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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Northeast Asian Security Architecture: Lessons from European History

by Scott A. Snyder
William Alberque, Cho Nam Hoon, Morimoto Satoshi, Pan Zhenqiang, and Scott Snyder participate in a panel at the conference, "Northeast Asia Peace and Security Initiative and the European Experience of CSBM," co-hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Lars Erik Lundin, William Alberque, Cho Nam Hoon, Morimoto Satoshi, Pan Zhenqiang, and Scott Snyder participate in a panel at the conference, "Northeast Asia Peace and Security Initiative and the European Experience of CSBM," co-hosted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Courtesy: Darcie Draudt).

Henry Kissinger offered a sobering observation last February in Munich when he suggested that the uptick in geopolitical rivalry between China and Japan reminded him of nineteenth century Europe. Mindful of the negative consequences of such a conflict for his own country, South Korea’s foreign minister Yun Byung-se referenced Kissinger’s observation in the opening to his own speech last week at a conference in Seoul, co-sponsored by the Asan Institute and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The conference explicitly sought lessons from Europe’s past experience with establishment of Confidence and Security Building Mechanisms (CSBMs) for Park Geun-hye’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI), a proposal to institutionalize a process for promoting multilateral cooperation that Park is promoting as a solution to the severe distrust in the region. Read more »

China’s Soft “Nyet” to Russia’s Ukraine Intervention

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's President Xi Jinping ( C) and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich inspect honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 5, 2013. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters) China's President Xi Jinping ( C) and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich inspect honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 5, 2013. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series on the implications for Asia of the crisis in Ukraine. See related posts from my colleagues Alyssa Ayres and Sheila Smith.

Russia’s de facto assertion of military control in Ukraine’s Crimean region has put China in a bind. Moscow’s actions fly in the face of one of China’s longest held tenets of foreign policy: “no interference in the internal affairs of others.” Yet China is loathe to criticize publicly one of the few countries that never criticizes it. So what is Beijing to do?

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Ukraine’s Lessons for Asia

by Alyssa Ayres
A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Adnan Abidi). A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series on the implications for Asia of the crisis in Ukraine. See related posts from my colleagues Elizabeth Economy and Sheila Smith.

The most significant international crisis in recent years—Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine—has left global and western institutions scrambling to respond. What lessons do these events offer thus far for Asia? Read more »

Paula Briscoe: Greenland—China’s Foothold in Europe?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A lab manager at Activation laboratories prepares samples of mines to check ore grades of minerals in Nuuk, Greenland, on October 15, 2012. A lab manager at Activation laboratories prepares samples of mines to check ore grades of minerals in Nuuk, Greenland, on October 15, 2012. (Alistair Scrutton/Courtesy Reuters)

Paula Briscoe is the National Intelligence Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

China’s current and planned investments in Greenland raise concerns, not only about Chinese access to more of the world’s resources but also about China’s longer term objectives and the foothold in Europe that a strong partnership with Greenland could provide for Beijing. Read more »

Don’t Bet on the BRICs

by Joshua Kurlantzick
(L-R) India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, China's President Hu Jintao, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma attend a joint news conference at the BRICS Leaders Meeting in Sanya, Hainan province April 14, 2011.

(L-R) India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, China's President Hu Jintao, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma attend a joint news conference at the BRICS Leaders Meeting in Sanya, Hainan province April 14, 2011 (How Hwee Young/Courtesy Reuters).

In the midst of the Eurozone crisis and the G20 summit, many commentators are hailing this moment as a key sign of America’s decline and the rise of emerging powers – principally China but also India, Brazil and others. In the new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek I argue that this optimism over the BRICS’ ability to aid the world economy is, for now, wildly overrated.

You can read the article in its entirety here.

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Europe Talks China

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez, and Spain's Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian talk during the signing of commercial agreements between China and Spain at Madrid's Moncloa Palace January 5, 2011.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez, and Spain's Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian talk during the signing of commercial agreements between China and Spain at Madrid's Moncloa Palace on January 5, 2011. (Susana Vera/Courtesy Reuters)

It is always good to get out in the world to gain a little perspective. I’ve spent the past week in Europe, and from London, to Stockholm to Davos, the message seems remarkably similar: as an economy, China rocks; as a global political player, not so much. While the Chinese Foreign Ministry has not acknowledged any missteps in its year of living dangerously — indeed Foreign Ministry officials are hewing very closely to the more assertive line that got them in trouble in the first place — the rest of the world is clearly a bit nonplussed.
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