Why cultural values cannot be ignored in international relations

A competitor flies a kite of the 'God of Wealth' during the kite flying championship at the 31st Weifang international kite festival in Shandong province, China, 19 April 2014. Ensuring the peaceful rise of new great powers requires a more in-depth and organised effort among Western governments to understand the cultures of Asia and elsewhere. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kadira Pethiyagoda, Canberra

One hundred years ago began the war that was supposed to end all wars. This inauspicious centenary has allowed the foreign affairs commentariat to indulge in one of the things it is best at — drawing historical analogies.

It is true that aspects of the global landscape look similar to a century ago. Read more…

A chance to mend China–Japan relations

The respective leaders of China and Japan should not let issues like the Diaoyu/Senkaku Island dispute get in the way of building a stronger bilateral relationship. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Yves Tiberghien, University of British Columbia, and Yong Wang, Peking University

Over the last two years, China–Japan relations have been trapped in a downward spiral. The inescapable reality of an ongoing great power transition makes this situation particularly tense: the size of China’s economy relative to Japan’s jumped from a mere 25 per cent in 2000 to 99 per cent in 2009 and then to 188 per cent in 2013. Yet an alternative policy course is slowly developing. Read more…

India and China must think outside the ‘bureaucratic box’

Author: Tansen Sen, City University of New York

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s forthcoming visit to India will achieve nothing unless the new leaders of India and China can overcome existing inertia and seriously start revamping their bilateral relations. It is true that the two sides have managed to avoid a repeat of the 1962 armed conflict, and that diplomats have to be credited with limiting the border differences to a few ‘incursions’ and a tense standoff at Daulat Beg Oldi near the disputed Aksai Chin region in May 2013. But, as these episodes accumulate and are sensationalised by the media and dramatised in the blogosphere, they perpetuate mutual distrust and harden negative public perceptions. Read more…

India and Japan boost cooperation, but no nuclear power deal

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is welcomed by his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the State Guest House in Kyoto, on 30 August 2014. Modi flew into Japan for a five-day official visit as their governments seek to boost security ties and counter a increasingly assertive China. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Pravakar Sahoo and Abhirup Bhunia, IEG

Modi’s visit to Japan from 31 August to 3 September was dubbed a success. But what has been achieved? And what do these achievements mean for both countries?

Modi’s visit assumed far greater significance than any previous visits by Indian prime ministers. This is because Modi has a powerful mandate and, of course, because of the reported bonhomie between Modi and Abe. When Modi was Gujarat’s chief minister, Japanese firms participating in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit invested between US$2–3 billion in various manufacturing and infrastructure projects in that state, in response to its investor friendly environment. Modi shares this business friendly attitude with Abe. Read more…

India draws Japan closer as Modi embraces Abe

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a signing ceremony at Akasaka State Guesthouse in Tokyo on 1 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide

The unprecedented warm hug between India’s new prime minister Narendra Modi and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe when they met in Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto sent strong diplomatic signals across the region and beyond. This was Modi’s first stop in Japan on a five-day official visit beginning 30 August. In a rather unusual move, Abe went to meet Modi in Kyoto and together they visited a temple before their summit meeting in Tokyo. Read more…

Narendra Modi’s foreign policy — too early to judge?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi  and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe shake hands after a joint press conference at the in Tokyo on 1 September 2014. The two leaders reached to an agreement that both countries would promote security and economic relations. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tridivesh Singh Maini, Jindal School of International Affairs

The Narendra Modi government turned 100 days old on 3 September, and while it is too early to judge its performance on both the domestic and foreign policy front, its first few months have revealed some important features of the government’s foreign policy — both positive and negative. Read more…

Uncomfortable compromises in Russia­–Japan territory dispute

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia, 8 February 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Owen Lindsay, University of South Australia

On 12 August, Russia held military manoeuvres on two of the four disputed islands that lie north-east of Hokkaido. The island chain, known as the South Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, has been the major sticking point in Japan–Russia relations during the post-war period.

The Soviet Union, and then Russia, has exercised de facto administration over the entire island chain since 1945 — Russian citizens and soldiers currently live on all four of the disputed islands. Read more…

Cacophonous beginnings to a new Asian epoch

Students who turned 18 participate in an adult ceremony held to mark the Chinese Youth Day at a school in Qingdao city, Shandong province, eastern China, 4 May 2014.  (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jean-Pierre Lehmann, IMD

On 26 October 1909 a young Korean nationalist, Ahn Jung-Geun, assassinated Japanese statesman and four-time prime minister Itō Hirobumi on the platform of Harbin railway station. This triggered a number of developments in East Asia. Specifically, it gave Tokyo a pretext for the formal colonisation of Korea the following year and extended Japan’s imperialist reach over the continent. Although Japan had already made its impact as a rising global power — notably in forging an alliance with Great Britain in 1902 and defeating Russia in war in 1905 — beyond East Asia the incident was hardly noticed. 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…

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…

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…

Sino-India border dispute best left dormant

In Ladakh, along the border between China and India, Chinese troops hold a banner that reads: You have crossed the border — please go back, 5 May 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Santosh Sharma Poudel and Stefanie Kam, RSIS

The border dispute between China and India has come to the fore once again despite an exponential increase in bilateral trade between the two countries. The border dispute highlights the growing strategic competition and lack of trust between them. But it is better left dormant while both governments focus on more immediate issues. Read more…

Australia, Japan make history by moving on from it

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Tony Abbott smile after signing the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement and Agreement on the Transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Christopher Pokarier, Waseda University

For 60 years Australian governments in their dealings with Japan have chosen to make history rather than be bound by it. This was never politically easy and many Australians continue to be disappointed by reports of influential Japanese who appear to sanitise Japan’s wartime record. Australian soldiers and civilians who fell prisoner to Japanese forces suffered brutal treatment, as did other allied forces and many peoples of East Asia. Read more…

BRICS lay a foundation but will there be concrete action?

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at Itamaraty Palace on 17 July 2014 in Brasilia. At a summit in Brazil the BRICS group of emerging economic powers created the New Development Bank to finance infrastructure projects. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Maria Theresa Anna Robles, RSIS

Unsurprisingly, the BRICS countries sixth annual summit in Brazil once again polarised public opinion. When the proposal for a BRICS development bank and currency swap arrangement was put forward in March 2012, the reaction was already divided. Some believed — including ‘rival’ international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — that there is room for such an institution to help meet developing countries’ massive investment needs. Others felt that, given the considerable economic and political differences, the feasibility of concerted action from the BRICS is limited. Read more…

Forging a common regional approach to China

Cadet members of the PLA take part in a military training at the Armoured Forces Engineering Academy Base near Beijing on 22 July, 2014. Chinese government authorised foreign media to view the military exercise. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hitoshi Tanaka, JCIE

Despite China’s rapid and unprecedented economic growth, the world has yet to come to grips with the challenges and opportunities that the country presents. The story of China’s rise is as much about how the rest of the world responds to China as it is about the nation that China is growing to become. Read more…