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  • Author: Shaun Breslin, Jinghan Zeng, Yuefan Xiao
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: As China has grown stronger, some observers have identified an assertive turn in Chinese foreign policy. Evidence to support this argument includes the increasingly frequent evocation of China's 'core interests'—a set of interests that represents the non-negotiable bottom lines of Chinese foreign policy. When new concepts, ideas and political agendas are introduced in China, there is seldom a shared understanding of how they should be defined; the process of populating the concept with real meaning often takes place incrementally. This, the article argues, is what has happened with the notion of core interests. While there are some agreed bottom lines, what issues deserve to be defined (and thus protected) as core interests remains somewhat blurred and open to question. By using content analysis to study 108 articles by Chinese scholars, this article analyses Chinese academic discourse of China's core interests. The authors' main finding is that 'core interests' is a vague concept in the Chinese discourse, despite its increasing use by the government to legitimize its diplomatic actions and claims. The article argues that this vagueness not only makes it difficult to predict Chinese diplomatic behaviour on key issues, but also allows external observers a rich source of opinions to select from to help support pre-existing views on the nature of China as a global power.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: David Blagden
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The international system is returning to multipolarity—a situation of multiple Great Powers—drawing the post-Cold War 'unipolar moment' of comprehensive US political, economic and military dominance to an end. The rise of new Great Powers, namely the 'BRICs'—Brazil, Russia, India, and most importantly, China—and the return of multipolarity at the global level in turn carries security implications for western Europe. While peaceful political relations within the European Union have attained a remarkable level of strategic, institutional and normative embeddedness, there are five factors associated with a return of Great Power competition in the wider world that may negatively impact on the western European strategic environment: the resurgence of an increasingly belligerent Russia; the erosion of the US military commitment to Europe; the risk of international military crises with the potential to embroil European states; the elevated incentive for states to acquire nuclear weapons; and the vulnerability of economically vital European sea lines and supply chains. These five factors must, in turn, be reflected in European states' strategic behaviour. In particular, for the United Kingdom—one of western Europe's two principal military powers, and its only insular (offshore) power—the return of Great Power competition at the global level suggests that a return to offshore balancing would be a more appropriate choice than an ongoing commitment to direct military interventions of the kind that have characterized post-2001 British strategy.
  • Topic: Security, Cold War
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Brazil
  • Author: Barry Buzan, George Lawson
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: There is general agreement that the world is changing, but considerable disagreement about how it is changing. Commentators variously locate this change in a 'power shift' from West to East, a trade in superpower status between the United States and China, or a transition from an era of bipolarity to one of unipolarity, multipolarity or even non-polarity. These analyses are linked by attention to a smorgasbord of dynamics that are said to be disrupting the smooth functioning of international order: globalization, US militarism, dynamics of revolution and counter-revolution, finance capital, climate change, the rise of non-state actors, new security threats, the dislocating effects of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and more.
  • Topic: Communications, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Yongjin Zhang
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: All great thinkers, while historically conditioned, are all philosophically contemporaneous. It is a great privilege to have this extended version of my Martin Wight Memorial Lecture published in International Affairs—all the more so in this 90th anniversary issue of the journal. International Relations theory and English School thinking have been well represented in International Affairs: since Sir Herbert Butterfield delivered the inaugural Martin Wight Memorial Lecture 38 years ago in 1975, 21 Martin Wight lectures have appeared in these pages. I am delighted, therefore, to be continuing that tradition and very much hope that this trend will endure for many years to come.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Ecuador
  • Author: Robert A. Francis, Krishna Krishnamurthy
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Warfare is a uniquely human endeavour, and has been central to human culture and civilization for many thousands of years. Early forms of intergroup conflict were conducted by our hominid ancestors over one million years ago, while the development of larger-scale, organized conflict is recorded by early civilizations in Mesopotamia and China almost 5,000 years ago. The impetuses for warfare, being a complex mix of genetics, psychology, culture, politics, technology and resource availability, are unlikely to disappear in the future, as long as our species survives. Though the nature of warfare is changing, from its most devastating twentieth- century form of industrial 'total' warfare to the geographically and politically complex 'everywhere war' that is beginning to define conflict in the twenty-first century, violent conflict is certain to remain a defining part of the human story.
  • Political Geography: China, Mesopotamia
  • Author: Rosemary Foot
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: A more powerful China under the seemingly confident leadership of President Xi Jinping has committed to a more activist global policy. In particular, this commitment has influenced Beijing's policy towards UN peacekeeping operations, with a long-awaited decision to add combat forces to the engineering troops and police and medical units that have been features of its past contribution. In addition, Beijing has doubled the size of its contribution to the UN peace operations budget. This article explains why the UN is a key venue for China to demonstrate its 'responsible Great Power' status and expressed willingness to provide global public goods. The main explanatory factors relate to the UN's institutional design, which accords special status to China even as it represents a global order that promotes the sovereign equality of states. Moreover, there are complementarities between dominant Chinese beliefs and interests, and those contained within the UN system. Especially important in this latter regard are the links that China has tried to establish between peacebuilding and development assistance with the aim of strengthening the capacity of states. China projects development support as a contribution both to humanitarian need and to the harmonization of conflict-ridden societies. The Chinese leadership has also spoken of its willingness to contribute to peacemaking through stepping up its efforts at mediation. However, such a move will require much deeper commitment than China has demonstrated in the past and runs the risk of taking China into controversial areas of policy it has hitherto worked to avoid.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing
  • Author: Ramesh Thakur
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: India's nuclear breakout in 1998, foreshadowed as early as 1974, may have been understandable for reasons of global nuclear politics, a triangular regional equation between China, India and Pakistan, and domestic politics. Yet the utility of India's nuclear weapons remains questionable on many grounds. Nuclear deterrence is dubious in general and especially dubious in the subcontinent. Nuclear weapons are not usable as weapons of compellence or defence. They failed to stop the Pakistani incursion in Kargil in 1999 or the terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008. They will not help India to shape the military calculations of likely enemies. And India's global status and profile will be determined far more crucially by its economic performance than nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, they do impose direct and opportunity costs economically, risk corrosion of democratic accountability, add to global concerns about nuclear terrorism, and have not helped the cause of global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Because the consequences of a limited regional war involving India could be catastrophic for the world, others have both the right and a responsibility to engage with the issue. For all these reasons, a denuclearized world that includes the destruction of India's nuclear stockpile would favourably affect the balance of India's security and other interests, national and international interests, and material interests and value goals.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, India
  • Author: Geoffrey Warner
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The final volume of the Foreign relations series of documents on Indochina during the Nixon and Ford presidencies is not as detailed as those which preceded it. However, the documents do not support the view that, once the January 1973 Agreement between the Democratic Republic of (North) Vietnam and the United States had been concluded, the US was prepared to accept DRV's hegemony over the rest of Indochina, provided only that there was a 'decent interval' before it occurred. In fact, both the Nixon and Ford administrations did seek to prevent this from happening, but found their hands tied by congressional opposition. In the case of Cambodia, the United States also found itself the victim of its own illusions about the willingness of the People's Republic of China to support an alternative government led by the former ruler, Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Following the more or less total collapse of American policy in April 1975, some interesting 'post-mortems' from various government departments on the history of US involvement in Indochina are also printed in the volume under review.
  • Topic: Government, History
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Vietnam, Cambodia
  • Author: Jon Lidén
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The World Today
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Donors need to be smarter as nouveau riche states leave masses trapped by poverty gap
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Brazil, Mexico
  • Author: Alan Philps
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The World Today
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: He shares his thoughts on on America's role in an increasingly affluent world, Russia's decline and China's own goals
  • Topic: Economics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, America, Middle East, Syria