The traditional understanding of China’s civil-military relations is that the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was historically symbiotic, without functional differentiation or institutional boundaries based on technical specialization. This kind of symbiosis, according to political scientists Amos Perlmutter and William LeoGrande, can be attributed to the legacy of the communists’ guerrilla war in China, which was “a form of politico-military combat in which the fusion of political and military elites is virtually inevitable, and in which the governing of liberated territories is a function performed largely by the guerrilla army itself.” Also […]

Australia last sat on the Security Council in 1985-1986, and there was no great enthusiasm when the current Labor government announced it would seek one of the council’s rotating, nonpermanent seats for the current period. The opposition and much of the media claimed it would involve unnecessary expense, require concessions on policy to win over uncommitted votes and be unlikely to succeed. In something of a geographic absurdity, Australia has to compete with Western European states for a Security Council seat, and Finland and Luxembourg were already vying for the 2013-2014 seats at the time Australia tossed its hat into […]

Guess who: I’m a G-20 country, ranked 25th out of 139 countries for macroeconomic stability. I’ve got the world’s 16th-largest economy, and analysts think I could crack the top seven by 2030. I’ve averaged 4-6 percent GDP growth over the past decade despite the global economic crisis, and I’ve got the demographics to keep this all on track. If you guessed Indonesia, you’d be right. With stats like these and a population of 240 million to boot, it’s little wonder that corporate executives and governments the world over have begun to take a closer look at the opportunities on offer […]

Friday’s ministerial meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan, of the Istanbul Process will bring together representatives of 14 regional countries and 16 others to discuss efforts to stabilize Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 2014 withdrawal of Western forces from the country. As the drawdown nears, regional powers are growing increasingly worried. Russia, India, Pakistan and China recognize that the departure of Western forces could allow a resurgence of the Taliban, threatening Afghanistan’s economic and political development and spreading ripples of insecurity throughout the region. Unfortunately, the Istanbul Process is focused on vague confidence-building measures, rather than concrete proposals for Afghan reconciliation. […]

This year has been marked by skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani forces over the countries’ disputed de facto border in Kashmir, as well as an upcoming change of government in Pakistan, each of which may slow down the long and difficult peace process between India and Pakistan. In an email interview, Sadika Hameed, a fellow in the Crisis, Conflict and Cooperation program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has researched cooperation in South Asia, discussed the state of the India-Pakistan peace process. WPR: What is the current state of the India-Pakistan peace process, especially in light of […]

The Obama administration’s response to the steady drumbeat of threats issuing from North Korea in recent weeks could not have been clearer. “The United States will, if needed, defend our allies and defend ourselves,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said during his April 12 visit to South Korea. The American F-22 stealth fighter jets and nuclear-capable B-2 bombers that flew drills over South Korea in March and the two missile-defense ships that sidled up to South Korea earlier this month undoubtedly sent the same message. As a crisis management policy, that message was exactly right. As a strategic signal […]

The International Energy Agency, an organization comprising 28 industrialized countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) aimed among other things at preserving global energy security, is reportedly seeking to expand energy cooperation with emerging powers. In an email interview, Thijs Van de Graaf, a postdoctoral fellow at the Ghent Institute for International Studies specializing in global energy politics and international institutions, explained the IEA’s expansion drive and its likely effects. WPR: What is motivating the IEA’s push to form an “association” with emerging economies for the first time in its 40-year history? Van de Graaf: When […]

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently undertook a week-long visit to Japan and South Korea, highlighting NATO’s growing role in Asian security in partnership with nonmember governments. Rasmussen is convinced that NATO needs to deepen cooperation with partner states to address global security issues that can negatively impact NATO members’ security. Conversely, NATO has unique capabilities and experience in leading multinational military campaigns, as in Afghanistan and Libya, which can be applied to joint efforts among NATO and partner states to address security concerns in Asia and beyond. Since taking office in August 2009, Rasmussen has tried to induce alliance […]

For at least the past decade, China has witnessed tens of thousands of mass social protests per year. In 2005, the last year in which Chinese authorities released figures, there were 87,000 such protests. Scholars and observers have estimated that roughly the same number has occurred in each subsequent year. These protests have been the subject of a great deal of media coverage in the West, with the typical takeaway being that China is a simmering cauldron of unrest, perpetually on the verge of bubbling over. Yet the reality is far more complex. Since 1990, almost none of these movements […]

Five Indian soldiers serving with the United Nations peacekeeping operation in South Sudan were killed in an ambush last week that also left seven civilian U.N. staff dead and four more troops wounded. Such casualties are grimly familiar for the Indian army, which has lost more personnel on blue helmet missions than any other country’s military. But the attack capped off a difficult few weeks for India at the U.N., marked by diplomatic disputes over the rules of peacekeeping and the new Arms Trade Treaty. Cumulatively, these episodes may reinforce doubts about New Delhi’s commitment to the U.N. system. Although […]

Malaysia has chosen May 5 as the date of national elections that will decide whether Prime Minister Najib Razak’s National Front, the multiethnic political coalition that has governed the country since independence, will hold on to power. The main opposition coalition, the People’s Alliance, which made gains in the 2008 elections, continues to close the National Front’s narrow lead in opinion polls. “This is a critical turning point for the country,” Bridget Welsh, associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University, told Trend Lines. “It will have to decide whether to stick with the incumbent government of 55 years, […]

On April 1, India’s Supreme Court concluded a protracted legal battle between the Indian government and the pharmaceutical company Novartis, ruling that Indian companies could continue to produce low-cost generic versions of a drug the company had sought to patent. In an email interview, Sudip Chaudhuri, an economics professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta specializing in patents and the pharmaceutical industry, explained the background and likely impact of the ruling. WPR: What effect will the decision have on companies’ evergreening, or repatenting products after minor changes in their makeup, of pharmaceutical patents in India? Sudip Chaudhuri: Using […]

Under North Korea’s former dictator Kim Jong Il, crises followed a well-choreographed pattern. There would be provocation and sometimes outright aggression accompanied by paranoid, hostile and even hysterical rhetoric from Pyongyang. Eventually Kim would be mollified by some diplomatic concession or more assistance to keep the ramshackle North Korean economy from collapsing altogether, and things would return to normal — such as it was. However much this game frustrated the United States, Washington was fairly confident that it would not escalate into accidental war. Kim knew how far to push and when to back off. Unfortunately, the young Kim Jong […]

Since 1998, a major element of India’s nuclear doctrine has been the development of a nuclear triad: the ability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air and sea. Recent years have seen India concentrating on the sea-based element of its nuclear deterrent, in particular through efforts to develop a ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). All the major nuclear powers have placed their faith in SSBNs, primarily because they are extremely hard to detect and destroy, hence assuring a state’s retaliatory capability. The fear of a second strike, in turn, helps maintain effective deterrence between nuclear adversaries. This same logic motivates India’s […]

The new South Korean government of President Park Geun-hye finds itself in a difficult situation. On the one hand, it must respond to North Korea’s missile threats to avert more serious ones. On the other, it must do so without provoking Pyongyang or Beijing. Chinese officials are already concerned by South Korea’s strengthening security ties with the U.S. as well as by Seoul’s recent decision, supported by Washington, to acquire longer-range offensive ballistic missiles capable of reaching Chinese territory. But responding to the urgent North Korean threat requires bold action, and, despite Beijing’s complaints, the added pressure that closer U.S.-South […]

Over the weekend, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is on a tour of Asia that ends tomorrow, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in southern China. Pena Nieto’s trip is part of an effort to develop closer bilateral ties between Mexico and China, after more than a decade of what the Financial Times has called “reciprocal coolness.” The trip “was predicated on the idea of engaging China in order that Chinese investors see Mexico as an optimal export platform into North America,” Francisco Gonzalez, associate professor and Riordan Roett chair in Latin American Studies at the Johns Hopkins University […]

During a visit to Saudi Arabia in February, Japanese Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi reportedly offered cooperation on civil nuclear technology to help the kingdom boost oil exports by freeing up supplies currently used in domestic electricity generation. The offer came in the context of rising Saudi crude exports to Japan resulting from Tokyo’s post-Fukushima nuclear shutdowns as well as its declining imports from Iran. It also came at a time when the new Japanese government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is looking to boost civil nuclear exports to support Japan’s flagging domestic industry. Given its plans for a massive […]

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