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  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The recent swarming of Chinese militia boats in Whitsun Reef may indicate that President Duterte’s appeasement strategy towards China does not really work. Asserting the Arbitral Ruling must therefore be explored by Manila.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Militias
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Vietnam, Philippines
  • Author: Patrick Porter, Michael Mazarr
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: There is a growing bipartisan consensus in Washington on a tighter embrace of Taiwan, which may soon become a stronger implied US commitment to go to war in the event of a Chinese invasion. Taiwan matters to US security and the regional order, and the United States should continue to make clear that aggression is unacceptable. But those advocating a stronger US security commitment exaggerate the strategic consequences of a successful Chinese invasion. The stakes are not so high as to warrant an unqualified US pledge to go to war. American decision-makers, like their forebears confronting the seeming threat of communism in Indochina, may be trapping themselves into an unnecessarily stark conception of the consequences of a successful Chinese invasion of Taiwan. It would be irresponsible for the United States to leave itself no option in the event of Chinese aggression other than war. But nor should Washington abandon Taiwan. There is a prudent middle way: the United States should act as armourer, but not guarantor. It should help prepare Taiwan to defend itself, to raise costs against aggression, and develop means of punishing China with non-military tools.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Markus Jaeger
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The Biden administration has just issued its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. The guidance document states the need to “build back better at home” and acknowledges that “international economic policies must serve all Americans” – a theme often referred to as “foreign policy for the middle class”. While the interim guidance does not preclude cooperation with China in selected policy areas, it is unambiguous in considering China a strategic competitor. The prospect of intensifying China-US geopolitical and (geo)economic competition is bad news for Germany, which has high value trading and investment relationships with both countries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, National Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Brendan Helm, Denis Volkov, Stepan Goncharov
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: As Russia and China grow closer through economic ties, a joint Chicago Council on Global Affairs-Levada Analytical Center survey finds that the Russian public sees little downside to the growing bilateral relationship. With China and Russia on the outs with the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have broadened bilateral economic and military cooperation over the last few years. Recent cooperation has included energy and infrastructure projects, and even a little bit of panda diplomacy. While some observers warn about the potential risk that Russia may grow too dependent on Beijing, a joint Chicago Council on Global Affairs-Levada Analytical Center survey finds that the Russian public sees little downside to the growing bilateral relationship.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations, Public Opinion, Survey
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Eastern Europe, Asia
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: 2021 Chicago Council Survey data show a majority of Americans support a range of US policies towards Taiwan: recognition as an independent country, inclusion in international organizations, and a US-Taiwan free trade agreement. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are running high. Chinese intimidation of Taiwan has increased since 2016, demonstrated by naval drills in the Taiwan Strait, incursions into Taiwanese airspace, and economic coercion targeted at Taiwanese industries. In turn, the United States has sold advanced weapons to Taiwan and normalized US warship transits nearby. While past administrations have not made formal commitments to defend Taiwan, the just-completed 2021 Chicago Council Survey finds that for the first time, a slim majority of Americans now favor sending US troops to defend Taiwan if China invades.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Treaties and Agreements, Public Opinion, Free Trade, Survey
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karl Friedhoff
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: 2021 Chicago Council Survey data show that a majority of Americans hold favorable views of South Korea and would support defending the country from a North Korean attack. Under the Biden administration, US relations with South Korea have returned to more solid ground. The May summit between President Joseph Biden and President Moon Jae-in was seen as a success, and negotiations over costs for stationing US troops in Korea were resolved. However, North Korea’s launch of a long-range cruise missile and subsequent ballistic missile test might signal a new phase of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The 2021 Chicago Council Survey finds the American public continues to hold positive views of South Korea, while majorities of Americans identify North Korea as an adversary. But while Americans support using US troops to defend South Korea, there is little support for taking military action to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear program.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Karl Friedhoff, Suh Young Park
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: Chicago Council survey data find majorities in South Korea view China as more of a security threat than a security partner and as more of an economic threat than an economic partner. On May 21, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in will meet President Joe Biden at the White House. In his first 100 days in office, Biden’s foreign policy has focused on repairing alliances and setting the administration’s policy toward China—in March and April alone, the administration participated in US-China talks in Alaska, 2+2 meetings in South Korea and Japan, trilateral talks among national security advisers, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's visit to Washington. Moon’s visit will add North Korea to the agenda. The two leaders meet at a time when there are significant gaps on their preferred paths forward to dealing with Beijing and Pyongyang. However, recent Chicago Council surveys find that attitudes among publics in South Korea and the United States are remarkably similar when it comes to China and North Korea.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North America, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Bart Gaens
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The United States under President Joe Biden is strengthening efforts to constrain China in the Indo-Pacific region. At least for now, a new US focus on the region is aimed primarily at reinforcing “minilateral” alignments, potentially at the expense of the EU and its member states.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Hegemony, Multilateralism, Influence
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Natasha Kassam, Richard McGregor
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China has lost the battle for public opinion in Taiwan. Saturday’s elections are likely to reflect strong anti-Beijing sentiment China is already looking past the elections to weaken the island’s democracy through overt and covert means Whatever the result, Beijing will increase pressure on Taipei to open talks on unification
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Many argue that the coronavirus pandemic will ultimately benefit China more than the rest of the world, especially the US. After all, America is now the worst-hit country on earth in terms of human casualties. But the crisis could in fact help the US reorganize its geopolitical thinking toward the People’s Republic, resulting in a radical break in which Washington’s political and economic elites are newly unified against a rising Beijing.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Though analysts tend to portray Russia’s foreign policy as truly global (that is, independent of Europe, the US, and China), the country is plainly tilting toward Asia. The Russian political elite does its best to hide this development, but the country is accumulating more interests and freedom to act in Asia than in Europe or anywhere else.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Geopolitics, Global Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Christopher A. McNally
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: With both the US and China facing a long economic slowdown, the bilateral relationship between the globe's two largest economies faces massive challenges. Making matters worse, Washington and Beijing have attempted to divert domestic attention away from their own substantial shortcomings by blaming each other. Given the economic uncertainty, each side has limited leverage to force the other into making concessions. Harsh rhetoric only serves to inflame tensions at the worst possible time. For better or worse, the US and China are locked in a messy economic marriage. A divorce at this time would exact an enormous cost in an already weakened economy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas J. Shattuck
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Once again, the future of Kuomintang (KMT), the political party headed by Chiang Kai-shek for decades and that favors a closer relationship with Mainland China, is in doubt due to the results of the recent presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was reelected in a landslide against her opponent Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang. Tsai received a record 8+ million votes, and the DPP retained its majority in the country’s national legislature by winning 61 seats—though it did lose seven compared to the 2016 election when the party won its first-ever majority. The blowout victory puts the KMT’s future into question—though more senior analysts note that this conversation occurs after every election, particularly the 2016 election, and nothing really changes. Maybe, just maybe, this time will be different.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Reform, History , Kuomintang
  • Political Geography: Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Joseph de Weck
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Do you want to know how Beijing would like Europe to act? Take a look at Switzerland. Switzerland and China have been close for decades. It was the first Western nation to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in January 1950. Bern wanted to protect investments in the new People’s Republic from nationalization and hoped Swiss industry could lend a hand in rebuilding China’s infrastructure after the civil war. Being friendly to China paid off, but only 30 years later, once reformer Deng Xiaoping took the reins of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In 1980, Swiss elevator producer Schindler was the first foreign company to do a joint venture in China. Today, Switzerland is the only continental European country to have a free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Switzerland, Sweden
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: It is not the caliphate that the world’s Muslim powerhouses are fighting about. Instead, they are engaged in a deepening religious soft power struggle for geopolitical influence and dominance. This battle for the soul of Islam pits rival Middle Eastern and Asian powers against one another: Turkey, seat of the Islamic world’s last true caliphate; Saudi Arabia, home to the faith’s holy cities; the United Arab Emirates, propagator of a militantly statist interpretation of Islam; Qatar with its less strict version of Wahhabism and penchant for political Islam; Indonesia, promoting a humanitarian, pluralistic notion of Islam that reaches out to other faiths as well as non-Muslim centre-right forces across the globe; Morocco which uses religion as a way to position itself as the face of moderate Islam; and Shia Iran with its derailed revolution. In the ultimate analysis, no clear winner may emerge. Yet, the course of the battle could determine the degree to which Islam will be defined by either one or more competing stripes of ultra-conservativism—statist forms of the faith that preach absolute obedience to political rulers and/or reduce religious establishments to pawns of the state.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Islam, Politics, Ideology
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Kyoko Kuwahara
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The hardening of US attitudes toward China's exercise of sharp power in recent years has been dramatic. As a result, China's sharp power has been eliminated from the US, and the confrontational structure between the US and China has shifted from a "US-China trade war" to a "political war" or "information war". Since the beginning of 2020, the two superpowers have engaged in verbal warfare over responses to the new coronavirus. Whenever the US criticizes China, China shifts the blame to the US, and they use the media to restrain each other. Now the US and China are fighting against the new coronavirus even as they also waging a "propaganda war" against each other.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Public Opinion, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Courtney Weatherby
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has re-centered discussion of geopolitical competition in Asia around infrastructure. Responding both to BRI and the region’s well-known infrastructure gap, the United States has launched efforts to unlock US private investment for infrastructure. Japan’s engagements in the region emphasize high-quality infrastructure and best practices (an implicit criticism of China’s sometimes less rigorous standards). The foreign policy approaches of the United States and Japan dovetail nicely and have led to many new initiatives and institutional partnerships, as well as the quality-focused Blue Dot Network. But despite the two countries’ intentions to work collaboratively, their efforts have been held back by differences in organizational practices, the lengthy overhaul of US financing, and a lack of immediate movement from US-Japan consortia. For now, a less ambitious approach of closely coordinating technical assistance and conditional funding on proposed projects may serve as a model for closer US-Japan collaboration as efforts mature.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Bilateral Relations, Infrastructure, Geopolitics, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Renewable Energy, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Elina Noor
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Malaysia’s foreign and security policy faces myriad challenges, but not much is likely to change under Mahathir Mohamad’s ‘New Malaysia’ framework. The return of Mahathir Mohamad to the prime ministership of the country he had previously led for 22 years has raised questions about the direction Malaysia’s foreign and security policy might take. While there may be some course-corrections in foreign and security policy under Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan government, it will not stray far from the approach of previous administrations. Continuities will include its non-aligned status, its pragmatic dealings with both the United States and China, its focus on ASEAN centrality and Malaysia’s economic development through trade. Malaysia will revisit its earlier “Look East” policy; it has plans to upgrade its defence capabilities in the South China Sea; and it will take a more consultative approach to foreign policy-making.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia
  • Author: Aaron L. Connelly
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Donald Trump has put US policy in East Asia on autopilot. But that could leave the United States far off course — and in a crisis, Trump will be required to fly the plane. Despite President Donald Trump’s promise to adopt an America First foreign policy, US policies in East Asia — on issues from trade, to diplomatic engagement, to the North Korean nuclear crisis — now more closely resemble those of Trump’s predecessors than his campaign vision. There are few advisers around President Trump with the necessary expertise, experience, and inclination to implement an America First foreign policy in Asia. Most principals hold conventional Republican views, and lead institutions that have advanced conventional policies. As a result, US policy in East Asia is on autopilot. The greatest risks are not a deliberate crash, but that of a crisis, in which the autopilot will disengage and President Trump will be required to fly the plane; or that the United States will drift far off course before a qualified pilot can retake control.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America