This week marks the first anniversary of the seemingly spontaneous ethnic violence that drew the world’s attention to Kyrgyzstan for several weeks last June and ultimately left more than 400 dead. But while Western attention has long since waned, the antipathy between the country’s Kyrgyz majority and its Uzbek minority has not. A year after the fighting between them first broke out in the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan is nowhere near achieving reconciliation between the two groups; rather, it is in the eye of the storm. Although last year’s violence reached its greatest intensity in the southern cities of Osh […]
The Western press is rife with stories about China’s growing conservatism, reflected by an ongoing crackdown on free speech by Chinese authorities as well as a Maoist revival in the interior provinces. In our alarm, we imagine the worst of all possible outcomes: an all-powerful Chinese economy lorded over by a political system that somehow reverts to its communist-era politics of open antagonism with the West. While there are powerful structural dynamics that work against this combination, we should nonetheless not fear it. To the extent that China’s economic trajectory is threatening to stall out, as it inevitably must at […]
Chinese foreign investment is often considered nonideological: Dictatorship or democracy, model state or pariah — if a country has natural resources, China is an eager investor. In Latin America the characterization rings true, as China has curried favor with left-leaning governments — in Venezuela and Ecuador — and right-leaning governments — in Chile and Colombia — alike. China’s relations with Cuba are a case in point, if a counterintuitive one. On a three-day visit to the island this week, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Cuban President Raúl Castro signed 10 accords and began talks on a five-year plan for […]
The Naval War College just completed its annual Current Strategy Forum, with this year’s topic being “Energy and U.S. National Security: Vulnerability and Opportunity.” Listening to the presentations, one could not help but be struck by the “chicken and egg” relationship between access to energy and U.S. grand strategy. Which should drive the other — and what are the various options? Rising energy costs, combined with economic austerity, means that “business as usual” is no longer an option for the U.S. military. A recent study by Deloitte noted (.pdf), “Warfare and combat operations are not the only variables driving [Defense […]
Nearly 100 people in Inner Mongolia have been arrested after the recent demonstration sparked by the death of a Mongol herder. Chinese authorities last week blamed the unrest on unnamed “foreign sources”, and the region remains under heavy police presence.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ visit to Afghanistan this week prompted contradictory reports about both the war’s progress and the likelihood for an accelerated troop withdrawal. Some observers said President Barack Obama’s security team was now considering the option of a swift pullout. Others quoted Gates as saying it’s too early to end combat. Meanwhile, a U.S. general touted success in training Afghan forces just as Congress released a report criticizing the Afghan nation-building program. Joshua Foust, a fellow and Afghanistan specialist with the American Security Project, tells Trend Lines that the conflicting reports are best explained by a widening […]
In recent weeks Taliban fighters have been handing over their weapons in record numbers in Afghanistan. This spike in the defection rate, perhaps motivated by Osama bin Laden’s death, has opened an important window of opportunity for U.S. and NATO forces fighting there. But so far the West has not been able to capitalize on this surge in Taliban defections effectively. In fact, in some cases, those interested in abandoning the insurgency and joining the government’s side are even being turned away. The failure to prioritize and generously fund defection and reintegration programs in Afghanistan poses a threat to the […]
During a recent visit to Vietnam by Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called for the enhancement of trade and political ties between the two countries. In an email interview, Carlyle A. Thayer, an emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defense Force Academy, discussed Russia-Vietnam relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Russia-Vietnam relations? Carlyle A. Thayer: When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Moscow pressed Vietnam for repayment of debts totaling $1.7 billion, and the two sides took nearly a decade to negotiate a settlement. In 1994, they […]
DENPASAR, Indonesia — Largely ignored abroad, a new intelligence reform bill currently being debated by Indonesia’s parliament could have serious repercussions for the archipelagic country’s security and its process of democratization. The long-overdue bill is a step in the right direction, since intelligence operations in Indonesia are currently flimsily regulated by a presidential decree. Still, the proposal currently on the table is hardly ideal. Indonesia faces numerous security threats, including terrorism, human trafficking, weapon proliferations and arms smuggling. A competent intelligence apparatus is thus vital for national as well as regional — if not global — security. The bill aims […]
Despite heavy rain this week, much of central China remains dry. The country’s worst drought in 50 years has reignited debate about the controversial Three Gorges Dam.
Taiwanese exporters are anticipating the arrival of July 1 with some anxiety. On that day, the free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and South Korea, Taiwan’s archrival in trade, will come into effect. As 70-75 percent of Taiwan’s exports to the EU overlap with those from South Korea, and as Brussels is set to lift import tariffs on 93.9 percent of Korean products within the deal’s first year, it is all but certain that Taiwanese products will suffer in the European market. But the export-dependent island’s plight does not end there. In terms of FTAs, South Korea, which […]
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently made an official state visit to Malaysia. In an email interview, Shee Poon Kim, a visiting professor in the Department of Global Politics and Economics at Tamkang University in Taiwan, discussed China-Malaysia relations. WPR: What is the recent history of China-Malaysia relations? Shee Poon Kim: On May 31, 1974, Malaysia became the first of the five founding ASEAN member states to establish formal diplomatic relations with China. Over the past 37 years, Malaysian relations with China have evolved from mutual hostility (1949-1970) to détente and political accommodation (1970-1981), to economic cooperation alongside political and security […]
Thailand’s call for the repatriation of more than 140,000 refugees from Myanmar is likely aimed at enhancing investment opportunities in the politically isolated country. Bangkok’s insistence that the refugees, who live in nine camps along Thailand’s western border, had become a burden came shortly after a report indicated that China had overtaken Thailand as Myanmar’s leading investor. On Feb. 21, Myanmar’s Weekly Eleven newspaper carried figures released by a Myanmar trade group showing that more than $3 billion in new investment from November 2010 to January 2011 had brought China’s cumulative investment since 1988 to $9.6 billion — slightly higher […]
With the U.N. in the global spotlight for its involvement in high-stakes missions in Libya, Sudan, Côte D’Ivoire and elsewhere, this World Politics Review special report examines the U.N. through articles published in the past year.Below are links to each article in this special report. U.N. Security Council New Members Make for a Real Security Council at Last Richard Gowan and Bruce D. Jones October 20, 2010 Indian Power and the United Nations Richard Gowan November 15, 2010 No U.N. Security Council Reform, No Problem Richard Weitz January 4, 2011 New Tools for New Times Bruce D. JonesJanuary 11, 2011 […]