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  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: “It is always darkest just before the dawn of a new day” goes the old saying. Well, it looks pretty dark when it comes to U.S.-DPRK relations and the prospects for the Six-Party Talks, with no significant progress reported this quarter in the quest for a “complete and correct declaration” of North Korea's nuclear programs and activities. Hope springs eternal, however, as both sides continued to work toward a much needed “third breakthrough” in the next quarter.
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Nicholas Szechenyi, Michael J. Green
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Japanese domestic politics was in turmoil this quarter due to a divided legislature and the opposition's efforts to block several key pieces of legislation in an attempt to force Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo out of office. The deadlock centered almost exclusively on economic issues, much to the dismay of U.S. investors who have increasingly begun to question the ability of the political leadership in Japan to manage the economy. The Fukuda administration signaled Japan's sustained commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance and a leadership role in international security by passing a bill re-authorizing Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) refueling operations in the Indian Ocean. But a collision between an MSDF Aegis-equipped destroyer and a fishing boat near Tokyo in February, coupled with continued fallout from a bribery scandal last fall, forced the government to focus more on structural reform at the Defense Ministry at the expense of new policy initiatives. Rape allegations against a U.S. soldier stationed in Okinawa and the detainment of another as a murder suspect sparked demonstrations against the U.S. military presence in Japan, though the two governments worked closely to prevent a crisis. Bilateral coordination on the Six-Party Talks continued and there were hints of renewed interest in a trilateral consultation framework with South Korea. Several events in Washington were dedicated to the U.S.-Japan alliance and brought public attention to pressing issues and ideas that might inform a bilateral agenda going forward.
  • Topic: International Security, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Washington, India, South Korea, Tokyo
  • Author: Bonnie Glaser
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Developments on China's domestic front were prominent this quarter with extreme winter weather coinciding with the Spring Festival, the annual convocation of the “two meetings” in Beijing, and protests in Tibet that spread to neighboring provinces with Tibetan populations. Key events in Sino-U.S. bilateral ties included the fifth Senior Dialogue in Guiyang, a brief visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to kick-start the Six-Party Talks, and a visit by FBI Director Robert Mueller to discuss security for the upcoming August Olympic Games. In the military sphere, the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Timothy Keating traveled to China and the Defense Policy Coordination Talks produced several agreements. Stable and complicated were watchwords for the Sino-U.S. relationship.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Beijing
  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The major event of the first quarter of 2008 was the inauguration of a new government in South Korea. The Lee Myung-bak government offered some initial signals of the types of policies it intends to pursue both on and off the peninsula. While there is much that was accomplished under the Roh Moo-hyun government in U.S.-ROK relations, most experts agree that the overall tone between the new Lee government and the Bush administration will improve considerably. Meanwhile, U.S.-DPRK relations in the context of the Six-Party Talks remain stuck on completing the second phase of the denuclearization agreement, despite some audibles by the U.S. team in conjunction with the Chinese. While we may be in the first quarter of the year, it may be the last quarter for the six-party process absent any progress.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Joseph Ferguson
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As even the most casual of observers knows, the U.S.-Russian bilateral relationship has deteriorated steadily over the past five years. Signs seemed to point to this over the past quarter as the culmination of the confrontation between Moscow and Washington, with a number of key events scheduled to occur: a Kosovar declaration of independence, further NATO expansion, the Russian presidential election, and a 2+2 meeting focused on the controversial missile defense system in Eastern Europe. But as the quarter ended with an unexpected, yet cordial summit meeting between Presidents Bush and Putin in Sochi, the relationship seemed to have weathered the cold winter and spring seems to have brought a harbinger of better relations – at least until the U.S. presidential election in November.
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Washington, Eastern Europe, Moscow
  • Author: Catharin Dalpino
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: On a bilateral level, U.S. relations with Southeast Asia held steady in the face of complicated political transitions in Thailand and Malaysia. Incremental gains were seen in security ties with U.S. allies and partners in the region – Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore – while two issues remaining from the Vietnam War era complicated relations with Vietnam and Cambodia. Although the U.S. is no closer to signing the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, three new initiatives with ASEAN were put onto the table in early 2008, suggesting an alternative path to a stronger regional role for the U.S. However, Burma's deteriorating situation casts a long shadow over U.S. bilateral and regional relations with Southeast Asia. The regime's determination to go forward with a constitutional referendum in May is creating new fissures within the region and will make it more difficult for Washington to pursue comprehensive plans of any kind to strengthen relations with ASEAN.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Preoccupied this quarter with key decisions on appointments, budgets, and government reorganization in the lead-up to the 11th National People's Congress while facing serious disruption caused by February snowstorms and instability in Tibet during March, senior Chinese leaders had little time for travel to or substantial interaction with Southeast Asia. Chinese economic relations with the region moved forward, defense relations with Singapore and Indonesia advanced, and China and Vietnam seemed to calm disputes over territorial claims in the South China Sea.
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • Author: David G. Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In January, Taiwan's voters delivered a stunning defeat to the Democratic Progressive Party in the Legislative Yuan elections. These results both foreshadowed and influenced the resounding victory Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou won in the March presidential election. Most importantly for cross-Strait relations, the UN referendum promoted by Chen Shui-bian failed to pass. Beijing's disciplined avoidance of overt interference in this year's elections paid off. Beijing and Washington both breathed sighs of relief. Beijing now faces major challenges. First, how to avoid short-term actions that would undercut domestic support in Taiwan for Ma's more positive attitude toward China and, over the longer term, how to seize the opportunity to promote more stable cross-Strait relations.
  • Political Geography: China, Washington, Taiwan, Beijing
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: For almost the whole of the first quarter of 2008, official inter-Korean relations were largely suspended in an uneasy limbo. As of late March, that void was the story. Up to a point this was only to be expected. A new conservative leader in Seoul – albeit a pragmatist, or so he tells us – was bound to arouse suspicion in Pyongyang at first. Also, Lee Myung-bak needed some time to settle into office and find his feet.
  • Political Geography: Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Scott Snyder
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The South Korean political transition to a new administration under President Lee Myung-bak catalyzed diplomatic contacts designed to size up the new leader and to establish the foundations for a new era in the Sino-South Korean relationship. Accompanying this transition, Beijing redoubled efforts to manage relations with Pyongyang through high-level party-to-party exchanges with Kim Jong-il. Chinese food assistance to North Korea and the North Korean commitments in the Six-Party Talks framework to declare nuclear-related programs dominated conversations with the Dear Leader. The rise in “fly-by-night” departures of South Korean small investors from China resulting from rising Chinese labor costs and changing incentives for investments in China requires diplomatic management between Beijing and Seoul. Finally, “yellow dust,” Tibet, Taiwan, and quality controls on food exports to Korea are nagging issues that cloud the relationship.
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Beijing, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Pyongyang