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  • Author: Choong Yong Ahn
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: India and South Korea, Asia’s third- and fourth-largest economies, respectively, established a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2010 and upgraded their relationship to a special strategic partnership in 2015. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s “New Southern” policy and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy share important objectives and values through which Korea and India can maximize their potential to pursue high tech-oriented, win-win growth. Both countries face the great challenge of diversifying their economic partners in their respective geo-economic domains amid newly emerging international geo-economic dynamics as well as rapidly changing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Given the two countries’ excessive dependence on the Chinese market and potential risks and uncertainties involved in the U.S.-China trade war and related security conflicts, South Korea and India need to deepen bilateral linkages in trade, investment, and cultural contacts. South Korea-India cooperation is crucial in promoting plurilateralism, prosperity, and harmony in East Asia. This paper suggests a specific action agenda to fulfill mutual commitments as entailed in the “Special Strategic Partnership” between these two like-minded countries of South Korea and India.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Industry
  • Political Geography: United States, China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Jagannath P. Panda
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Both India’s and South Korea’s strategic choices are deeply influenced by the rapidly evolving Indo-Pacific construct, particularly amid a mounting U.S.-China rivalry. With India’s “Look/Act East” policy and South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” offering a perfect stage for deepened mutual cooperation, both nations need to further their relations to build Asia’s future while advancing their respective national interests. With both countries following stringent foreign policies as a result of the actions of their immediate neighbors, they present a geopolitically strategic complementarity for their relationship to prosper and emerge as one of the most important relationships in the region. Seoul’s hesitation to overtly embrace the “Indo-Pacific” concept is not really a barrier; rather a geo-political overture to discard the balance of power politics and pursue an autonomous foreign policy. India’s preference for the “Indo-Pacific” is equally based on strategic autonomy, imbibing universal values and an inclusive regional order. Both countries emphasize a free and rules-based Indo-Pacific and have immense potential to establish security and connectivity partnerships as the keystone of their bilateral ties. With India and South Korea understanding the economic importance versus security ramifications of China, and with Japan’s reemergence as a key regional, if not global actor, both countries need to bring serious strategic intent to their relationship. Making use of the ASEAN platform and bilateral dialogues, South Korea and India have the potential to become one of the strongest Indo-Pacific partners of the 21st century
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Paul Saunders, John Van Oudenaren
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for the National Interest
  • Abstract: The report provides a synthesis of Japanese and American expert perspectives on the recent history, current state and future prospects for Japan-Russia relations. The authors examine the political, diplomatic, security, economic and energy dynamics of this important, but understudied relationship. They also assess how the Japan-Russia relationship fits within the broader geopolitical context of the Asia-Pacific region, factoring in structural determinants such as China’s rise and the level of U.S. presence in the region. Finally, the authors consider potential policy implications for the United States, paying special attention to how shifts in relations between Tokyo and Moscow could impact the U.S.-Japan alliance. As Saunders observes in his introduction to the volume, the currently shifting strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region, which is a central factor in Tokyo and Moscow’s efforts to foster constructive relations, also raises a host of questions for the US-Japan alliance. What are the prospects for Japan-Russia relations? What are Russian and Japanese objectives in their bilateral relations? How does the Trump administration view a possible improvement in Russia-Japan relations and to what extent will U.S. officials seek to limit such developments? Is the U.S.-Russia relationship likely to worsen and in so doing to spur further China-Russia cooperation? Could a better Russia-Japan relationship weaken the U.S.-Japan alliance? Or might it in fact serve some U.S. interests?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Japan, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Frank Umbach
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is officially neither a Chinese “Marshall Plan” nor a geopolitical master strategy. At present, it involves 84 countries, rising from 65 countries in 2015, and 15 Chinese provinces. Over the last year, the number of countries being concerned or ambivalent about China’s motivations and strategic objectives behind the BRI have increased. Despite officially supporting China’s BRI, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also warned last April, that China is supporting unneeded and unsustainable projects in many countries, leading to heavy and unpayable debt burdens. In ASEAN, Chinese investments are welcomed but there are also misgivings about the BRI’s strategic objectives which may constrain ASEAN’s policy options. As China is presently and will remain the single most influential country in global energy markets in the next decades, it is not surprising that its infrastructure plans of building railways, highways and ports are often interlinked with China’s energy and raw materials projects abroad and its domestic energy policies. This paper analyses the energy dimensions of the BRI and its strategic implications for its wider economic, foreign and security policies in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Military Strategy, ASEAN, IMF
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Tomoo Kikuchi, Takehiro Masutomo
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: Since 2011, under the Thein Sein government, Myanmar has started to build financial institutions almost from scratch. Japan has played a leading role in this effort, writing off debt, opening the Yangon Stock Exchange, vying for the entry of Japanese banks, and laying out finance-related laws. Myanmar’s weak institutions present considerable challenges. By examining common features of financial markets in Southeast Asia, this paper identifies the preconditions for financial development to be a vehicle for Myanmar’s industrialisation as well as the rationale for Japan’s public and private involvement in Myanmar.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Finance, Institutions, Private Sector, Industrialization
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Pradumna B. Rana, Chai Wai-Mun, Ji Xianbai
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), officially unveiled in 2013, is China’s landmark foreign and economic policy initiative to achieve improved connectivity, regional cooperation, and economic development on a trans-continental scale. China has promoted the BRI as a cooperative initiative that will lead to a win- win situation for both China and BRI partner countries. However, there are many different views and pushbacks against the BRI and suspicions of China’s underlying intentions. Impacts of the BRI can be assessed either through a model-based quantitative study or through a broadly representative survey. Our paper used the latter approach as we were not aware of any such study in the past. We implemented an online survey from 20 June to 19 July 2019 which over 1,200 Asian opinion leaders responded to. Asian opinion leaders were defined as policy makers, academics, businesses, and media practitioners from 26 Asian countries that have signed a BRI agreement with China. Stakeholders’ perspectives on the following issues were solicited: (i) why China might have been interested in launching the BRI; (ii) perceived benefits and risks to countries participating in the BRI; and (iii) policies that the stakeholders would like to recommend both to China and their own governments. Though mixed views on the specifics of the BRI emerged, respondents generally felt that the BRI was a positive development facilitating international economic cooperation and development. The recommendations of this survey should be of some use in making the BRI a truly win-win initiative for all.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Imperialism, Economic Policy, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Kyra Lüthi
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: First association most people have when they think about Asia are countries like China, Japan or India, as they are big countries, present for a long time on the world map. During the past decades, Hong Kong and Singapore have also gained a lot of attraction worldwide as business comprise the world’s most ancient civilizations. So regardless of a country’s geographical size and sustainability, each one is vital in playing a role in the global economic and political order. Unfortunately, more often than not, the South East Asian countries and most specifically and finical hubs of Asia. These are indeed the key players in Asia but the biggest continent in the world is not only composed of these few states. It is home to 48 countries and 4.5 billion people with different ethnicities and cultures that the Philippines, if not forgotten, is commonly underestimated in the contribution that it provides in the international arena due to the multiple misconceptions about the country’s general conditions. But in reality, the Philippines has always been in the global scheme from the earliest times up to today, therefore it is important and relevant to learn more about its history, involvement and influence on relations in Asia and globally.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, India, Asia, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong
  • Author: Jeffrey Robertson
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: During 2017-18, international attention turned to the Korean Peninsula as the threat of conflict reached new heights. This led to an explosion in the growth of “North Korea watchers”— the community of scholars, analysts, government officers, NGO advocates, and journalists who commit a portion of their lives to following events in North Korea. Divides emerged in overlapping regional, professional, institutional (political), and linguistic differences that saw individuals take conflicting positions on key issues. This paper investigates just one of these divides—how language and culture impact policy discourse on North Korea. The study explores language as a source of division in the North Korea watching community. It uses Einar Wigen’s argument that international relations should be conceptualized as inter-lingual relations, which suggests that despite the narrowing of political vocabularies, residues of politico-cultural differences remain in how concepts are contextualized into discourse, even between close partners. The study assesses compatibility between English and Korean language conceptualizations of North Korea, through an assessment of core inputs into policy discourse. The study then discusses the implications for U.S.-South Korea relations, and ongoing efforts to strengthen Korean Peninsula security.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Ilan Goldenberg, Jessica Schwed, Kaleigh Thomas
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: In recent months, Iran has responded to rising tensions with the United States—particularly the US launch of the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran—by attacking oil tankers and infrastructure in the Persian Gulf region around the Strait of Hormuz (the Strait). These actions have been designed to signal to the United States, the Gulf states, and the international community that the American strategy of strangling Iran economically will not be cost-free, and to Saudi Arabia in particular that it is highly vulnerable to Iranian retaliation. As the Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most critical energy chokepoints, the implications of Iran’s efforts merit close scrutiny and analysis. This study was designed to examine three scenarios for military conflict between Iran and the United States and assess the potential impacts on global oil prices—as one specific representation of the immediate economic impact of conflict—as well as broader strategic implications. The three scenarios are: Increasing US-Iran tensions that ultimately lead to a new “Tanker War” scenario similar to the conflict of the 1980s, in which Iran attacks potentially hundreds of ships in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman over a prolonged period while also launching missiles at Gulf oil infrastructure. An escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States in which Iran significantly increases the scope and severity of missile attacks directed at major oil and energy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A major conflict between Iran and the United States that includes damage to Gulf oil infrastructure and a temporary closure of the Strait of Hormuz. Its main conclusions are: The risk of a major military confrontation between the United States and Iran has increased in recent months but still remains relatively low, as neither the United States nor Iran wants war. That said, the September 14, 2019, attack on the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities was a strategic game changer and shows that the biggest risk is a prolonged, low-intensity military conflict. The fact that Iran was willing to conduct such an attack was a surprise to most analysts and to the US government and its Gulf partners. The level of accuracy it showed in the strike demonstrated a technical proficiency the US government and outside analysts did not believe Iran had. In the more moderate and likely conflict scenarios, increasing tensions between the United States and Iran are unlikely to dramatically affect global oil prices. The most profound costs in the more likely scenarios are not energy-related but security-related. Even in the less escalatory scenarios, the United States would be forced into long-term deployments of a large number of air and naval assets that would need to remain in the Middle East for years at a cost of billions of dollars. Such deployments would take away resources that would otherwise be dedicated to managing great power competition with China and Russia. In the more extreme conflict scenarios, major loss of life and an even bigger and longer-term American military deployment would be expected. In the lower likelihood scenario of a major military confrontation between the United States and Iran, global oil prices would be dramatically affected, though price impacts would not be prolonged. All assumptions about the potential impacts on oil prices are based on the supposition that the United States protects global shipping lanes, but that theory deserves further scrutiny. For more than a generation, the United States has viewed securing global shipping lanes that are critical for commerce and energy as a core vital interest. But given the isolationist tendencies in the United States and President Donald Trump’s attitude that America should stop underwriting the defense of its allies, it is conceivable he may choose not to respond in the types of scenarios described in this paper or demand that countries most dependent on oil trade from the Gulf—most notably China—step up instead. Another wild card for oil prices in a major crisis scenario would be President Trump’s unpredictable policies regarding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Typically, an administration would be expected to coordinate an international response with the International Energy Agency (IEA) to release the SPR of a number of countries, but this cannot be assumed in the current administration. Though these conclusions are to some extent comforting, the authors acknowledge that a key issue with any analysis of this situation is the unpredictability of the United States. In the present moment, neither US adversaries nor partners know quite what to expect—and, for that matter, neither does the US government or its observers.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Oil, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: David Kelly
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The debate about China’s changing role in global affairs is often framed as a dichotomous choice between a peacefully rising China that seeks to be a constructive stakeholder and an increasingly dangerous China that is challenging the status quo, both in terms of its norms and the place of the United States. The reality is more complicated. There are not only signs of both elements, but the foundations shaping Chinese behavior is multifold. Most international relations scholars examine China through one or another version of realism or liberalism. David Kelly, head of research at China Policy, offers an alternative approach that examines the nature of Chinese identity, or rather, Chinese identities, plural, and how they exhibit themselves in Chinese foreign policy. Using his renowned skills in reading Chinese-language official documents and the broader commentary, Kelly teases out seven narratives that Chinese tell themselves and the world, and he provides a codebook for explicating shifting Chinese behavior in different arenas. Kelly concludes that some of these narratives facilitate cooperation, but most point toward deep-seated tensions between China and the West in the years ahead.

  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Globalization, Imperialism, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America, Asia-Pacific