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  • Author: KUIK Cheng-Chwee
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Malaysia's China policy in the post-Cold War era – as an instance of a smaller state's strategy toward a proximate and rising great power – has been characterized by three patterns. First, there was a shift from hostility and guarded rapprochement during the Cold War to cordiality and maturing partnership in the post-Cold War era. Second, despite the overall positive development, Malaysia's China policy has remained, in essence, a hedging approach that is driven by both a pragmatic desire to maximize benefits from a closer relationship with the neighboring giant and a contingent calculation to guard against any long-term strategic risks in the uncertain regional environment. Third, such a two-pronged approach, which took shape since the 1990s under Mahathir Mohamad, has endured beyond the Mahathir era. Indeed, under his successors Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Tun Razak, Malaysia has continued to pursue a policy of dualism vis-à-vis China. What explains the enduring continuity of the hedging approach in Malaysia's China policy? This paper adopts a neoclassical realist perspective, arguing that the continuity is attributed to both structural and domestic factors. Domestically, the changing bases of political legitimation in the multi-ethnic country, which highlight the increasing salience of economic performance and political inclusiveness as key sources of moral authority to the UMNO-led coalition government, have necessitated the succeeding leaders to continue pursuing a pragmatic policy aimed at ensuring a stable and productive relationship with China, not least to gain from the steadily growing bilateral trade and the giant's growing outward investment. Structurally, Malaysia's position as a smaller state has compelled it to be constantly vigilant about the uncertainty of state intentions and inter-great power relations, which in turn demands it adopts contingent measures to hedge against longer-term risks. It is such structural and domestic determinants that have fundamentally shaped the country's policy towards China in general and the South China Sea issue in particular, which characteristically bears the mark of a delicate dualism, i.e. an explicit preference for engaging China through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, but one that is backed by a low-key practice of maintaining and strengthening its traditional military links with its Western security partners.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Cold War, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Malaysia, Israel
  • Author: Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: BETWEEN 2002 AND 2004, THE UNITED STATES ACCORDED new prominence to political and economic reform and democratization as policy goals in the Middle East. Continuing that trend and translating rhetoric into effective strategies both depend on whether reform and democratization become fully integrated into the U.S. policy agenda in the region. Can the United States promote change at the risk of instability in the region while it remains dependent on petroleum from Arab countries? Can it pursue Arab–Israeli peace and democratization at the same time? Can the United States still secure needed military and counterterrorism cooperation if it antagonizes friendly regimes by promoting democratization as well? Is it feasible for the United States to promote democratization effectively amid widespread grievances against the war in Iraq and serious questions about U.S. human rights practices there and in Afghanistan?
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Arabia