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  • Author: Catharin Dalpino
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: US attention in Southeast Asia was focused on two sides of the region: in the east on tensions in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines, which have energized the US-Philippine alliance; and in the west on the impact of the April by-elections in Burma, which have the paved the way for a quantum leap in US engagement with the country. Beneath these headlines, attacks and explosions in Thailand and the Philippines were a reminder that terrorism is still a serious threat. Policy debate in the region over the US “pivot” to Asia was stimulated by a US request to double the number of littoral combat ships to be docked at Singapore as ell as b discussion between Washington and Manila on the rotation of US troops through Philippine bases. Both represent modest steps toward a configuration of “flexible bases” in Southeast Asia. Also, there will be an unprecedented number of US joint exercises and other forms of military cooperation in 2012, suggesting the “pivot” is an ongoing and incremental process that has been underway for years.
  • Political Geography: Burma, Thailand, Southeast Asia, South China
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Chinese interchange with Southeast Asia featured President Hu Jintao's visit to Cambodia beginning on March 29, displaying positive diplomacy laced with economic incentives. The unusual high-level attention to Cambodia was related to China's efforts to manage disputes with Southeast Asian claimants in the South China Sea and Cambodia's appointment as the chair of ASEAN. Hu left the country on April 2 with the reassurance that Cambodia would follow China's preference and keep the South China Sea issue off the official agenda of an ASEAN Summit convening in Phnom Penh on April 3 and at other ASEAN gatherings later in the year.
  • Political Geography: Cambodia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa salvaged ASEAN unity after its failure to issue a formal communiqué at its ministerial meeting due to disagreement over Chinese activities in the South China Sea. At the US-ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference, Secretary of State Clinton reiterated US support for a peaceful settlement to the disputes and emphasized the importance of ASEAN-based institutions in that process. The US linked efforts to improve Philippine "maritime domain awareness" to Manila's military development plans. Secretary of Defense Panetta also announced that the US would be adding naval visits to Vietnam. The US suspended many prohibitions against private investment in Myanmar, though human rights-based sanctions remain. At the Shangri-La Dialogue, Panetta outlined an ambitious plan for enhanced military partnerships with regional friends and allies, though how a reduced US military budget will impact these plans is a growing concern in Southeast Asia.
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The primary focus of attention in the relationship over the summer was the ongoing dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea as China set forth implicit choices for the Southeast Asian disputants and others with an interest in the region. Two paths – one focused on a demonstration of China's growing power and the other on positive aspects of Chinese engagement with Southeast Asia – are emerging as China continues to define its response to the conflict. Meanwhile, ASEAN struggled with finding a sense of unity in the face of disagreement among members regarding the territorial disputes. Elsewhere, China sought to reaffirm its friendly relations with Myanmar while seeking reassurance that the leadership in Naypidaw remained committed to previously agreed-upon projects.
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: High -level visits to Southeast Asia this quarter found President Obama in Indonesia to inaugurate a Comprehensive Partnership, Secretary of Defense Gates in Malaysia and Vietnam, and Secretary of State Clinton in several Southeast Asian states, a trip that was highlighted by her acceptance of US membership in the East Asian Summit and attendance at the Lower Mekong Initiative meeting. Obama praised Jakarta‟s democratic politics and insisted that the multifaceted relations with Jakarta demonstrate that Washington is concerned with much more than counterterrorism in its relations with the Muslim world. In Vietnam, both Clinton and Gates reiterated the US position from the July ASEAN Regional Forum that the South China Sea disputes be resolved peacefully through multilateral diplomacy led by ASEAN. Clinton expressed Washington‟s appreciation that China had entered discussions with ASEAN on formalizing a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. In all her Southeast Asian stops, she e mphasized the importance of human rights. While deploring the faulty election in Burma, the US welcomed Aung San Suu Kyi‟s release from house arrest and the prospect for more openness in Burmese politics.
  • Political Geography: United States, Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Oct. 2, 2010: Wu Bangguo, chairperson of China‟s National People‟s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, meets Thongsing Thammavong, president of the Laotian National Assembly, in Shanghai. They agree to increase high-level contacts, expand trade and economic cooperation, and strengthen exchanges between the ruling parties. Oct. 11, 2010: Chinese and Vietnamese defense ministries issue a joint communiqué announcing agreement to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation, continue the exchange of visits between the two armed forces and navies, and to resolve all territorial disputes in a peaceful manner. Oct. 12, 2010: China‟s Defense Minister Liang Guanglie announces that China and Vietnam will co-chair an expert working group to strengthen regional capacity to respond to non-traditional security challenges such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime security, counterterrorism, and peacekeeping operations. The working group is part of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus 8. Oct. 19, 2010: The China-ASEAN Expo opens in Nanning, with an emphasis on expanding regional cooperation in agriculture, trade, and investment.
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia
  • Author: David G. Brown
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The pace of progress in cross-strait relations has slowed as agreement continues to take longer than anticipated. A medical and healthcare agreement was signed in December, but consensus on an investment protection agreement was not reached and establishment of the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee (CECC) has been delayed. The mayoral elections in November saw the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) receiving more votes than the ruling Kuomintang (KMT). Both parties are now gearing up for the presidential election in March 2012. Consequently, campaign politics in Taiwan and jockeying in preparation for the 18th Party Congress in Beijing will dominate the way Beijing, President Ma Ying-jeou, and the opposition in Taiwan approach cross-strait issues in the year ahead.
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Following last year's strong Chinese criticisms of US and regional moves seen directed against Chinese policies in Southeast Asia, the reassuring message of good neighborliness and cooperation that Chinese leaders and commentary reverted to at the end of 2010 continued into 2011. The shift was reflected through more positive attention to Southeast Asia and other neighbors, seeking to advance extensive Chinese engagement, especially rapidly growing economic interchange, while endeavoring to play down differences over territorial disputes and other questions. Wariness remained over US policies and practices, but disputes were registered less frequently and in less strident tones than in much of 2010. The treatment was consistent with the improvement in China-US relations registered in Chinese commentary coincident with the prelude and aftermath of President Hu Jintao's January visit to Washington.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The moderation and reassurance seen in the public posture of top-level Chinese civilian leaders in their attentive interaction with Southeast Asian countries in the first third of the year gave way to rising tensions and widely publicized disputes centered on differing claims in the South China Sea. Senior Chinese officials portrayed China as reactive and defensive in the face of increasing encroachment on the part of Vietnam and the Philippines in particular, and what they saw as self-serving meddling by the US. Despite often reassuring words, the pattern of Chinese behavior in disputed areas in recent months undermined regional and broader international sympathy for China's position. Vietnamese and Philippine oil exploration vessels met with intimidation by Chinese patrol vessels, and in the case of Vietnam, repeated damage to underwater survey gear. Some Vietnamese fishermen were beaten by Chinese authorities, and Philippine fishermen were shot at by Chinese patrol vessels. Based on available reporting, the various incidents followed a common practice of China using superior power and coercion to pressure and force perceived intruders to retreat.
  • Political Geography: China, Vietnam, Philippines, Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: With visits to Hawaii, Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines, and Burma, President Obama and Secretaries Clinton and Panetta demonstrated a renewed US commitment to Southeast Asia despite concern over a projected steep decline in the US defense budget. Southeast Asian reactions to the announcement of an increased rotation of US military assets to Australia range from ambivalence in Indonesia to enthusiastic endorsement in the Philippines and Singapore. Generally, the additional US forces are seen as evidence of Washington's decision to remain involved in regional security. At the East Asia Summit (EAS), Obama outlined his hope that it could serve as a high-level security conclave whose agreements would be implemented through other multilateral organizations. In visits to the Philippines and Indonesia, Clinton and Obama promised naval and air force upgrades to each, including two squadrons (24 aircraft) of refurbished F-16C/Ds for Jakarta. Hoping for a breakthrough in US-Burma relations, Obama sent Clinton to see whether the situation warranted the easing of US economic sanctions and if Naypyidaw was moving to meet US conditions for the restoration of full diplomatic relations.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Hawaii
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China endeavored to win regional influence and goodwill by emphasizing reassurance and mutually beneficial relations with Southeast Asian counterparts. Nevertheless, it failed to keep the issue of the South China Sea off the agenda at the East Asia Summit as Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was placed on the defensive and compelled to defend China's approach to resolving territorial and maritime security issues related to China's broad claims and sometimes assertive actions. Official Chinese commentaries reacted to the setback in Bali with criticism directed at the US, but they tended to avoid hyperbole sometimes seen in unofficial Chinese media. Official commentaries were measured as they depicted various economic, political, and security initiatives during President Obama's trip to the region as challenges to Chinese interests. They also registered opposition to initiatives by Japan and India regarding Southeast Asia and the South China Sea that were seen as at odds with Chinese interests. Myanmar's decision to stop a major hydroelectric dam project being built by Chinese firms added to China's challenges and complications as it raised questions about China's influence in the country while Myanmar's new civilian government tried to improve relations with the US and other powers.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Myanmar, South China
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: High-level US efforts to convince Burma's military government to open its political system to the democratic opposition and release political prisoners prior to scheduled 2010 elections accelerated this quarter. President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Assistant Secretary of State Campbell all weighed in during meetings in Burma and at the first ASEAN-US summit in Singapore after the annual APEC leaders meeting. The ASEAN states welcomed the first US summit with all 10 members. Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan noted that President Obama's praise for ASEAN's key role in Asian international organizations debunked claims by some that ASEAN is no longer the centerpiece of the region's architecture. Singapore's prime minister insisted that the US continues to be Asia's “indispensable” player despite the rise of China and India. In the Philippines, the Visiting Forces Agreement continues to be a political football in domestic Philippine politics as President Arroyo's political opponents claim that the US military violates the Philippine constitution by engaging in combat – an allegation denied by both the US embassy and the Philippine government. On a tip from the US, Thai authorities detained a cargo aircraft coming from North Korea with a load of sophisticated weapons in violation of a UN Security Council Resolution.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, North Korea, Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The last quarter of 2009 featured high-level Chinese leadership diplomacy with individual Southeast Asian countries, ASEAN, and Asian regional multilateral groups. Salient meetings involved the ASEAN Plus 1 and Asian leadership summits in Thailand in October, a presidential visit to Malaysia and Singapore, including the APEC leaders meeting in Singapore in November, and high-level visits to Australia in late October, and Myanmar and Cambodia in December. Chinese official media commentary showed some concern over recently heightened US and Japanese diplomatic activism in the region. The South China Sea disputes and military tensions along the China-Myanmar border were much less prominent than earlier in the year.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Catharin Dalpino
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: After banner initiatives in US policy toward Southeast Asia were unveiled in 2009 – the US-ASEAN Leaders Meeting, signing the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, and a 45-degree change in Burma policy that added engagement to sanctions – a loss of momentum in early 2010 was hardly surprising. President Obama's decision to delay his long-awaited trip to Indonesia twice in March added to the impression of a slump in relations with the region. The administration proved to be prescient in its warning last fall that greater engagement with the Burmese regime would not likely reap short-term gains when the junta announced restrictive election laws. However, in the first quarter of 2010 the US also moved forward on two regional initiatives – strengthening its interest in the TransPacific Trade Partnership, which could be a route to trade liberalization with several Southeast Asian countries, and preparing to establish a Permanent Mission to ASEAN. Despite Bangkok's ongoing political crisis and a new wave of “red shirt” protests, the US and Thailand implemented new rounds of two multilateral military exercises in this quarter, including the flagship Cobra Gold. At the end of the quarter the US and Vietnam signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding on the development of civilian nuclear power facilities, a bilateral segue to the multilateral nuclear summit that Obama will host with 43 heads of state in mid-April.
  • Topic: Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Bangkok
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Political Geography: United States, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), inaugurated on Jan. 1, marked the highlight of a quarter featuring otherwise slow Chinese-Southeast Asian interaction during the winter months. Premier Wen Jiabao did mention the trade accord in his report to the National People's Congress in March, but official Chinese media accounts of interviews and commentary by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi this quarter did not mention ASEAN or Southeast Asia in inventories of Chinese foreign policy priorities in 2010. In a visit receiving low-keyed and delayed treatment in official Chinese media, State Counselor Dai Bingguo, China's senior foreign policy expert, traveled to ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta to give a speech in late January that highlighted the positive aspects of Chinese-ASEAN relations as well as important elements in China's policy in Asia. Included in foreign assessments of China's rising prominence in Southeast Asia was a hearing by a US congressional commission in February featuring views of two US administration officials and eight experts offering mixed conclusions. Chinese statements this quarter expressing strong differences with the US thus far have not shown much impact on Chinese relations with Southeast Asia.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In mid-May, long-simmering political tension in Thailand between the Bangkok elite establishment and urban lower classes as well as those in northern Thailand who feel ignored by the center erupted in the worst political violence in decades. Tentative US efforts to mediate were rejected by the Thai government, though the opposition appeared to welcome a US role. A tense calm has been restored, but the prospect for renewed violence is palpable. While the Indonesian government expressed understanding for President Obama's second postponement of a visit to his childhood home because of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, opposition Muslim politicians claimed the real reason for the postponement was the Israeli attack on a Turkish flotilla running Israel's Gaza blockade. A number of Muslim leaders stated that Obama wished to avoid encountering Indonesian ire for his country's pro-Israeli stand. The election of Benigno Aquino III as the Philippines' 15th president was greeted by international observers as a generally fair and transparent process. The president-elect has stated he plans to review the country's Visiting Forces Agreement with the US to modify its pro-US bias. Washington continues to criticize Burma's preparations for elections scheduled for October as marginalizing the political opposition. The US is also concerned that Burma may be clandestinely importing materials from North Korea for a nascent nuclear weapons program.
  • Political Geography: United States, Indonesia, Israel, North Korea, Philippines, Burma, Mexico, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Bangkok
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao traveled to the remote Myanmar capital during a swing through Asia in May and June, marking the first official visit by a Chinese premier in 16 years. Wen had planned to visit Brunei, Myanmar, and Indonesia in April but was compelled to cancel that trip due to a major earthquake in Qinghai province. Vice President Xi Jinping advanced Chinese relations with a visit to Australia, New Zealand and Laos in mid-June. Chinese officials and authoritative media generally avoided taking sides in the deepening and increasingly violent internal crisis in Thailand. A variety of reporting and private disclosures by Vietnamese officials indicated more serious Sino-Vietnamese frictions over disputed claims in the South China Sea than previously indicated. Maneuvers by Chinese naval forces over disputed territories and related claims caught the attention of regional observers and the US, deepening concerns regarding Chinese objectives.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Vietnam, Australia, Thailand, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States significantly raised its political profile in Southeast Asia this quarter, inserting itself in South China Sea disputes, announcing its plan to join the East Asia Summit, convening the second US-ASEAN summit, and creating an ambitious agenda for participation in a variety of Southeast Asia programs. On the South China Sea issue, Secretary of State Clinton proposed multilateral discussions under ASEAN auspices – an idea that did not appear, however, in the ASEAN-US summit communiqué in late September. The US inaugurated naval exercises with Vietnam in early August, coinciding with the visit of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. Washington is considering new financial sanctions against Burma, recognizing that more engagement with the military regime has not yielded the expected results. The presence of US military trainers in the southern Philippines continues to rile leftist and nationalist legislators. As a sign of growing warmth in US-Malaysian relations, Kuala Lumpur is sending a small contingent of medical personnel to Afghanistan. The Indonesian-US Comprehensive Partnership was launched in Washington in September, signifying Jakarta‟s special importance to the US. Washington also restored military-to-military relations with Kopassus, the Indonesian Special Forces unit that has been accused of egregious human rights violations in Timor, Papua, and Aceh.
  • Topic: International Relations, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Washington, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huan
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China was on the defensive this quarter, reacting to interventions by the US, including a notable statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Hanoi regarding the South China Sea. The ARF meeting also saw a new US commitment, backed by ASEAN, to participate actively in the East Asian Summit, raising the profile of that regional body over China‟s preference for Asian-only regional groups. Further complicating China‟s regional calculus were prominent advances in US relations with Vietnam shown during celebrations of a US-Vietnam anniversary in August that involved exercises with a US aircraft carrier deployed near disputed regions of the South China Sea. Chinese officials and commentary in Chinese media at first countered that the US actions were self-serving and destabilizing. Those attacks meshed with public Chinese attacks on concurrent US military exercises with South Korean forces in reaction to North Korea‟s sinking of a South Korean warship. Later, some Chinese commentary dissented from the harsh public approach, and by the end of the quarter, the criticism of the US and others over the South China Sea disputes and other issues subsided. For the time being at least, it appeared that China will remain focused on publicly stressing trade and reassuring diplomacy in Southeast Asia, while defending its territorial claims and continuing to build military capabilities.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development
  • Political Geography: China, Vietnam, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Political conflict in Thailand between the ruling, rural-based pro-Thaksin People Power Party (PPP) and an urban elite coalition calling itself the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) – though actually opposing democratic elections – turned violent in November and shut down Bangkok and the capital's airports for several days. The PPP government was forced to postpone the ASEAN summit scheduled for early December because of the violence and rescheduled the meeting for February 2009 to the dismay of other ASEAN leaders. Nevertheless, the new ASEAN Charter, which provides the Association with a legal personality for the first time, was activated at a special meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Jakarta on Dec. 15. Southeast Asian leaders welcomed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's election as the next U.S. president although some commentators noted that the Democratic Party has sometimes followed a trade protectionist policy when the U.S. economy is in difficulty. The Democrats have also taken a tougher position on human rights. In general, though, no significant change is foreseen in U.S. policy for Southeast Asia under President-elect Obama.
  • Topic: Security, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Islam, Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Asian commentators who asserted that China and its neighbors could ride out the economic crisis in U.S. and Western financial markets appeared in retreat during the quarter as the impact of the financial turmoil and recession in America and Europe began to have a major effect on China and the region's trade, manufacturing, currency values, and broader economic stability. The hope that China could sustain stable growth independent of the U.S. and Europe and thereby provide an engine of growth for export-oriented Southeast Asian countries was dented by Chinese trade figures that nosedived in November, especially Chinese imports, which fell by 18 percent. The financial crisis also dominated the discussion at the ASEM summit in October. Meanwhile, China continued to pursue infrastructure development projects with its neighbors to the south, resolved the land boundary dispute with Vietnam, and signed a free trade agreement with Singapore. Talk of a planned Chinese aircraft carrier caused some controversy, but on the whole assessments of China's rise were notably more balanced than in the past.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Security, Law
  • Political Geography: China, Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Indonesia, part of her initial overseas journey to Asia, was enthusiastically received in the world's most populous Muslim country. The secretary praised Indonesia's thriving democracy as evidence of the compatibility of Islam and political pluralism. Noting Southeast Asia's importance to the U.S., Clinton announced that the State Department would begin consideration of a process to sign ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, a prerequisite for membership in the East Asia Summit. She also acknowledged that Washington's harsh sanctions against Burma's military junta had not changed that regime's draconian rule but also pointed out that ASEAN's engagement strategy was equally impotent. Nevertheless, she stated that the U.S. would consult with ASEAN in the process of reviewing its Burma policy. Meanwhile, ASEAN held its 14th summit in Thailand at the end of February. While the global economic crisis dominated the agenda, the future of a human rights commission mandated by ASEAN's new Charter proved the most contentious, with the more authoritarian ASEAN members insisting that noninterference in domestic affairs should remain the underlying principle of any human rights body.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Indonesia, East Asia, Burma, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Southeast Asian and broader international attention focused in March on the confrontation between five Chinese government ships and the U.S. surveyor ship USNS Impeccable in the South China Sea near Hainan Island. U.S. and Chinese protests and related media commentary highlighted for Southeast Asian audiences a pattern of U.S. surveillance to learn more about China's growing military presence and activities in the area, and a pattern of China's unwillingness to tolerate such actions in areas where it claims rights that are disputed by the U.S. and other naval powers. The protests and commentary provided a vivid backdrop for China's continued efforts to claim and defend territory in the South China Sea that is also claimed by Southeast Asian nations. Meanwhile, there was little good news on the economic front as China's international trade and economic interchange with Southeast Asia continued to fall rapidly. Chinese diplomatic and political attention to the region remained low during the quarter.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Development
  • Political Geography: China, Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Southeast Asia media and elites praised President Barack Obama's Cairo address for opening a new dialogue with Muslims and acknowledging U.S. transgressions after 9/11. Washington excoriated Burma's ruling junta for transferring opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to prison for violating the regime's detention law, characterizing the charges as ”baseless” and an excuse to extend her incarceration beyond scheduled elections in 2010. Thai political turmoil disrupted ASEAN and East Asia Summit meetings in April. In the Philippines, this year's Balikatan exercise involved 6,000 U.S. troops and focused on responses to natural disasters. Meanwhile, the Philippine Congress is scheduling new hearings on the Visiting Forces Agreement for its alleged unduly favorable treatment of U.S. military personnel. Human rights concerns in Southeast Asia were raised again in the annual U.S. watch list on human trafficking with most of the region cited for an unwillingness or inability to stop the notorious trade. Finally, the U.S. praised Southeast Asian maritime defense cooperation in suppressing regional piracy as well as contributing to counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, East Asia, Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: April 1, 2009: Twelve members of the U.S. Congress urge internet giants Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to resist Vietnam's efforts to restrict online political speech. April 1, 2009: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg says the U.S. is open to a new framework to discuss relations with Burma. April 2, 2009: U.S. charge d'affaires in Burma Larry Dinyer says Washington has so far provided a total of $74 million in humanitarian assistance to Cyclone Nargis survivors. April 7, 2009: Visiting Vietnam, Sen. John McCain calls for closer economic relations and also greater political freedom. U.S-Southeast Asia Relations 63 July 2009 April 10-12, 2009: The annual ASEAN summit convenes in Pattaya, Thailand, including meetings with the association's major dialogue partners. On April 12, the meeting is disrupted by pro-Thaksin opposition demonstrators and foreign leaders flee by helicopters and ships. April 11, 2009: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a Cambodian New Year's message cites progress in Khmer-U.S. relations over the past year including U.S. Navy humanitarian ship visits, economic assistance, and the presence of U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in 11 provinces. April 13, 2009: A group of 10 U.S. women senators urge UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to put pressure on Burma's ruling junta to scrap election plans and release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. April 14, 2009: State Department spokesman Robert Wood characterizes the anti-government violence in Thailand that led to the cancellation of an ASEAN plus 3 and the East Asia Summit as “unacceptable” and urges political opponents to return to peaceful demonstrations.
  • Political Geography: United States, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The highlight of China's relations with Southeast Asia this quarter was continued maneuvering by China and Southeast Asian claimants over disputed territory and related economic claims in the South China Sea. Last quarter's widely publicized face-off between the U.S. surveyor ship USNS Impeccable and harassing Chinese vessels was followed by incidents and commentary this quarter that underlined China's view of an important U.S. role in challenging Chinese maritime claims in Southeast Asia. Chinese official statements and commentary and the actions by Chinese defense and security forces underlined a firm Chinese position in support of territorial and resource rights disputed by some Southeast neighbors and the U.S. Meanwhile, the pace of Chinese diplomacy picked up with economic support to Southeast Asian neighbors weathering the decline in trade and investment during the ongoing global economic recession along with visits and interaction with senior Southeast Asian leaders.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: April 2, 2009: Guo Boxiong, vice chairperson of the Central Military Commission, meets Teo Chee Han, Singaporean deputy prime minister and minister of defense, in Beijing. They agree to raise the level of military-related exchanges and visits, personnel and military training, and increased cooperation in defense consultation.
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the renewed incarceration of Burma's Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi after a July “show trial” as well as renewed economic sanctions against the military junta, in late September Washington announced a change in its Burma policy, agreeing to reengage members of the regime. The opening to Burma is an acknowledgement that the decades-long isolation policy has failed to change Burma's politics and that China's influence has increased significantly. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced an extension of the deployment of U.S. Special Forces in Mindanao to continue assisting the Philippine armed forces' suppression of the radical Islamist Abu Sayyaf. Gates also announced an expansion of U.S. aid in Mindanao for humanitarian and disaster response, climate change, drug trafficking, and maritime security. While expressing shock and offering condolences to Indonesia in the wake of the July terrorist bombings of two hotels in Jakarta, Washington praised the Indonesian police in mid-September for tracking down and killing the perpetrator of the attacks, notorious Jemmah Islamiyah leader, Mohammad Noordin Top. USAID is organizing a new program to assist civic social organizations in the troubled Thai south to promote governance and human rights. All of these activities indicate that, as Secretary of State Clinton exclaimed in Bangkok: “The United States is back!”
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Myanmar's military offensive against armed militias of minority groups along the border with China disrupted the status quo that had prevailed along the frontier for the past two decades and complicated the extensive Chinese interests that have developed in the border region during this period. Frictions over territorial claims, fishing, and surveillance among China, Southeast Asian countries, and the U.S. over the South China Sea were less prominent than in recent quarters. China signed an investment agreement with ASEAN members marking the completion of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, which is to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010. Chinese commentary joined other regional media in highlighting, with some reservations, the prominence of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the more activist U.S. regional agenda at the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers' Meeting.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The highlight of this quarter was Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's active agenda in regional summits coinciding with the ASEAN Plus China, ASEAN Plus Three (with Japan and South Korea) and East Asia Summit meetings in Singapore in November. Chinese officials adhered to the line of the 17th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress emphasizing harmonious relations with Southeast Asian and other countries, but ran across some difficulties involving Myanmar, Vietnam, and climate change.
  • Political Geography: Japan, East Asia, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Satu Limaye
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: India's relations with countries in the Asia-Pacific region during 2007 were wide-ranging as New Delhi sought to consolidate and expand ties with both small and large countries from Singapore to Australia to South Korea. With the U.S., India was on the verge of a landmark agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation. But in India's relations with both Asia and the U.S. there was unfinished business. In the case of Southeast Asia for example, the failure to conclude an FTA agreement despite long, complex and sometimes quite testy negotiations blunted what has generally been a positive if incremental trajectory in India-Southeast Asia relations. With China, India's relations crawl forward year by year with little progress on fundamental issues such as the border/territorial dispute. With Japan, for all the excitement of the Abe-Aso tenure with India, the facts on the ground, especially on economic relations, remain limited. There are some more interesting openings for India in the region such as relations with Australia and South Korea, but they too are somewhat unusual rather than an established pattern. What is undeniable is that India is now a thread in the fabric of Asia. Similarly, despite the failure of the U.S. and India to conclude the civilian nuclear energy deal in 2007, the thickness of U.S.-India relations is unlikely to be diluted, even if it will take a lot of work from both Washington and New Delhi to keep them going.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, India, Asia, South Korea, New Delhi, Australia, Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • 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: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Cyclone Nargis briefly put China in the international spotlight as Asian and world leaders sought help from Myanmar's main international backer in order to persuade the junta to be more open in accepting international assistance. The massive Sichuan earthquake of May 12 abruptly shifted international focus to China's exemplary relief efforts and smooth cooperation with international donors. Chinese leadership attention to Southeast Asia this quarter followed established lines. Consultations with Chinese officials showed some apparent slippage in China's previous emphasis on ASEAN playing the leading role in Asian multilateral groups.
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Cold War, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Australia, Southeast Asia