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  • Author: Jennifer A. Hillman, David Sacks
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy undertaking and the world’s largest infrastructure program, poses a significant challenge to U.S. economic, political, climate change, security, and global health interests. Since BRI’s launch in 2013, Chinese banks and companies have financed and built everything from power plants, railways, highways, and ports to telecommunications infrastructure, fiber-optic cables, and smart cities around the world. If implemented sustainably and responsibly, BRI has the potential to meet long-standing developing country needs and spur global economic growth. To date, however, the risks for both the United States and recipient countries raised by BRI’s implementation considerably outweigh its benefits. BRI was initially designed to connect China’s modern coastal cities to its underdeveloped interior and to its Southeast, Central, and South Asian neighbors, cementing China’s position at the center of a more connected world. The initiative has since outgrown its original regional corridors, expanding to all corners of the globe. Its scope now includes a Digital Silk Road intended to improve recipients’ telecommunications networks, artificial intelligence capabilities, cloud computing, e-commerce and mobile payment systems, surveillance technology, and other high-tech areas, along with a Health Silk Road designed to operationalize China’s vision of global health governance.1 Hundreds of projects around the world now fall under the BRI umbrella.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Hegemony, Conflict, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Regionalism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott A. Snyder, Geun Lee, You Young Kim, Jiyoon Kim
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Despite becoming influential on the world scene, South Korea remains a relatively weak country surrounded by larger, more powerful neigh- bors. This contrast between its global rank as a top-twenty economy and its regional status as the weakest country in Northeast Asia (with the exception of North Korea) poses a paradox for South Korean for- eign policy strategists. Despite successes addressing nontraditional security challenges in areas such as international development, global health, and UN peacekeeping, South Korea is limited in its capacity to act on regional security threats. South Korea has historically been a victim of geopolitical rivalries among contenders for regional hegemony in East Asia. But the coun- try’s rise in influence provides a glimmer of hope that it can break from its historical role by using its expanded capabilities as leverage to shape its strategic environment. The pressing dilemma for South Korean strategic thinkers is how to do so. As the regional security environment becomes more tense, South Korea’s strategic options are characterized by constraint, given potentially conflicting great-power rivalries and Pyongyang’s efforts to pursue asymmetric nuclear or cyber capabilities at Seoul’s expense. South Korea’s relative weakness puts a premium on its ability to achieve the internal political unity necessary to maximize its influence in foreign policy. Students of Korean history will recall that domestic factionalism among political elites was a chronic factor that hamstrung Korea’s dynastic leadership and contributed to its weakness in dealing with outside forces.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Emerging challenges to international order require cooperation between the United States and China, two countries that share a common interest in preventing the world from becoming more dangerous and disorderly. U.S.-China relations are becoming more strained and antagonistic, however, and the prospects for cooperation appear to be receding. To explore whether there are still grounds for cooperation on issues of common concern between the two countries, in March 2018 the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) at the Council on Foreign Relations convened a group of fifteen experts from the United States and China for the workshop “Managing Global Disorder: Prospects for U.S.-China Cooperation.” CPA partnered with Peking University’s School of International Studies in Beijing for the workshop and also met with experts at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies in Shanghai. During the workshop, President Donald J. Trump announced plans to impose about $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports. While trade was a major topic of discussion, it was by no means the only area discussed. Workshop participants assessed conflicting views of the sources of global disorder and examined areas of global governance such as international trade, development, the environment, and the future of various multilateral institutions. They also discussed the most pressing security challenges in East and Southwest Asia. Participants highlighted the need for a greater understanding between the United States and China on the evolving international order. No major transnational problems will be solved without some cooperation between the two powers. It is therefore imperative that the two countries avoid a further deterioration of the relationship and instead identify areas of potential cooperation.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Social Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Although the Barack Obama administration rhetorically made Southeast Asia a centerpiece of its “rebalance to Asia” strategy, the administration still largely focused on the Middle East and Europe, and Southeast Asia remained a low U.S. policy priority. The Obama administration did try to boost U.S. economic ties with Southeast Asia in 2016 by forging the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but that trade deal was broadly unpopular in the United States. The following year, the Donald J. Trump administration ended U.S. participation in the TPP, and it also suggested launching punitive economic measures against Southeast Asian states currently running trade surpluses with the United States. Many Southeast Asian leaders now worry that Washington has no clear security or economic strategy for the region, other than applying pressure on Beijing to respect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. In this perceived void of U.S. leadership and strategy, workshop participants assessed how Southeast Asia might change as China becomes an increasingly dominant regional security and economic actor. They also discussed the future of U.S. strategic and economic relationships with important partners in the region, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Participants further considered how China might use its growing leverage in Southeast Asia, and whether Beijing’s tactics could backfire. Finally, several workshop participants posited that the United States, China, and Southeast Asian states could cooperate on at least some nontraditional security issues, such as combating piracy and terrorism.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Aaron Connely
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In April 2016, the Lowy Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations' International Institutions and Global Governance program held a workshop on Southeast Asian perspectives on U.S.–China competition, which informed this publication. That workshop was made possible in part by the generous support of the Robina Foundation. This report is a collaboration between the Lowy Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed in this report are entirely the authors' own and not those of the Lowy Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations, or the Robina Foundation.
  • Topic: Governance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China, America
  • Author: William Norris
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Chinese government has embarked on an effort to reorient its economy from an investment- and export-driven model toward one predicated on a larger role for consumption and market forces. At the same time, China is also experiencing a new normal of much slower economic growth. The economic downturn and concomitant structural shift in China’s economy has already begun affecting its foreign policy. Security, not economics, is becoming one of President Xi Jinping’s—and China’s—top strategic priorities.
  • Topic: Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Chinese firms, both private and state-owned, have in recent years invested billions of dollars in the U.S. technology industry, raising concerns that a powerful rival has gained or could soon gain access to sensitive and, in some cases, critical technologies that underpin American military superiority and economic might. At the workshop entitled “Chinese Investment in Critical U.S. Technology: Risks to U.S. Security Interests,” held in San Francisco, on July 18, 2017, CFR convened nearly thirty current and former government officials, academics, bankers, investors, and corporate executives to explore whether the large and growing early-stage Chinese investment in critical U.S. technology poses a threat to U.S. national security, and, if so, to outline policies that mitigate the risks of unbridled Chinese investment and to bolster U.S. competitiveness.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Foreign Direct Investment, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Heung-kyu Kim
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As the Republic of Korea faces an increasing threat from North Korea, evolving U.S.-China relations are becoming important to Seoul’s strategy for dealing with Pyongyang. The United States and China are competitors, but they also seek cooperation on a range of global issues. And although South Korea seeks to have good relations with both great powers, it is increasingly being pushed to take sides in the ongoing U.S.-China competition. As the U.S.-China relationship becomes more complex, South Korea needs to carefully evaluate its policy toward China in order to find the best ways to ensure Chinese cooperation on the North Korean issue, particularly taking into account China’s evolving view of North Korea. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China is profoundly changing its foreign policy, including its relations with the United States and the two Koreas. With more confidence in its own diplomatic, military, and economic capacity to protect its national interests, China under Xi’s leadership has begun to regard the entire Korean Peninsula as part of its sphere of influence.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro, Ettore Greco
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: A nuclear-armed North Korea is a threat to the fragile strategic equilibrium on the Korean Peninsula and to international security at large. Emboldened by a nuclear arsenal, the highly militarized regime of President Kim Jong-un could be tempted to embark on aggressive acts. Meanwhile, the United States could opt for preventive military action. Even if neither party seeks a military confrontation, conflict could ensue due to miscalculation or simple misreading of each other’s intentions. Limited military exchanges could spiral out of control, eventually involving not only North Korea, the United States, and its allies in the region—Japan and South Korea—but also China. The repercussions of North Korea’s nuclear challenge may not be limited to Northeast Asia, not least because the nonproliferation regime, a pillar of international security, would be dealt a serious, if not fatal, blow if regional adversaries sought to meet it by acquiring their own nuclear arsenals. The destabilizing effects of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs on regional and international security cannot be overestimated. In devising a response to the North Korean challenge, regional actors should remain committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but they should also implement security measures with observable results short of full denuclearization. Specifically, the United States and its allies should concentrate on sanctioning North Korea and on diplomatic action, actively seeking the involvement of China and Russia, while employing a strategy of deterrence and containment.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Nonproliferation, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Jennifer M. Harris
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Chinese outbound investment is on the rise, and much of it is finding its way into the United States. Be- tween 2010 and 2015, China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the United States grew by an average of 32 percent annually.1 Within the past two years alone, Chinese foreign investment inflows to the United States increased four-fold, and available data suggests 2017 will see the second highest annual investment on record, after 2016.2 This is not a two-way street: the United States and other foreign investors do not enjoy similar open market access in China. China maintains a dizzying assortment of formal and informal barriers to for- eign investment—from outright restrictions and quotas to mandatory joint ventures, forced localization measures, and domestic licensing regimes. Despite years of negotiations, these barriers are, if anything, growing more cumbersome in many sectors. U.S. firms paint a darkening picture of the business climate they face in China. U.S. FDI in China has slowed considerably in recent years: after growing roughly 180 percent from 2002 to 2007 (albeit from a low baseline), U.S. FDI flows into China have declined since 2012.3 The one-way surge of Chinese investment into the United States comes against a backdrop of strategic mistrust between Washington and Beijing. Ongoing accusations of state-sponsored cyber predation of U.S. firms, Beijing’s increasing aggressiveness over territorial disputes, its systematic efforts to under- mine the U.S. alliance system in Asia, and mounting tensions over North Korea all contribute to a dark- ening mood in the U.S.-China relationship. And, like so much involving China, this investment is simply different. Rarely, if ever, has the United States seen an increase in investment of this magnitude—espe- cially from a non-ally and especially from one where the lines between state ownership and private own- ership are so inherently blurred. For all the concern surrounding Japanese investment in the United States in the 1980s—coming as it did amid fierce economic competition—those debates ultimately re- mained under the umbrella of the U.S.-Japan military alliance. All of this raises questions about whether the United States needs to tighten its stance on Chinese in- bound investment; proposals to that effect have bipartisan support in the Congress. The Donald J. Trump administration has signaled its desire for a tougher approach in its economic dealings with China, which U.S. businesses seem to welcome. One foundation for such an approach is the principle of reciprocity. Roughly two dozen sectors in China—construction, mining, banking, insurance, and so on—remain effectively off-limits to American investment, because the Chinese government protects its domestic companies through regulations and financial subsidies. Even in sectors that technically allow foreign investment, discriminatory industrial policies tilt the playing field in favor of Chinese firms. Until this changes, Washington would be justi- fied—even obligated—to limit Chinese investment in the U.S. market. However, U.S. policymakers do not have a consensus on what a policy of reciprocity would entail, and different policy interpretations could spell quite different economic and foreign policy consequences for the United States. The United States should aim for a version of reciprocity that allows it the flexibility to maximize pressure on the broad range of Chinese industrial policy concerns while leaving a clear route to negotiations. The United States should also encourage European and other Western countries, many of which are seeing similar increases in Chinese investment, to adopt this new approach.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Thad W. Allen, Christine Todd Whitman, Esther Brimmer
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: "The United States, through Alaska, is a significant Arctic nation with strategic, economic, and scientific interests," asserts a new Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored (CFR) Independent Task Force report, Arctic Imperatives: Reinforcing U.S. Strategy on America's Fourth Coast. With the Arctic "warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet" and melting sea ice opening up this resource-rich region to new trade routes and commercial activities, the report stresses that "the United States needs to increase its strategic commitment to the region or risk leaving its interests unprotected." The report notes that while Russia has numerous ice-breaking vessels and China is building a third icebreaker, the United States owns only two operational icebreaking ships—one heavy icebreaker and one medium-weight icebreaker—to serve both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Asserting that "icebreakers are a national capacity" required for a range of maritime missions to support U.S. security, economic, and commercial needs, the Task Force recommends that the United States fund and build additional icebreakers. The report also finds that the United States needs greater investment in Alaskan infrastructure, including deepwater ports, roads, and reliable telecommunications, to support economic development and a sustained security presence in the region. Currently, "almost no marine infrastructure is in place within the U.S. maritime Arctic."
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Hegemony, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia, North America, Arctic, United States of America
  • Author: Mike Mullen, Sam Nunn, Adam Mount
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: A new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Independent Task Force report, A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia, finds that the United States’ policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea will neither halt that country’s recurring and dangerous cycle of provocation nor ensure the stability of Northeast Asia in the future. To the contrary, the Task Force warns, “If allowed to continue, current trends will predictably, progressively, and gravely threaten U.S. national security interests and those of its allies.” Asserting that “China’s policy toward the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will critically affect the fate of the region,” the Task Force urges U.S. officials to encourage China to work with the United States, Japan and South Korea to establish a nonnuclear and unified Korean Peninsula. “Encouraging a transformation of China’s policy toward North Korea should be the next administration’s top priority in its relations with China,” says the report. “If China, the United States, and U.S. allies can work together to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and mitigate its threatening military posture,” the Task Force contends, “a stable, prosperous Northeast Asia led by China and U.S. allies can emerge.” To the extent that China declines to cooperate and North Korea continues to refuse to negotiate, however, the report finds that United States will have no choice but to work with Japan and Korea to “consider more assertive military and political actions, including those that directly threaten the existence of the [North Korean] regime and its nuclear and missile capabilities.” The Task Force proposes that the United States take steps to sharpen the consequences for North Korea, by imposing escalating costs on continued defiance and offering incentives for cooperation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Peace, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert D. Blackwill, Henry A. Kissinger, Ashley J. Tellis
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: "China represents and will remain the most significant competitor to the United States for decades to come. As such, the need for a more coherent U.S. response to increasing Chinese power is long overdue," write CFR Senior Fellow Robert D. Blackwill and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Senior Associate Ashley J. Tellis in a new Council Special Report, Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China. "Because the American effort to 'integrate' China into the liberal international order has now generated new threats to U.S. primacy in Asia—and could result in a consequential challenge to American power globally—Washington needs a new grand strategy toward China that centers on balancing the rise of Chinese power rather than continuing to assist its ascendancy." The authors argue that such a strategy is designed to limit the dangers that China's geoeconomic and military power pose to U.S. national interests in Asia and globally, even as the United States and its allies maintain diplomatic and economic interactions with China.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Yanzhong Huang
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (hereafter "the Global Fund" or "the Fund") is the world's main multilateral funder in global health and the largest financier of anti-AIDS, anti-tuberculosis (TB), and anti-malaria programs. Since its inception in 2002, the Global Fund has disbursed $23.2 billion to more than 140 countries; today, it accounts for 21 percent of the international funding for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, 82 percent of that for TB, and 50 per cent of that for malaria. Until recently, it awarded grants based on the need of individual countries and the quality of each proposal. As a performance-based initiative, it closely tracks the results flowing from each grant disbursement. As a value-oriented organization, it requires recipients to have transparent, accountable, and inclusive governance mechanisms. Indeed, in terms of multisectoralism and civil society participation, the Fund is considered the most progressive global health institution. But unlike many other health-related multilateral organizations, it is not an implementing agency and lacks in-country presence. Instead, as a funding mechanism, it has grant applications and project/program implementation in each country overseen by a "country coordinating mechanism" (CCM), which draws representatives from government, UN and donor agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector, and people living with the diseases.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Health, Governance
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia
  • Author: Richard Katz
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Tensions between China and Japan are rising, but an economic version of mutual deterrence is preserving the uneasy status quo. Put simply, China needs to buy Japanese products as much as Japan needs to sell them.
  • Topic: Cold War, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Beijing
  • Author: Kal Raustiala, Christopher Sprigman
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Given that Chinese counterfeiting has benefits as well as costs, and considering China's historical resistance to Western pressure, trying to push China to change its approach to intellectual property law is not worth the political and diplomatic capital the United States is spending on it.
  • Topic: Economics, Law
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Shinzo Abe
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Japan's prime minister speaks openly about the mistakes he made in his first term, Abenomics, Japan's wartime record (and his own controversial statements on that history), and the bitter Senkaku/Diaoyu Island dispute with China.
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Island
  • Author: Cui Tiankai
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: China's new ambassador to the United States (and a rising star in Beijing) sets out his vision for U.S.-Chinese relations, discusses whether China is a revisionist power, and how it plans to deal with cyber security -- and Japan.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Beijing
  • Author: Avery Goldstein
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Much of the debate about China's rise in recent years has focused on the potential dangers China could pose as an eventual peer competitor to the United States bent on challenging the existing international order. But another issue is far more pressing. For at least the next decade, while China remains relatively weak compared to the United States, there is a real danger that Beijing and Washington will find themselves in a crisis that could quickly escalate to military conflict. Unlike a long-term great-power strategic rivalry that might or might not develop down the road, the danger of a crisis involving the two nuclear-armed countries is a tangible, near-term concern -- and the events of the past few years suggest the risk might be increasing.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: John Pomfret
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: My First Trip to China: Scholars, Diplomats, and Journalists Reflect on Their First Encounters With China. 
Edited by Kin-Ming Liu. East Slope Publishing, 2012, 316 pp. $28.00. Over the last decade or so, historians and journalists have chipped away -- some with sledgehammers, others with mallets -- at several long-standing myths about China's past. China wasn't all darkness and pain before the communist revolution of 1949, and Western efforts to change the country, long portrayed by historians as a tragic dead end, have been far more successful than anyone could have ever dreamed -- to cite just two. The weight of these and other revelations should demand a fundamental reassessment of China's position in the world, both in the past and going forward. But don't hold your breath. China scholars and average citizens alike still cling to their own personal notions of the “authentic” China, deeply rooted in the soil of their imaginations.
  • Political Geography: China