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…

Abe strikes a delicate balance in Australia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a meeting with members of Abbott's cabinet on national security at Parliament House in Canberra, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thomas U. Berger, Boston University

Today, Japan finds itself in a remarkably difficult diplomatic and domestic political situation. While Japan continues to be secure from any existing external threat, the rise of a nuclear North Korea and an increasingly powerful and assertive China are creating major challenges for Japanese security policy. Read more…

Cementing the BRICS together

The heads of BRICS member states pose for a picture during the 6th BRICS summit in the city of Fortaleza, Brazil, 15 July 2014. BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) member states discuss political coordination issues and global governance problems. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Garima Sahdev and Geethanjali Nataraj, Observer Research Foundation

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Brazil for his first major international summit, the sixth annual BRICS summit. Before his departure, the leader put forward his vision that the vitality of the BRICS group would cut across the geographical and ideological divides of not only the five countries of the group but also of the global economy. Read more…

Japan needs to rethink its Asian ‘diplomacy’

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe follows a Shinto priest to pay his respects at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, 26 December 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Jean-Pierre Lehmann, IMD

There were many reasons behind Meiji Japan’s (1868–1912) astonishing rise from a feudal backwater to the only non-Western industrial and imperial power within the space of a few short decades. One indisputable reason was the quality of Japanese diplomacy.

After a relatively short period of heated debate as Western gunships threatened, Japan decided to abandon its two-century-old ‘closed country’ policy of isolation and to learn from and join the West. Read more…

Russo–Japanese relations, bleak as ever

The turret of an old tank set in the ground as a part of war fortifications on Kunashiri Island, one of the disputed Northern Territories/ Kuril Islands. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Dmitry Filippov, University of Sheffield

The large-scale natural-gas deal struck on 21 May between Russia and China does not bode well for Japan’s relationship with Russia. With the Japanese government ratcheting up anti-Russian sanctions and temporarily suspending talks over the Northern Territories/Kuril Islands, the prospects of Japan hastening the resolution of the territorial dispute, and improving ties with Russia as a counterbalance to China remain as frail as ever. Read more…

Why Abe is out of touch on the comfort women controversies

Felicidad Delos Reyes, 85, a former Filipino comfort woman, one of many women forced to serve for the Japanese Army as sexual slaves during World War II, joins a protest outside the Japanese embassy in Pasay city, the Philippines, 25 June 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Mikyoung Kim, Hiroshima Peace Institute

Ever since Shinzo Abe’s second stint as prime minister began in December 2012, his administration has been forging a worrisome trajectory for Japan’s foreign policy. Abe was re-elected because the Japanese people considered him a strong leader who would revive Japan’s ageing society and energise its declining economy. And Abe has initiated a series of bold policies regarding the economy, national defence and foreign affairs. But his motives and strategies raise concerns about maintaining peace and stability in East Asia. Read more…

The Abe and Abbott show: a meeting of minds and interests

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott at Parliament House in Canberra, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Jim Rolfe, Victoria University of Wellington

The ANZUS Treaty was signed 63 years ago by Australia, New Zealand and the United States, in part as a counter to the US security treaty with Japan and the final peace agreement following the end of World War II. ANZUS then was intended to stand against any possible resurgence of Japanese military power in the Asia Pacific region. Read more…

Vietnam’s precarious strategic balancing act

Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attend a meeting in Hanoi over the stationing of a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea, 18 June 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Huong Le Thu, ISEAS

Since overcoming years of isolation in the late 1990s, Vietnam has pursued an ‘omnidirectional’ foreign policy. In 2001, Vietnam began establishing a network of flexibly defined partnerships: these include ‘comprehensive’ (enhanced bilateral diplomatic and economic relations), ‘strategic’ and ‘cooperative strategic’ (the highest level of cooperation based on long-term relations). Read more…

The Cambodian fallout from Thailand’s coup

A Cambodian migrant worker who recently crossed the border carries his belongings through the crowd after arriving in the city of Poipet on the Thai-Cambodian border on 18 June 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Leng Thearith, UNSW Canberra

Last month saw the 19th coup d’état in Thailand since 1932 but, unlike previous regime changes, this coup has significant regional implications — especially for Thailand’s neighbour, Cambodia. These are both economic and political. Read more…

We must improve trade connectivity in South Asia

Indian passengers travel on a train in Amritsar on 20 June 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Bipul Chatterjee and Joseph George, CUTS International

South Asian countries trade with each other far less than they could. The high cost of doing trade in the region, among the highest in the world, is the prime deterrent of trade among South Asian countries. An urgent upgrade of transport connectivity is needed in order to revitalise regional trade and decrease costs.

But there is more to trade connectivity than usually thought, and, in South Asia, improvement in transport connectivity alone may not be enough to spur a rise in trade volume. Read more…

Can Japan exercise collective self-defence effectively?

Members of airborne troops participate in the annual military parade of the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) at the Asaka training ground in Tokyo, Japan on 27 October 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Narushige Michishita, GRIPS

On 15 May, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hand-picked Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security submitted its final report. The report recommended that Japan play a more active international security role by exercising the right of collective self-defence as well as participating in collective security activities authorised by the UN. Read more…