In early March, India’s national security adviser announced that Mauritius and Seychelles had expressed an interest in joining the trilateral maritime security cooperation arrangement among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives known as IO-3. Should they join, it would mean the consolidation of an Indian maritime domain awareness network in the island states of the Indian Ocean region (IOR) where India has historically had influence. However, while these island states look to India to meet nontraditional security threats, India sees them primarily as sites for sensor chains that can monitor Chinese naval movements in the IOR. Indeed, India’s embrace of […]

On March 1, a group of Uighurs from Xinjiang attacked the Kunming train station in southwest China using foot-long knives, killing 29 and injuring 143. The terror attack, popularly referred to as “China’s 9/11,” is a spillover from Xinjiang’s internal conflict. Since being “liberated” by Chinese Communists in 1949, the region has experienced sporadic episodes of significant violence between Uighurs, the dominant ethnic group in the region, and Han Chinese. The source of conflict is disputed—the Chinese narrative emphasizes external, separatist and jihadist influences, whereas Western analysts tend to focus on Uighur grievances toward discriminatory government policies. China’s narrative regarding […]

Thailand’s political deadlock has shifted from the streets of Bangkok to the courts. It is there that the real battle is now being played out. A March 21 ruling by the Constitutional Court invalidating the result of the country’s Feb. 2 election most vividly highlighted the change of venue. The court, with a vote of 6-3, threw the current turmoil onto a new trajectory. When the court made a similar ruling in 2006, annulling an election result, the military swooped in and installed a new, unelected government. The judicial instruments that are now being used to wade into Thailand’s political […]

Following a period of subdued and difficult relations between the European Union and China, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first trip to Europe this week—which will include a stopover at the EU’s headquarters in Brussels, the first-ever such visit by a Chinese president—indicates that advances in ties made last year will continue into 2014. At the end of 2013, the two sides convened the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue for the first time since 2010, and the EU-China summit yielded a 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, a new EU-China Innovation Cooperation Dialogue and an agreement to launch negotiations on a bilateral […]

During the course of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has faced challenges in treating wounded soldiers on a scale it hasn’t witnessed since the Vietnam War. In response, the military has succeeded in reducing the mortality rate of soldiers injured in combat through a radical shift in doctrine, procedures and medical technology. The duration of the two wars has also produced a wealth of research that has informed Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), which has become the standardized set of procedures used to treat U.S. casualties across active-duty military services. Despite this, the cost has been […]

Greeted with much fanfare in 2012, the Obama administration’s so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific region has of late been beset by doubts and distractions. Developments in the Middle East and Europe have consumed a great deal of top-level attention, and declining U.S. defense spending has raised concerns that the military aspect of the rebalance may simply not be feasible. On top of this, the administration is working to convince two of its most important regional partners, Japan and South Korea, to move past an especially rough diplomatic patch and form a durable and consistent partnership on security and other matters. […]

Last week, Saudi Arabia and China signed four agreements to expand bilateral cooperation and investment. In an email interview, Naser al-Tamimi, a Middle East analyst with a focus on Middle East-Asia relations, explained the recent trajectory of Saudi Arabia’s relationship with China and with East Asia more broadly. WPR: What has been the recent trajectory of Saudi-China relations, and what are the key areas of cooperation? Naser al-Tamimi: Energy and trade are at the heart of the growing links between Saudi Arabia and China. The bilateral relationship centers mostly on crude oil, petrochemical industries, refining, China’s cheap consumer goods and […]

Central Asia has looked with alarm to the events in Ukraine, where massive protests have led to the overthrow of a Kremlin-backed dictator and the subsequent Russian invasion of Crimea. The region’s autocrats are worried by the fact that street protests were able to oust a strongman in a fellow ex-Soviet state. At the same time, Russia’s heavy-handed intervention in a former Soviet republic has unsettled Central Asians, who see themselves as Moscow’s next potential target. Russia’s move in Crimea is especially salient for Kazakhstan, which has a large ethnic Russian population concentrated on the country’s border with Russia. President […]

One year into Xi Jinping’s presidency of China, it would be easy to despair about the current state of U.S.-China relations. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to push cooperation with Beijing on North Korea and climate change have fallen well short of Washington’s ambitions. China’s search for a “new relationship among major powers” has yet to materialize into something of real substance. And sparks are flying as the United States and its allies contend with a China that appears determined to enforce its claim to contested areas in the East and South China Seas in increasingly provocative and […]

Russia’s military occupation and impending annexation of the Crimea in Ukraine has put Beijing in a difficult spot, confronting Chinese leaders with numerous competing priorities and principles. Having cultivated good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, they would prefer to avoid antagonizing one party by siding too closely with the other. Yet, China’s recent approach shows how Beijing is now more willing to dilute longstanding foreign policy principles to align with Moscow. Throughout the months of unrest in Ukraine, Chinese media commentary has generally echoed Russia’s line that Western machinations were contributing to the instability in Kiev, which finally led […]

On two occasions in a period of less than a week over late February and early March, North Korea fired short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast. In an email interview, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., chief analytics officer for Allsource Analysis Inc. and publisher and editor of KPA Journal, explained the state of North Korea’s missile arsenal. WPR: What is the extent of North Korea’s current missile arsenal and capabilities, in terms of numbers, range and accuracy, and what have been the main sources of its technologies? Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr.: Providing a detailed account of North Korea’s […]

Will Vladimir Putin or Barack Obama ultimately benefit most from the crisis in Ukraine? Most pundits are betting on the former. The Russian president has pulled off a bravura display of ruthless guile in seizing control of Crimea. His American counterpart has looked limited, calculating that Moscow will want an “off ramp” out of a crisis that currently seems to be going Moscow’s way. Obama’s critics have naturally attributed Putin’s aggression to U.S. weakness, even though Washington has pushed for sanctions and other punitive measures. But Obama may emerge as the final winner. This is not because Russia will let […]

The Indian state of Gujarat has a mixed reputation in the United States. India watchers have praised its brisk economic growth and the ease of doing business there, but many also recall Gujarat’s spasm of communal violence in 2002 that left many hundreds dead. With India’s parliamentary elections a month away, the man who oversaw the state’s successes and failures as Gujarat’s chief minister since 2001, Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), looks likely to become India’s next prime minister. This puts the United States in an awkward position. The State Department revoked Modi’s travel visa in 2005 […]

Russian troops pouring into Ukraine last weekend were one more wake-up call to America about the scale of Moscow’s ambition. The first came with Stalin’s creation of satellite states in Eastern Europe after World War II; the second was the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Each step reminded Americans that Moscow felt that it had an inherent right to dominate surrounding regions and had no qualms about using force to see that it got what it wanted. Both of these episodes led to American military build-ups and strengthened resolve, thus restoring the containment of Russia. But this latest wake-up may […]

After 13 years of war, Afghanistan is preparing for a new phase of political transition. The U.S. intervention has left widely divergent situations across the country, but the long-promised 2014 troop withdrawal is set to proceed regardless of local conditions. As the year unfolds, Afghans will see a presidential election with no clear frontrunner amid faltering Taliban peace talks. Regional actors, notably India and China, are re-evaluating their position in the country. And America’s continuing leverage—and political interest—is in doubt. This special report examines Afghanistan’s uncertain transition through articles published in the past year. Subscribers can download this report by […]

In the past few years, India has been strengthening its civil nuclear cooperation with countries bordering China. This trend, when taken together with India’s interest in marketing surface-to-surface missiles in Asia, clearly signals a shift in New Delhi’s policy stance. China’s latest wave of nuclear exceptionalism toward Pakistan seems to be pushing India to abandon its traditional self-imposed limits on trade in strategic technology, with the result that India is now willing to broaden strategic technology options for countries on China’s periphery in order to secure Indian geoeconomic interests. New Delhi’s approach is somewhat reminiscent of the early 1980s, when […]