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  • Author: Scott A. Snyder, Geun Lee, You Young Kim, Jiyoon Kim
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Despite becoming influential on the world scene, South Korea remains a relatively weak country surrounded by larger, more powerful neigh- bors. This contrast between its global rank as a top-twenty economy and its regional status as the weakest country in Northeast Asia (with the exception of North Korea) poses a paradox for South Korean for- eign policy strategists. Despite successes addressing nontraditional security challenges in areas such as international development, global health, and UN peacekeeping, South Korea is limited in its capacity to act on regional security threats. South Korea has historically been a victim of geopolitical rivalries among contenders for regional hegemony in East Asia. But the coun- try’s rise in influence provides a glimmer of hope that it can break from its historical role by using its expanded capabilities as leverage to shape its strategic environment. The pressing dilemma for South Korean strategic thinkers is how to do so. As the regional security environment becomes more tense, South Korea’s strategic options are characterized by constraint, given potentially conflicting great-power rivalries and Pyongyang’s efforts to pursue asymmetric nuclear or cyber capabilities at Seoul’s expense. South Korea’s relative weakness puts a premium on its ability to achieve the internal political unity necessary to maximize its influence in foreign policy. Students of Korean history will recall that domestic factionalism among political elites was a chronic factor that hamstrung Korea’s dynastic leadership and contributed to its weakness in dealing with outside forces.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Emerging challenges to international order require cooperation between the United States and China, two countries that share a common interest in preventing the world from becoming more dangerous and disorderly. U.S.-China relations are becoming more strained and antagonistic, however, and the prospects for cooperation appear to be receding. To explore whether there are still grounds for cooperation on issues of common concern between the two countries, in March 2018 the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) at the Council on Foreign Relations convened a group of fifteen experts from the United States and China for the workshop “Managing Global Disorder: Prospects for U.S.-China Cooperation.” CPA partnered with Peking University’s School of International Studies in Beijing for the workshop and also met with experts at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies in Shanghai. During the workshop, President Donald J. Trump announced plans to impose about $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports. While trade was a major topic of discussion, it was by no means the only area discussed. Workshop participants assessed conflicting views of the sources of global disorder and examined areas of global governance such as international trade, development, the environment, and the future of various multilateral institutions. They also discussed the most pressing security challenges in East and Southwest Asia. Participants highlighted the need for a greater understanding between the United States and China on the evolving international order. No major transnational problems will be solved without some cooperation between the two powers. It is therefore imperative that the two countries avoid a further deterioration of the relationship and instead identify areas of potential cooperation.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Social Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Although the Barack Obama administration rhetorically made Southeast Asia a centerpiece of its “rebalance to Asia” strategy, the administration still largely focused on the Middle East and Europe, and Southeast Asia remained a low U.S. policy priority. The Obama administration did try to boost U.S. economic ties with Southeast Asia in 2016 by forging the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but that trade deal was broadly unpopular in the United States. The following year, the Donald J. Trump administration ended U.S. participation in the TPP, and it also suggested launching punitive economic measures against Southeast Asian states currently running trade surpluses with the United States. Many Southeast Asian leaders now worry that Washington has no clear security or economic strategy for the region, other than applying pressure on Beijing to respect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. In this perceived void of U.S. leadership and strategy, workshop participants assessed how Southeast Asia might change as China becomes an increasingly dominant regional security and economic actor. They also discussed the future of U.S. strategic and economic relationships with important partners in the region, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Participants further considered how China might use its growing leverage in Southeast Asia, and whether Beijing’s tactics could backfire. Finally, several workshop participants posited that the United States, China, and Southeast Asian states could cooperate on at least some nontraditional security issues, such as combating piracy and terrorism.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Chinese firms, both private and state-owned, have in recent years invested billions of dollars in the U.S. technology industry, raising concerns that a powerful rival has gained or could soon gain access to sensitive and, in some cases, critical technologies that underpin American military superiority and economic might. At the workshop entitled “Chinese Investment in Critical U.S. Technology: Risks to U.S. Security Interests,” held in San Francisco, on July 18, 2017, CFR convened nearly thirty current and former government officials, academics, bankers, investors, and corporate executives to explore whether the large and growing early-stage Chinese investment in critical U.S. technology poses a threat to U.S. national security, and, if so, to outline policies that mitigate the risks of unbridled Chinese investment and to bolster U.S. competitiveness.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Foreign Direct Investment, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Heung-kyu Kim
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As the Republic of Korea faces an increasing threat from North Korea, evolving U.S.-China relations are becoming important to Seoul’s strategy for dealing with Pyongyang. The United States and China are competitors, but they also seek cooperation on a range of global issues. And although South Korea seeks to have good relations with both great powers, it is increasingly being pushed to take sides in the ongoing U.S.-China competition. As the U.S.-China relationship becomes more complex, South Korea needs to carefully evaluate its policy toward China in order to find the best ways to ensure Chinese cooperation on the North Korean issue, particularly taking into account China’s evolving view of North Korea. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China is profoundly changing its foreign policy, including its relations with the United States and the two Koreas. With more confidence in its own diplomatic, military, and economic capacity to protect its national interests, China under Xi’s leadership has begun to regard the entire Korean Peninsula as part of its sphere of influence.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro, Ettore Greco
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: A nuclear-armed North Korea is a threat to the fragile strategic equilibrium on the Korean Peninsula and to international security at large. Emboldened by a nuclear arsenal, the highly militarized regime of President Kim Jong-un could be tempted to embark on aggressive acts. Meanwhile, the United States could opt for preventive military action. Even if neither party seeks a military confrontation, conflict could ensue due to miscalculation or simple misreading of each other’s intentions. Limited military exchanges could spiral out of control, eventually involving not only North Korea, the United States, and its allies in the region—Japan and South Korea—but also China. The repercussions of North Korea’s nuclear challenge may not be limited to Northeast Asia, not least because the nonproliferation regime, a pillar of international security, would be dealt a serious, if not fatal, blow if regional adversaries sought to meet it by acquiring their own nuclear arsenals. The destabilizing effects of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs on regional and international security cannot be overestimated. In devising a response to the North Korean challenge, regional actors should remain committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but they should also implement security measures with observable results short of full denuclearization. Specifically, the United States and its allies should concentrate on sanctioning North Korea and on diplomatic action, actively seeking the involvement of China and Russia, while employing a strategy of deterrence and containment.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Nonproliferation, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Jaehyon Lee
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Traditional security issues in the Asia-Pacific, such as tensions on the Korean Peninsula or disputes over the South China Sea, consistently attract the attention of policymakers within the region and abroad. But their consequences for ordinary people are often dwarfed by the fallout from nontraditional security (NTS) events, such as climate change, resource scarcity, infectious diseases, natural disasters, irregular migration, famine, people smuggling, drug trafficking, and transnational crime. For countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the human and economic losses from NTS threats can be staggering. Moreover, economic and social costs from NTS threats consume resources that otherwise could be channeled toward economic growth and social welfare. Historically, there have been bilateral and multilateral attempts at cooperation on NTS in the Asia-Pacific, but they have not been enough. Trilateral cooperation among the United States, ASEAN, and South Korea would benefit not just the participating parties, but also the region as a whole. Such cooperation would allow South Korea to contribute to the region and is consistent with the Moon Jae-in government’s desire to play a greater foreign policy role beyond the Korean Peninsula. It would also advance the U.S.-South Korean alliance and give South Korea experience that could be used in future NTS crises in North Korea such as famines, natural disasters, or pandemics.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Natural Disasters, Natural Resources, Drugs
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, South Korea, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Jennifer M. Harris
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Chinese outbound investment is on the rise, and much of it is finding its way into the United States. Be- tween 2010 and 2015, China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the United States grew by an average of 32 percent annually.1 Within the past two years alone, Chinese foreign investment inflows to the United States increased four-fold, and available data suggests 2017 will see the second highest annual investment on record, after 2016.2 This is not a two-way street: the United States and other foreign investors do not enjoy similar open market access in China. China maintains a dizzying assortment of formal and informal barriers to for- eign investment—from outright restrictions and quotas to mandatory joint ventures, forced localization measures, and domestic licensing regimes. Despite years of negotiations, these barriers are, if anything, growing more cumbersome in many sectors. U.S. firms paint a darkening picture of the business climate they face in China. U.S. FDI in China has slowed considerably in recent years: after growing roughly 180 percent from 2002 to 2007 (albeit from a low baseline), U.S. FDI flows into China have declined since 2012.3 The one-way surge of Chinese investment into the United States comes against a backdrop of strategic mistrust between Washington and Beijing. Ongoing accusations of state-sponsored cyber predation of U.S. firms, Beijing’s increasing aggressiveness over territorial disputes, its systematic efforts to under- mine the U.S. alliance system in Asia, and mounting tensions over North Korea all contribute to a dark- ening mood in the U.S.-China relationship. And, like so much involving China, this investment is simply different. Rarely, if ever, has the United States seen an increase in investment of this magnitude—espe- cially from a non-ally and especially from one where the lines between state ownership and private own- ership are so inherently blurred. For all the concern surrounding Japanese investment in the United States in the 1980s—coming as it did amid fierce economic competition—those debates ultimately re- mained under the umbrella of the U.S.-Japan military alliance. All of this raises questions about whether the United States needs to tighten its stance on Chinese in- bound investment; proposals to that effect have bipartisan support in the Congress. The Donald J. Trump administration has signaled its desire for a tougher approach in its economic dealings with China, which U.S. businesses seem to welcome. One foundation for such an approach is the principle of reciprocity. Roughly two dozen sectors in China—construction, mining, banking, insurance, and so on—remain effectively off-limits to American investment, because the Chinese government protects its domestic companies through regulations and financial subsidies. Even in sectors that technically allow foreign investment, discriminatory industrial policies tilt the playing field in favor of Chinese firms. Until this changes, Washington would be justi- fied—even obligated—to limit Chinese investment in the U.S. market. However, U.S. policymakers do not have a consensus on what a policy of reciprocity would entail, and different policy interpretations could spell quite different economic and foreign policy consequences for the United States. The United States should aim for a version of reciprocity that allows it the flexibility to maximize pressure on the broad range of Chinese industrial policy concerns while leaving a clear route to negotiations. The United States should also encourage European and other Western countries, many of which are seeing similar increases in Chinese investment, to adopt this new approach.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Micah Zenko, Sarah Kreps
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The use of unmanned aerial systems—commonly referred to as drones—over the past decade has revolutionized how the United States uses military force. As the technology has evolved from surveillance aircraft to an armed platform, drones have been used for a wide range of military missions: the United States has successfully and legitimately used armed drones to conduct hundreds of counterterrorism operations in battlefield zones, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It has also used armed drones in non-battlefield settings, specifically in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines. Collectively, these strikes have eliminated a number of suspected terrorists and militants from Asia to Africa at no cost in terms of U.S. casualties, an advantage of drones over manned platforms that has made them attractive to many other states. However, non-battlefield strikes have drawn criticism, particularly those conducted under the assertion that they are acts of self-defense.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Asia
  • Author: Joshua Kurlantzick
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Between the late 1980s and the late 2000s, many countries in Southeast Asia were viewed, by global democracy analysts and Southeast Asians themselves, as leading examples of democratization in the developing world. By the late 2000s, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore all were ranked as "free" or "partly free" by the monitoring organization Freedom House, while Cambodia and, perhaps most surprisingly, Myanmar had both taken sizable steps toward democracy as well. Yet since the late 2000s, Southeast Asia's democratization has stalled and, in some of the region's most economically and strategically important nations, gone into reverse. Over the past ten years, Thailand has undergone a rapid and severe regression from democracy and is now ruled by a junta. Malaysia's democratic institutions and culture have regressed as well, with the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition cracking down on dissent and trying to destroy what had been an emerging, and increasingly stable, two-party system. Singapore's transition toward contested politics has stalled. In Cambodia and Myanmar, hopes for dramatic democratic change have fizzled. Only the Philippines and Indonesia have stayed on track, but even in these two countries democratic consolidation is threatened by the persistence of graft, public distrust of democratic institutions, and continued meddling in politics by militaries.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia