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 →
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 research. Each 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:
- South Korea
- Southeast Asia and ASEAN
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.Continue Reading →
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?Continue Reading →
The United States is “pivoting” toward Asia. This strategy was formally publicized last month with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s essay on “America’s Pacific Century.” This week, President Barack Obama has been visiting Asia to push for a Trans-Pacific trading bloc and stronger military ties with US allies. How are major Asian powers reacting to America’s strategy to “re-engage” the Asia Pacific region? Today’s post highlights Chinese, Russian and Japanese views on the economic aspects of this strategy.
Chinese officials have so far made only brief comments on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), all of which express China’s support for regional economic integration but stressing its preference for existing mechanisms. Assistant Commerce Minister Yu Jianhua said any trade mechanism should be “open and inclusive,” while Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said economic integration should proceed in a “step-by-step manner.”
Commentary in the press characterized the TPP as a part of a wider strategy to contain China:
- Li Hongmei, editor of the People’s Daily Online, wrote that “the U.S. intends to play a dominant role in the to-be Trans-Pacific architecture by handpicking its members and systemizing and regulating them in political and military spheres in accordance with its own standards so as to turn out a comprehensively economic and political alliance under the U.S. leadership.”
- In addition to similar criticisms, a Global Times editorial pointed out that “any Asian cooperation with the absence of Beijing will not have much heft. China never lacks channels for conducting cooperation with its regional counterparts.”
Academic opinions leaned toward a “wait-and-see” attitude:
- Wang Yuzhu of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said, “Economic regionalism is China’s most pragmatic choice, because the international architecture is changing rapidly. China has to recalibrate its relations with the rest of the world.”
- According to Lu Jianren, deputy director of the APEC Study Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, “How the TPP negotiations will progress is still a matter of great uncertainty. What can be certain is it will be strategically detrimental to the old ASEAN Plus Three coalition, which has long been lagging behind in forming a free-trade zone that can allow a level of economic unity in the region.”
As Russia gears up to host the 2012 APEC summit in Vladivostock, commentary on U.S. re-engagement in Asia was introspective, questioning Russia’s own unique orientation as both a European and Asian state. (more…)Continue Reading →
Economic integration in Asia has progressed further and enjoys broader support than political integration. Whether economic integration requires political integration in order to survive, and the nature of the relationship between interdependence and conflict, remain open questions. That is the case in general as well as in the particular case of key contemporary rising powers: China and India. These questions will play an important role in understanding the prospects for conflict or cooperation in Asia. This Policy Commentary outlines the general debate on these questions and applies it to China and to India.
The Interdependence Debate
The main argument linking economic integration and peace is as follows. Increasing trade and international investment facilitates economic efficiency by allowing for economies of scale, and for countries to take advantage of the benefits of specialization and exchange. Once international economic links are established, governments do not want to interrupt them and suffer an economic loss. They consequently pursue stable and peaceful relations with their trading partners.
The counterargument is that economic integration can increase the likelihood of conflict in two principal ways. First, integration can lead to trade disputes. For example, trade imbalances can lead to complaints by the country that is experiencing a trade deficit. Inflows of foreign investment can lead to concerns about excessive influence by foreigners. (more…)Continue Reading →