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  • Author: Vijay Gokhale
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: China and India struggle to comprehend each other’s international ambitions. The misperceptions that follow lead to a lack of trust, border skirmishes, and potentially worse. On June 15, 2020, Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a brawl that left twenty Indian soldiers dead while causing an unspecified number of Chinese casualties. The clash is a part of a broader border standoff along the Galwan River between the two forces on the Line of Actual Control that is yet to be resolved. The Indian strategic community is broadly in agreement that this border dispute marks an implacable decline in India-China ties. They argue that the very basis of relations that emerged after former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing in 1988 has been shaken, if not destroyed. Yet, how did the two countries manage to reach this nadir in ties, and furthermore, what does the Galwan clash signify for the future of Sino-Indian relations? This paper argues that, long before the present border dispute occurred, Sino-Indian relations had been steadily declining due to rampant misperceptions of the other side, contributing to a lack of trust. The most fundamental misperception between the two countries is the inability to comprehend each other’s international ambitions, yielding the fear that their foreign policies are targeted against the other. This paper traces the impact and development of these misperceptions on Sino-Indian ties through three different phases before considering the future of the relationship after the Galwan dispute.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes, Borders
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Malcolm Cook
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China will not agree to a South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) that is consistent with the 2016 South China Sea arbitral tribunal ruling, and therefore any COC which China agrees with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will harm Australia’s interests. But a lack of Australian support for such a Code would aggravate relations with Southeast Asian states and ASEAN, and with China. Australia should use the time afforded by the drawn-out Code of Conduct negotiations to coordinate with the five littoral Southeast Asian states affected by China’s unlawful maritime claims. Australia should emphasise the need for consistency with international law, especially the 2016 arbitral ruling. The Biden administration is likely to increase pressure on Australia to conduct freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) in the South China Sea. Such action may risk a significant Chinese response against Australia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Maritime, Alliance, Freedom of Movement
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific, United States of America, South China Sea
  • Author: Yang Jiang
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Almost every governmental policy decision made today has a China angle, and building understanding of China has become more pressing for Australian policymaking than ever. Despite the urgent demand within the Australian public service for China expertise and language skills, the existing skills of many Chinese-Australians are being overlooked. Australia has a significant, diverse, and growing population of Chinese-Australians, but they are underrepresented and underutilised in the public service. A better harnessing of the skills and knowledge of this community — including via improved recruitment processes, better use of data, skills-matching, and reviewing and clarifying security clearance processes and requirements — would have substantial benefits for Australian policymaking in one of its most important bilateral relationships.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Bilateral Relations, Public Service
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia
  • 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: Flavio Fusco
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Building on emerging debates on the need to develop de-escalation mechanisms for the Middle East, the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and the Brussels-based Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), with support from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, launched a one-year research and outreach project entitled “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”. Connected to the research, an expert survey targeting European, US, Russian, Middle Eastern and Chinese experts and practitioners was conducted on key themes, principles and approaches associated with a potential new security architecture for the region. The results of the survey – first published in an edited book volume jointly published by IAI and FEPS in November 2020 – are analysed below, complete with tables and infographics on key themes associated with the research project and the search for new, inclusive mechanisms for dialogue and de-escalation in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Luke Patey
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Recommendations: The US, South Korea, Japan, and the EU can pool resources to level the playing field with China and offer new finance options for developing countries seeking to upgrade their communications and technology infrastructure. The US should look to the India and Vietnam model and help other nations develop domestic capacities that lower dependencies on Huawei and other foreign tech providers over time. Open RAN is no silver bullet to compete with China. Its potential will only be fully realized in the mid and long run, after high integration costs, security gaps, and other problems are worked out.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Politics, Science and Technology, Power Politics, Economy, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Gelpern, Sebastian Horn, Scott Morris, Brad Parks, Christoph Trebesch
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China is the world’s largest official creditor, but basic facts are lacking about the terms and conditions of its lending. Very few contracts between Chinese lenders and their government borrowers have ever been published or studied. This paper is the first systematic analysis of the legal terms of China’s foreign lending. The authors collect and analyze 100 contracts between Chinese state-owned entities and government borrowers in 24 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Oceania, and compare them with those of other bilateral, multilateral, and commercial creditors. Three main insights emerge. First, the Chinese contracts contain unusual confidentiality clauses that bar borrowers from revealing the terms or even the existence of the debt. Second, Chinese lenders seek advantage over other creditors, using collateral arrangements such as lender-controlled revenue accounts and promises to keep the debt out of collective restructuring (“no Paris Club” clauses). Third, cancellation, acceleration, and stabilization clauses in Chinese contracts potentially allow the lenders to influence debtors’ domestic and foreign policies. Even if these terms were unenforceable in court, the mix of confidentiality, seniority, and policy influence could limit the sovereign debtor’s crisis management options and complicate debt renegotiation. Overall, the contracts use creative design to manage credit risks and overcome enforcement hurdles, presenting China as a muscular and commercially savvy lender to the developing world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Debt, Government, Banking
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Kenneth I. Juster
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The conventional wisdom is that the foreign policy of Donald Trump’s Administration severely damaged relations with U.S. allies and partners. Commentators point to repeated criticism by the United States of friends in Europe and Asia, as well as the abrupt withdrawal from trade and other arrangements. But such critics overlook the U.S. relationship with India, which made significant advances and will be an area of substantial continuity in Joseph Biden’s Administration. The U.S.-India partnership has grown steadily since the turn of the century, with the past four years seeing major progress in diplomatic, defense, economic, energy and health cooperation. The strengthened bilateral relationship has become the backbone of an Indo-Pacific strategy designed to promote peace and prosperity in a dynamic and contested region. The longstanding U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific has underpinned the stability and remarkable economic rise of this region over the last 70 years. While the concept of the Indo-Pacific has been many years in the making, in the past four years the United States and India have turned it into a reality. For the United States, the Indo-Pacific agenda meant working with India to provide coordinated leadership in addressing the threat from an expansionist China, the need for more economic connectivity and other challenges in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kevin Rudd
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: The year 2020 was a devastating one, but also a year of great change and transformation as the world adapted with difficulty to meet challenges largely unprecedented in living memory, and the trends of global power appeared to shift dramatically. And it was a revelatory year — one that pulled the lid off the true extent and meaning of our globalized, interconnected world, revealed dysfunction present in our institutions of national and international governance, and unmasked the real level of structural resentment, rivalry, and risk present in the world’s most critical great power relationship — that between the United States and China. 2020 may well go down in history as a great global inflection point. It is thus worth looking back to examine what happened and why and to reflect on where we may be headed in the decade ahead. The Avoidable War: The Decade of Living Dangerously, the third volume of ASPI’s annual Avoidable War series, does precisely that. It contains selected essays, articles, and speeches by Asia Society and ASPI President the Hon. Kevin Rudd that provide a series of snapshots as events unfolded over the course of 2020 — from the COVID-19 pandemic, through an implosion of multilateral governance, to the impact on China’s domestic political economy. Finally, it concludes with a discussion of the growing challenges the world will face as the escalating contest between the United States and China enters a decisive phase in the 2020s. No matter what strategies the two sides pursue or what events unfold, the tension between the United States and China will grow, and competition will intensify; it is inevitable. The Chinese Communist Party is increasingly confident that by the decade’s end, China’s economy will finally and unambiguously surpass that of the United States as the world’s largest, and this will turbocharge Beijing’s self-confidence, assertiveness, and leverage. Increasingly, this will be a “decade of living dangerously” for us all. War, however, is not inevitable. Rudd argues that it remains possible for the two countries to put in place guardrails that can prevent a catastrophe: a joint framework he calls “managed strategic competition” that would reduce the risk of competition escalating into open conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Governance, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: After four years of U.S. absence from the global climate stage, a majority of voters—including a plurality of Republican voters—agree the United States should take ambitious actions to address climate change and lead the world in tackling the climate crisis, even if China and other countries do not increase their own ambition. With the exception of nuclear disarmament, a majority of voters see climate change as the most important issue for the United States and China to cooperate on—more so than tackling COVID-19. At the same time, competing with China to become the world leader in the development of clean energy technologies drives up support among voters across the political spectrum for the United States ramping up its own clean energy industry. Similarly, voter support for the United States enhancing its climate ambition increases if China takes additional steps. Despite voters expressing apprehension toward partnering with China on innovation and trade in a number of sectors like automobiles and healthcare, voters are also very receptive to a potential partnership around clean energy development. However, voters want President Biden to also uphold his campaign promise to devise policies that will hold China “accountable” for its climate commitments. Voters support this more than any of Biden’s other proposals for global climate action. With this in mind, voters support the idea of the United States providing competitive financing for renewable energy projects to Belt and Road Initiative countries and instituting a carbon border tax as possible ways to increase pressure on China to do more both at home and abroad. For instance, an overwhelming majority of voters think China should aim to achieve carbon neutrality much sooner than 2060. Notably, a near majority of voters are also supportive of the U.S. military and Chinese military working together even more to assess climate risks and improve disaster preparedness around the world. Though President Biden may face some roadblocks from Republicans who are less supportive of U.S.-China climate cooperation than Democrats and independents, messaging around maintaining U.S. leadership over China on climate action and clean energy development clearly resonates with Republican voters.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Public Opinion, Voting, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America