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On GeopoliticsSep 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Cadets from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy march in formation before a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 30, 2019.
China’s Amphibian Dilemma: Straddling Land and Sea Ambitions
China borders the largest number of countries by land, and its navy now boasts the largest number of battle force ships by sea. With the pressures and opportunities of both a continental and maritime power, China faces an amphibian’s dilemma, as the characteristics best suited for life at sea and life at land may not always prove complementary. Traditional continental powers are more prone to autocratic leadership to manage their challenges, while traditional maritime powers lean toward democratic systems and more open markets. China’s attempt to straddle both can intensify sectionalism and exacerbate differences between the interior core that remains continental in outlook, and the coastal areas that become more maritime in outlook.  This challenge is also highlighted in China’s attempts to reshape global norms and standards, which themselves largely represent the maritime world order. The apparent global political and economic dissonance is not merely caused by China seeking change, but
On GeopoliticsAug 14, 2020 | 15:56 GMT
Japanese Self-Defense Forces stand guard at a park in Tokyo on Oct. 22, 2019.
A More Assertive China Drives Japan to Respond in Kind
Japan has long operated beyond the pacifist constraints of its post-war constitution, but a growing and more assertive China is accelerating Tokyo's development of offensive its capabilities. Japan's core strategic imperatives are shaped by economic concerns -- the islands are resource-poor and thus import-dependent. This shaped its post-World War II Yoshida Doctrine, in which Japan largely outsourced its national security to the United States while focusing its energy on economic development at home. With Japan less confident in its dependence on the United States, the same vulnerability is now driving Tokyo to take on a more active role in its neighborhood. Japan's increased economic and security engagement in the Indo-Pacific provides a regional alternative to China for Southeast Asian nations, but may raise tensions with neighboring South Korea.
AssessmentsFeb 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image of the Port of Chittagong in Bangladesh, the busiest seaport on the coastline of the Bay of Bengal.
Bangladesh's Congested Ports Risk Choking Its Economy
To maintain its status as one of Asia's most promising emerging markets, Bangladesh is pursuing an ambitious infrastructure overhaul -- and its powerful neighbors are champing at the bit to seize the new investment opportunities at hand. In recent years, Bangladesh has experienced explosive economic growth, thanks in large part to its booming garment industry. But the country's outdated infrastructure has struggled to keep up with demand, leading to long delays and higher shipping costs at the country's main seaport of Chittagong. With Bangladesh’s international trade expected to only grow in the coming years, so too will the need to build alternative ports that can lessen the load on Chittagong. And India, China and Japan have all shown they're more than willing to help, forcing Dhaka to delicately navigate around its suitors' vying strategic interests to secure the capital needed to boost trade revenue and take its economy to the next level.
AssessmentsJan 17, 2020 | 09:00 GMT
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) shakes hand with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the annual India-Japan summit on Sept. 14, 2017. Behind the two world leaders are their countries' respective flags.
With Act East, India Charts Its Ascent Into Southeast Asia
India's emboldened eastern push reflects its aspiration to become one of Asia’s key military and economic powers -- and the existential threat that China poses to realizing that dream. Beijing's growing influence, along with its increasingly forceful claims over disputed territories along India's border, is driving New Delhi to deepen its own political, economic and security relations in Southeast Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific under its "Act East"{ policy. Shortly after taking office in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the government initiative, which also includes bolstering India's military presence and infrastructure development along its northeast border.  In addition to warding off China's imminent threat to India's territorial sovereignty, developing the country's northeastern wing -- whose border with Myanmar positions it as India's gateway into Southeast Asia -- has the potential to unlock new export markets for Indian trade, furthering the government's strategy of building a $5 trillion economy. Reaping those benefits,
AssessmentsOct 30, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
U.S. soldiers look out over the hillsides of an Afghan army checkpoint in Afghanistan's Wardak province on June 6, 2019.
To End the War in Afghanistan, the U.S. Reaches Out to Its Rivals
As the United States searches for an exit from Afghanistan, its outreach to China and Russia points to its rivals' growing influence in shaping the endgame to its longest-ever conflict. On Oct. 25, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visited Moscow to discuss reviving the Afghan peace process with Russian, Chinese and Pakistani officials. China is also expected to host Taliban and Afghan government officials for talks next month. A political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban remains the ultimate goal of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. And if and when that settlement is reached, it will likely include the insurgents joining a future power-sharing agreement in Kabul, which has, in turn, prompted China and Russia to establish stronger relations with the Taliban as well to advance their own counterterrorism objectives in the country. But as long as the United States maintains a military presence in Afghanistan, the prospects for lasting peace in the war-torn
AssessmentsJul 31, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
A garment worker prepares shirts for shipment in a factory in Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 24, 2019.
Vietnam's Balance Between Great Powers May Start Skewing West
For the past two decades, Vietnam has leveraged its strategic location as the gateway to Indochina to become one of the biggest success stories in the Asia-Pacific. This position has allowed it to largely remain neutral among great power competitions over the years, which continues to serve to its benefit today as now the top export "safe haven" from the U.S.-China trade war. This, however, has come at the cost of ramping up its trade deficit with the United States, which has threatened to retaliate should Hanoi not increase its purchases of American goods and services -- a warning the U.S. trade representative reiterated on July 29, noting the "host of unfair trade barriers" that U.S. businesses face upon entering the Vietnamese market. Desperate to avoid coming under the siege of a trade salvo, Vietnam has used every opportunity to remind Washington of its value as a foil to China. Such words, however, hold only
AssessmentsApr 26, 2019 | 05:45 GMT
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during the opening session of the Belt and Road Forum on Legal Cooperation at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on July 2, 2018.
China Changes Gears on the Belt and Road Initiative
Nearly six years since its inception, the Belt and Road Initiative, China's sprawling infrastructure program that spans Eurasia and the maritime sphere, has generated both enthusiasm and alarm in equal measure. The initiative's focus on infrastructure development, as well as Chinese financing options that are more enticing than those of many international institutions, has provided many cash-strapped countries with the only effective means to improve their infrastructure. From landlocked Ethiopia and Laos, to the ports of Piraeus in Greece and Doraleh in Djibouti, China has constructed and financed railways, ports and other facilities, brightening the prospects of the local economy. These undertakings are just a few of the multitude of projects in the BRI, which China is bankrolling with $70 billion in investments and $400 billion in loans. On the flip side of the coin, however, the BRI has triggered local pushback, resulting in setbacks for some projects and resistance
SITUATION REPORTApr 19, 2019 | 16:29 GMT
Malaysia: Government Plans to Revive China-Backed Development Project in Kuala Lumpur
The Malaysian government is planning to revive the $34 billion China-backed Bandar Malaysia transport and property development project in Kuala Lumpur, emphasizing its role in Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Channel News Asia reported April 19.
AssessmentsApr 19, 2019 | 11:37 GMT
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) walks with Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering during a ceremonial reception at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi on Dec. 28, 2018.
Why the Belt and Road Fuels India's Fears of Encirclement
India might be a large trading partner in its own right, but the designs of the even-larger power on its doorstep are fueling its fears of encirclement. The Belt and Road Initiative, the cornerstone of Chinese President Xi Jinping's foreign policy to blaze a trail of trade across Asia and Europe, includes five of India's neighbors: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Nepal. But worried that the initiative will grant Beijing undue political influence in neighboring capitals -- and that new ports and highways could one day aid China in a military conflict -- New Delhi is searching for ways to remain a step ahead of China's activities in South Asia. For one, India has sought to promote its influence by dangling the prospect of greater investment. In so doing, India has scored a few important victories, but its quest for unrivaled dominance in the subcontinent is ultimately a
SITUATION REPORTApr 15, 2019 | 14:37 GMT
Malaysia: Prime Minister Announces East Coast Rail Link Details
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has announced the details of the Chinese-backed East Coast Rail Link and said the China Communication Construction Corp. facilitated the project's cost reduction to shoulder some of the risks in maintenance and operation of the railway, the South China Morning Post reported April 15.
SITUATION REPORTApr 12, 2019 | 14:07 GMT
Malaysia: Prime Minister's Office Signs Deal to Proceed With East Coast Rail Link Construction
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's office has confirmed that it has signed a deal to proceed with the construction of the Chinese-backed East Coast Rail Link, which is part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), after China agreed to reduce the cost from $15.9 billion to $10.7 billion, the South China Morning Post reported April 12.
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