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  • Author: Brendan Taylor
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Australian diplomacy could ease rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait, if Australian policymakers rediscovered an appetite for involvement in the flashpoint. Tensions between Taiwan and China are rising, driven in part by an increasingly assertive government in Beijing, growing Taiwanese estrangement from the Chinese mainland, and deteriorating US–China relations. If key regional governments fail to help de-escalate tensions, the consequences are likely to be serious. Rather than continue the debate about Australia’s position on its ANZUS obligations should the United States invoke the treaty in a Taiwan conflict, Australia should work with other regional powers to advocate for more robust risk avoidance and crisis management mechanisms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Multilateralism, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The clergy’s ambitions for global Shia revolution made the city of Qom uniquely vulnerable to the disease, and their resistance to modern medical science weakened the state’s ability to combat its spread. On February 19, two days before the Iranian government officially announced the arrival of coronavirus, an infected businessman who had recently returned from China to Qom passed away. The location and timing of his death illustrate how the Shia holy city and the religious leaders and institutions who call it home have played an outsize role in the disease’s disproportionately rapid spread inside Iran compared to other countries. How did this situation come to pass, and what does it say about the current state of the clerical establishment, its relationship with the regime, and its alienation from large swaths of Iranian society? (Part 2 of this PolicyWatch discusses the regime's role in the outbreak and its resiliency to such crises.)
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Religion, Shia, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Yuka Fukunaga
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been of the utmost importance for Japan's trade policy. In particular, Japan strongly supports the WTO’s rule-based dispute settlement mechanism, and frequently uses it. At the same time, in recent years, the adoption and implementation of regional and mega-regional trade agreements have become critical in Japan’s trade policy, with the stalling of the Doha Round negotiations in the WTO. Although the core of its trade policy remains the same today, Japan has been forced to rethink and modify it in response to the aggressive and unilateral trade policy of the Trump administration.
  • Topic: World Trade Organization, Governance, Internet, Free Trade, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: John Seaman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: From emerging technological fields such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities to traditional sectors including energy, health care, railways and agriculture, China is increasingly proactive in nearly every domain where technical standards remain to be developed and set. Technical standards are the definition of processes or technical specifications designed to improve the quality, security and compatibility of various goods and services, for instance GSM for telecommunications or WiFi for wireless Internet. They can be thought of as basic specifications or technologies on which other technologies or methods will evolve – creating lock-in effects and path-dependency for future products and technological trajectories. Defining standards can provide significant benefits for society at large, but can also carry significant implications for which technologies will dominate future markets and provide substantial advantages to those who master standardized technologies. Chinese policymakers have become keenly aware of the relationship between technical standard-setting and economic power. Indeed, a popular saying in China posits that third-tier companies make products, second-tier companies make technology, first-tier companies make standards. In 2015, the State Council highlighted China’s deficiencies in the field and set out to transform the country’s standardization system, seeking to harness the capacity of standard setting not only to improve the daily lives of its citizens, but to drive innovation, boost China’s economic transformation toward the industries of the future, and turn China into a premier purveyor of international technical standards.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Multilateralism, Standardization
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Haisam Hassanein
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Port projects and other outreach may help President Sisi check off some of his policy goals, but giving China such a foothold could threaten a number of U.S. interests in the region. On August 5, Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese company Hutchison Ports to establish a Mediterranean container terminal in Abu Qir. President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi himself attended the signing ceremony, where he praised the company’s global reputation in the field and emphasized the importance of executing the project in accordance with the highest international standards. The project is in line with Sisi’s track record of seeking Chinese help to fulfill his ambitious domestic and foreign agenda. Hutchison is one of the world’s leading port networks, operating terminals in twenty-seven countries; in Egypt, it operates the country’s two main commercial ports, Alexandria and El Dekheila. The company’s representatives commended the opportunity for direct investment in Abu Qir and announced that they will be training more than 1,500 Egyptian engineers and other workers for jobs at the terminal. According to them, the facility will be able to handle up to 1 million containers annually once completed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Economic growth, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Asia, North Africa, Egypt, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: The treatment of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region has increased concerns over the risk of widespread and systematic human rights abuses and violations in China. The government’s approach to combatting religious extremism has resulted in the arbitrary detention of up to one million Uighurs, severe restrictions on religious practice, and pervasive surveillance and control of the entire Muslim population of Xinjiang. A new joint policy brief by the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect asserts that these policies may constitute crimes against humanity under international law. The policy brief provides an overview of China’s response to growing international pressure to halt the persecution of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang region and offers recommendations on how to comprehensively address these issues.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Islam, Ethnicity, Freedom of Expression, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities, Crimes Against Humanity
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Xinjiang
  • Author: Jacopo Maria Pepe
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Could China’s quiet but steadily rising penetration of Central Europe bear risks for the EU? Certainly, Beijing is using the region as a gateway to Western Europe’s markets while including the EU in its “Eurasian” integration project. But a deepening trade triangle of China, Germany, and Central European countries could put other EU countries at an economic disadvantage. Germany must address this risk, carefully balancing national interest and European cohesion.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Séverine Arséne
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: China's Social Credit System remains a poorly understood combination of rating schemes and blacklists, but the consequences for individuals and businesses are very real. Since the State Council published a “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014-2020)”, all administrations and localities in China have been busy figuring out ways to develop social credit systems relevant to their own jurisdiction, while a few corporations have also been experimenting with private social credit ratings, more akin to loyalty schemes, in conjunction with the policy. From this hotchpotch of experimentation, two distinct instruments are taking shape in the so-called public system: first, personal credit ratings managed by localities, and secondly, blacklists of individuals and companies managed by sectorial administrations (the Supreme People’s Court, the Tax Department, Department of Agriculture, etc). Arrangements across administrations and corporate partners enable the implementation of rewards and punishments attached to the blacklists, while personal ratings carry only perks.
  • Topic: Governance, Business , Surveillance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: India’s space program has grown and evolved significantly in the last five decades. The program originally focused on developing space assets that provided direct developmental benefits, for example telecommunications and remote sensing satellites that helped both in improving communication facilities and giving direct assistance to India’s farmers. But over time, India has shifted a part of its focus towards space exploration and other high-profile missions that do not have as clear a developmental purpose as earlier. This includes, for example, India’s Mars and Moon exploratory missions. Overall, India has been fairly successful in these efforts and its space program has become a comprehensive one that includes not only a robust launch capacity and very large remote sensing satellite systems, but also a very well rounded scientific and deep space exploratory program.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Affairs, Weapons , Space
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, India
  • Author: Garima Mohan
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The new European Union (EU) strategy on India marks a major moment of departure in EU-India relations. It reflects three critical shifts: firstly, the EU no longer views India from a “trade lens” only, recognizing its important geopolitical role in maintaining a multipolar Asia. Second, the strategy frames EU-India relations in the context of broader geopolitical developments, primarily the rise of China. Recognition of the China challenge and its impact not only in Europe, but also on the balance of power in Asia, has pushed the EU to change the nature of its partnerships in the region, particularly with India. Finally, the strategy links European security and prosperity to developments in Asia, broadening the scope of EU foreign policy substantially. This paper analyses the new EU strategy on India and highlights areas, which represent a departure from previous strategies. The paper looks specifically at proposals for greater foreign and security cooperation, for securing a rules-based order, increasing regional connectivity, improving trade and investment, and building better coordination on and with India. These proposals are commendable and respond to a long laundry list suggested by experts from both sides over a long time. They also fit well with India’s priorities, namely responding to increasing Chinese political, economic and military presence in South Asia, security in the Indian Ocean, as well as more proactive engagement in regional and global institutions. Finally, the paper suggests ways of taking this forward and ensuring the strategy does not remain a paper tiger in the long arsenal of EU-India declarations. While more dialogues on global and strategic issues is a great idea and will help change perceptions in New Delhi that the EU is not a strategic actor, the EU will have to ensure this is not hindered by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ already overstretched capacities and the 30 existing EU-India dialogues. Focusing on ongoing debates in India and Europe in these dialogues, particularly connectivity projects, maritime security in the Indian Ocean, 5G networks and infrastructure might also open up new avenues of cooperation. Overall the EU-India relationship has witnessed remarkable momentum over the last four years – aided by political will from both sides, the China challenge, friction in transatlantic ties, and common challenges within Europe and India. The new strategy is a good first step to build on this momentum. However, it needs to be translated into action fast.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, South Asia, India, European Union