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  • Author: Yun Sun
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Since being applied to U.S.-Soviet-China trilateral relations after the Sino-American rapprochement in the early 1970s, the notion/theory of “strategic triangles” has been widely used to examine many trilateral relations. The model of “U.S.-China plus one” is popular among students of U.S.-China relations and, consequently, the policy community has witnessed an increasing amount of scholarship on triangles among U.S.-China-India, U.S.-China-Japan, U.S.-China-Russia, and even U.S.-China-Taiwan. Unsurprisingly, this begs the question whether a strategic triangle could be construed and constructed among the United States, China, and South Korea. Generally speaking, despite the trilateral nature of U.S.-China-ROK relations, the Chinese policy community rarely subscribes to the existence of a strategic triangle among the U.S., China, and South Korea. This is not necessarily because South Korea does not carry the same strategic weight as the two great powers, but more importantly is because China does not see South Korea as possessing the strategic autonomy to act as an independent player in the trilateral relations. Although arguably such autonomy might exist in economic and trade relations, on key political and security issues, the Chinese see South Korea as invariably constrained by the U.S.-ROK military alliance and unable to form its own independent national security policy. In writing about the post-Cold War period with an emphasis on geopolitics, Chinese authors do not often treat South Korean policy or Sino-ROK relations as autonomous. Given the great weight given to the U.S. role, it is important, therefore, to take a triangular approach in assessing these writings centered on South Korea. I do so first explaining in more detail why the “strategic triangle” framework does not apply, then examining views on how this triangle has evolved in a period of rising Chinese power relative to U.S. power and fluctuating U.S.-ROK relations as the leadership in Seoul changed hands, and finally returning to the triangular theme to grasp how this shapes China’s understanding of Seoul’s policies with emphasis on the ongoing Moon Jae-in era.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kirk W. Larsen
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: In July 2014, Ambassador Qiu Guohong in preparation for Xi Jinping’s visit to Seoul stated that the “relationship between South Korea and China couldn’t be any better.”1 Among the many reasons for this—economic, geostrategic, cultural—was a shared sense of history. China and Korea, officials and commentators in both nations claimed, were close because of their agreement regarding the significance of their experiences as victims of foreign, particularly Japanese, imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. History, that constellation of memories, stories, and notions about the past, has often been deployed to reinforce conceptions of identity, to support certain courses of action, and to demarcate between the in-group and the other. But history is ever malleable and protean. Not only do individuals, institutions, and ideas change but so does the understanding of them. When one draws on the past, one inevitably focuses on a limited set of events or narratives that best serve one’s interests—to the exclusion of potentially equally valid candidates. Their utility can vary over time; one need only think of how figures such as Zheng He or Confucius have been imagined and re-imagined over the last century. This has been the case with the history of relations between China and Korea from the latenineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. For many Chinese, Korea has served first as a subject of contestation as China’s position in Korea was challenged by both Western and Japanese powers. Then, when it became increasingly clear that China (or the Qing Empire) was losing this contest, Korea became an omen of China’s own fate absent significant course changes. As Japan’s growing empire engulfed Korea and subsequently threatened parts of China, resistance served to bring China and Korea closer; many in China celebrated what they saw as courageous resistance to Japan—such as when An Chunggun assassinated Ito Hirobumi in 1909. Shared status as victims of Japanese imperialism in an age of “humiliation” brought the two closer, and the mutually shared memory of “humiliation” has been deployed by contemporary Chinese and South Korean leaders—Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye—to foster greater levels of cooperation. However, past conceptions of China, Korea, and the Sino-Korean relationship have sometimes ranged far afield from the cherished tropes of humiliation and the struggle for independence. Even seemingly universally agreed upon symbols, such as An’s heroic 1909 assassination, find themselves subject to changing interpretations such as recent emphasis by some on his pan-Asian vision of Sino-Korean-Japanese cooperation rather than his bold anti-Japanese act. As interests and priorities change, so does the utility of any particular historical narrative.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Imperialism, History
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Chung Jae Ho
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Pertinent literature abounds on how East Asian states have struggled to position themselves vis-à-vis a rising China over the past two decades. Due to its geographical proximity and cultural similarities with China, as well as its strategic importance to both the United States and China, South Korea’s tightrope-walking has been more pronounced than anyone else’s.1 Given the crucial strategic issues regarding U.S.-China relations and the North Korean conundrum, how the Seoul-Beijing relationship is to evolve undoubtedly constitutes a key variable in regional security dynamics. This chapter asks what is Seoul’s recipe for dealing with a China that is becoming more “assertive,” examining its changing strategic and diplomatic stance over the years of the Park Geun-hye administration and the first year of the Moon Jae-in government. Of the six sections, the first offers a brief overview of the complex relationship since diplomatic normalization in 1992. The second outlines key features of an era of overoptimism during the first three years of the Park administration (2013-15). The third delves into the issue of THAAD (terminal high-altitude area defense) deployment and how that utterly shattered the Park-Xi honeymoon in 2016. The fourth offers a discussion on China’s narrowly-focused sanctions during 2016-17. The fifth is devoted to the first year of the Moon administration, focusing on envoy politics, the “three-noes controversy,” and Moon’s state visit to China. The final section provides concluding assessments of the factors critical in shaping Moon’s policy toward China and where the room for mending relations remains.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Sanctions, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: David Brewster
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Strategic competition between India and China in the Indian Ocean is growing and has the potential to profoundly impact the stability and security of the region. The Indian Ocean is becoming the scene of a sustained contest that in some ways resembles strategic competition during the Cold War. This will include pressure on Indian Ocean states to align themselves with one side or another within an increasingly unstable and complex strategic environment.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Political stability, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia, Indian Ocean
  • Author: Melissa Conley Tyler, John Robbins
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Australian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) is pleased to present the latest book in the Australian Ministers for Foreign Affairs series. In May 2016 the AIIA held a one-day forum to examine the achievements of Australia’s foreign ministers between 1972-83. This forum and publication is the third book in the AIIA’s Australian Ministers for Foreign Affairs series following on from Ministers for Foreign Affairs 1960-72 and R.G. Casey: Minister for External Affairs 1951-60.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Diplomacy, Human Rights, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Indonesia, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Mustafa Yağci
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: This paper investigates how China appeals to other countries by utilizing soft power in ensuring their participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which seeks to revive ancient Silk Road through infrastructure, trade, finance and other linkages. By employing a behavioral and contextualized explanation for soft power, this investigation reveals that Chinese state actively pursues a soft power-oriented economic diplomacy for BRI and relies on hard power resources for its effectiveness. Furthermore, China takes advantage of the power vacuum in the global economy and embraces a liberal economic vision for the international system in its diplomatic activities emphasizing the importance of globalization, free trade, infrastructure investment, and win-win cooperation in achieving high levels of economic development. While China frames BRI mainly in terms of economic development purposes, China’s soft power appeal to other countries is likely to have important political and security implications for the international system.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Soft Power, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Economic Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Kevin Rudd
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: U.S.-China relations have now entered into a new structural phase. Officially, the Americans describe this as a change from 40 years of “strategic engagement” to a new period of “strategic competition.” The precise definition of strategic competition, as an operational rather than a declaratory strategy, has yet to fully emerge. But we would be foolish not to recognize that there has been a fundamental systemic shift in U.S. sentiment toward China
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: James Hackett
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: As US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meet in Singapore on 12 June, it is useful to keep in mind what is at stake. The long-standing tinderbox of the Korean Peninsula, if ignited through another provocation or miscalculation, could spark a full-scale war that could well go nuclear. The prize of diplomacy – sustainable peace on the peninsula – is all the more valuable when one considers the range of military capabilities potentially in play. This information is of use in assessing both the goals of diplomacy and the risks should the current efforts fail. Weapons based on the Korean Peninsula have become faster, more precise and more powerful. North Korea has tested a thermonuclear weapon, an intercontinental ballistic missile and more accurate shorter-range missiles, all designed to offset the relative qualitative weakness of its broader conventional forces. It has also pursued advanced cyber capabilities. South Korea, meanwhile, has focused on developing military systems allowing for more rapid and precise strikes. US forces on the peninsula have introduced yet more advanced capabilities. For these reasons the IISS provides this independent, measured and detailed analysis of military dynamics on the peninsula. The report focuses on the defence policies and military capabilities of the two Koreas, and the US military forces stationed in South Korea which can be brought to bear in a crisis. While it does not ignore unconventional systems, it principally focuses on conventional capabilities. Due to its poverty and isolation, North Korea’s conventional forces have become relatively weaker, compared with those of South Korea and its US ally. Aware of this qualitative inferiority, Pyongyang has invested in asymmetric capabilities, particularly the pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them. Nonetheless, Pyongyang’s armed forces remain equipped with a wide range of conventional military systems, including large numbers of artillery pieces and multiple-launch rocket systems. Its armed forces, at around 1.2 million, are the fourth-largest in the world. Its conventional military power remains significant, not least because of these numbers (for instance, 4,000 main battle tanks and 8,500 self-propelled- and towed-artillery systems) and the weight of fire they could rapidly bring to bear if employed. Seoul, for instance, is within range of many of North Korea’s artillery systems. North Korea has also developed increasingly advanced cyber capabilities as another aspect of its asymmetric power. The North will continue to improve these, if only to slow the decline in military parity between it and the South. US and South Korean defence authorities assume that the North will, in the event of major conflict, use cyber attacks against South Korean critical infrastructure and command-and-control networks. However, recent events like the Wannacry ransomware attacks have shown that North Korea is now using its cyber power for another purpose: raising revenue to support the regime. Meanwhile, South Korea’s defence policy and military posture is dominated by the security challenge from the North. This has led Seoul to pursue military capabilities, and strategies, designed to defeat North Korean provocations. These range from developments in air-defence, intended to tackle North Korea’s air force and missile capabilities, to strategies designed to pre-empt a potential North Korean provocation. To enable these strategies, South Korea has developed and procured increasingly advanced military systems, ranging from its own Hyeonmu ballistic- and cruise-missiles, to advanced air-to-ground air-launched weapons and, in the next few years, squadrons of F-35A combat aircraft. Working closely with the South Korean armed forces, the US maintains a military presence some 28,500-strong in South Korea, augmented by advanced military systems on the peninsula like the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic-missile-defence system, and the military power deployed by the US in the broader Indo-Pacific. This publication builds on the contributions of expert analysts of military power on the Korean Peninsula, and the extensive information holdings available in the IISS Military Balance+ database. It was prepared with the support of the Korea Foundation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Michael Elleman
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: With the Iran nuclear accord currently on life support, it is not too late to pursue diplomatic measures that address the growing challenge posed by Iran’s ballistic missiles, argues Michael Elleman in a new report. The lack of curbs on Iran’s missile programme was cited by President Donald Trump in May 2018 as one of the principal reasons for withdrawing from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). With the nuclear accord consequently on life support, it is not too late to pursue diplomatic measures that address the growing challenge posed by Iran’s ballistic missiles. The most promising would be to lock in, through negotiations, the 2,000 kilometre-range limit that Iran has previously stated is its maximum requirement. While this would not reduce the threat perceived by Iran’s regional neighbours, it would forestall development of systems that could target Western Europe or North America. Tehran is not likely to commit to verification measures for such negotiated range limits, however, without receiving something in return. One bargain that could be considered would be to allow Iran to continue its satellite-launch programme, under certain conditions, while capping the maximum range of its ballistic missiles. Such a trade-off may also be relevant to the North Korean case.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Elisa Hsiu-chi Wang
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Revista UNISCI/UNISCI Journal
  • Institution: Unidad de investigación sobre seguridad y cooperación (UNISCI)
  • Abstract: Due to the policy of “diplomatic truce” during the presidency of Ma Ying-Jeou, and the good will of mainland China, from 2008 to 2016, generally speaking, the number of ROC’s diplomatic allies remained stable, except in November 2013, when Gambia cut its diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 20, 2016, some changes are expected in cross-Strait relations between Mainland China and Taiwan, given the reluctance of President Tsai to express her support to the 1992 Consensus, and the previous reactions of Mainland China. Nowadays, among the 20 ROC diplomatic allies, 11 are located in Latin America. This article tries to respond to the following questions: Is it possible to go back to the bilateral diplomatic competition for recognition by different ally countries, like that maintained during the governments of Lee Tenghui and Chen Sui-bian? Will Mainland China intend to seize more countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to press Tsai for closer cross-Strait relations? Will the Taiwan´ diplomatic allies in Latin America turn to Mainland China, accepting its offers and incentives?
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Latin America