Why China stands to benefit from ambiguity on Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (L) take part in video conference in Sochi, Russia, in February 2014 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Maria Repnikova, Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Georgetown University

From the outset of the Russia–Ukraine escalation, Russian official sources claimed to have secured China’s support. Most recently, following Russia’s official annexation of Crimea, President Vladimir Putin thanked China and India, which abstained from the UN Security Council vote condemning Russia.

In reality, however, Russia’s projection of China’s stance in this crisis has been misconstrued, as China consistently favoured strategic ambiguity Read more…

US puts the Asian ‘pivot’ into pictures

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel watches a flight demonstration of MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor V/STOL aircraft on the flight deck of the USS Anchorage during a tour with his counterparts from Southeast Asia, Secretary General of ASEAN Secretariat Le Luong Minh and Defense Minister of Singapore Ng Eng Hen. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Dean, ANU

The ‘rebalance’ to the Asia Pacific is alive and well according to the recently released US Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). If a picture tells a thousand words then the United States Department of Defense’s (DoD) latest strategic policy document has some interesting things to say. Eight of the 22 photos in the document focus on the region, and this outstrips the US homeland — the focus of overall US strategy. Read more…

Family reunions belie future of the Korean peninsula

North and South Korean family hold hands at a bus as they leave after the inter-Korean family reunion meeting at Mount Kumgang resort, North Korea, 25 February 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Kwon, Lowy Institute for International Policy/Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held their first family reunions in three years on 20 February 2014. But the event does not hail the beginning of a grand renewal in relations — the world has been here before and the important underlying factors that have undermined enhanced relations before, as highlighted by the recent exchange of fire along the western maritime border, remain unchanged. Read more…

Is Vietnam’s bamboo diplomacy threatened by pandas?

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang as they attend the cooperation signing ceremony between Russia and Vietnam at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam in November 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thuy T. Do, ANU

Vietnam is maximising its political leverage with ‘clumping bamboo’ diplomacy. Although Thailand is famous for its skilful ‘bamboo diplomacy’ — always solidly rooted but flexible enough to bend whichever way the wind blows to survive — the Vietnamese have found another diplomatic philosophy to engage great powers. Read more…

On the edge in Asia, yet right in the middle of it

On the heights above Thimphu, a Bhutanese man straightens a prayer flag at a Buddhist shrine. Even the biggest powers in the region, such as China, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea, are beholden in some way to their smaller allies or clients. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The course of Asia’s future will be significantly determined by how the bigger powers in the region — China, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea, perhaps — manage their own national development and choose to play into regional and world affairs. In this context there is natural pre-occupation with China’s transition towards great power status and particularly its relationship with the established powers, importantly the United States Read more…

China–Taiwan history: no textbook answers

Student protesting against a China Taiwan trade agreement sleep on the floor as they occupy the floor of the legislature in Taipei on March 20, 2014.

Author: Edward Vickers, Kyushu University

On 11 February 2014, representatives of the Republic of China (ROC, otherwise known as Taiwan) travelled to Nanjing. There they met officials of the People’s Republic of China for the highest-level bilateral dialogue since the ROC’s Kuomintang regime fled to Taiwan in 1949. The ROC’s former mainland capital is also infamous as the site of the Nanjing Massacre, still a source of acute friction between China and Japan. Read more…

Japan’s new security strategy: changing national identity?

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JDS Kongou (DDG 173) sails in formation with other JMSDF ships and ships assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group in the Pacific Ocean (Photo: US Navy / Todd Cichonowicz).

Author: Takeshi Yuzawa, Hosei University

In December 2013, the Japanese government issued the nation’s first National Security Strategy (NSS). The NSS is the result of government efforts to formulate a comprehensive and integrated approach to national security. It is based on an emerging principle of ‘a proactive contributor to peace’, which represents Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desire to move Japan towards collective self-defence. Read more…

Japan’s courtship of ASEAN doomed to end in tears?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and leaders of ASEAN countries join hands for a photo session of the Japan-ASEAN commemorative summit in Tokyo, December 14, 2013.  (Photo: AAP).

Author: Dylan Loh Ming Hui, RSIS

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosted the 40th commemorative Japan–ASEAN summit in Tokyo in December 2013. In a joint statement, Japan and ASEAN referred to ‘the importance of maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region and promoting maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, exercise of self-restraint and resolution of disputes by peaceful means’. Read more…

How can Asia protect its water resources?

Children collect water from a hand pump in an urban slum in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Most slums in India lack clean water, electricity, sanitation and other basic services. (Photo: Sukhminder Dosanj/USAID)

Author: Justine Doody, ECFR

Asia’s economic growth has been one of the success stories of the 21st century. But the economic rise of countries such as China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia has created serious pressure on their environmental resources, particularly their water supplies. Read more…

A louder, more independent European voice in Asian affairs

The Chinese National Flag and the Flag of Europe are seen during an exhibition in Beijing, China, 13 April 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Maaike Okano-Heijmans and Frans-Paul van der Putten, Clingendael Institute

The times when Europe can be accused of being a ‘free rider’ in Asia may be ending.

For decades, Europeans have benefited economically from diplomatic and military efforts made by the United States and East Asian countries, while doing nothing to contribute to peace and stability in the region — or so the argument went. Read more…

The US and China square off over cross-border listings

US President Barack Obama listens as Mary Jo White, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, delivers remarks during a ceremony at the White House in Washington DC on 24 January 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Paul Gillis, Peking University

The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) administrative trial judge banned the Chinese member firms of the Big Four accounting firms from practice before the SEC in a bold ruling on 22 January. This move could lead to significant difficulties for US-listed Chinese companies and multinational corporations with operations in China. Read more…

How should the world deal with Chinese reforms?

A man walk past a branch of the Bank of Shanghai in Nanjing, China, 11 April 2013. The Bank of Shanghai is preparing to set up a financial leasing company in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The liturgy in the West is that so long as China becomes a responsible stakeholder in the international economic system — conforming to the western created rules and norms — its accommodation into the global economy is guaranteed. The same liturgy used to be cited when Japan was on the make.

Were it only so simple. Read more…

China changing itself and the world after Third Plenum

A Chinese employee is seen at a branch of Bank of East Asia (BEA) in the free trade zone of Pudong, Shanghai, China, 7 January 2014. BEA and DBS Bank were the first among overseas lenders that officially opened their sub-branches in the Shanghai free trade zone in early 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Yiping Huang, Peking University and ANU

Now we can see the full script of what I once called Likonomics, the policy framework of the new Chinese leadership. The policy document approved by the Third Plenum is indeed very comprehensive, containing reform measures in 60 areas. Two distinctive features stand out, compared with previous reform programs: top-level authority and full market system. Read more…

When America becomes number two

US President Barak Obama addresses supporters at a fundraiser at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, USA, 6 June 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Kishore Mahbubani, NUS

In 2019, barely five years away, the world will pass one of its most significant historical milestones. For the first time in 200 years, a non-western power, China, will become the number-one economy in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. America will become number two. Yes, it will take longer for China’s economy to overtake America’s in nominal terms but the trend line is irresistible. And in PPP terms, China’s economy could be twice that of America’s by 2030. Read more…

Abolishing government detention in China for public health

Chinese students show a handmade red ribbon to represent World AIDS Day, at a school in Hanshan, east Anhui province on 30 November, 2009. The dismantling of the RTL program has been linked to health benefits associated with STIs and HIV. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Joseph D. Tucker, UNC

The Chinese government has begun to dismantle the system of re-education through labor (RTL), one of the pillars of its extensive extra-judicial administrative detention system. While this development has clear implications for the rule of law and administrative regulation in China, it could also reap public health benefits. Read more…