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  • 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