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  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Xi Jinping Thought is aimed at guiding China both domestically and internationally. The goal is China’s national rejuvenation, which will break the global dominance of Western civilization. The revival must allegedly be led by a strong ideology guided by a strong and charismatic leader: Xi Jinping. Based on the ancient Chinese ideal of “great unity under Heaven”, Xi’s long-term goal for China is the creation of a “community of a common destiny for Mankind”. So far, this idea has no concrete manifestations on the global scale. Through the Belt and Road Initiative, China is building a regional community of common destiny in Central and Southeast Asia. This is both an indirect challenge to the existing “Western” system, and a step in delineating China’s sphere of influence.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Bart Gaens
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China is challenging the regional balance of power in East Asia through a military buildup and an increasingly assertive foreign policy. The US is forced to find the right balance between cooperating with China while benefiting from its economic rise, and countering China's regional reach by carrying out its self-declared "pivot" to Asia in spite of domestic and budgetary constraints. With just over one year in office, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has received wide domestic support for his ambitious plans to revive Japan's economy through his threefold policy of Abenomics. At the same time, however, he has implemented a number of significant policies in the defence and security sphere. In response to China's military rise, the Abe administration increased and recalibrated the defence budget. Furthermore, in order to reinforce the alliance with the US, the government approved the creation of a US-style National Security Council, passed a Secrecy Bill, and aims to reverse Japan's self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defence. Under the banner of "proactive pacifism", the Abe cabinet is seizing the momentum caused by the changing regional power dynamics in order to edge closer towards "breaking away from the postwar regime". A proposed revision of Japan's constitution, unchanged since 1947, symbolizes the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) objective to bring about a more autonomous role for Japan both in the security alliance with the US and as an international actor.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although China's statements about the Ukrainian crisis have been weighed very carefully, there are concerns that China is drawing lessons such as 'might is right' and 'geopolitics is all that matters' from the crisis. The hawks in China have adopted a similar tone to that of the Kremlin, with both wishing to see a relatively diminished Western influence in the international arena. The Chinese Dream is all about national rejuvenation, which entails redressing past grievances. Nevertheless, the Dream need not turn into a nightmare for other powers. The increase in China's military budget does not indicate growing ambitions of a global power projection. China's primary concern remains stability both within and without its borders.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Elina Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The number of netizens in China is growing year on year and the increase in the use of mobile technologies to access the internet is the most notable trend of late. Around half of the Chinese population are now internet users. The Chinese leadership has tightened internet control since August 2013. In February 2014, China established Central Internet Security and Information Leading Group, headed by President Xi Jinping, to monitor Chinese cyberspace. Defamatory social media posts were criminalized, and the first sentence was imposed in April 2014. Despite stricter internet control, criticism of the state and politicians has often been tolerated in social media, whereas any content that promotes offline collective action is systematically censored. However, the idea that the development of the internet in China would lead to significant political change seems unwarranted in the current circumstances. Poll data released on September 9 show that almost 90 per cent of the Chinese respondents harbour negative views about Japan. Internet forums and increasing commercialization of the traditional media are contributing to this public opinion trend, which complicates the handling of China's turbulent relations with Japan.
  • Topic: Politics, Communications, Mass Media, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia
  • Author: Juha Käpylä, Harri Mikkola
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: With exciting economic opportunities and serious environmental challenges, the Arctic is transforming and re-emerging as a geopolitically important region. Major global players within and without the Arctic are paying greater attention to the region. While Russia is a traditional Arctic state with significant economic and security interests in the region, China, the US and the EU have also expressed their Arctic interests more explicitly. They are keen to tap into the economic potential and have a say in the way the region becomes accessed, exploited and governed. As a result, the Arctic is no longer a spatially or administratively confined region, but is instead taking its new form in the midst of contemporary global politics. The globalization and economization of the Arctic will most likely downplay environmentalism and reduce the relative influence of the indigenous people and small Arctic states in Arctic affairs. Arctic governance is also likely to turn more complex and complicated as the economic and political stakes are raised.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Development, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Anna Korppoo, Thomas Spencer, Kristian Tangen
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Copenhagen climate summit was seen as a set-back for the eu. It was left out of the final meeting between the usa and major developing countries which lead to the Copenhagen Accord, and had to accept a deal that fell below its expectations. Due to the impact of the economic crisis, the eu's current target of a unilateral 20 % reduction is no longer as impressive as it seemed in 2007–2008; this is undermining the eu's claim to leadership. In order to match the higher pledges of Japan, Australia and the us, as well as shoulder its fair share of the industrialized countries' aggregate 30 % reduction, the eu would have to pledge a 35 % reduction. The eu's practise of attaching conditionalities to its higher target gives it very little leverage. However, there might be a case for the eu to move unilaterally to a 30 % reduction in order to accelerate the decarbonisation of its economy and capture new growth markets. Doing so could support stronger policy development in other countries such as Australia and Japan, and help rebuild trust among developing countries. But on its own it would be unlikely to have a substantial impact on the position of the other big players—the usa, China, India, and Brazil. The incoherence of the eu's support of a “singe legal outcome” from the Copenhagen summit, based on the elements of the Kyoto Protocol, was a major cause for its isolation. The us remains domestically unable to commit to this type of a ratifiable treaty while developing countries are not yet ready to commit to absolute targets. A return to a two-track approach, involving the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and the negotiation of a new instrument for the usa and major developing countries, may be a more politically and practically feasible approach, while retaining the goal of working towards a legally binding instrument for all key participants over time.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Europe, India, Brazil, Australia
  • Author: Antto Vihma
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: As immediate emotions after Copenhagen COP-15 have faded, space is opening for more measured and systematic reflections on the lessons of the multilateral climate process. One key issue in global climate talks is the current state of the Group of 77 and China block of developing countries—its growing differences, and sources of solidarity.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, International Organization, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Rumour has it that prior to his first visit to Beijing in spring 2008, President Medvedev instructed officials at the Ministry of Trade and Development to take a picture of Moscow that would aptly convey Russia's drive for modernization and innovation to his Chinese hosts. In carrying out his orders, employees from the ministry spent two months looking for a suitable place to photograph, but it is not known whether they were successful in their quest or not. Perhaps the story is only apocryphal, and no such order was ever given. Nevertheless, the anecdote has sown the seeds of doubt in the minds of the country's current leadership that there is actually not that much to see when it comes to the campaign for the 'technological modernization' of Russia.
  • Topic: Development, Emerging Markets, Markets, Political Economy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Moscow
  • Author: Igor Torbakov, Vadim Kononenko
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: As the Kremlin believes that the global economic downturn is increasing the trend towards greater regionalism, the strategic conclusion is to strengthen Russia's position as the centre of its "own region" - post-Soviet Eurasia. In order to enhance its geopolitical posture in the ex-Soviet area, Russia has been pursuing a two- track policy: it is buying up assets from, and giving out loans to, its distressed neighbours on a massive scale. Several forces appear to be working at cross-purposes with the Kremlin's ambitions: 1) the state of Russia's own economic system; 2) the wiliness and cunning maneuvering of Moscow's "allies"; and 3) the growing competition on the part of the other centres of power - the European Union and China. Ultimately, the Kremlin's desperate efforts to turn Russia into a geopolitical leader of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are likely to be frustrated by Russia's lack of a coherent long-term strategy and by its socio-political system's dearth of appeal.
  • Topic: Globalization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia, Soviet Union
  • Author: Anna Korppoo
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The 10-15% reduction target by 2020 announced by Russia reflects neither the country's efficiency potential, nor modeled emissions trends. With emission reduction measures, Russia could commit to a target of ca. -30% by 2020. Transferring the surplus emission allowances Russia gained under the Kyoto Protocol due to the economic restructuring of the 1990s represents an extreme threat to both the environmental and market integrity of the Copenhagen agreement as it could be used to offset real domestic emission reduction measures in other countries. But it seems politically unlikely that Russia would join without transferring the surplus under the Copenhagen agreement. Countries should recognize the threat posed by the surplus, and offer a cooperative strategy to deal with it. However, pushing through a 'cancel or discount' approach to the surplus problem by three-quarter majority, which could be brought together without the co-operation of the surplus-holding countries, should be kept as a reserve strategy. More ambitious targets - beyond the 25-40% suggested by the IPCC - for the Annex I industrialized country group, especially for the surplus holding countries including Russia, could absorb the transferred surplus. However, given the current low pledges of Annex 1 countries, higher targets are unlikely to absorb the whole surplus, and therefore, a basket of approaches should be applied. To gain credibility on this issue of vis-à-vis Russia and to avoid Russia setting the tone, before Copenhagen the EU must adopt an internal solution to deal with the surplus of its new member states. If expecting to transfer the surpluses, the other surplus holding countries including Russia could announce national surplus use plans prior to the Copenhagen climate talks. In order to minimize a scenario of Russia blocking the Copenhagen process in the final hours, key countries should publically engage Russia on climate and the Copenhagen talks. Important Annex I countries, especially the US, should send very high-level representatives to Moscow like they have sent to China and India.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, India, Asia
  • Author: Igor Torbakov
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia's conduct in the post-Soviet space in general and its policies toward Central Asia in particular should be seen within the context of Russia's post-imperial readjustment. The notion of the sphere of “privileged interests” currently advanced by the Kremlin is a clear indication that Russia's search for a new modus operandi with its ex-Soviet neighbours is a painful and, essentially, an open-ended process. Moscow views Central Asia as an area of great strategic importance as it presents both considerable opportunities (due to the region's rich energy resources) and serious threats (stemming from the region's inherent instability and its proximity to volatile Afghanistan). Russia's key interests in Central Asia appear to be preservation of the region's stability, strengthening control over the region's energy resources, and balancing other major actors that are increasing their presence in the region – the United States and China. The effectiveness of the Kremlin's policies in Central Asia seems to be constrained by the nature of Russia's current socio-political system whose key features are authoritarianism and rent-seeking. The latter prompts Moscow to act as a conservative rather than reformist force in the region. Russia's goal of maintaining strategic pre-eminence in Central Asia underpinned by Moscow's significantly increased economic and political clout may ultimately not be realized. The odds are that, given the rise of China, Russia may prove to be a weaker competitor. The European Union's strategic interests increasingly compel the bloc to engage the Central Asian nations, particularly in the spheres of energy and security. Eventually, Russia's wariness of China's growing economic and political clout might prompt Moscow to seek deeper cooperation with Brussels in Central Asia.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Oil
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia, Moscow
  • Author: Linda Jakobson
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China has in a very short time span embraced multilateral mechanisms to address a broad range of issues and avoided confrontation with the United States. Both stances have shaped Asian and European views of a rising China. At present, Asian and European leaders take China's word regarding its peaceful intentions as a rising power. However, Asian and European policy-makers tend to refrain from confronting China too strongly on issues sensitive to Beijing (poor implementation of intellectual property rights, disregard for human rights, etc). The more prosperous China grows, the less influence any other country will have over Beijing's policies. A rising China is a challenge to others because of its sheer size, its great need for imported energy, and the environmental degradation it causes due to its ongoing industrialization. The troubled relationship between China and Japan is one of increasing concern and could lead to aggravated tensions in East Asia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia