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  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: A few dim rays of light pierced what has been the darkness of the Six-Party Talks since their suspension in December 2008, raising hopes that we would see a resumption of dialogue in the next few months (even though prospects for actual Korean Peninsula denuclearization remain low). US-China relations continued to mend at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) gatherings amid ever-so-slight progress toward the creation of a South China Sea Code of Conduct. Vice President Biden's first official trip to China added to the light.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Korea
  • Author: Michael J. Green, Nicholas Szechenyi
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Kan Naoto resigned as prime minister on Aug. 26 after promising to step aside almost three months earlier amid dissension within his ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and dwindling public support after a clumsy response to the tragedies of March 11. He was succeeded by Finance Minister Noda Yoshihiko, who prevailed in the DPJ presidential race despite little evidence of support in the polls, but strong backing within the party. The US and Japan convened the first Security Consultative Committee or “2+2” in four years to outline common strategic objectives and strengthen alliance cooperation in a regional and global setting. The two governments also consulted on the margins of international events to discuss cooperation on various issues. Vice President Joseph Biden visited Japan in late August to reiterate US support for the recovery effort and met victims of the disaster in Tohoku. Public opinion polls in Japan and the United States revealed a solid foundation of support for the US-Japan alliance.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: Bonnie Glaser, Brittany Billingsley
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In pursuit of agreements reached between Presidents Hu and Obama in January, the US and China worked to strengthen their relationship, while managing friction on a number of issues. Renewed tensions in the South China Sea put maritime security at the top of the agenda in many bilateral and multilateral interactions, including the inaugural US-China Consultations on Asia-Pacific Affairs, at the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Bali, and in a bilateral meeting between Secretary Clinton and State Councilor Dai Bingguo in Shenzhen. In early May, the third annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S) convened in Washington, DC. Despite protests from Beijing, President Obama met the Dalai Lama. In May and July, PLA Chief of the General Staff Gen. Chen Bingde and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen exchanged visits. In August, Joe Biden made his first visit to China as vice president.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington
  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ellen Kim
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The summer months saw a potentially new cycle of US-DPRK dialogue. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's invitation to DPRK Vice-Minister Kim Kye Gwan to visit New York for two days of official talks raised the specter that the North may be ready for re-engagement. Meanwhile, South Korea named a new unification minister, which some perceive to be the harbinger of a shift in its North Korea policy. But reliable sources say that President Lee Myung-bak will not cave so easily on his principles. Elsewhere, the Korea-US free trade agreement remains in limbo as it remains caught in partisan strife within the legislatures of both countries and the US received another lesson in Korea's preferred terminology for Asian geography.
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Diplomacy related to the South China Sea disputes dominated US actions at the May ASEAN Summit, the June Shangri-La Dialogue, and the July ARF meeting. Washington endorsed ASEAN consultations before the Association's meetings with China on the territorial disputes as well as an independent ASEAN role in the South China Sea negotiations separate from the bilateral negotiations preferred by the PRC. Related to US support for ASEAN is Washington's assistance to the Philippines in gradually building its archipelagic security capability by funding Coast Watch South radars and promising more military hardware to the ill-equipped and underfunded Philippine armed forces. Manila also maintained its efforts to obtain a specific defense commitment from the US in the event of a military conflict with China over South China Sea islands. The Cambodia-Thai border dispute continues to flare periodically. ASEAN mediation efforts have established a timetable for military disengagement but, as yet, no implementation. Washington has endorsed the ASEAN efforts. In Indonesia, radical Jemaah Islamiyah, al Qaeda-affiliated cleric Abu Bakar Bashir was sentenced to 15 years in jail for aiding the formation of a new terrorist affiliate in Aceh. As in his previous trials, Bashir blamed his arrest and sentence on US and Jewish machinations. Although the Obama administration has appointed a new envoy, Derek Mitchell, as special ambassador to coordinate international approaches to Burma, this enhanced engagement runs parallel to increased US economic sanctions, suggesting little has changed with the new “civilianized” government.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Indonesia, Philippines, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, South China
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The moderation and reassurance seen in the public posture of top-level Chinese civilian leaders in their attentive interaction with Southeast Asian countries in the first third of the year gave way to rising tensions and widely publicized disputes centered on differing claims in the South China Sea. Senior Chinese officials portrayed China as reactive and defensive in the face of increasing encroachment on the part of Vietnam and the Philippines in particular, and what they saw as self-serving meddling by the US. Despite often reassuring words, the pattern of Chinese behavior in disputed areas in recent months undermined regional and broader international sympathy for China's position. Vietnamese and Philippine oil exploration vessels met with intimidation by Chinese patrol vessels, and in the case of Vietnam, repeated damage to underwater survey gear. Some Vietnamese fishermen were beaten by Chinese authorities, and Philippine fishermen were shot at by Chinese patrol vessels. Based on available reporting, the various incidents followed a common practice of China using superior power and coercion to pressure and force perceived intruders to retreat.
  • Political Geography: China, Vietnam, Philippines, Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: David G. Brown
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There has been some progress in implementing the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and other existing pacts, but differences continue to prevent finalization of the long-pending investment protection agreement. Beijing has criticized opposition candidate Tsai Ing-wen's cross-strait policy platform, saying it would lead to a breakdown in dialogue and cooperation. Sea trials of Beijing's first aircraft carrier were symbolic of PLA capabilities that increasingly threaten Taiwan. Reports indicate that Taipei and Washington have agreed on the program to upgrade Taiwan's existing F-16A/B fighters with congressional notification expected in September.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: Taiwan, Beijing
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Just for once, Comparative Connections' deadline chimed neatly with events on the Korean Peninsula. Late on the evening of Aug. 30, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, as part of a mini-reshuffle affecting four Cabinet positions, finally replaced his long-term hard-line unification minister, former academic Hyun In-taek. With Lee's characteristic cronyism, the man nominated to replace Hyun was another of his close advisers – geography professor Yu Woo-ik, once Lee's chief of staff in the Blue House and latterly ROK ambassador to China.
  • Political Geography: Russia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: High-level exchanges between China and South Korea's foreign and defense ministries appeared to recover momentum as the two countries marked their 19th anniversary of diplomatic relations on Aug. 24. The first China-ROK “strategic defense dialogue” was held in Seoul on July 27 following talks between Defense Ministers Liang Guanglie and Kim Kwan-jin in Beijing on July 15 and in Singapore on June 4 on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue. Foreign Ministers Yang Jiechi and Kim Sung-hwan met June 6 ahead of the Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers Meeting in Budapest and held another round of talks July 21 in Bali on the sidelines of ASEAN regional meetings. But efforts to consolidate the China-ROK strategic partnership have exposed policy differences over North Korea and the ROK alliance relationship with the US.
  • Topic: Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, China, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: James J. Przystup
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Private-sector contacts kept the bilateral relationship afloat while high-level official contact began to re-engage. Defense ministers met in June in Singapore and foreign ministers met in July in Beijing. In each instance, they agreed on the importance of advancing the strategic and mutually beneficial relationship. In early August, Japan's Ministry of Defense released its 2011 Defense White Paper, which expressed concerns over China's military modernization, its increasing activities in waters off Japan, and its “overbearing” conduct in the South China Sea. Eight days later, the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag left port for initial sea trails. Meanwhile, activities in the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands area continued to generate political friction in both Tokyo and Beijing.
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Tokyo, Island, South China
  • Author: David C. Kang, Jiun Bang
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: South Korea and Japan are neighbors that are advanced, technologically sophisticated capitalist economies with capable and well-educated populations, and are fully consolidated liberal democracies. They share an alliance with the US, and generally view themselves as stalwart regional allies. As has been the case for many years, relations between them during the past four months were relatively stable, with increasingly deep economic relations, voluminous cultural flows, and general agreement on a strategy of isolation toward North Korea. They also share a tendency to provoke each other over their shared history and the ownership of several islets that sit between them. When this happens, the media goes into a frenzy, breathlessly reporting the latest incident. But which is reality? Do the historical disputes meaningfully affect their bilateral relations? On the one hand, yes: they could cooperate more closely on issues such as military coordination and a free-trade agreement. On the other hand, no: it's not at all clear that historical issues are holding up cooperation and relations are deeper across a range of issues.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Yu Bin
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The summer of 2011 marked two anniversaries for China and Russia. In June, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) celebrated its 10th anniversary at the annual SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. Over the past 10 years, the regional security group has grown fed by its “twin engines” of Russia and China. Immediately following the SCO Summit, President Hu Jintao traveled to Moscow, marking the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Friendship Treaty between Russia and China. There was much to celebrate as Moscow, Beijing, and the SCO have achieved stability, security, and sustained economic development in a world riddled with revolutions, chaos, crises, and another major economic downturn. The two anniversaries were also a time to pause and think about “next steps.” While the SCO is having “growing pains,” China and Russia have elevated their “strategic partnership relations” to a “comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership.”
  • Topic: Security, Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Moscow
  • Author: Graeme Dobell
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Australia has a close alliance with the US and deep emotional and cultural ties, but the new reality is that the two economies have decoupled. Twice in the past decade the US has gone into recession, but Australia has kept growing; that is a huge change from the 20th-century experience when Australia's fortunes were closely tied to the health of the US economy. Asia now sets Australia's economic temperature, even as the Australian military draws closer to the US through parallel reviews of the posture of their defense forces.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Ralph Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Rays of hope were seen in several areas across the region. Dim rays of light pierced what has been the darkness of the Six-Party Talks since their suspension in December 2008, even though prospects for actual Korean Peninsula denuclearization remain low. US-China relations continued to mend at the Shangri-La Dialogue and the ARF; Vice President Biden's trip to China added to the light. Hopes have also been raised for an end to political turmoil in Japan and Thailand with the election of new prime ministers. Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest provides a ray of hope for progress in moving Burma/Myanmar toward democracy. Meanwhile, the self-inflicted debt crisis in the US has further dimmed hopes for US leadership in Asia and globally. Looking forward, there are flickering hopes that this year's APEC Leaders Meeting in Honolulu will shine a new spotlight on this increasingly overshadowed institution. Finally, the death of Osama bin Laden has raised the hope that this signals the beginning of the end for al Qaeda; others hope it will hasten the US exit from Afghanistan as well.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Japan, China, Asia, Burma, Myanmar
  • Author: Michael J. Green, Nicholas Szechenyi
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Prime Minister Noda accomplished important steps including the selection of the F-35 as Japan's next-generation fighter, relaxing the three arms export principles, and announcing a decision to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – all of which demonstrated the current Japanese government's readiness to revive the economy and strengthen security ties and capabilities. At the same time, the government's support rate began to collapse in a pattern eerily similar to Noda's five predecessors, raising questions about the ability of the government to follow through on the more challenging political commitments related to TPP. President Obama met Noda at the United Nations in New York and at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Hawaii in an active season of bilateral diplomacy. Public opinion surveys revealed generally positive views of the US-Japan relationship in both countries but the impasse over relocating Marine Corps Air Station Futenma fueled negative perceptions in Japan.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, New York, Asia, Hawaii
  • Author: Bonnie Glaser, Brittany Billingsley
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: A spate of measures taken by the Obama administration to bolster US presence and influence in the Asia-Pacific was met with a variety of responses from China. Official reaction was largely muted and restrained; media responses were often strident and accused the US of seeking to contain and encircle China. President Obama met President Hu Jintao on the margins of the APEC meeting in Honolulu and Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit. Tension in bilateral economic relations increased as the US stepped up criticism of China's currency and trade practices, and tit-for-tat trade measures took place with greater frequency. Amid growing bilateral friction and discontent, the 22nd Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) convened in Chengdu, China. An announcement by the US of a major arms sale to Taiwan in September prompted China to postpone a series of planned exchanges, but the Defense Consultative Talks nevertheless proceeded as planned in December.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, East Asia, Asia
  • Author: Ellen Kim, Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's state visit to the US was a big event that attested to the strength of the two countries' relationship and the personal ties between Presidents Obama and Lee. The timely passage of the KORUS FTA in the US was the big deliverable for the summit. Final ratification of the FTA in both countries clears one longstanding issue and lays the foundation for greater economic integration and a stronger alliance. Meanwhile, the most shocking news for the final third of the year was the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in late December. His death disrupted US-DPRK bilateral talks as North Korea observed a mourning period for its late leader. The US and South Korea spent the last two weeks of December quietly watching developments in North Korea as the reclusive country accelerated its succession process to swiftly transfer power to the anointed successor, Kim Jong Un.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: With visits to Hawaii, Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines, and Burma, President Obama and Secretaries Clinton and Panetta demonstrated a renewed US commitment to Southeast Asia despite concern over a projected steep decline in the US defense budget. Southeast Asian reactions to the announcement of an increased rotation of US military assets to Australia range from ambivalence in Indonesia to enthusiastic endorsement in the Philippines and Singapore. Generally, the additional US forces are seen as evidence of Washington's decision to remain involved in regional security. At the East Asia Summit (EAS), Obama outlined his hope that it could serve as a high-level security conclave whose agreements would be implemented through other multilateral organizations. In visits to the Philippines and Indonesia, Clinton and Obama promised naval and air force upgrades to each, including two squadrons (24 aircraft) of refurbished F-16C/Ds for Jakarta. Hoping for a breakthrough in US-Burma relations, Obama sent Clinton to see whether the situation warranted the easing of US economic sanctions and if Naypyidaw was moving to meet US conditions for the restoration of full diplomatic relations.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Hawaii
  • Author: Robert Sutter, Chin-Hao Huang
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China endeavored to win regional influence and goodwill by emphasizing reassurance and mutually beneficial relations with Southeast Asian counterparts. Nevertheless, it failed to keep the issue of the South China Sea off the agenda at the East Asia Summit as Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was placed on the defensive and compelled to defend China's approach to resolving territorial and maritime security issues related to China's broad claims and sometimes assertive actions. Official Chinese commentaries reacted to the setback in Bali with criticism directed at the US, but they tended to avoid hyperbole sometimes seen in unofficial Chinese media. Official commentaries were measured as they depicted various economic, political, and security initiatives during President Obama's trip to the region as challenges to Chinese interests. They also registered opposition to initiatives by Japan and India regarding Southeast Asia and the South China Sea that were seen as at odds with Chinese interests. Myanmar's decision to stop a major hydroelectric dam project being built by Chinese firms added to China's challenges and complications as it raised questions about China's influence in the country while Myanmar's new civilian government tried to improve relations with the US and other powers.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Myanmar, South China
  • Author: David Brown
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The campaign leading to the Taiwan's Jan. 14 presidential election has dominated cross-strait developments. Opposition candidate Tsai Ing-wen has continued her rejection of the “1992 consensus” and criticized President Ma Ying-jeou for suggesting he might consider negotiating a peace accord with Beijing. Meanwhile, Beijing has emphasized its wish to further develop relations on the basis of the “1992 consensus,” without which relations will regress. Therefore, the outcome of the upcoming elections will have a decisive impact. Ma's re-election would permit further gradual progress; Tsai's election will likely lead Beijing to suspend dialogue and domestic pressures would probably produce a tougher policy toward Tsai's administration.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing