in a constructive way, in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, cooperation and win-win.”
Several commentators in China worried Trump’s presidency might have a negative effect on U.S.-China relations and could complicate Beijing’s economic and foreign policy ambitions.
- China Daily saw Trump’s victory as the “logical outcome of the prevailing anti-establishment feelings” in a deeply divided U.S. society. China will have to adapt to “Trump at the helm” and see if his threats to slap a 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports to the United States and withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change were just campaign rhetoric or a promise.
- Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University, foresaw Beijing being more assertive in its dealings with Washington with Trump’s China policy having “negative effects on Sino-U.S. economic cooperation.”
- Lin Hongyu, scholar at Huaqiao University, credited Trump’s win with the campaign riding a current of anti-globalization to the degree that the election result did “not come as a surprise at all” to those not blinded by the media and elites.
- Shen Dingli, professor of international relations at Fudan University, predicted if Trump “indeed removes the troops from Japan, the Japanese may develop their own nuclear weapons.” He worried “South Korea may also go nuclear if Trump cancels the missile deployment and leaves the country alone facing the North’s threats. How is that good for China?”
Others were less worried about Trump’s victory either because China can adapt or that Trump will be constrained at home.
- Mei Xinyu, research fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, thought Trump’s victory would “create a chance to end the ‘self-damaging competition’” between China and the United States.
- On whether Trump would continue Obama’s “Pivot to Asia,” China Daily predicted that while the next administration will not “roll back the U.S. presence in the region,” it matters “a huge difference how the Trump-led” White House “goes about it.”
- Global Times guaranteed China was “strong enough to cope” with President Trump, who is “not as bold enough to really change” the United States.
- Jin Canrong of Remin University considered it “unlikely” Trump will be able to fulfill his foreign policy promises as he is restrained by other conservatives and a pluralistic democracy. Lin Hongyu voiced a similar viewpoint.
- “Democracy is the loser in U.S. Vote,” declared China Daily while criticizing the level of personal attacks and “nasty aspects” of American style democracy. The People’s Daily made a similar claim.
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 →
Last month, President Barack Obama traveled to India—becoming the first president to have visited the country twice while in office—and held a summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a number of issues, from much awaited progress on India’s nuclear liability law, to the strengthening of defense ties involving technology trade, to U.S. $4-billion investment in Indian businesses, to counterterrorism and climate change cooperation, along with an expansive strategic vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region. Does this summit mark a breakthrough in the Indo-US relations, moving past incremental progress to transformational progress? If so, does the credit go to Modi’s leadership role in making sure that India’s entrenched bureaucracy fall in place? Or, is much of the success still hype without tangible outcomes? In an interview with India Abroad, Deepa Ollapally, Research Professor of International Affairs and the Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, offered her views on the recent Indo-US summit:
I would characterize President Obama’s trip to India as more than transactional but much less than transformational. The optics were certainly grandiose, from the unprecedented scene of Obama sitting still in one place for over two hours of pomp and pageantry, to Prime Minister Modi pouring tea for Obama under a shamiana on the lawns of Hyderabad House. Of course the show itself holds some extra importance because I think it does demonstrate in no uncertain terms Modi’s own commitment to strong Indo-US ties going forward. Modi’s worldview is not easy to read and this gives us another marker of his thinking. (more…)Continue Reading →
U.S. President Barack Obama’s three-day trip to India last week concluded with a lengthy, 59-paragraph-long joint statement containing agreements on a variety of issues, from much awaited progress on India’s nuclear liability law, to the strengthening of defense ties involving technology trade, to U.S. $4-billion investment in Indian businesses, to counterterrorism and climate change cooperation, along with an expansive strategic vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from India, China, and Japan on the recent summit between President Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
INDIAContinue Reading →
The issue of nationalism in Asia has gained attention in recent years as two new nationalist leaders—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi—came into office with aspirations to play a greater role in shaping the regional economic and security order. How does nationalism affect the foreign policies of the world’s third-largest economy and its largest democracy?
This question was addressed by Richard Samuels, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Deepa M. Ollapally, Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Research Professor of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University (GWU), at a Rising Powers Initiative conference on “Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: A Resurgence of Nationalism?” held on November 18 at GWU. The conference reconvened authors to update their findings in the book Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan, and Russia (Oxford University Press, 2012).Continue Reading →
On November 26-27, leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka gathered in Kathmandu to attend the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit. Under this year’s theme of “regional integration,” leaders sought to conclude three much-expected, showpiece agreements concerning road, rail, and power connectivity, aimed to boost the intra-regional trade for the energy-starved region. However, they fell short of expectations and were only able to agree on the energy deal. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from India and China on the outcomes of the SAARC summit.
Expectations for the SAARC summit were high in India given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise invitations to the leaders of SAARC member states to his inaugural ceremony in May, a decision that has stood out as a “game changer.” Indian commentators especially focused on the summit’s economic promises for South Asia, whose intra-regional trade is less than 5% of its total trade and accounts for less than 2% of its GDP. (more…)Continue Reading →
Astute readers will recall Betteridge’s law of headlines—an answer to any question in a headline is always no. India’s foreign policy—seen through its history, grand strategy, elites, and institutions—operates in an enduring and narrowly defined band of elite consensus, and therefore will likely not change under the new leadership.
Narendra Modi’s successful campaign focused on economic growth through reform, good governance, and courting of investment—he sold himself as a man who would make Indians forget about the disappointing growth and corruption of the second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of Manmohan Singh. Modi has a track record as a proud Hindu nationalist, albeit a pragmatic one who recognized the foundation of India as inclusive and secular. During his campaign, he downplayed the earlier divisive communal rhetoric of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) and its spiritual well-spring, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) (a right-wing Hindu nationalist group Modi is a member of).
With the new Modi administration, will there be a dramatic reorientation of foreign policy and relations with China and the United States? As part of a sequel, this first blog post tackles this question by examining India’s history, grand strategy, and foreign policymaking institutions and inputs. Relations with China will continue to be marked by bilateral engagement (economically and diplomatically) and hedging (multilateral engagement and self-strengthening), both driven by India’s relative weakness. Modi’s energy and focus have brought new optimism in America, but the relationship will still be shaped within the contours of strategic autonomy, special sensitivity, and capacity constraints. This is a challenging relationship for both the United States and India—as proud and occasionally dissenting equals—to manage. The second blog post will further analyze these bilateral relationships under the Modi administration. (more…)Continue Reading →
With the Modi government’s “Act East” foreign policy to strengthen its relations with China, Japan, Australia, Deepa Ollapally, Research Professor of International Affairs and the Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, recently wrote an article in India Abroad where she argued “for India, the US is now becoming just first among equals.” Ollapally claims that while the Modi government will likely maintain steady progress on foreign policy in Asia, it is “not clear where additional breakthroughs are going to be made in Indo-US relations.”
Since coming to power in May, one thing is clear: Narendra Modi has only strengthened his hold even more over the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party by coopting or sidelining his peer competitors and detractors, and elevating his close associates. (more…)Continue Reading →
During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s five-day trip to Japan last week, the two governments declared “the opening of a new age” in bilateral relations, signing a “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” aimed at strengthening their strategic and economic ties. The agreement delivered some promises, including Japan’s $35 billion investment in India over the next five years, but not others, including civil nuclear energy cooperation and “two-plus-two” security ministerial talks. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from India, Japan, and China on the India-Japan partnership.
The Indian government and newspapers emphasized the importance of India-Japan relations. (more…)Continue Reading →