My reaction to Secretary of State Clinton’s speech on Internet freedom, “The Chinese Internet Century,” is now up. While Clinton’s call for an open, global Internet was both stirring and the right thing to do, we have to start planning for a world where China and others shape their own cyberspaces to meet economic, political, and strategic interests. Go read the whole thing at foreignpolicy.com. Read more »
The election last Sunday of Susumu Inamine as mayor of Nago City in northern Okinawa effectively puts an end to the idea that the current plan for relocating Futenma Marine Air Station can somehow be realized. The mayor, in his first press conference, in fact stated that Nago would not accept either a landfill facility or one that rests solely on land, and thus made clear his intention to oppose any compromise effort to downscale the existing plan so as to avoid the environmental damage to Okinawan coastal waters. Read more »
Although it was buried amidst the past month’s news of the global financial crisis and Barack Obama’s struggles to maintain any political momentum, the global monitoring group Freedom House released its annual Freedom in the World outlook, which assesses the state of political and civil liberties in each country. For the fourth year in a row, global freedom declined, which Freedom House said was the longest continuous decline in the nearly forty years it has been producing the report. (Disclosure: I participated in some of the Freedom House assessments of countries in Southeast Asia.) Indeed, 2009 was one of the worst years in recent memory for human rights activists, with crackdowns on prominent figures from Liu Xiaobo to Shirin Ebadi, whose Nobel Peace Prize was seized by the Iranian government. (Talk about spite!) Read more »
South Korea’s surprising success last December against more experienced competitors in winning a bid to produce nuclear reactors in the U.A.E. has had a powerful ripple effect, boosting Korean hopes to become a serious player in the nuclear plant export market with the goal of capturing twenty percent of the global nuclear energy market by 2030. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report by Mark Holt, South Korea’s KEPCO-led consortium successfully underbid Areva and Hitachi by about thirty percent by offering a price of U.S.$20 billion (4200 megawatts of electricity generating capacity at $3571 per kilowatt). In so doing, South Korea is attempting to position itself as a reliable and low-cost supplier to other Middle Eastern countries who may follow the U.A.E. in pursuing the development of the nuclear energy option. For South Koreans, winning the U.A.E. bid was like hearing the starter’s gun at the beginning of a track competition. Read more »
Following North Korea’s second nuclear test in May of 2009, Chinese analysts did not hide their frustration with Pyongyang. China signed on to a robust UN Security Council resolution condemning the tests, but stopped short of making compliance with the resolution obligatory. Despite the toughness of the resolution, China has had wiggle room not to implement the resolution aggressively. Aside from two high-profile cases involving exports of sensitive materials and a joint venture with a North Korean company with which the UN Security Council banned economic interactions, it is hard to find cases where China is aggressively implementing UN sanctions. While noting Chinese frustrations, several analysts (International Crisis Group, Bonnie Glaser, Han Suk-hee) remarked that maintenance of regional stability remains China’s bottom line. Read more »
I am going to stay away from the by now well-trod debate about why Google made its decision to stop censoring the web and possibly retreat from the China market (you can read those here, here, here, and here; this and this, however, bring a new twist: Google left because the hacking exposed how it was collecting information on all of its users through an “internal intercept system.”). Instead, I’ll tackle some other questions: Read more »
When I first heard the news that Google had outed the Chinese for their widescale cyberattacks and would no longer operate its service in China if subjected to government censorship, I gave a cheer. Score one for standing up and shouting from the rooftops—we won’t take this anymore. On both human rights and business principles, Google gave voice to what many people working in and on China have been feeling for a long time but only rarely articulating. Read more »
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a major policy speech on Asia this week. She surveyed the Obama administration’s main priorities in Asia but focused, in particular, on the subject of Asian regional organizations, or, as she put it, “Asia’s economic, political, and security architecture.”
As co-author with Bob Manning of a recent Council Special Report on this very subject, I tip my hat to the secretary for tackling this issue head-on. For more than a decade, creating multilateral forums has rivaled badminton as the leading indoor sport of Asian academics, think tanks, and governments. But the United States has mostly watched from the sidelines as proposals multiply and Asians organize themselves into an alphabet soup of new multilateral groups.
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