BEIJING — While China’s much-hyped clean energy drive has become bogged down in problems of impracticality and policy incoherence, the U.S. has quietly effected a genuine energy revolution that creates huge cost advantages for America’s manufacturing base going forward. With major structural shifts already underway, changing international energy market dynamics present Washington with an opportunity to fundamentally reorient its foreign policy approach, toward China and a broader range of actors, in the decades to come. In 2011, China overtook the U.S. in terms of renewable energy investment and under current plans will surpass the European Union in 2014. Beijing plans […]

South Korea recently announced plans to open a diplomatic mission at the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta. In an email interview, David Arase, a professor of politics at Pomona College, discussed South Korea-ASEAN relations. WPR: What has brought about South Korea’s renewed interest in improving ties with ASEAN? David Arase: For South Korea’s future, ASEAN encompasses a region second only to Northeast Asia in geopolitical and economic importance. ASEAN is also a key agenda-setter in East Asian cooperation. So Korea is stepping up its diplomatic game with this important regional grouping. The ASEAN Plus […]

The Chinese economy, which has been a driver of global economic growth even as the United States and the European Union have worked to handle their own economic crises, is slowing down. Falling real estate prices combined with a decline in exports and consumer confidence have finally become barriers to growth in an economy that has long seemed unstoppable. Headlines have warned of the ripple effects that a continued economic slide might have, and the two experts who spoke with Trend Lines said the downturn underscores the need for China to make some changes in its growth strategy. Patrick Chovanec, […]

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos visited China earlier this month, where he and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an agreement to begin considerations for a free trade agreement. In an email interview, Benjamin Creutzfeldt, a lecturer and researcher in contemporary China studies at Externado University in Bogota, Colombia, discussed relations between Colombia and China. WPR: What is driving increased diplomatic and economic ties between China and Colombia over the past decade? Benjamin Creutzfeldt: The driving force behind contact between China and Colombia has been and continues to be trade. Over the past decade, China’s need for the types of raw […]

Chen Guangcheng, the civil rights activist who made headlines when he sought refuge at the American Embassy in Beijing arrived in the United States over the weekend. The incident strained ties between the U.S. and China, particularly as negotiations over Chen’s future drew international attention to human rights abuses in China, and Beijing demanded an apology for what it called interference in internal matters. But human rights advocates call the story a success in a region where human rights advocacy has proved to be a major challenge for the U.S. “When it comes to advocating for human rights, the U.S. […]

This week, the news broke that Ryan Crocker, arguably the finest U.S. diplomat of his generation, was resigning from his post as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. Crocker, who came out of retirement to serve as ambassador in Kabul, will be stepping down this summer, a year earlier than scheduled. The news is a blow to U.S. efforts to surround the military strategy in Afghanistan with a diplomatic framework to stabilize the country. As such, it is the latest setback in a war that has been a humbling experience for both the United States and its Western allies. The most […]

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series examining the challenges to reaching a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Part I examined the domestic challenges to national reconciliation. Part II examines the regional context of the Afghan peace process. When NATO leaders gathered in Chicago earlier this week for a much-awaited summit, the withdrawal strategy for Afghanistan dominated the proceedings. A twist in the plot had developed in the lead-up to the gathering when NATO extended a last-minute invitation to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The logic was straightforward: The occasion would be used not only to reach an […]

This week’s NATO Summit in Chicago, attended by the heads of state and government of alliance member states as well as senior representatives of various NATO partner countries and organizations, was less ambitious than some recent summits. With regard to the alliance itself, the summit announced no new members, or even a timetable for the four aspirant countries, and raised no funds for collective missions, as in Afghanistan. That said, the summit did perform the important function of reaffirming that despite their economic problems, member countries have been fulfilling all the vague commitments they made at the November 2010 Lisbon […]

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series examining the challenges to reaching a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Part I examines the domestic challenges to national reconciliation. Part II will examine the regional context of the Afghan peace process. On May 13, Maulvi Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban official who served on Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, was assassinated in Kabul. While the official Taliban spokesman denied the group’s involvement in the killing, a little-known splinter group aligned with al-Qaida, the Mullah Dadullah Front, claimed responsibility. Rahmani is the second major figure of the council to be killed, following […]

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012 (official White House photo by Pete Souza).

The U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership agreement that President Barack Obama recently signed in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is especially noteworthy for the lessons it successfully draws from similar agreements with Iraq and other countries, as well as for the pitfalls it avoids repeating. For the past 90 years, negotiations toward such security agreements have repeatedly proved unsuccessful, divisive and downright destabilizing. Britain’s attempt to reach a similar treaty with Iraq in the 1920s contributed to years of tumult and instability in that country. In Iran in the 1960s, the Shah’s security agreement with the U.S. prompted an intense backlash […]

BEIJING — Senior leaders from China, Japan and South Korea met in Beijing last weekend for a trilateral summit, where they signed an eye-catching agreement to work toward establishing a free-trade zone, the latest in a flurry of trilateral economic deals in recent months. But despite these developments, the geopolitical situation in Northeast Asia remains fragmented, and a multilateral architecture capable of containing latent regional threats is some way off. Recent months have brought a series of initiatives to increase economic integration among the three countries. In March, Tokyo announced it would invest in Chinese sovereign bonds for the first […]

The agricultural ministers of China, Japan and South Korea signed an agreement last month to work together to improve food security and increase agricultural trade. In an email interview, Roehlano M. Briones, a senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies and research fellow of the Asia Pacific Policy Center, discussed East Asian cooperation on food security. WPR: What are the major food security priorities for China, Japan and South Korea, respectively? Roehlano M. Briones: Let me answer this question from the viewpoint of policymakers. For China the major food security priority is to ensure that the population […]

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