Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech on board the Chinese frigate Changbaishan at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Feb. 19, 2015 (AP photo by Thanassis Stavrakis).

While the world watches the ongoing debt negotiations between Greece and its international creditors mainly for their impact on the Greek and eurozone economies, the talks have already put Beijing’s plans for a strategic transport system meant to further integrate Europe and the Mediterranean with the Chinese market back on track. The new leftist government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens had initially announced plans to halt the privatization of Greece’s largest seaport, Piraeus, alarming investors from the Chinese shipping giant Cosco, which is keen to take a majority share in the Greek facility. But as part of the […]

U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave to the media before a meeting in New Delhi, India, Jan. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

U.S. President Barack Obama’s January visit to India saw some long-awaited movement on the two countries’ Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), touted by both sides as a means to transform the current buyer-seller defense relationship into one based on coproduction and co-development. In pursuit of this stated goal, India and the U.S. have agreed upon some pathfinder projects for production of U.S.-origin systems in India, in addition to exploring several high-end joint technology development proposals. The moves confirm that the DTTI will be a key element of the two sides’ renewed bilateral defense pact as it moves into its […]

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy guided missile destroyer Qingdao during a search and rescue exercise off the coast of Hawaii, Sept. 9, 2013 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brennan D. Knaresboro).

Earlier this month, while visiting Seoul for talks with his South Korean counterpart, China’s defense minister expressed Beijing’s opposition to the deployment in South Korea of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. That followed a similar declaration by China’s ambassador to South Korea in November, and the topic was reportedly also raised by Chinese President Xi Jinping in talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye during Xi’s visit to Seoul in July. The vocal expressions of Chinese concern are puzzling, since the U.S. and South Korean governments have not held any formal talks on such […]

East Timor’s new Prime Minister Rui Araujo reads his oath during his inauguration ceremony, Dili, East Timor, Feb. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Kandhi Barnez).

Xanana Gusmao stepped down as East Timor’s prime minister earlier this month, leaving the post to opposition leader Rui Araujo. In an email interview, Gordon Peake, a research fellow in the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at Australia National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific and author of “Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles & Secrets from Timor-Leste,” discussed East Timor’s political transition and democracy. WPR: What were the political and other factors that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and the appointment of Rui Araujo from the opposition Fretilin party? Gordon Peake: No one really […]

A Japanese coast guard patrol boat approaches a Chinese fishing boat, left, off the northeastern coast of Miyako island, Feb. 2, 2013 (AP photo/Japan Coast Guard 11th Regional Headquarters).

The Vikings conquered the high seas to plunder and pillage. The British established their empire by dominating the oceans. And in the past 40 years, the United States Navy helped usher in a new era of unprecedented trade and global connectivity by safeguarding major sea routes. The world’s oceans have always represented an important strategic theater. But the threats today go beyond the headline-grabbing developments, like China’s advanced naval capabilities and Russia’s growing submarine activities in the Baltic Sea. A quieter maritime challenge is building up out of sight: control over the world’s fisheries. With over 90 percent of global […]

Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil dancers from Northern Province perform during Independence Day celebrations, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Feb. 4, 2015 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Editor’s note: It came to our attention after this report was published that it contained several passages closely resembling or directly duplicating previously published work by other authors, as well as previously published work by the author. After initially amending the report to include the missing attributions, we subsequently decided to remove the article. WPR regrets the error, and we apologize to the authors concerned and our readers.

Thousands of North Koreans gather at the Kim Il Sung Square to rally in support of their leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s address, Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 6, 2015 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

The launch of five short-range missiles from North Korea’s east coast earlier this month threw icy water on some recent and uncharacteristically positive media coverage of Kim Jong Un’s regime. Reports of tentative discussions with U.S. officials about the possibility of jumpstarting nuclear talks, combined with the supposed mid-2015 rollout of additional Chinese-style economic reforms contained in the so-called May 30th Measures announced last year, suggested that significant shifts could be in the cards in Pyongyang. But the missile launch highlights the ways in which North Korea’s room for maneuver, especially on the economic front, will continue to be constrained […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attend a meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 7, 2015 (AP photo by Matthias Schrader).

The fate of the latest cease-fire in Ukraine remains precarious, and even if the current truce unexpectedly endures, a lasting settlement to the Ukraine conflict will still prove elusive given the players’ conflicting strategic aims. Russia wants to keep Ukraine weak and divided, while the Ukrainian government—backed by the United States—wants to rule a reunified country, to include Russian-occupied Crimea. For their part, many Europeans would seem content with almost any settlement that ended the fighting and the sanctions they have imposed on Russia. But despite these differences, the truce might buy time for progress on other measures that would […]

Filipino fishermen on a boat go by Vietnamese frigates at the south harbor in Manila, Philippines, Nov. 25, 2014 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Earlier this month, the foreign ministers of the Philippines and Vietnam met to discuss the possibility of forming a strategic partnership. In an email interview, Carl Thayer, professor emeritus at the University of New South Wales, discussed ties between Manila and Hanoi. WPR: What is the recent trajectory of Philippines-Vietnam relations, and to what extent are the South China Sea territorial disputes driving closer ties? Carl Thayer: Philippines-Vietnam relations have been on an upward trend since October 2010, following the state visit to Hanoi by Philippine President Benigno Aquino and subsequent visits to the Philippines by Vietnam’s president in 2011 […]

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, center, claps as Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, left, shakes hands with Senate President Franklin Drilon, Manila, Philippines, Sept. 10, 2014 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

The political fallout of a botched police raid in the southern Philippines continues to dominate international headlines and threaten the country’s burgeoning peace process with southern rebels. Forty-four police officers and 18 fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) lost their lives in the township of Mamasapano after what its mayor called a “misencounter” during a police operation to capture Zulkifli bin Hir—a senior leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network with suspected ties to the MILF. The incident represents the largest single loss of life by Philippine police officers in recent history, and has significant political ramifications for […]

U.S. President Barack Obama talks with National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice in the Oval Office prior to a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Feb. 10, 2015 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has drawn a good deal of criticism for its concept of “strategic patience,” which serves as the core for the recently released National Security Strategy. It’s understandable why the president’s national security team chose that specific language. It is meant to give more gravitas to an approach more jocularly described as “don’t do stupid [things]”—and is supposed to convey that the current management does not plan to respond impulsively to the challenges of the day. In a 24/7 news culture, when demands for the United States to “do something” erupt within minutes of breaking news […]

Indian women who underwent sterilization surgeries receive treatment at the District Hospital in Bilaspur, in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, Nov. 12, 2014 (AP photo).

The death of 13 women last November in a government-run sterilization clinic, followed by the news of dozens of patients blinded by free cataract surgery, put the spotlight on the poor state of public health infrastructure in India. It was a particularly alarming wake-up call amid celebrations and positive press over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory last May and his much-touted promise to improve governance and shake up the status quo. But as those incidents—followed by the announcement of a 20 percent cut in the state health budget—showed, India’s health care woes only seem to be stacking up and […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping gestures to Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Feb. 4, 2015 (AP photo by Rolex Dela Pena).

On Jan. 8, Chinese President Xi Jinping strode into a meeting room in Beijing for an unprecedented gathering. The audience was filled with Latin American dignitaries, including three presidents, one prime minister and countless Cabinet members from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). It was the first official high-level gathering of the China-CELAC Forum, and Xi expressed his appreciation. “Your presence,” he told his audience, “has brought warmth to Beijing in the depth of winter.” Xi vowed to double Chinese trade with Latin America to half a trillion dollars and raise direct Chinese investment in the region […]

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Feb. 2, 2015 (AP photo by Rolex Dela Pena).

China has wasted no time in mounting its own charm offensive to woo India in the aftermath of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi last week. An India Today headline sums it up: “As Modi hugs Obama, China sends a quick flying kiss.” Beijing’s riposte should remind U.S. officials who continue to bank on India’s suspicions of China not to assume that Obama’s trip was sufficient to reset the U.S.-India partnership. China’s reception for Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who arrived in Beijing this past weekend for consultations with her Russian […]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta talks to construction workers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport expansion project in Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 3, 2013 (AP photo by Kenya Presidential Press Services-HO).

Last week, China and the African Union (AU) agreed on a deal to develop transportation infrastructure across Africa. In an email interview, Ross Anthony, interim director of the Centre for Chinese Studies in Cape Town, discussed Chinese investment in Africa. WPR: How ambitious is the recent memorandum of understanding between China and the African Union on infrastructure development, and how does it compare to previous Chinese investments on the continent? Ross Anthony: The announcements of infrastructure projects involving China and Africa and the actual financing and execution of the projects themselves are very different things. While the deal sounds incredibly […]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Feb. 2, 2015 (AP photo by Rolex Dela Pena).

Russia’s trade with China continues to grow despite the precipitous collapse in the value of the Russian ruble and the unprecedented Western economic sanctions imposed on Russia last year following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Indeed, China’s economic importance to Moscow has increased as Russia’s commercial relations with Europe, the United States and Japan stagnate. Yet the Russia-China economic relationship is imbalanced, with Russia sending mostly natural resources to China and importing mostly Chinese consumer goods. As a result, the two countries will find it difficult to deepen their economic cooperation much further unless it expands to encompass high-value […]

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida shake hands at Lancaster House, London, Jan. 21, 2015 (AP photo by Adrian Dennis).

Last month, Japan and the United Kingdom agreed to jointly research new air-to-air missile technology. In an email interview, Yuzo Murayama, professor at the Graduate School of Business at Doshisha University, discussed Japan’s entry into the global defense market. WPR: What defense technologies and capabilities does Japan have to offer on the global defense market? Yuzo Murayama: Japan does not have many globally competitive defense-specific technologies or products. This is because Japanese weapons have not been tested in real battlefield environments due to the past ban on arms exports. There are exceptions, such as submarines that contain unique technologies. However, […]