Sino-Indian relations have registered significant progress in the past five years. Beijing and New Delhi have engaged in a series of summit meetings, frequent high-level visits, joint antiterrorism training exercises between the two militaries, and fast-growing bilateral trade. During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China in January 2008, the two countries issued a joint document on a Shared Vision for the 21st Century, pledging to promote a harmonious world of peace and stability and further strengthen the Sino-Indian Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity. These developments have encouraged analysts across the Himalaya to talk about the return […]

To say that the geopolitics of South Asia is in a state of flux might sound like a cliché for a region that is nowadays commonly described as the most dangerous place on the planet. The horrific terrorist attacks on the western Indian city of Mumbai in November underscore the grim reality. The region indeed finds itself at a crossroads. There are huge uncertainties about regional security. The pall of gloom is deepening. The war in Afghanistan inevitably becomes the focal point. But that isn’t everything. Not a day passes without one form or other of violence gripping South Asia. […]

Global arms sales continue to grow, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), with the value of worldwide weapons contracts rising by an estimated 9.2 percent in 2007. The CRS put the value of major arms transfer agreements at almost $60 billion, up from $54.9 billion the year before. The United States accounted for over 41 percent of the sales, or approximately $24.8 billion, a significant increase from the 2006 figure of $16.7 billion. Russia still ranked second, but the value of its arms transfer agreements actually fell from $14.3 billion in 2006 to $10.4 billion in 2007. Conversely, the […]

BURMA CONVICTIONS RAISE CONCERNS — Burma’s ruling military junta has come in for another round of criticism and condemnation over the recent convictions of participants in 2007’s pro-democracy demonstrations. On Tuesday and Friday of last week, authorities convicted a total of 60 activists on various charges, including forming illegal organizations and illegal use of electronic media, sentencing some to as many as 65 years in prison. Human rights advocates and world leaders have expressed concern about the trials, which represent a spike in the Burmese regime’s ongoing crackdown on dissent. U.S State Department officials openly challenged Burmese authorities in public […]

China and Tibet: Pride Comes Before a Fall?

China opts for deferred maintenance on Tibet, and the projected cost of repairs immediately goes up. Between Taiwan and Tibet, the territorial sovereignty issue makes for a pretty brittle posture, with longterm and high-risk investments in both hard and soft power. Pretty steep price to pay for what amounts to pride.

In late October, U.S.S. Kearsarge, a 40,000-ton amphibious assault ship, arrived off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago laden with hundreds of doctors, nurses and engineers, and tons of medical supplies. The tiny developing country was the fifth stop in Kearsarge’s four-month tour of Latin America, advancing a new Pentagon strategy for creating security through good deeds. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calls it “soft power” — and it’s all the rage in a military exhausted by five years of hard combat. The Navy’s three-dozen amphibious ships, with their extensive medical facilities, along with its two specialized hospital ships, are […]

Obama and China

Nothing really out of the ordinary about the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s outlook on U.S.-China relations under the Obama administration. It did bring to mind the rocky start the Bush administration got off to with China. Despite the rough transition, though, China policy has been one of the highlights of the Bush foreign policy legacy, to the point that Tom Barnett suggests history might consider this, and not the failure in Iraq, as the outgoing administration’s lasting mark. It also made me wonder about the conventional wisdom by which all of America’s emerging rivals for global influence are waiting to pounce […]

China and Latin America

Add China to the list of countries making inroads into Latin America (see Christina Madden’s WPR piece on Iran’s growing presence). The People’s Daily reports that trade is growing substantially across the region (up by roughly 50 percent). The details are thin, but there seems to be a two-way traffic of high-tech components being shipped from Latin America to China, with the finished products heading back the other way. Also interesting is that while country-by-country, China maintains a positive balance of trade, when taken across the region as a whole it’s pretty much a wash. (They actually import $2.5 billion […]

China’s New Deal

One of the paradoxes posed by China’s rise has been the way in which increased economic expectations have not translated into increased demands for political liberalization. But is it possible that the financial crisis will liberalize China more than the past decade of growth? Here’s how the WaPo describes the stimulus package Beijing unveiled today: In a wide-ranging plan that economists are comparing to the New Deal,the government said it would ease credit restrictions, expand socialwelfare services and launch an infrastructure spending program thatwould include the construction of new railways, roads and airports. What’s striking is the expanded welfare services […]

India-Iran Rail Project on the Skids

In his recent WPR piece on the IPI pipeline project, Siddarth Srivastava examined India’s shifting calculus on engaging Iran, now that its nuclear deal with the U.S. has been approved by the NSG and the U.S Congress. Interesting to see that the same difficulties plaguing the IPI are present in a rail project an Indian consortium was developing in Iran as well. Also worth noting is that the country waiting in the wings should India fail to back the project in both cases is China. It’s easy to overlook this little detail, but under normal circumstances, revolutionary communist regimes and […]

China and Taiwan

File under ‘P’ for potential game-changers. Or for panda diplomacy. Either way, the China-Taiwan split is really the last vestige of the Cold War, and just as the European front of that war ended through a peaceful integration, there’s no reason (in theory) that China and Taiwan won’t eventually find a mutually acceptable final status arrangement without resorting to the worst-case scenarios of regional conflagration. Especially once the actual ideological differences between the two governments are smoothed over to the point of being undetectable. That still leaves China with a lot of deferred maintenance in terms of ethno-nationalist separatism. But […]

BURMA LEADER MARKS 13 YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT — The first lady of Burmese politics, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, marked 13 years under house arrest on Oct. 25, as supporters around the world continued their calls for her release. Australia’s The Age called the date a prominent illustration of the “bitter tyranny” existing in Burma, noting that “the Lady’s unjust imprisonment is a powerful reminder of a brief moment of freedom realized by Burma’s people and the dream that remains unfulfilled.” The anniversary happened to coincide this year with the seventh Asia-Europe summit meeting, a major gathering of government […]