US–ROK nuclear renegotiations not as easy as 123

The Singori-1 and Signori-2 nuclear power stations in Busan, South Korea (4 December 2012). The stations account for 3.3 percent of total electricity production in South Korea (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ashley Hess, Pacific Forum CSIS

The US–South Korea Civil Nuclear Agreement (the 123 Agreement, required by US law before bilateral nuclear cooperation can take place) was first signed over 40 years ago and will expire next March. A bill to extend the treaty until March 2016 (HR 2449) was introduced into the US House of Representatives in June and was unanimously approved on September 17. Read more…

China in the regional order: it’s not about parity

Filipino protesters display their placards of cartoon Po from the film 'Kung Fu Panda' during a rally outside the Chinese Consular office in Makati's financial district of Manila, Philippines, 16 June 2011. The protesters condemned the Chinese government's military incursions into the West Philippine Sea even as they called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and demilitarization of the contested areas. (PHOTO: AAP)

Authors: Robert A. Manning, Atlantic Council, and James J. Przystup, NDU

To answer Hugh White’s initial question, ‘what is America’s ultimate aim in Asia today?’, there is no mystery about American aims in Asia: it is simply a rules-based order with unimpeded access to the global commons.

To the degree that other stakeholders are willing and able to help enforce such a system, they are welcome as partners. The question we posed remains unanswered. Parity does not tell us what regional order China would like to preside over. Read more…

Russia: between the US and China

US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice (L), Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin (C) and Chinese Ambassador to the UN  Li Baodong speak before a UN Security Council vote on Syria 19 July, 2012, in New York. Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad if he does not end the use of heavy weapons in Syria. (PHOTO: AAP)

Author: Artyom Lukin, Far Eastern Federal University

As the geopolitical competition between China and the US intensifies, other actors must decide how they will position themselves in this power struggle. Of these, Russia is arguably one of the most crucial ‘swing states’ in the contemporary global arena.

Russia and China have been close ‘strategic partners’ since the late 1990s, but there is speculation that Russia will eventually Read more…

Rebalancing Asia: Panetta visits India

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivers a speech on Indo-US Defense Relations at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, 6 June, 2012. (PHOTO: AAP)

Author: Louise Merrington, ANU

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s visit to India in June highlighted both India’s increasing importance as a regional balance in the US ‘pivot’ to the Asia Pacific and the extent to which the US–Pakistan relationship has deteriorated in recent months.

Although the US–India relationship reached a high note with the 2008 civilian nuclear deal, several Read more…

Northeast Asia’s eternal triangle is really an American affair of sorts

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak attends the 5th Trilateral Summit Meeting among China, South Korea and Japan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 13 May 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Takashi Terada, Doshisha University

The Beijing Trilateral Summit Meeting held in May 2012 was the occasion for two significant events: China, Japan and South Korea announced that their trilateral FTA negotiations should commence within the year, and they signed a trilateral investment agreement.

Northeast Asian regionalism is finally showing signs of willingness to reach a level of economic integration similar to other regions like Southeast Asia. Read more…

US–China collusion and the way forward for Japan

Guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain (L) pulls alongside the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during a refueling at sea during the "Keen Sword" US-Japan joint military exercises in the Sea of Japan close to the coast of South Korea, 5 December, 2010 . (Photo: AAP)

Author: Susumu Yabuki, Yokohama City University

Many people think that current US–China relations are comparable to US–Soviet relations during the Cold War. This is completely mistaken.

It is often said that the US and China are rivals — even potential combatants — in areas near Okinawa and the South China Sea. Some Japanese military strategists go as far as asserting that Read more…

China’s non-confrontational assertiveness in the South China Sea

Chinese entertainers perform in front of the newly-built deepwater pipelaying crane vessel Hai Yang Shi You 201 before it leaves the Port of Qingdao for the South China Sea, in Qingdao city, to the east of the Chinese proviince of Shandong, 21 May 2012. The vessel is set to advance Chinese deepwater resources exploration strategy. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Li Mingjiang, RSIS

The past few years have been particularly eventful for the South China Sea dispute.

The tensions and related diplomatic pressures exerted on China have prompted unprecedented debate among China’s foreign-policy community. Policy makers and analysts have undertaken serious reviews of other countries’ policies and deliberated on appropriate responses and future policy options. These internal debates offer insight into China’s likely future policy in the South China Sea. Read more…

China’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

US President Barack Obama and President of China Hu Jintao hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington DC, USA, 19 January 2011. Despite its significance in international trade, China is not party to negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

In President Obama’s landmark speech in Canberra last month, an over-riding theme was that the United States welcomes China’s rise so long as it plays by the global rules.

Yet those rules are dynamic, and there is a need to have China involved in setting them given the scale of China and its importance to the regional and global economy, as well as to global security. Read more…

The TPP, APEC and East Asian trade strategies

US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle greet Chinese President Hu Jintao and his wife Liu Yongqing, before their dinner at the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Saturday 12 November, 2011. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement got a big boost around the APEC meeting in Honolulu. A broad framework was announced, progress highlighted, and a 12 month deadline for a deal was set.

The TPP is the first trade agreement which President Obama did not inherit from his predecessors, and it is seen as a means of keeping the US engaged in Asia. Read more…

Obama visit to India: East Asia’s emerging security multilateralism

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chat during the State Dinner at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, in New Dehli on November 8, 2010. (Photo: White House/Pete Souza)

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

On November 5, President Barack Obama became the first US president in more than three decades to pay a state visit to India during his first term in office. The visit, though modest in content, followed in his predecessor George W. Bush’s vein of extricating India from the ‘technology denial regime’ that Washington itself had instituted in bits and pieces following New Delhi’s nuclear test of 1974. Further, in a gesture that thrilled his hosts, President Obama endorsed India’s candidature to a permanent seat in a future expanded Security Council, during an address to the Indian Parliament. The American side, curiously though, provided no such direct assurance in the Joint Statement. Rather, the Indian side borrows the president’s phraseology to Parliament – look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member – and thereafter proceeds to express gratitude for it as affirmation of India’s candidature!

Insofar as the East Asian region is concerned, both countries expressed their commitment to an ‘open, balanced and inclusive’ order, and to the stability of, and access to, vital public commons therein – air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Read more…

Continental and maritime in US-India relations

The Indian Navy's warships take part in a fleet review at sea in Visakhapatnam on February 12, 2006.

Author: Evan Feigenbaum, CFR

With President Obama having visited New Delhi earlier this month, it seems like a good time to ask why Washington and New Delhi remain so burdened, even imprisoned, by continental preoccupations.

To Americans, India can be a real jumble of contradictions. It is a maritime nation—strategically situated near key chokepoints—but with a continental strategic tradition. It is a nation of illustrious mercantile traditions but for decades walled off large swaths of its economy. Much has changed, principally because rapid economic growth has allowed India to break from the confining shackles of South Asia. India is again an Asian player, better integrated into the East Asian economic system. Read more…

Obama leaves Korea without KORUS: Heart but no Seoul

President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, unseen, talk at each other during the G20 SME Finance Challenge Award winners ceremony at the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, on November 12, 2010. (Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Author: Ernie Bower, CSIS

The Obama Administration deserves the highest marks for reinvigorating the US’ focus on Asia. Trips by the President and the US Secretary of State have been well prepared and executed. These trips have elevated existing ties with old friends, transformed relationships into partnerships, and have been characterized by substantive agendas and heart. But leaving Seoul without an agreement on the US Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) is not the right signal to an Asia that considers American determination to pass KORUS as the acid test for whether the US can return to a leadership position on trade. For the US, a strong trade policy is crucial to foreign policy in Asia.

The US Administration’s full-court press in Asia is important. Read more…

United States and China: Will positive relations endure?

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Osumi-class amphibious assault ship JDS Kunisaki (LST 4003), center, and two landing craft air cushions assigned to Kunisaki transit through the South China Sea to Cambodia. (Photo: US Navy/Jon Husman)

Author: Robert Sutter, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Since the early years of the George W. Bush administration, US and Chinese leaders have endeavored to emphasise the positive aspects of the US-China relationship and to deal with their many differences out of the public limelight, mainly through the dozens of largely secret dialogues that characterise recent Sino-American relations. Barack Obama came to office with the unusual distinction of avoiding significant China related issues during his long presidential campaign.

Since taking office, Obama has sought the cooperation of China and other world powers to deal with such key international issues as the global financial crisis, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and climate change. Read more…

China and the challenge to American power? – Weekly editorial

Author: Peter Drysdale, ANU

There is no question more central to the future of political stability and security in Asia and the Pacific than how the rise of Chinese power is managed alongside the established power of the United States of America. Over the last few years, Hugh White has made an immensely important contribution by forcing us all to think about this question. The central issue for White is whether it is possible to construct an arrangement whereby the new powers in Asia, most prominently China, can engage with the established power, the United States, as the structure of regional power undergoes dramatic change. The answer to this question is vital to the future of regional political stability in the intrinsically unstable process of transition in the balance of regional political power.

In the political sphere, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made focus on this issue an international political mission. Read more…