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  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China has garnered international goodwill by aiding countries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. China is in a position to show that it takes its ideal of creating a global community with a shared future seriously. However, the country’s other actions undermine its soft-power dissemination efforts.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Katja Creutz
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic has roiled international relations. The huge global toll of the pandemic, both in terms of deaths and economic implications, has raised the question of Chinese responsibility. This Working Paper analyzes China’s responsibility for Covid-19 under international law. In order for state responsibility to arise, China must have committed an internationally wrongful act. The conduct must be attributable to China and must constitute a breach of its international obligations. An analysis of the timeframe concerning the main measures undertaken by Chinese authorities at different government levels shows a lag in reporting the outbreak to WHO according to the International Health Regulations. Hence, there appears to be a case for injured states to invoke China’s responsibility. The prospects for implementation are nevertheless bleak. A tacit understanding seems to prevail among states not to pursue the spread of pathogens in terms of legal responsibility or litigation. Whether major power rivalry or the enormous costs of the pandemic will change this non-confrontational tradition of dealing with pathogens remains to be seen.
  • Topic: Leadership, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Bart Gaens, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The United States and China are posited to be at the epicenter of an emerging and – by most accounts – intensifying rivalry. This report delves into the theoretical underpinnings as well as the geostrategic and geo-economic dynamics driving this great-power competition. It explores future prospects for contestation and engagement in key issue areas, such as arms control, trade and sanctions. The chapters in this volume also examine the Indo-Pacific as the immediate regional frontline of the unfolding great-power contest and explore the role that Europe has to play in this game. As the world is crossing the threshold into a new age of great-power competition, the debate on the US-China rivalry reveals the complex and contested nature of the meanings, causes, policy implications and future prospects of what is set to become the “new normal” in global politics.
  • Topic: Hegemony, Geopolitics, Conflict, Rivalry
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A key issue dominating Iran’s foreign policy agenda is the future of the Iran nuclear deal with regard to the next US president. Non-state armed groups mark the core of Iran’s leverage in the region, but Iran is currently looking into diversifying its means of influence. Although Iran considers its non-aligned position a strength, it is also a weakness. In an otherwise interconnected world, where other regional powers enjoy partnerships with other states and can rely on external security guarantors, Iran remains alone. By being more integrated into regional cooperation and acknowledged as a regional player, Iran could better pursue its interests, but US attempts to isolate the country complicate any such efforts. In the greater superpower competition between the US and China, Iran is unlikely to choose a side despite its current “look East” policy, but may take opportunistic decisions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Speculation is rife that China could take advantage of the potential confusion during the US presidential election and invade Taiwan. Although China has never relinquished the military option for resolving the Taiwan issue, there are sound reasons to downplay the risk of a military confrontation at the present time.
  • Topic: War, Military Strategy, Elections, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia, North America
  • Author: Elina Sinkkonen, Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China and Russia are jointly advancing their shared interests in the international arena and are building up cooperation in the tech sector. Despite far-reaching plans, the asymmetry of cooperation in favour of China is increasingly at odds with Russia’s national goals in digital technology. Differences in resources and standpoints are also reflected in the implementation of digital surveillance. China’s surveillance system is sophisticated and extensive whereas Russia’s is largely inconsistent and emerging, as evidenced by the fact that there was virtually no control of the internet in Russia until 2012. While advanced surveillance in authoritarian countries is worrying, technology in strategic sectors is also a key field of increasingly disconcerting great-power competition. As a result of strategic competition, the world is faced with the risk of technological decoupling, which would contribute to further fragmentation of the international community and deepening of existing rivalries.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Authoritarianism, Digital Economy, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Kristiina Silvan
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan has embarked on a moderate reform programme that aims to achieve socio-economic growth without undoing the country’s authoritarian political system. The programme has implications beyond Uzbekistan’s borders because it has changed the way Uzbekistani foreign policy is formulated and implemented. Uzbekistan’s former isolationist stance has shifted to a foreign policy opening, which is most noticeable in the improvement of its relations with its neighbours. This Working Paper analyzes “good neighbourliness”, the key concept of Uzbekistan’s new Central Asia policy. It details the amendment of Uzbekistan’s bilateral relations with its neighbours and points to the positive reception of Uzbekistan’s new regional policy in Russia, China, and the West. The paper argues that while “good neighbourliness” is a pragmatic strategy rooted in economic rationality, the policy’s regional implications are substantial. It is laying the necessary foundation for sustainable Central Asian co-operation from within in a way that is acceptable to the Central Asian states and big non-regional actors alike.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Authoritarianism, Reform, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Central Asia, Asia, Uzbekistan
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China’s recent policy paper on the European Union shows that the country continues to recognize the EU as an important partner in many fields. A new, distressing element is that China has toughened its demands towards the EU to respect its core interests and to refrain from meddling in its internal affairs.
  • Topic: Globalization, International Affairs, European Union, Conflict
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Katja Creutz, Tuomas Iso-Markku, Teija Tilikainen, Kristi Raik
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The forms of global political transition contradict each other. The Western leadership of the world seems to be in decline, with the US political and military hegemony being challenged by the rise of China and other emerging powers and with global power structures evolving towards multipolarity. At the same time, however, there are increasing signs of a diffusion of state power. It involves a growing group of non-state actors challenging state power in very different forms and different capacities. This report focuses on the axis of state power considered the most important in terms of its global implications: the relationship between the US and China. This relationship is studied with the aim of assessing how the mutual interdependencies are evolving, and what the goals of the two actors look like in respect of their own global role. The im¬plications of this power transition in the key fields of global governance – also covering the simultaneous diffusion of power to non-state actors – forms another relevant topic under review in the global context. Lastly, the report analyses how the EU contends with these forms of power transition and safeguards its own influence in this changing environment. The project also addresses the international role and influence of one of the northernmost EU members, Finland. It investigates how the changes in the global and regional setting should be understood from the Finnish point of view and how Finland should act in order to consolidate its international role in economic as well as political terms.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Non State Actors, Hegemony, Leadership, Liberal Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The long-term aim of the Communist Party is to make China unified, and the most recent tool for this is the creation a Chinese nation. This term was included in the Constitution last year, which contradicts the definition of China as a multi-national state. Unifying China includes promoting a Chinese identity through history and culture. The current borders and ethnic composition of China are presented as the results of natural processes. History is written from the viewpoint of the Han Chinese and their relations with the border regions. Culture is discussed in a similar Han-centric manner. The Party has set “Chinese values” against “universal values” and religions. It demands religions to be Sinified in order to alleviate any risks they might pose to national unity. Most concretely, the creation of a Chinese nation is affecting the people in Xinjiang. This has given rise to concerns in other countries. The Sinification of minority nationalities may potentially become a new stumbling block in China’s relations with Western states.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Nationalism, Culture, Minorities
  • Political Geography: China, Asia