Vietnam’s careful dance with the superpowers

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Author: Phuong Nguyen, CSIS, Washington DC

US–Vietnam military relations have improved remarkably in recent years but talk of an enhanced alliance between Washington and Hanoi overlooks important geopolitical and historic nuances. Defence relations between the two countries turned a page in the early 2000s, when both countries moved beyond the legacy of the Vietnam War. Both countries began to actively explore new ways to work together. Read more…

Thailand’s simmering security crisis gathers steam

Thai Muslim villagers carry the body of a villager who was shot dead by suspected separatist militants in Thailand's restive southern province of Narathiwat on 2 January 2015. Violence in Thailand's Muslim-majority south has left thousands dead — the majority civilians. (Photo: AAP).

Author: John Blaxland, ANU

A quiet but increasingly deadly struggle is taking place in Thailand’s deep south.

But why has the security crisis in the three southernmost insurgency-affected provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat proved to be so intractable and drawn out? 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…

New rules for China’s war on terror?

Armed Chinese People's Liberation Army take part in a training session at the foot of Tianshan Mountains in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Kendrick Kuo, Johns Hopkins

After a very violent year, officials in China’s western province of Xinjiang announced in March 2014 that they were considering an anti-terror law for the region. The law would ostensibly fill the gaps in the national criminal law by addressing the unique challenges of terrorism. But do laws really matter in an authoritarian state and in a region as militarised as Xinjiang? Read more…

Taiwan’s Ten Thousand Double-Edged Swords

Two locally made Indigenous Defense Fighters release the flares during a demonstration at Chiang Chin-kuo air foce base in central Taichung on January 13, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Che-Yu Ou, Waseda University

Procuring the Ten Thousand Swords missile system is a blunder for Taiwan; it aggravates the security dilemma between it and the PRC. For its own security, Taiwan should deter threats from the PRC by manufacturing weapons with exclusively defensive capabilities. Read more…

Reconciling Japan’s security policy with Northeast Asian stability

Nationalist protesters with Japanese flags and Japan's naval ensign march through a Tokyo street to denounce privileges for Koreans residents in Japan as riot police line up along the street. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

On 1 July 2014, the Abe government made a cabinet decision to reinterpret the Article 9 peace clause of Japan’s constitution to recognise the exercise of collective self-defence under limited circumstances. While the scope of the proposed changes are an evolution rather than a revolution in Japanese security policy, especially due to the tough negotiations with Abe’s coalition partner New Komeito, furore and misconception have surrounded the move. Read more…

The future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) speaks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang (R) after visiting an exhibition of innovative technologies at the Open Innovations Forum in Moscow, Russia, 14 October 2014.  (Photo: AAP).

Author: Swagata Saha, Observer Research Foundation

China recently reaffirmed that it backs India and Pakistan becoming members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). At the 14th meeting of the Council of Heads of States of SCO on 12 September, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for full membership for SCO observers, including India and Pakistan. Read more…

Indonesia and Malaysia need to focus on a ‘soft’ approach to tackle IS support on social media

A government worker removes ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) flags painted on to walls near Veteran Street in Surakarta City, Indonesia, in an attempt to discourage the promotion of the jihadist group in the region, 5 August 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Stefanie Kam and Robi Sugara, RSIS

In response to the rise in Indonesian and Malaysian fighters joining the extremist Islamic State (IS) group, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur have taken action to criminalise membership. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the nation’s top Muslim clerical body, also released a statement that it was haram, or forbidden, for Muslims to participate in IS activities. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has also issued a strongly worded statement condemning IS for its actions, which ‘run counter to Islamic faith, culture and to common humanity’. Read more…

China’s growing assertiveness transforms Japan’s security policy

People demonstrate against the defence policy change by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo in Tokyo, Japan, 5 July 2014. The Japanese cabinet decided on 1 July that Japan should be allowed to use military force abroad in special circumstances. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jennifer Lind, Dartmouth College

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on 1 July a decision to reinterpret the Japanese constitution, allowing Tokyo to militarily support partners that are under attack. Former prime minister Zenko Suzuki would approve. In 1981, Suzuki became the first Japanese leader to use the word ‘alliance’ to describe Japan’s relationship with the United States. The seemingly innocuous word sounded alarmingly militaristic to many Japanese who, since their country’s defeat in World War II, have been skittish of rearmament and involvement in overseas military operations. Read more…

The political and diplomatic hard-yards still to be done on collective self-defence

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe attends a press conference to explain the right to collective self-defence in Tokyo on 1 July 2014. His cabinet members authorised a reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ryo Sahashi, Stanford University

On 1 July, the Japanese cabinet, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, made an historic change to post-war security policy, expanding the scope for interpretation of the Constitution’s Article 9. Japan may now hold the right to collective self-defence — the use of military force to defend a foreign country that is in a close relationship with Japan when it comes under armed attack. 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…

China is a big winner from Thailand’s coup

Thai people are allowed to pose with riot and special forces soldiers at a 'Bring Back Happiness to Thai People' event in the central Lumpini Park once occupied by protesters, in Bangkok, Thailand, 15 June 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Patrick Jory, University of Queensland

While the recent military coup in Thailand has drawn much of the world’s attention to the military junta’s suppression of democracy and human rights, it also has far-reaching geopolitical implications for the whole of Southeast Asia.

Read more…

Japan’s Article 9: will it be revised or get the Nobel Peace Prize?

Protesters hold placards during a protest against plans by the Japanese government to lift a ban on collective self-defence by reinterpreting the constitution in Tokyo, Japan, 15 May 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Linus Hagström, Swedish Institute of International Affairs

In April news broke that the Norwegian Nobel Committee had accepted the nomination of the war-renouncing Article 9 of Japan’s constitution as a candidate for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The so-called peace clause forbids Japan from using force to settle international disputes; force may only be used within the ‘minimum necessary level’ for individual self-defence.

Read more…