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  • Author: Hugh Stephens
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s arrival has scrambled the cards in the trade policy world. Not only will the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) be reopened with uncertain results, but President Donald Trump has scuttled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by announcing the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement. Canada, originally cool toward the TPP, pushed hard to be included in it. The TPP became the centrepiece of Canada’s Asia trade strategy, notwithstanding some public ambivalence on the part of the Trudeau government. With the TPP in its present form now in limbo, Canada still has options in Asia. First, it can keep an open mind with regard to the possible reconstitution of the TPP in another form, such as “TPP Minus One” (i.e., minus the U.S.). It should also push to reopen the bilateral negotiations with Japan that were suspended when that country joined the TPP negotiations. Canada is already exploring the possibility of an economic partnership agreement with China, perhaps on a sectoral basis, and simultaneously, it should actively pursue negotiation of a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community. This could in time provide Canada access to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) currently being negotiated among 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and would position Canada well in the eventuality that a Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) emerges. In the meantime, uncertainty regarding NAFTA’s future needs to be addressed. This uncertainty makes it more difficult for Canada to attract Asian investment but it also provides further impetus for Canada to diversify its trading relationships and to explore stronger relationships with Asian economies.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Canada, Asia
  • Author: Sumeet Saksena
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Cities are expanding very rapidly in Asia, often without adequate housing, transportation, water, or sanitation. ese new “peri-urban” areas may be hot spots for disease, both in humans and domestic animals. Research into the possible link between unplanned urban expansion and disease outbreaks compared patterns of land-use change with two major outbreaks in Vietnam of highly pathogenic avian in uenza (HPAI, subtype H5N1) that killed millions of chickens between 2003 and 2005. Work began by classifying communes into land-use categories: rural, peri-urban, urban, and urban core. e study found that peri-urban communes had at least a 150 percent higher risk of experiencing an H5N1 outbreak than did other types of commune, and that urbanization entails a spatial convergence of several key risk factors for H5N1 transmission. By focusing prevention programs on communes with these factors, the Vietnamese government can potentially improve disease prevention at lower cost. is research may also help explain the epidemi- ology of other infectious diseases, both in humans and livestock.
  • Topic: Health, Urbanization, International Development
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Saori N. Katada
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In 2015, two mega-initiatives took shape that will affect economic relations in the Asia-Pacific region: the US-promoted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Although they address different needs, both are expected to have profound effects on Asia's economic governance in the near future, and will shape economic norms in the Asia Pacific and beyond. Japan has joined the TPP but stayed out of the AIIB, decisions that might seem counterintuitive considering its history of resisting trade liberalization and of promoting infrastructure investment. Is Japan simply favoring its US ally over rival China? Or is it that Japan's position on the TPP and AIIB aligns with its own economic priorities, and enhances its geo-economic advantage? With a US-China competition over economic ideas and regional strategies, Japan occupies a unique position that may allow it to influence the direction of Asia-Pacific economic governance, which is now being battled out by the two "titans."
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Justyna Szczudlik
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Asia could be described as the world’s great construction site, and is already the focus of a scramble for infrastructure projects. Among countries competing for investments are not only China with its Silk Road initiative, but also Korea, Japan, India and ASEAN, which have prepared their own infrastructural strategies. The plethora of initiatives may have a positive impact on Asia, offering diverse solutions to the infrastructural bottleneck and reforms of existing institutions and modes of assistance. But there is also the risk that fierce competition may result in unprofitable projects, while economic slowdown could cause a decline in funding. For Europe these initiatives create opportunities to take part in new projects, but the EU should be aware that the projects will be implemented mainly in Asia and by Asian countries.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Reform
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Dinshaw Mistry
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the early and mid-2000s, US policymakers anticipated India becoming one of America's top global partners. Have New Delhi's policies on key strategic issues actually aligned strongly with US objectives, as would be typical of close partners? An analysis of twelve prominent issues in US-India relations indicates that New Delhi's policies mostly converged moderately, rather than to a high extent, with US objectives. Specifically, the alignment between New Delhi's policies and US objectives was high or moderate-to-high on three issues—UN peacekeeping, nonproliferation export controls, and arms sales. It was moderate or low-to-moderate on six issues—China, Iran, Afghanistan, Indian Ocean security, Pakistan, and bilateral defense cooperation. And it was low or negligible on three issues—nuclear reactor contracts for US firms, nuclear arms control, and the war in Iraq. To be sure, despite the low or negligible convergence, New Delhi did not take an anti-US position on these issues. Four factors explain why New Delhi's policies aligned unevenly with US objectives across the issues: India's strategic interests (that diverged from US interests on some issues); domestic political and economic barriers (that prevented greater convergence between India's policies and US objectives); incentives and disincentives (that induced New Delhi to better align with US objectives); and certain case-specific factors. This analysis suggests that, rather than expecting India to become a close ally, US policymakers should consider it a friendly strategic partner whose policies would align, on the average, moderately with US strategic interests.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Political Economy, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Shihoko Goto, Robert Daly, Michael Kugelman, Sandy Pho, Meg Lundsager, Robert Litwak, Robert Person, James Person
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • Abstract: The United States is a Pacific power. It may be so reluctantly, but its continued military, political, and economic engagement has been key to Asia’s stability and prosperity. Ensuring that the Asia-Pacific remains robust politically and economically will be in the United States’ own interest, and will be a key foreign policy challenge for any administration. The realities on the ground in Asia, though, are rapidly changing. The region has become increasingly divided, and rivalries are manifesting themselves in territorial disputes, competition for resources, as well as a growing arms race. Having overtaken Japan as the world’s second-largest economy, China has sought to become as much a political and military power as much as an economic one. Beijing’s vision for the region puts China at its center, which has led to rifts in relations among Asian nations, not to mention Sino-U.S. relations. Continued stability in the region cannot be taken for granted. Washington must continue to be committed to Asia, not least amid growing concerns about North Korea’s nuclear aspirations, maritime disputes, and alternative visions for economic development.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Asia
  • Author: J. Jackson Ewing
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: FACING UP TO CLIMATE CHANGE IS A KEY CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME. We are on pace in 2016 to again record the warmest global temperatures ever measured; a distinction that now appears to be an annual occurrence. Weather is becoming less predictable, storms more intense, and drought and flooding more pervasive. This destroys livelihoods, impedes economic progress, and undermines the sustainable development gains we are working hard to achieve. Slowing down and ultimately reversing climate change requires us to lower our greenhouse gas emissions. And effectively pricing carbon emissions is a vital place to start. Pricing carbon through markets creates incentives, sets clear rules, and encourages regulated organizations to lower emissions in flexible ways that work for them. Like much in the current climate change arena, the main action on carbon markets is happening beneath the global scale. After years of chasing global mechanisms to price and trade carbon emissions credits, the landmark Paris Agreement of December 2015 both recognizes and provides political and policy space for efforts at local, state, and regional levels. The relevance of carbon markets is growing apace; almost doubling in scale since 2012 with forty states and twenty-three cities, regions, and provinces pricing emissions worth some $50 billion.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Trade and Finance, Climate Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The relationship between the European Union (EU) and Asia is in flux. The EU intensified its economic ties to Asia and boosted its security cooperation in the region in 2011 and 2012. But new challenges, including the crises in Ukraine and the Middle East, have made it difficult to sustain this incipient momentum. There are a number of steps that EU and Asian governments can and should take to continue to strengthen their relations.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Dr. Victor Cha, Michael J. Green, Nicholas Szechenyi
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Opinion surveys demonstrate that a majority of Americans consider Asia the most important region to U.S. interests and a majority of Asian experts support the Obama administration's goal of a “pivot” or “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific region.1 Yet doubts have also grown about whether the pivot can be sustained by a president politically weakened by the 2014 midterm results, constrained by budget sequestration, and pulled into crises from Ukraine to Iraq and Iran. On issues from immigration to Cuba policy, the Obama administration and the incoming Republican Congress appear set for confrontation. Yet Asia policy remains largely bipartisan—perhaps the most bipartisan foreign policy issue in Washington. It is therefore critical—and practical— to ask that the White House and the Republican leadership in the Congress chart a common course on policy toward Asia for the next two years. This report outlines concrete areas for action on trade, China, defense, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 5 January, the first anniversary of the deeply contested 2014 elections, the most violent in Bangladesh's history, clashes between government and opposition groups led to several deaths and scores injured. The confrontation marks a new phase of the deadlock between the ruling Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) opposition, which have swapped time in government with metronomic consistency since independence. Having boycotted the 2014 poll, the BNP appears bent on ousting the government via street power. With daily violence at the pre-election level, the political crisis is fast approaching the point of no return and could gravely destabilise Bangladesh unless the sides move urgently to reduce tensions. Moreover, tribunals set up to adjudicate crimes perpetrated at the moment of Bangladesh's bloody birth threaten division more than reconciliation. Both parties would be best served by changing course: the AL government by respecting the democratic right to dissent (recalling its time in opposition); the BNP by reviving its political fortunes through compromise with the ruling party, rather than violent street politics. With the two largest mainstream parties unwilling to work toward a new political compact that respects the rights of both opposition and victor to govern within the rule of law, extremists and criminal networks could exploit the resulting political void. Violent Islamist factions are already reviving, threatening the secular, democratic order. While jihadi forces see both parties as the main hurdle to the establishment of an Islamic order, the AL and the BNP perceive each other as the main adversary. The AL and its leader, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid, emphasise that the absence from parliament of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her BNP make them political non-entities. Yet, concerned about a comeback, the government is at-tempting to forcibly neutralise the political opposition and stifle dissent, including by bringing corruption and other criminal cases against party leaders, among whom are Zia and her son and heir apparent, Tarique Rahman; heavy-handed use of police and paramilitary forces; and legislation and policies that undermine fundamental constitutional rights. The BNP, which has not accepted any responsibility for the election-related vio-lence in 2014 that left hundreds dead (and saw hundreds of Hindu homes and shops vandalised), is again attempting to oust the government by force, in alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami, which is alleged to have committed some of the worst abuses during that period. The party retains its core supporters and seems to have successfully mobilised its activists on the streets. Yet, its sole demand – for a fresh election under a neutral caretaker – is too narrow to generate the public support it needs to over-come the disadvantage of being out of parliament, and its political capital is fading fast as it again resorts to violence. The deep animosity and mistrust between leaders and parties were not inevitable. Despite a turbulent history, they earlier cooperated to end direct or indirect military rule and strengthen democracy, most recently during the 2007-2008 tenure of the military-backed caretaker government (CTG), when the high command tried to re-move both Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia from politics. Rather than building on that cooperation, the two leaders have resorted to non-democratic methods to undermine each other. In power, both have used centralised authority, a politicised judiciary and predatory law enforcement agencies against legitimate opposition. Underpinning the current crisis is the failure to agree on basic standards for multi-party democratic functioning. While the BNP claims to be the guardian of Bangladeshi nationalism, the AL has attempted to depict itself as the sole author and custodian of Bangladesh's liberation. The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), established by the AL in March 2010 to prosecute individuals accused of committing atrocities during the 1971 liberation war, should be assessed in this context. While the quest to bring perpetrators to account is justifiable, the ICTs are not simply, or even primarily, a legal tool, but rather are widely perceived as a political one, primarily for use against the government's Islamist opposition. In short, the governing AL is seen to be using the nation's founding tragedy for self-serving political gains. The AL needs to realise that the BNP's marginalisation from mainstream politics could encourage anti-government activism to find more radical avenues, all the more so in light of its own increasingly authoritarian bent. Equally, the BNP would do well to abandon its alliances of convenience with violent Islamist groups and seek to revive agreement on a set of basic standards for multiparty democracy. A protracted and violent political crisis would leave Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia the ultimate losers, particularly if a major breakdown of law and order were to encourage the military to intervene; though there is as yet no sign of that, history suggests it is an eventuality not to be dismissed. The opportunities for political reconciliation are fast diminishing, as political battle lines become ever more entrenched. Both parties should restrain their violent activist base and take practical steps to reduce political tensions: the AL government should commit to a non-repressive response to political dis-sent, rein in and ensure accountability for abuses committed by law enforcement entities, reverse measures that curb civil liberties and assertively protect minority communities against attack and dispossession of properties and businesses; the AL should invite the BNP, at lower levels of seniority if needed, to negotiations aimed at reviving the democratic rules of the game, including electoral reform. It should also hold mayoral elections in Dhaka, a long-overdue constitutional requirement that would provide opportunities to begin that dialogue; and the BNP should commit to non-violent political opposition; refrain from an alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami that is enhancing the Islamist opposition's street power with little political return for the BNP; and instead demonstrate willingness to engage in meaningful negotiations with the AL to end a crisis that is undermining economic growth and threatening to subvert the political order.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Activism, Elections
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Asia