US–China agreement presages a change in the air

President Obama at a tree-planting ceremony at the APEC Summit in Beijing. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Frank Jotzo, ANU

The joint Chinese–American announcement of emissions targets brings the world a big step closer to meaningful post-2020 action on climate change. Barack Obama in his Brisbane speech made it clear where the two superpowers see things going: ‘If China and the United States can agree on this, then the world can agree on this’. Read more…

US links arms with Vietnam in maritime security fight

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Author: Murray Hiebert, CSIS

The United States partially lifted its decades-old ban on weapons sales to Vietnam on 2 October 2014. This was one of the most significant steps in improving relations between the two former enemies since they normalised diplomatic ties nearly two decades ago. Read more…

Rise of the rest demands a new style of US leadership

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Author: Brad Glosserman, Pacific Forum CSIS

Foreign policy is a search for and an attempt to impose order on an unruly world. That task has become more difficult in recent years, with an ever-lengthening list of threats, challenges and destabilising factors. The rise of Asia in the global system also requires a paradigm shift in thinking about global governance. Read more…

How Washington will annoy friends and influence nobody on Asian infrastructure

Chinese President Xi Jinping poses for photos with the guests of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China 24 October 2014. 21 Asian countries are the founding members of the AIIB. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Scott Morris, Center for Global Development

If you want to understand the negative reaction of the United States to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), you also need to understand how the United States thinks about the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB). Of course, first and foremost, these institutions engage in ‘development’, providing financing and knowledge to promote economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries. But for leading shareholders like the United States, they are also important instruments of strategic influence. Read more…

What to expect from the new US–Japan Defense Guidelines

Ships from the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, including the George Washington Strike Group, steam together after the conclusion of exercise Keen Sword, a biennial exercise between Japan and the US, 16 November 2012. (Photo: US Pacific Fleet/Flickr).

Author: Ken Jimbo, Keio University

When the current Guidelines for US–Japan Defense Cooperation were released in 1997, the core strategic impulse of Washington and Tokyo was to deal with potential armed contingencies in Northeast Asia, namely regarding the Korean peninsula and Taiwan. As the US Asia strategy emphasised deterrence of and response to these contingencies, Japan reconfigured its alliance strategy from predominantly territorial defence to proactive cooperation with the US in ‘situations in areas surrounding Japan’. Read more…

Will there be a China–US deal on climate change?

Chinese workers install solar panels on the rooftop of a workshop at a textile factory of Guanxing Group in Liaocheng city, Shandong province, China, 30 October 2012. China has become the world’s largest producer of solar panels and wind turbines. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Frank Jotzo, ANU

For many years China and the United States have faced off over climate change. Now, climate change action is one of the few things the two powers can agree on. A new view on the benefits of climate action goes some way to explain this shift. Read more…

Modi connects with the American dream

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India speaks to supporters during a community reception on 28 September 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

Before his election to India’s prime ministership, Narendra Modi was persona non grata in the United States because of his alleged complicity in the ethnic violence in Gujarat of 2002 in which 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus died, 2500 people were injured, and 223 more were reported missing. Though a subsequent Indian Supreme Court investigation in 2012 cleared him of complicity in the violence, Modi was still banned from entering the United States Read more…

Obama and Modi must cook up a solution on food subsidies and the WTO

Welfare Society members distribute free food to passers-by at a roadside in Amritsar, India. Modi will meet Obama on Tuesday, hopefully finding a solution to the public food provisioning impasse on the Bali timeline. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

The young Narendra Modi government has not covered itself in glory on the international trade policy front.

At the second ministerial meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations in late August, New Delhi proposed a jaw-droppingly low rate of trade liberalisation for industrial goods. Read more…

The Modi show visits the United States

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets people on the streets of New York during a visit to the United States on 26 September, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: C Uday Bhaskar, Society for Policy Studies

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, has begun his maiden visit to the USA this week. He will visit Washington on Monday for his first summit level meeting with US President Barack Obama.

The trip offers the chance for Modi to project himself as a global leader with a distinctive vision and clear objectives. Read more…

Why the US struggles against Japan in TPP negotiations

US Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks to reporters while Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari looks on during a press conference at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, 20 May 2014. Trade ministers from 12 nations completed a two-day Ministerial meeting in Singapore targeted at creating a 12-nation trade pact in the Asian-Pacific region. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Real progress in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations has stalled until Japan and the United States reach some kind of basic trade agreement — which is still elusive even after numerous rounds of talks. The United States has been pressuring Japan to make concessions in key areas such as agriculture.

It is well known that current TPP negotiations are running on two separate tracks: the plurilateral track in which all 12 countries are participating and the bilateral track which amounts to a series of bilateral deals being negotiated on the side. Read more…

Obama mustn’t underestimate Modi

US Secretary of State John Kerry greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India, 1 August, 2014.

Author: Harshita Kohli, RSIS

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit to India for the India–US Strategic Dialogue, in which he described India as an ‘indispensable partner for the 21st century’, is a clear effort by the American government to jumpstart the flagging bilateral partnership.

During his stay in India, Kerry met with senior politicians and leading Indian businessmen. US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel also visited New Delhi last week to further the US–India defence partnership. The increase in senior-level interactions between officials from both countries is designed to set the stage for the bilateral summit to be held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama in Washington in late September 2014. Read more…

Collective self-defence: What Japan’s new defence policy means for international cooperation on cyber security

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Maj. Nishikawa Hajime analyses data transmissions on a computer at the Camp Naha gymnasium, Okinawa, 23 July 2014. (Photo: US Marin Corps/ Lance Cpl. Pete Sanders).

Author: Mihoko Matsubara, Pacific Forum CSIS

In July 2014, the Shinzo Abe cabinet took an epoch-making decision to change its interpretation of the Japanese constitution to recognise the right to collective self-defence. The Japanese government’s traditional interpretation of the constitution prohibited Japan from exercising the right to help the US, or Japan’s defence partners, in the case of an armed attack, even though Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations authorises this. Read more…

Back to the drawing board on US–India relations?

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel inspects a Guard of Honor before a meeting with his Indian counterpart, Arun Jaitley, in New Delhi, India, 8 August 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

The US–India strategic partnership is either the most underperforming bilateral relationship in the world or its most overrated. As a new chapter in this relationship is opened with the formation of a new centre-right government in New Delhi and the back-to-back visits by John Kerry and Chuck Hagel in late July and early August, it is imperative that the path that is charted ahead is informed by the lessons of the past decade and a half. Read more…

It’s do or die for the TPP

US President Barack Obama speaks to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk during a meeting with TPP leaders at the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, 12 November 2011. Those talks failed to finalise negotiations on the partnership before a previous deadline of 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Claude Barfield, AEI

Heading into the fifth year of intense negotiations (with twenty-odd formal sessions and countless informal side meetings), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will almost certainly succeed — or fail — over the next six months. Read more…

Kerry, Hagel visits set agenda for Obama-Modi meeting

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets with senior Indian army officers in New Delhi. (Photo: AAP).

Author: C Uday Bhaskar, Society for Policy Studies

The recent back-to-back visits to Delhi by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel mark the first high-level political contact between the Obama administration and the newly elected Modi government. Read more…