The Rising Powers Initiative (RPI) at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies is pleased to offer the RPI Research Database.
RPI is a multi-year, cross-national research effort that examines the role of domestic identities and foreign policy debates of aspiring powers in Asia and Eurasia. As part of our efforts to analyze and compare the foreign policy thinking in today’s rising powers, the Research Database is an edited bibliography of books and articles on targeted subjects that reflect our ongoing research.
Each entry contains an abstract or summary along with further information on how to access the resource. The database is 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.
- South Korea
- Southeast Asia and ASEAN
- Identity and foreign policy
- Energy security, Asian security, and maritime security
- Nuclear energy and nuclear proliferation
- International political economy
- U.S. foreign policy in Asia
The Research Database can be accessed here.
We hope that the 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.
Indo-Afghan relations grew stronger as India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, traveled to Afghanistan on June 3rd to inaugurate the Afghan-Indian Friendship Dam. The 42 megawatt hydroelectric dam is the result of a $273 million investment by the Indian Government to promote agriculture in Afghanistan’s Herat province. It is estimated that the dam will be able to soon irrigate 75,000 hectares of farmland.
Construction of the dam, originally named Salma Dam, had actually begun in 1976, but was halted when the Soviets occupied Afghanistan in 1979. The rebellion against Soviet occupation and the subsequent civil war greatly damaged the dam’s infrastructure. However, after the overthrow of the Taliban, India renewed its commitment to building the dam. Thus, although forty years after initially starting, construction of the dam is now complete.
The inauguration of the dam is only one of many recent steps towards stronger Indo-Afghan economic and political relations. Recently, the two powers – along with Iran – signed a regional corridor trade agreement. The key feature of the agreement is India’s pledge to finance the development of the Chabahar port, Iran’s only port with direct access to the ocean. In return, Iran agrees to a sea-land trade route to India via Afghanistan’s road networks. (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 →
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 →
Iran and the P5 + 1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are currently engaging in historic negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The Joint Plan of Action (JPA), signed in November 2013 and entered into force in January 2014, gives the parties six months to solve the international dispute with a final deal. This fragile détente followed the election of Hassan Rouhani – considered by some to be a voice for moderation in Iran – as president last June. These developments triggered enthusiastic reactions within Asian powers soon after the interim agreement was signed. Several countries in the region have vested interests in Iranian oil for their energy needs as well as important concerns regarding nuclear nonproliferation and regional security issues.
On June 9-10, U.S. officials held bilateral meetings with their Iranian counterparts in Geneva on the status of Iran’s nuclear program. Analysts have predicted the talks will be extended an additional six months to resolve outstanding issues, but the JPA formally expires a year after it entered into force. As the July 20, 2014 extension deadline approaches, this Nuclear Debates in Asia Digest highlights the evolution of diplomatic relations over the past months between Iran and countries in the Nuclear Debates in Asia project. (more…)Continue Reading →
Rajesh Rajagopalan, a participant in RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia and Worldviews of Aspiring Powers projects and professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote an op-ed for The Economic Times where he discussed challenges that will be waiting in the inbox of Sushma Swaraj, the recently named External Affairs Minister for India’s new government. After the overwhelming election of Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, Rajagopalan suggests two key priorities for the new foreign policy team: 1) restoring good relations with the United States, East Asian powers, and India’s immediate neighbors; and 2) improving Indian foreign service infrastructure.
He expects Swaraj will be able to take advantage of the BJP’s commanding mandate to “undertake both important policy and institutional changes” since “such opportunities come but rarely and it would be a shame if this one is wasted.” (more…)Continue Reading →
On the heels of last month’s Nuclear Security Summit in The Netherlands, Nuclear Debates in Asia project scholar Dr. Hui Zhang recently wrote an op-ed for The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists urging China to join 35 other countries who pledged to follow more rigorous nuclear security rules. Beijing and a handful of others declined to sign on to the joint document — known as the Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation agreement — which commits leaders to “incorporate the principles and guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding nuclear security into their national laws, and to allow teams of international experts to periodically evaluate their security procedures.” Hui, who is also a senior scholar at Harvard University’s Project on Managing the Atom, explored why China eschewed the joint agreement and why this decision should be reconsidered:
The most significant achievement to emerge from the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit was a pledge by 35 countries to observe the terms of a joint agreement, known as Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation. This document committed the signatories to incorporate the principles and guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)regarding nuclear security into their national laws, and to allow teams of international experts to periodically evaluate their security procedures. Promoted strongly by the chairs of all three nuclear summits—the United States, South Korea, and the Netherlands— the 2014 initiative is an important step towards creating a robust global security system designed to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.
Yet China, along with Russia, India, and Pakistan, did not join the pledge. Beijing has not offered any explanations. (more…)Continue Reading →
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, wrote an op-ed for the Indian Express on April 15 discussing the presidential election in Afghanistan. She argues that Afghanistan’s unpredictable neighbor, Pakistan, remains a “wild card” for the new Afghan president, as Pakistani terror attacks continue to pose a threat to the country’s stability:
New Afghan president must deal with an unpredictable neighbour.
By all accounts, the much-awaited presidential election in Afghanistan was a success, at least in terms of the turnout and voting process. As we wait for official results to see whether a run-off is necessary, in the event that no single candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the votes, it is worth considering the looming question — Afghanistan’s post-election prospects. A pivotal actor in Afghanistan’s fortunes is not the Afghan voter, Taliban fighter, former warlord or even the new president. It is Afghanistan’s next-door neighbour Pakistan, which can only be characterised as a “wild card”.
It is hard to describe Pakistan as anything else when, even after 13 years of waging war together in Afghanistan, US officials and analysts on South Asia are not able to assess the Pakistan government’s “real” intentions towards Kabul after American withdrawal. Instead, they tend to offer two very divergent interpretations, an optimistic scenario and a pessimistic one, thus leaving this critical question unanswered.
Although the takers for an optimistic scenario are decreasing, it is perhaps understandable from a diplomatic viewpoint that a dire prediction is not a desirable policy option for the US: it would highlight just how little has been achieved even as it departs, and just how little can be done even if it wanted to change the equation with Pakistan. (more…)Continue Reading →
Negotiators from Iran and the so-called P5+1 powers – the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany – announced on November 24 that they reached a deal to address suspicions over Iran’s nuclear activities. In exchange for Iran freezing key elements of its nuclear program, the P5+1 offered $4.2 billion in foreign exchange and to ease some sanctions on Iranian energy and economic sectors for the next six months. The deal aims to be a sign of good faith between all parties as talks on a broader permanent deal continue.
This announcement sparked a dialogue within countries in Asia with their own varying levels of nuclear capacity. Since Iran’s primary foreign buyers of its oil are China, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and Japan, the agreement provides additional avenues for increased energy trade between Asia and Iran. However, the deal also opens up questions about the intersections of nuclear energy, nonproliferation policies, and regional security in Asia. In this Nuclear Debates in Asia Digest by Timothy Westmyer, research and program assistant at RPI, we explore how countries in our Nuclear Debates in Asia project – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam – reacted to the Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal and how they are addressing these pressing questions.
China, India, South Korea, and Thailand were among countries which recently received a waiver from U.S. sanctions targeting countries that import Iranian crude oil because these countries have reduced their dependence on Iranian supplies over the past several months. They will be allowed to continue to purchase Iranian oil over the next 180 days without penalties.
China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said the agreement “will help to uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation system [and] safeguard peace and stability in the Middle East.”
- -The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang said it was a “mutually beneficial agreement which lives up to the broad expectation of the international community” and that “China will continue to play a constructive role and actively promote peace talks.” (more…)
Christopher Clary, a participant in RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project and a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently wrote an essay for The Stimson Center titled “Deterrence Stability and the Conventional Balance of Forces in South Asia” where he argued that the traditionally held notion that India holds an overwhelming conventional superiority over Pakistan is — for the time being — overstated. Clary concludes, however, that India’s conventional modernization efforts will continue to outpace Pakistan,and that the primary challenge is “how to manage this transition from a regime where conventional and nuclear deterrence operate, to one in which Pakistan is primarily reliant on its nuclear arsenal.”
Here are some highlights from his report:
On the unquestioned assumption of India’s conventional superiority:
India’s considerable military edge over Pakistan is normally taken as a given, from which analysts typically focus on how Indian political and military leaders might employ military force and whether they would accidentally cross a Pakistani “redline.” Within Pakistan, analysts scrutinize whether and how its leadership would choose to employ nuclear weapons (or threats of their use) in the face of impending Indian conventional military victory. Often this assumption—jumping to the end of the story—is justified by pointing to past precedent. After all, India has not lost any of its four wars with Pakistan. Even some within Pakistan occasionally jest that “the Pakistan Army is the best army to have never won a war.” At a certain level of abstraction, these historical references are certainly true, but past conflicts tell us very little about the contours of a future fight.
On the most likely scenario for future large-scale conflict between India and Pakistan:
The standard template, then, for most analysts concerned about uncontrolled escalation in South Asia is that a future India-Pakistan conflict will begin with a major terrorist attack in India that can be traced back to Pakistan. The December 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament and the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai are archetypical examples of possible triggers of conflict. A third attack, the coordinated bombing of the Mumbai commuter rail system on July 11, 2006, also merits inclusion as an example of a possible initiator of unintended conflict, since these attacks were stunningly effective, killing 209 and injuring 900 more.
Notably, none of these despicable attacks triggered an actual war or even limited hostilities between the two militaries. One could nonetheless imagine, under plausible scenarios, that certain mass casualty acts against iconic targets might lead to a decision by a future Indian Cabinet Committee on Security to initiate hostilities against Pakistan. (more…)Continue Reading →