By Sukjoon Yoon
2 December 2013
Regional maritime territorial disputes have expanded beyond the surface of the seas into the airspace above them, marking a significant enlargement of the theatre of conflict. Why has China established the East China Sea (ECS) Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ)?
ON 23 NOVEMBER 2013 China unexpectedly declared the East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), defining it to include the Chinese Exclusive Economic Zone but also the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Within this zone, which is 130km from Japanese territory at its closest point, China requires the ready identification, location, and control of all civil and military aircraft from any nation, whether over land or sea.
This strikingly assertive measure will likely impact regional maritime security calculations in the years ahead. The Chinese move has been immediately defied by the United States, South Korea and Japan with military overflights through the ADIZ without notifying China while Japanese civilian airlines, initially complying, were told to ignore the new Chinese flight rules. These have so far provoked only muted response from Beijing.
By International Crisis Group
13 November 2013
Sri Lanka’s ethnically-exclusive regime continues to close political space and consolidate its power. Recent moves that create a perception of progress have not weakened the power of the president, his family or the military or brought reconciliation, ended human rights abuses or reduced impunity. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won a landslide victory in September’s long-awaited northern provincial council elections. Yet, President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration is reluctant to allow devolution to begin, preferring to maintain de facto military rule in the north. It faces increasing social and communal pressures elsewhere, too. Journalists, human rights defenders and critics of the government are threatened and censored. With opposition parties weak and fragmented, continued international pressure and action are essential to stem the authoritarian turn and erosion of rule of law, realise the devolution of power promised in the constitution and start a credible investigation of alleged war crimes by government forces and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).
By Axel Berkofsky
11 November 2013
Beijing complains that Europe is already ‘interfering’ too much in China’s internal affairs endorsing US-driven containment policies, while Washington wants Europe to do more. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t for Brussels policymakers in Asian security, it seems. Far from it EU policymakers counter insisting that Brussels is a ‘soft power’ making ‘soft power’ contributions to the region’s peace and stability. While not producing the same front-page newspaper coverage as e.g. US-Korean military maneuvers or the deployment of the jointly developed US-Japan missile defense system, the Union’s development aid and the expansion of trade and business ties with Asia have been promoting Asian peace and stability over decades, EU policymakers typically explain.
Too Soft, Says Washington
European ‘soft power’ only, however, is not good enough as far as Washington is concerned. “From an EU perspective it may be desirable to develop a more direct presence in the Asia Pacific to help ensure that the US remain committed to the alliance’s security interests in other regions that are traditionally perceived as more vital to European security”, the US scholars Erickson and Strange argue.
By Julia Marie Ewert
29 October 2013
China’s latest action plan against air pollution contains many promising elements. However, clearer provisions on follow-up measures and consequences in case of non-compliance are needed. A no stick but just carrot-approach is ill-suited given the urgency of the situation. Immediate changes are required and external players such as the EU can only help with long-term transformation.
It was during the run-up to the 2008 Olympics that Beijing’s air pollution drew worldwide media attention for the first time. Since then, reports about pollution in Chinese cities have become commonplace. The most recent case was that of Harbin in the North East of China. Levels of the PM2.5 reached 500 on 21 October 2013, the highest possible level on the scale. Visibility dropped to less than 10 meters in part of the city. Schools and the airport remained closed due to the smog for three days in a row. According to the WHO’s 2005 Air Quality Guidelines, the 24-hour average of PM2.5 concentration should not exceed 25 micrograms per cubic metre.
By David Camroux
27 September 2013
The presence of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg in early September went virtually unnoticed by the European media. That his attendance was overlooked can be explained by immediate factors, namely the overriding importance of the Syrian conflict in the discussions among leaders, and the fact that SBY (as President Yudhoyono is commonly known) is a lame-duck president with less than a year to go before the end of his two-term limit. Lacking BRIC status (for now at least), Indonesia – unlike China, India or even Brazil – barely registers on the radar screen of public awareness in Europe
By Sam Bateman
10 September 2013
The incoming Abbott Government is likely to place greater emphasis on bilateral relations and be less sensitive to regional concerns than its predecessor. How will this affect Canberra’s ties with its neighbours, especially in Southeast Asia?
AFTER SIX years of centre-left government by the Australian Labor Party (ALP), Australia is under new leadership. The right-wing Liberal–National Party (LNP) Coalition led by Tony Abbott swept to power in Canberra in the just-concluded 7 September 2013 federal elections.
With broad bipartisan agreement on the fundamentals, foreign and defence policies were not major issues during the election campaign. However with the LNP in power, some differences are likely in the way in which Canberra relates to the region. This could include a greater emphasis on bilateral relations, particularly economic and trade issues, and reduced sensitivity to regional concerns, including with people smuggling and border protection.
By Lucie Qian Xia
21 August 2013
On 19 July 2012, Li Baodong, the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office in Geneva stated that ‘the Syrian conflict should be resolved by Syrians themselves’. This statement represents China’s third veto against UN resolutions on Syria.
The deepening turmoil in Syria has led to calls for the international community to take action to implement the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) norm in Syria. R2P is a set of principles that first obligates individual states and then the international community to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. However, R2P has not been implemented by the UN in Syria, partly due to the objection of China – and Russia. This was in contrast to the situation in Libya where China did not veto the Western inspired UN resolution establishing a no fly zone to protect civilians in Bengazi under threat of annihilation from Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.
China’s reaction to the Syrian crisis highlights how international norms are now interpreted by China and sheds light on the rationale underpinning China’s foreign policy behaviour.
By John Farnell
25 July 2013
Newspapers have been full of alarming headlines in the past month, as signs of China’s slow-down in economic growth have become clearer. Growth in the second quarter was 7.5 per cent, just on this year’s official target but slightly less than in the previous quarter, and other economic indicators look worrying: manufacturing output growth declined between May and June, exports fell in June for the first time in over a year, and Chinese business confidence is at its lowest point for a year. China’s Minister of Finance, Lou Jiwei, even hinted in early July that this year’s economic growth target might not be met, which has not happened in China since the Asian banking crisis in the late 1990’s; Premier Li Keqiang stepped in this week to reaffirm the target would after all be met.
As the prospects for the world economy depend so much on China, the forensic attention given to Chinese statistics is not surprising. The Chinese market has been the outstanding stimulus to worldwide economic activity for the past decade.
By Rahul Mishra
24 July 2013
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership envisions a giant free trade area encompassing the major Asian economies. India stands to benefit, but must move forward positively in both its domestic organisation and external negotiations to optimise its gains.
ASEAN HAS been encouraged by the progress of its bilateral FTAs with the ‘Plus Six’ members, to take steps to make the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) a reality by 2015. First mooted during the 2011 ASEAN Summit in Indonesia, the RCEP negotiation process was formally launched during the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
By Barry Desker
10 July 2013
The rise of Asia could lull Asians into a bout of triumphalism. The coming Asian Century will not be a bed of roses as new challenges are emerging even as the region makes its presence felt in a changing global order.
A MAJOR weakness in many analyses of global trends is the tendency to assume that developments in societies we are familiar with will be replicated elsewhere. We tend to be optimistic and focus on the good news in reaching conclusions about the fate of other societies. Living in Singapore, we get caught up in the hype on the rise of Asia and the shift in power from West to East. What is forgotten is that Asia’s rise has occurred in an era of peace and relative political stability.