Launched in 1991 by then-Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, India’s “Look East” policy was long regarded by many as lacking in vision and substance. Yet as India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) prepare to mark two decades of formal relations later this year, there is much to celebrate. Given the recent advances New Delhi has made in its relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors, as well as with ASEAN as an institution, both parties can proudly toast the progress achieved thus far. But they should also use the anniversary as an opportunity to strengthen ties further. India has […]

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China reportedly suspended orders for Airbus aircraft this month in protest of the European Union’s emissions trading system. In an email interview, Miriam Schröder, managing director of the climate consulting firm Sinergi, discussed the European Union-China emissions dispute. WPR: What is the background of the dispute between the European Union and China over the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS), and how has it developed? Miriam Schröder: Since January 2012, aviation has been included in the EU ETS. Not only flights within Europe, but also non-European aircraft operators that fly to or from Europe have to comply with the EU ETS. […]

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President Jose Ramos Horta conceded defeat on March 19 after failing to win enough votes to make it into the second round of Timor-Leste’s ongoing presidential election. In an email interview, Gordon Peake, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University’s State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, discussed Timor-Leste’s presidential election. WPR: Who are the candidates in the runoff election, and what are their platforms and electoral bases of support? Gordon Peake: The first round whittled down 12 candidates to two men who were once comrades-in-arms in the Timorese resistance. On April 16, Francisco Guterres from the opposition FRETILIN […]

After months of aggressive debates over the Middle East, the U.N. Security Council is starting to calm down. Last week the council released a statement supporting Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria — which calls for a U.N.-supervised cease-fire and an “inclusive Syrian-led political process” — signaling the change of mood. The Western powers reached consensus with Russia and China on the text, toning down and cutting controversial passages, after Moscow called for daily cease-fires to let humanitarian aid reach suffering Syrians. The contrast with the mood at the United Nations in February, when the Chinese and Russians vetoed a […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on China’s geopolitical interests in the Mekong River Basin. Part I examined the politics and impact of hydroelectric projects on the Mekong River Basin. Part II examines the security challenges to China’s efforts toward economic integration of the Mekong River Basin. Beijing’s ambitions for China-led economic integration in the Mekong River Basin have encountered several setbacks in recent months, highlighting the limits to China’s ability to use its economic power and control over the headwaters of the Mekong to its geopolitical advantage. In particular, Beijing’s plan to expand the navigational […]

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The Pentagon says it’s suspending efforts to recover remains of fallen service members in North Korea. That’s after North Korea announced plans to launch a rocket to fire a satellite into space, which the US says would violate a UN ban. US News Video by NewsLook

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on China’s geopolitical interests in the Mekong River Basin. Part I examines the politics and impact of hydroelectric projects on the Mekong River Basin. Part II will examine the security challenges to China’s efforts toward economic integration of the Mekong River Basin. Two decades after the Paris Peace Accord that ended the proxy war in Cambodia, the Mekong Basin has re-emerged as a region of global significance. The rapid infrastructure-led integration of a region some call “Asia’s last frontier” has created tensions between and among China and its five southern […]

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Indian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma visited Hanoi earlier this month to discuss cooperation in energy, medicine and information technology with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. In an email interview, David Brewster, a visiting fellow at the Strategic and Defense Studies Center at the Australian National University and the author of “India as an Asia Pacific Power,” discussed India-Vietnam relations. WPR: How extensive are trade and diplomatic ties between Vietnam and India? David Brewster: India and Vietnam have a long-standing political relationship dating back to the 1960s, when India gave rhetorical support to North Vietnam’s fight […]

HONG KONG — Trouble is brewing in Hong Kong ahead of the vote on March 25 to choose the city’s next leader. A series of missteps have hobbled the one-time frontrunner in the race for chief executive, raising disturbing questions about whether he knows or simply ignores the laws he would be required to execute, and revealing how removed Hong Kong’s elite are from average people. The situation has put Beijing in a bind and raises the specter of a worst-case scenario involving mainland security forces deployed to restore order in the event of popular unrest following the voting. The […]

As a region that includes some of the world’s most resilient autocracies, Asia has traditionally found democracy to be a difficult subject. Popular conceptions of the region are dominated by the ever-increasing influence of China, the world’s most powerful authoritarian state, and media reports often depict a region of resiliently nondemocratic regimes, ranging from North Korea’s family-based despotism to Myanmar’s repressive military junta. This viewpoint is out of date. Today, more Asians live in genuine democracies than ever before, and Asian regimes are increasingly using their democratic status to raise their profile in the international arena. Indonesia, with a keen […]

When Robert Zoellick recently announced that he won’t seek a second term as president of the World Bank, representatives of numerous emerging-market countries issued a flood of statements decrying America’s 66-year lock on the position. Meanwhile, the Chinese went out of their way within the organization to express their firm desire to have a commanding say in who succeeds Zoellick. Insiders are predicting that an American will still win the spot and that the Chinese simply want to exercise a showy veto over the proceedings. That would be too bad, because there are a host of good reasons why Washington […]

For more than three years, China has been gradually implementing a strategic plan to internationalize its currency, the yuan, with a central element of this strategy being to increase the yuan’s role in China’s cross-border trade settlement. To date, these efforts have been strikingly effective, as the “people’s currency” was used to settle nearly 10 percent of China’s international trade in 2011, up from essentially zero in 2009. Last week, it was reported that China is poised to take another significant step in promoting the yuan’s use in global trade settlement by extending yuan-denominated loans to the other BRICS nations: […]

When President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, Time magazine heralded it as the fourth Nobel award given “for not being George W. Bush.” While much of the world welcomed the departure of the American president many saw as a cocky cowboy, Chinese politicians quickly became nostalgic for the good ol’ days. Why do the Chinese prefer Bush to Obama? The reason, it seems, is that Obama is harder to read. While the U.S. continually calls for more transparency from China, the Chinese seek a clearer understanding of the Obama administration’s intentions toward China. Obama entered […]

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South Korea signed a 20-year deal to import liquefied natural gas from Qatar during a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to the Persian Gulf state last month. In an email interview, Jae-Seung Lee, a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Korea Studies Program and a professor at Korea University, discussed South Korea’s energy security. WPR: What is the breakdown of South Korea’s energy consumption, in terms of fuel types and sources? Jae-Seung Lee: Oil is still dominant in South Korea’s primary energy consumption, currently making up 39.7 percent, although this has decreased substantially from its peak of 52 percent […]

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