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  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China's tough stand on maritime territorial disputes evident first in 2012 confrontations with the Philippines in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea has endured into 2013. Leaders' statements, supporting commentary, military and paramilitary activity, economic developments, and administrative advances all point to determined support of an important shift in China's foreign policy with serious implications for China's neighbors and concerned powers, including the US. China's success in advancing its control of disputed areas in the South China Sea and its overall assertiveness in support of China's broad territorial claims along its maritime rim head the list of reasons why the new Chinese policy is likely to continue and intensify. Few governments are prepared to resist.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, Asia
  • 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: 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: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Following last quarter‟s strong criticisms of US and regional moves seen directed against Chinese policies, Chinese leaders and commentary this quarter reverted to a reassuring message of good neighborliness and cooperation. Senior leaders interacted constructively and official Chinese media gave repeated emphasis to positive and mutually beneficial relations. Wariness of US policies and practices was registered in lower-level commentaries while Chinese officials interacted in business-like ways with US counterparts over regional issues. China consulted with ASEAN representatives seeking to implement a code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea, and a working group meeting was held in Kunming, China on Dec. 21-23. Handling of issues in the South China Sea was more moderate than the confrontational approach witnessed in Chinese actions and publicity over fishing and other rights in disputed waters in the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea. On the other hand, even reassurances underlined a determination to rebuff violations of China‟s “core interest” in protecting territorial claims. Some military exercises and enhanced patrols by Chinese ships also were noted in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, China‟s positive reaction to the November elections in Myanmar was in line with longstanding Chinese support for the authoritarian military leadership.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Myanmar
  • 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: 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: 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
  • 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
  • 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