Posts Tagged 'security'

RPI Director Deepa Ollapally on US bombing of Afghanistan


US bombing of Afghanistan: Policy shift or just political grandstanding?

Dr. Deepa Ollapally, director of the Rising Powers Initiative and a research professor of international affairs at GWU, argued in an article on  that “it could be a way of sending the message that the Trump administration is taking a ‘tough’ line on terrorism as promised, without making tough policy changes.” Find out more here.

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Policy Alert: Key Rising Powers Warily Take Note of the Trump-Xi Summit

xresizer.php,qsrc=,,_public,_uploads,_gallery,_20170408,_Trump_20170408_600_855.jpg,aw=630.pagespeed.ic.SbPh7SMVjWPresident Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Ji Xinping met for the first time amidst an air of expectancy and great uncertainty last week. The US attack on a Syrian airbase as the two leaders were sitting down to dinner on April 6 however, overshadowed this summit with the world’s attention re-directed to American policy in Syria. How did key rising powers anticipate and react to the summit amidst the US attack on Syria? Find out here.

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Cultural and Linguistic Links between China and Central Asia: An Advantage or a Concern for “One Belt, One Road?”

Winding road in Zhangjiajie, China (Source: Liu Tao, Flickr)

Winding road in Zhangjiajie, China (Source: Liu Tao, Flickr)

The “One Belt, One Road” policy in China has received a great deal of attention over the past few years. This policy is the focal point of Xi Jinping’s foreign policy and domestic economic plan. While it is often referred to as “One Belt, One Road” or OBOR, the policy is in actuality a combination of two individual parts. The first part, the “Belt,” is a network of oil and natural gas pipelines as well as road and rail routes that span the distance between Xi’an and Western Europe. The second part, the “Road,” refers to waterways or a chain of ports and infrastructure projects on China’s coasts that travel from South and Southeast Asia to East Africa all the way to the north Mediterranean Sea.

One subject of particular interest with regard to the policy is the set of opportunities and challenges it presents, both for China and the countries it directly affects. Michael Clarke, in his report “Beijing’s March West: Opportunities and Challenges for China’s Eurasian Pivot,” points to several of these challenges and opportunities. Among the opportunities, Central Asia can act as a safety valve for China as US influence in the region tapers off. On the other hand, the stability of the far west regions of Xinjiang and Tibet is a challenge that China will continue to face as it pursues this policy. (more…)

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Policy Report: Perspectives on U.S.-India Relations

Expanding ties between the U.S. and India now span the entire spectrum of foreign policy, inevitably giving rise to convergences and divergences. What are some of the biggest challenges and greatest opportunities in U.S.-India relations? The “Perspectives on U.S.-India Relations” panel, held at the George Washington University on October 5, outlined the contours of the U.S.-India relationship and prospects for its future. The session, sponsored by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and hosted by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, was part of a broader daylong FICCI-GWU Foreign Policy Leadership Workshop introducing a leading group of Indian parliamentarians to U.S. foreign policy on current issues that are of major importance to India. Members of the Indian delegation included: (more…)

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Announcing the Launch of the Rising Powers Initiative Research Database

As part of the Rising Powers Initiative’s efforts to analyze and compare the foreign policy thinking in today’s rising powers, we are pleased to announce the launch of the RPI Research Database, a specialized bibliography of books and articles on targeted subjects that reflect the RPI’s ongoing researchEach entry contains an abstract or summary of the article or book. The Database has been 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.

Countries and regions in the Database include:

  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • South Korea
  • Southeast Asia and ASEAN
  • Taiwan

Topics and subjects in the Database include:

  • Identity and foreign policy
  • Energy security, maritime security, and Asian security
  • Nuclear energy and nuclear proliferation
  • Regional  political economy
  • U.S. foreign policy in Asia

The Research Database can be accessed here. We hope that this interactive 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. We encourage you to share the Database as a resource with your colleagues, and welcome your feedback and suggestions.

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POLICY ALERT- Disclosures on U.S. Surveillance Prompt Reactions from Asian Powers

snowdenEarlier this month, The Guardian UK reported on classified U.S. intelligence gathering operations that collected information on phone records and other internet user data around the globe. Edward Snowden, a former contractor working for CIA, revealed himself as the source of these reports, provoking a diverse set of reactions within the U.S. and international press. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, India, and Russia on these disclosures.


While China’s foreign ministry declined to comment directly on Snowden’s case due to diplomatic sensitivities, Chinese media outlets expressed a range of views on the story.

Some praised Snowden as a whistleblower exposing the ‘hypocrisy’ in U.S. criticism of China’s cyberspace activities:

  • Xinhua columnist Xu Peixi called PRISM – one of the NSA internet surveillance tools – thebleakest moment yet in the history of the Internet.” Xu added that Snowden “offers us a rare chance to reexamine the integrity of American politicians and the management of American-dominant Internet companies” such as Google, which provided the NSA with data on its users.
  • The Chinese military’s official newspaper, the People’s Liberation Army Daily, termed PRISM“frightening” since it refuses to accept the privacy of non-U.S. citizens. The editorial added that”U.S. intelligence agencies are habitual offenders with regards to network monitoring andespionage.” Global Times also pushed its leaders to “explicitly demand a reasonable explanation from the U.S. government” on its monitoring operations against China. The editorial declared that “China is a rising power, and it deserves corresponding respect from the U.S.”

Several stressed that these reports may hamper efforts to improve Sino-U.S. relations:

  • In Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Wang Xiangwei wrote that a top foreign policy adviser to the Chinese leadership hinted “Beijing would handle the Snowden case discreetly and had no interest in turning the event into a political case.”
  • Global Times argued that “diplomatically, Snowden has cast a shadow over the new Sino-US relationship right after the Xi-Obama meeting. The sooner the incident is wrapped up, the better the ties between the two countries will be.”

Others defended the surveillance operations as appropriate intelligence gathering tools:

  • In a letter to the South China Morning Post, Oren Tatcher and Sheung Wan contended that PRISM is a “perfectly legitimate program of self-defense” and that critics “don’t seem to understand” the “nature of electronic intelligence gathering.”
  • China Daily opined that President Obama should work to “convince the American people as well as global Internet users that the spying is a must and helps in a direct way to safeguard public safety from clear and present dangers.”

Finally, several debated the appropriate course of action for dealing with Snowden:

  •  “The optimal solution” would be for China to “provide necessary assistance for Snowden to go to a third country,” wrote Wang Xiangwei.
  • Xu Peixi argued that “China, despite the fact that it does not have a good reputation as far as Internet governance is concerned, should move boldly and grant Snowden asylum.” Global Times conceded that “China’s growing power is attracting people to seek asylum in China. This is unavoidable and should be used to accumulate moral standing.” (more…)
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Japan’s Shifting Strategic Discourse

In our latest Policy Brief, Richard Samuels writes:

After decades of accepting US supremacy in Asia as the foundation of its foreign and security policies, finding the right distance between the U.S. and China is the most important strategic choice facing Japan today. “Getting it just right” with these two powers will require both military and economic readjustments. But it will not be easy. Some in Japan fret about a Washington-Beijing “G-2” condominium. Others doubt U.S. capabilities and commitments going forward. There are also those who insist that unless Japan accommodates to Chinese power, it will lose influence in the region and globally. Still others are concerned that rivalry with China is unavoidable. Because the debate is often so clamorous, and because the Sino-Japanese relationship is so frequently punctuated by tension, the possibility that improved relations with China might be compatible with sustained close relations with the United States is often lost in the noise.

Read the full Policy Brief here.

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Working Paper- Rising Powers and a New Emerging Order

In advance of the G8 and G20 meetings held at Camp David, Maryland, and in Los Cabos, Mexico, in May and June 2012, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted two workshops to examine the pressures placed on international institutions as a result of changing international power dynamics. Approximately forty thought leaders from the private sector, government, civic sector, and academia, including RPI Co-PI Deepa Ollapally, came together in New York and Chicago as part of an ongoing Chicago Council research project on Rising Powers and a New Emerging Order. This working paper by Ambassador Richard S. Williamson, Chicago Council senior fellow on multilateral institutions, and Jana Chapman Gates, project director, summarizes the findings of the two workshops. These workshops were made possible by the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Learn more and download the working paper.

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Conflict Over the South China Sea: Identity Politics Meets History

By Shawn McHale, Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, George Washington University 


The South China Sea is one of the great connecting oceans of the world, acting as a major conduit of Asian and global trade.  It has also been a worrisome site of conflict.  In recent years, disputes over territorial claims have led to armed clashes involving China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It has also led to demonstrations.  Arguments have spilled into cyberspace: on YouTube, Google Earth, online newspaper articles, and chat rooms, nationalist tempers have flared over their country’s claims to these tiny islands, atolls, and reefs.

Most of the territorial claims over the South China Sea are surprisingly weak, and none is incontestable.  Here we must distinguish between arguments over the Paracels, the far-flung cluster of islands, reefs, and atolls closest to China, and those over the Spratlys, a similarly widely spread set of islands further to the south. Only China and Vietnam contest the Paracels, whereas six countries have claims to the Spratlys. Finally, the contemporary bitter arguments over sovereignty in this area repeatedly invoke historical evidence. It is the latter issue that will be the focus of this Policy Commentary.

Bluntly stated, we cannot impose contemporary notions of sovereignty on historical practices before the twentieth century.  Despite much misinformation and inflamed rhetoric to the contrary, historical evidence overwhelmingly supports the view that states did not, traditionally, claim exclusive territorial rights over the vast majority of the South China Sea.  To the contrary: the area has historically been an Asian maritime commons. What, then, does the historical evidence suggest? And how has argument over this evidence shaped Asian identity politics today?


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Rajesh Rajagopalan: New Delhi’s refusal to take cognizance of the fast changing situation in Iran leading to a ‘no-win strategic situation’

Can India sustain Iran policy?

Rajesh Rajagopalan
17 February 2012

As the situation in the West Asia careens towards war between Israel, US and Iran, India finds itself in perilous policy waters again. New Delhi’s refusal to take cognizance of the fast changing situation in the region, its return to an increasingly ideological foreign policy template coupled with a tendency for strategic procrastination is leading it into a no-win strategic situation.

Iran’s nuclear advances are reaching a stage where something has to give. A prominent essay published recently in the New York Times by the Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman suggested that Israeli leaders are coming close to a decision on attacking the Iranian nuclear programme. Indeed Bergman concluded after his interviews with Israeli decision-makers that Israel would strike Iran this year. Of course, as Bergman himself admitted in a subsequent interview, some of this might be strategic posturing by the Israeli leadership to put pressure on the US, but it is also true that Israel is increasingly feeling the pressure to act. Once Iran crosses the nuclear ‘capability’ threshold, it does not matter whether it actually builds nuclear weapons. And the favourite parlour games in capitals from Washington to New Delhi about whether Iran has the international legal right to walk up to the edge of the cliff is going to matter little because Israel’s worry is an existential one, and much more important to Israel than abstract points of law.

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