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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