Showing posts with label south asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label south asia. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Views from Japan: Nuclear Weapons

Views from Japan: Nuclear Weapons

Questions sent to a Japanese citizen:

konnichiwa, dear [xxx]-san

I was reading the book "Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age: Power, Ambition, and the Ultimate Weapon" by Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes (Editors), and there is a chapter on Thinking About the Unthinkable - Tokyo's Nuclear Option

We'd like to publish a post and would like:

1  to have arguments in favor and against (specially in favor, since we never see them published) such nuclear option, made by Japanese politicians;
2  to have your opinion on this.


Thank you very much, sir.

[signature removed]

Answer (edited):

how are you going? it's been incredibly hot these days... I almost start melting.

sorry, I haven't read the book. so i'm not very sure my opinions match to your point. anyway, I give you what I see and think. is it about nuclear weapons? (or total nuclear power?) i refer nuke weapons for this moment. please let me know if you need more about nuclear in japan. seems 3 big opinions among politicians (and citizens too) :

#1. it's better to have nu-bombs. because we are facing dangers of Chinese and North Korean nukes. it's the only way to be against nukes.

#2. let's talk and think about nuclear weapons to possess seriously now. it's actually been the biggest taboo in japan even only to talk about the option because of our experiences of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and recently Fukushima which are big trauma for us. I can call it "nuclear allergy". but we are indeed surrounded and threatened by nu-weapons of China and Korea now. it's the time to think about it... and even just the debates will be able to restrain China and Korea (they know our technology is good enough to make nu-weapons immediately if we try).

#3. nobody should even talk or think about it. all nuclear in the world just should be thrown away and banned. because we've learnt from the past

#2 seems the most major opinion, #1 is a sort of extreme... #3 is mainly supported by liberal people. extreme on the other side.

2. my opinion: I used to think like #3, but slightly have changed to #2. I'm sure #3 is right, but too much ideal. no matter how japan says this to the world, no countries will abandon them (at least near future).

japanese people's been used to live in peace by American forces, however people's started to realize no peace for free. i think we are on the way to "normal" country.

please don't understand me, I believe almost all of people don't want to have nu-weapons in real, people's just getting more serious to think about what our country is and what is the best for us.

I wish I got points you need. mail me if you have something not sure.

best regards(^_^)/

[signature removed]

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Can a Growing Services Sector Renew Asia's Economic Growth?

Can a Growing Services Sector Renew Asia's Economic Growth? By Marcus Noland, Donghyun Park, and Gemma B. Estrada
AsiaPacific Issues, No. 109
Honolulu: East-West Center, April 2013
Pages: 8

To continue Asia's economic growth the focus for expansion and improvement must move from export manufacturing to the services sector--primarily to cross-border trade in such modern services as finance, information and communication, and professional business services. As the Asian services-sector economies have historically been dominated by personal services rather than by more information-intensive services, serious concerns exist about their ability to rapidly and successfully grow these modern services. While Asia does have some well-known services-sector success stories--such as in India and the Philippines--most Asian services economies have a history of relatively slow developmental change. Removing internal and external policy and structural constraints will be key to productivity growth in modern cross-border services trade. Improving educational opportunities and strengthening infrastructure and capital and labor markets will all be needed complements to regulatory reform if Asia is to grow new and innovative service providers.

Friday, March 29, 2013

America's Voluntary Standards System: A 'Best Practice' Model for Asian Innovation Policies? By Dieter Ernst

America's Voluntary Standards System: A 'Best Practice' Model for Asian Innovation Policies? By Dieter Ernst
East-West Center, Policy Studies, No. 66, March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-309-26204-5 (print); 978-0-86638-205-2 (electronic)
Pages: xvi, 66


Across Asia there is a keen interest in the potential advantages of America's market-led system of voluntary standards and its contribution to US innovation leadership in complex technologies.

For its proponents, the US tradition of bottom-up, decentralized, informal, market-led standardization is a "best practice" model for innovation policy. Observers in Asia are, however, concerned about possible drawbacks of a standards system largely driven by the private sector.

This study reviews the historical roots of the American system, examines its defining characteristics, and highlights its strengths and weaknesses. A tradition of decentralized local self-government has given voice to diverse stakeholders in innovation. However, a lack of effective coordination of multiple stakeholder strategies constrains effective and open standardization processes.

Asian countries seeking to improve their standards systems should study the strengths and weaknesses of the American system. Attempts to replicate the US standards system will face clear limitations--persistent differences in Asia's economic institutions, levels of development, and growth models are bound to limit convergence to a US-style market-led voluntary standards system.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Reef and Relations: Is the Philippines-US Alliance Finally Maturing? By Julio S. Amador III

Reef and Relations: Is the Philippines-US Alliance Finally Maturing? By Julio S. Amador III
Washington, D.C.: East-West Center. February 26, 2013
Asia Pacific Bulletin, No. 202

Julio S. Amador III, Foreign Affairs Research Specialist at the Foreign Service Institute of the Philippines, explains that the recent grounding in Filipino waters of the USS Guardian, "[s]hows just how delicate managing alliances can be, and the response by the Filipino and US governments also demonstrates a level of maturity in managing the issue."


The two countries have had a long history of working together and the military aspect of the alliance is an important facet of the overall relationship, but further cooperation in other areas should be emphasized and supported. The incident in Tubbataha opens up a new opportunity to cooperate on environmental protection, which is an issue that strikes a chord among citizens of both countries. Already, there are reports that the US government is willing to provide additional assistance including radar and communications equipment to help the Philippines’ reef rangers and coast guard improve their capacity to protect Tubbataha. This would be of great value in ensuring the reef’s survival. Further collaboration should be encouraged such as scientific partnerships between marine science institutions in the United States and the Philippines, environmental tourism, and investment in coral reef conservation.

Protocols that cover US naval movements near protected areas could also be adopted so that future accidents can be avoided. As a result of this incident, such a move could allay any fears that the United States is running roughshod over the Philippines. Acknowledging local expertise and information should also be something that US naval officers take into consideration when navigating through Philippine waters. On the Philippine side, coordination among the various government agencies involved should be emphasized so that there are no conflicting messages. A
lead agency should be designated that addresses this issue on behalf of the government. A comprehensive rehabilitation plan for Tubbataha also needs to be developed to showcase how serious both two sides are in managing the aftermath of the incident.

Going forward, managing the alliance should not be too difficult for the Philippines and the United States, as both states have a long history of working and cooperating together. That does not detract from the fact that US officials should be more respectful of Philippine navigational laws and restrictions regarding its sovereign territory. Nor should it make the Philippine side complacent with regard to implementing its environmental laws. However, what this incident illustrates is the capacity of the allies to be more mature in managing a potentially serious diplomatic incident.

That the United States has already acknowledged some responsibility is an indication of its respect towards its ally. The Philippine side, meanwhile, has demonstrated a pragmatic and principled stance to an otherwise incendiary issue; thus, the government’s ability to be firm with regard to the implementation of its environmental laws and its capacity to separate this issue from the military relationship is commendable.

How the two allies will work together after this incident will be a good indication of the maturity and future direction of the alliance. Looking at the current situation, the outlook is positive.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mobilizing Resources, Building Coalitions: Local Power in Indonesia

Mobilizing Resources, Building Coalitions: Local Power in Indonesia, by Ryan Tans
Honolulu: East-West Center, 2012
Policy Studies, No. 64
ISBN: 978-0-86638-220-5

What have been the local political consequences of Indonesia's decentralization and electoral reforms? Some recent scholarship has emphasized continuity with Suharto's New Order, arguing that under the new rules, old elites have used money and intimidation to capture elected office. Studies detail the widespread practice of "money politics," in which candidates exchange patronage for support from voters and parties. Yet significant variation characterizes Indonesia's local politics, which suggests the need for an approach that differentiates contrasting power arrangements.

This study of three districts in North Sumatra province compares local politicians according to their institutional resource bases and coalitional strategies. Even if all practice money politics, they form different coalition types that depend on diverse institutions for political resources. The three ideal types of coalitions are political mafias, party machines, and mobilizing coalitions. Political mafias have a resource base limited to local state institutions and businesses; party machines bridge local and supra-local institutions; and mobilizing coalitions incorporate social organizations and groups of voters. Due to contrasting resource bases, the coalitions have different strategic option "menus," and they may experiment with various political tactics.

The framework developed here plausibly applies in other Indonesian districts to the extent that similar resource bases--namely local state institutions, party networks, and strong social and business organizations--are available to elites in other places.

About the Author: Ryan Tans is a doctoral student in political science at Emory University. Previously, he received a Master of Arts in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chinese Strategic Miscalculations in the South China Sea, by Hoang Anh Tuan

Chinese Strategic Miscalculations in the South China Sea, by Hoang Anh Tuan
Asia Pacific Bulletin, No. 181
Washington, D.C.: East-West Center
September 27, 2012

Hoang Anh Tuan is the Director-General of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.


Regrettably, China does not yet recognize the extent to which its aggressive course in the South China Sea is damaging its diplomacy with neighboring countries.

China’s current assertiveness in the South China Sea is now slowly but surely eroding its positive image with its ASEAN neighbors as a peacefully rising power. Without exception, countries within Southeast Asia and beyond are very cautious of China’s rise. Even as China’s national economic and global stature increase, its influence, image and “soft power” abroad is declining dramatically.

China now sees “US hands” in both its internal and external affairs. Examples this year of US influence in China’s domestic affairs include Wang Lijun, Chongqing’s former police chief, applying to the US Consulate in Chengdu for political asylum and the blind lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, fleeing to the US Embassy in Beijing. Throughout the region, US allies including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines have all upgraded their already strong military cooperation with the United States. If China continues to ignore the interests or concerns of its neighbors who have a stake in the South China Sea, its aggressiveness is likely to galvanize increased regional cooperation with the United States.

Third, troubles with close neighbors also affect the image and position of China in the world. The most important condition for any country aspiring to ascend to global power status is to maintain good relations with its neighbors. However, if China is unable or unwilling to maintain a cordial relationship with its closest neighbors, how can countries further afield trust and respect this aspiring superpower? As long as China is unable to maintain a significant level of trust and friendship with its neighbors, benevolent global power status for China is likely to remain a pipe dream.

First and foremost, China should take constructive steps to bring about an amicable conclusion to negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, and implement a face-saving policy renouncing once and for all its U-shaped line. Obviously, this will be a difficult decision for China to take. However, the international dividend and return for China’s peaceful rise would ripple far beyond the neighborhood and confines of the South China Sea.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

U.S.-China Competition in Asia: Legacies Help America

U.S.-China Competition in Asia: Legacies Help America. BY ROBERT SUTTER
East-West Center
Feb 2012

As Sino-American competition for influence enters a new stage with the Obama administration’s re-engagement with Asia, each power’s legacies in the region add to economic, military and diplomatic factors determining which power will be more successful in the competition. How the United States and China deal with their respective histories in regional affairs and the role of their non-government relations with the Asia-Pacific represent important legacies that on balance favor the United States.

The Role of History
From the perspective of many regional government officials and observers, the United States and the People’s Republic of China both have historically very mixed records, often resorting to highly disruptive and violent measures to preserve their interests. The record of the United States in the Cold War and later included major wars in Korea and Vietnam and constant military friction along Asia’s rim as it sought to preserve military balance and deter perceived aggression. Many in Asia benefited from America’s resolve and major sacrifices. Most today see the United States as a mature power well aware of the pros and cons of past behavior as it crafts a regional strategy to avoid a potentially dangerous withdrawal and to preserve stability amid U.S. economic and budget constraints.

In contrast, rising China shows little awareness of the implications of its record in the region. Chinese officials and citizens remain deeply influenced by an officially encouraged erroneous claim that China has always been benign and never expansionist. The highly disruptive policies and practices of the People’s Republic of China under the revolutionary leadership of Mao Zedong and the more pragmatic leadership of Deng Xiaoping are not discussed. Well-educated audiences at foreign policy forums at universities and related venues show little awareness of such legacies as consistent Chinese support for the Khmer Rouge as a means to preserve Chinese interests in Southeast Asia.  China’s military invasion of Vietnam and Chinese directed insurgencies against major governments in Southeast Asia, both Western-aligned states and the strictly neutral government of Burma, seem widely unknown.

Chinese officials who should know better also refuse or are unable to deal honestly with the recent past. Speaking last year to a group of Asian Pacific including Vietnamese, American and Chinese officials and scholars deliberating over recent trends in Asia, a Chinese foreign affairs official emphasized in prepared remarks that China “has always been a source of stability in Asia.” After watching the Vietnamese participants squirm in their seats, others raised objections to such gross inaccuracy.

The Chinese lacuna regarding how it has been perceived by its neighbors encumbers China’s efforts to gain influence in the region. China has a lot to live down. Regional governments need steady reassurance that China will not employ its growing power to return to the domineering and disruptive practices that marked forty of the sixty years of the People’s Republic of China. Educated Chinese citizens and at least some responsible officials appear insensitive to this need because of ignorance. They see no requirement to compensate for the past and many criticize Chinese government actions that try to accommodate concerns of regional neighbors. The nationalistic rhetoric coming from China views neighbors as overly sensitive to Chinese assertions and coercive measures on territorial, trade and other issues which revive regional wariness that the antagonistic China of the recent past may be reemerging with greater power in the current period.

Non-government Relations

Like many countries, China’s interaction with its neighbors relies heavily on the Chinese government and other official organizations. Even areas such as trade, investment, media, education and other interchange are heavily influenced by administrative support and guidance. An exception is the large numbers of ethnic Chinese living for generations in neighboring countries, especially in Southeast Asia, which represent a source of non-government influence for China. On balance, the influence of these groups is positive for China, although suspicions about them remain in some countries.

By contrast, for much of its history, the United States exerted influence in Asia and the Pacific much more through business, religious, media, foundations, educational and other interchange than through channels dependent on government leadership and support. Active American non-government interaction with the region continues today, putting the United States in a unique position where the American non-government sector has such a strong and usually positive impact on the influence the United States exerts in the region. Meanwhile, almost 50 years of generally color-blind U.S.  immigration policy since the ending of discriminatory U.S. restrictions on Asian immigration in 1965 has resulted in the influx of millions of Asia-Pacific migrants who call America home and who interact with their countries of origin in ways that under gird and reflect well on the U.S. position in the region. No other country, with the exception of Canada, has such an active and powerfully positive channel of influence in the Asia-Pacific.

Outlook: Advantage U.S.

The primary concerns in the Asia-Pacific with stability and development mean that U.S.-Chinese competition for influence probably will focus more on persuasion than coercion. The strong American foundation of webs of positive non-government regional interchange and the Obama government’s widely welcomed re-engagement with the region contrasts with rising China’s poor awareness of its historical impact on the region and limited non-government connections.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What drives the global land rush?

What drives the global land rush? Authors: Arezki, Rabah; Deininger, Klaus; Selod, Harris
IMF Working Paper No. 11/251

Summary: This paper studies the determinants of foreign land acquisition for large-scale agriculture. To do so, gravity models are estimated using data on bilateral investment relationships, together with newly constructed indicators of agro-ecological suitability in areas with low population density as well as indicators of land rights security. Results confirm the central role of agro-ecological potential as a pull factor. In contrast to the literature on foreign investment in general, the quality of the business climate is insignificant whereas weak land governance and tenure security for current users make countries more attractive for investors. Implications for policy are discussed.


After decades of stagnant or declining commodity prices when agriculture was considered a ‘sunset industry’, recent increases in the level and volatility of commodity prices and the resulting demand for land have taken many observers by surprise. This phenomenon has been accompanied by a rising interest in acquiring agricultural land by investors, including sovereign wealth and private equity funds, agricultural producers, and key players from the food and agri-business industry. Investors’ motivations include economic considerations, mistrust in markets and concern about political stability, or speculation on future demand for food and fiber, or future payment for environmental services including for carbon sequestration. Some stakeholders, including many host-country governments, welcome such investment as an opportunity to overcome decades of under-investment in the sector, create employment, and leapfrog and take advantage of recent technological development. Others denounce it as a ”land grab” (Zoomers 2010). They point to the irony of envisaging large exports of food from countries which in some cases depend on regular food aid. It is noted that specific projects’ speculative nature, questionable economic basis, or lack of consultation and compensation of local people calls for a global response (De Schutter 2011).  In a context of diametrically opposite perceptions, the objective of the present paper is to provide greater clarity on the numbers involved and the factors driving such investment. This is done by quantifying demand for land deals, and exploring the determinants of foreign land acquisition for large-scale agriculture using data on bilateral investment relationships. This work is an important first step to assess potential long-term impacts and discuss policy implications.

The analysis of large-scale land deals is relevant for a number of key development issues.  One such issue is the debate on the most appropriate structure of agricultural production. The exceptionally large poverty elasticity of growth in smallholder agriculture (de Janvry and Sadoulet 2010, Loayza and Raddatz 2010) that is reflected in rapid recent poverty reduction in Asian economies such as China, and the fact that the majority of poor are still located in rural areas led observers to highlight the importance of a smallholder structure for poverty reduction (Lipton 2009, World Bank 2007). At the same time, disillusion with the limited success of smallholder-based efforts to improve productivity in sub-Saharan Africa (Collier 2008) and apparent export competitiveness of “mega-farms” in Latin America or Eastern Europe during the 2007/8 global food crisis have led to renewed questions about whether, despite a mixed record, large scale agriculture can be a path out of poverty and to development.

Whatever the envisaged scenario, renewed pressure on land raises the issue of whether there is sufficient competition and transparency to ensure that land owners or users are able to either transfer their land at a fair price or hold on to it as opposed to having it taken away without their consent and in what may be perceived an unfair deal. This resonates with recent contributions to the literature that suggest that resource abundance can contribute to more broad-based development only if well-governed institutions to manage these resources exist (Oechslin 2010). This is borne out by empirical evidence both across countries (Cabrales and Hauk 2011) and within more specific country contexts where resource booms may have fuelled widespread rent-seeking and corruption (Bhattacharyya and Hodler 2010) or even violence (Angrist and Kugler 2008) rather than economic development.

To better understand this phenomenon and its potential impact, an empirical analysis of the factors driving transnational land acquisition is needed. To this end, we constructed a global database with country-level information on both foreign demand for land and implemented projects as documented in international and local press reports. We complement it with country-specific assessments of the amount of potentially suitable land and other relevant variables. We then use bilateral investment relationships from the database to estimate gravity models that can help identify determinants of foreign land acquisition. Results confirm the central role of agro-ecological potential as a pull factor but suggest that, in contrast to what is found for foreign investment more generally, rule of law and good governance have no effect on the number of land-related investment. Moreover, and counterintuitively, we find that countries where governance of the land sector and tenure security are weak have been most attractive for investors. This finding, which resonates with concerns articulated by parts of civil society, suggests that, to minimize the risk that such investments fail to produce benefits for local populations , the micro-level and project-based approach that has dominated the global debate so far will need to be complemented with an emphasis and determined action to improve land governance, transparency and global monitoring.  The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 puts recent land demand into broader context, highlighting the importance of governance in attracting investments. It draws on an analysis of how foreign direct investment (FDI) is treated in the macro-literature to suggest a methodological approach, and outlines how we address specific data needs. Section 3 presents our cross-sectional data on land demand, outlines the econometric approach, and briefly discusses relevant descriptive statistics. Key econometric results in section 4 support the importance of food import demand as motivations for countries to seek out land abroad (‘push factors’) and of agro-ecological suitability as key determinants for the choice of destination (‘pull factors’). They also highlight the extent to which weak land governance seems to encourage rather than discourage transnational demand for land. Section 5 concludes by highlighting a number of implications for policy.

Buy the paper here:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Strategic Implications of Closer Indonesia-China Relations

Growing Convergence, Greater Consequence: The Strategic Implications of Closer Indonesia-China Relations. By Greta Nabbs-Keller. Security Challenges Journal. Volume 7, Number 3 (Spring 2011), pp. 23-42.

Indonesia’s relationship with China has been characterised by a history of enmity, but residual concerns belie increasing economic and foreign policy convergence boosted by the positive effects of democratisation on Indonesia’s perceptions of the Chinese. This article will argue that the growing convergence of interests between Indonesia and China is a positive development for Australia. China’s rise has provided the engine of growth for Southeast Asia’s largest economy and has increasingly cemented Indonesia’s importance in the ASEAN-centred regional order. For Australia, it means a stronger, stable, and more prosperous neighbour next door with natural ‘antibodies’ against Chinese assertiveness.

Excerpts (edited):

In a 2008 book on the rise of Asia and the transformation of geopolitics, William Overholt, the Director of Rand Corporation’s Centre for Asia Pacific Policy, made the following argument about Indonesia:
A reviving Indonesia, with its vast territory, large population, and determination to lead the region, still zealously guards against any hint of emergent Chinese hegemony. Even more than other countries in the region, Indonesia has powerful antibodies to any hint of strong Chinese assertion.
It was Overholt’s contention that although the US “had lost stature in Southeast Asia … [this] did not presage Chinese dominance”. Overholt is absolutely correct about Indonesia’s wariness of China and indeed relations have been characterised traditionally by high political drama and a history of enmity. But residual Indonesian concerns about China are only part of the story. They belie ever closer economic and foreign policy convergence boosted by the positive effects of democratisation on Indonesia’s perceptions of the Chinese. Relations between East Asia’s two largest states have undergone a remarkable transformation in the period of Indonesia’s democratisation, with significant implications for the broader security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.

The article will argue that the growing convergence of interests between Indonesia and China evident over the last decade is a positive development for Australia. China’s rise has provided the engine of growth for Southeast Asia’s largest economy and has increasingly cemented Indonesia’s importance in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-centred regional order. For Australia, it means a stronger, stable, and more prosperous neighbour next door with Overholt’s natural antibodies against Chinese assertiveness. Although Indonesia’s relationship with China remains characterised by dichotomous elements—friendship versus residual distrust, economic complementarity versus competition—Indonesia has sought to maximise the opportunities inherent in China’s rise, whilst continuing to hedge against the strategic uncertainties posed by China.

Greta Nabbs-Keller is a PhD candidate at Griffith Asia Institute researching the impact of democratisation on Indonesia’s foreign policy. Her broader research interests include Indonesian civil-military relations and Australian regional foreign policy. Before joining Griffith University, Greta worked for the Department of Defence in Canberra and Jakarta.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chellaney: Hydro-control turning China into dreaded hydra?


Hydro-control turning China into dreaded hydra? By Brahma Chellaney
Bangkok Post, Oct 18, 2011 at 12:00 AM
With Beijing controlling the sources of Asia's most important rivers, water has increasingly become a new political divide in China's relations with neighbours like India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Nepal and the Mekong River countries.

International discussion about China's rise has focused on its increasing trade muscle, growing maritime ambitions, and expanding capacity to project military power. One critical issue, however, usually escapes attention: China's rise as a hydro-hegemon with no modern historical parallel.

The Mekong River, whose water level last March dropped to only 33 centimetres, the lowest in 50 years. People living downriver in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia attributed the fall in water level to newly constructed dams in China.

No other country has ever managed to assume such unchallenged riparian pre-eminence on a continent by controlling the headwaters of multiple international rivers and manipulating their cross-border flows. China, the world's biggest dam builder _ with slightly more than half of the approximately 50,000 large dams on the planet _ is rapidly accumulating leverage against its neighbours by undertaking massive hydro-engineering projects on transnational rivers.

Asia's water map fundamentally changed after the 1949 Communist victory in China. Most of Asia's important international rivers originate in territories that were forcibly annexed to the People's Republic of China. The Tibetan Plateau, for example, is the world's largest freshwater repository and the source of Asia's greatest rivers, including those that are the lifeblood for mainland China and South and Southeast Asia. Other such Chinese territories contain the headwaters of rivers like the Irtysh, Illy and Amur, which flow to Russia and Central Asia.

This makes China the source of cross-border water flows to the largest number of countries in the world. Yet China rejects the very notion of water sharing or institutionalised cooperation with downriver countries. Whereas riparian neighbours in Southeast and South Asia are bound by water pacts that they have negotiated between themselves, China does not have a single water treaty with any co-riparian country. Indeed, having its cake and eating it, China is a dialogue partner but not a member of the Mekong River Commission, underscoring its intent not to abide by the Mekong basin community's rules or take on any legal obligations.

Worse, while promoting multilateralism on the world stage, China has given the cold shoulder to multilateral cooperation among river-basin states. The lower-Mekong countries, for example, view China's strategy as an attempt to "divide and conquer". Although China publicly favours bilateral initiatives over multilateral institutions in addressing water issues, it has not shown any real enthusiasm for meaningful bilateral action. As a result, water has increasingly become a new political divide in the country's relations with neighbours like India, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Nepal.

China deflects attention from its refusal to share water, or to enter into institutionalised cooperation to manage common rivers sustainably, by flaunting the accords that it has signed on sharing flow statistics with riparian neighbours. These are not agreements to cooperate on shared resources, but rather commercial accords to sell hydrological data that other upstream countries provide free to downriver states.

In fact, by shifting its frenzied dam building from internal rivers to international rivers, China is now locked in water disputes with almost all co-riparian states. Those disputes are bound to worsen, given China's new focus on erecting mega-dams, best symbolised by its latest addition on the Mekong _ the 4,200-megawatt Xiaowan Dam, which dwarfs Paris's Eiffel Tower in height _ and a 38,000-megawatt dam planned on the Brahmaputra at Metog, close to the disputed border with India. The Metog Dam will be twice as large as the 18,300-megawatt Three Gorges Dam, currently the world's largest, construction of which uprooted at least 1.7 million Chinese.

In addition, China has identified another mega-dam site on the Brahmaputra at Daduqia, which, like Metog, is to harness the force of a nearly 3,000-metre drop in the river's height as it takes a sharp southerly turn from the Himalayan range into India, forming the world's longest and steepest canyon. The Brahmaputra Canyon _ twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States _ holds Asia's greatest untapped water reserves.

The countries likely to bear the brunt of such massive diversion of waters are those located farthest downstream on rivers like the Brahmaputra and Mekong _ Bangladesh, whose very future is threatened by climate and environmental change, and Vietnam, a rice bowl of Asia. China's water appropriations from the Illy River threaten to turn Kazakhstan's Lake Balkhash into another Aral Sea, which has shrunk to less than half its original size.

In addition, China has planned the "Great Western Route", the proposed third leg of the Great South-North Water Diversion Project _ the most ambitious inter-river and inter-basin transfer programme ever conceived _ whose first two legs, involving internal rivers in China's ethnic Han heartland, are scheduled to be completed within three years.

The Great Western Route, centred on the Tibetan Plateau, is designed to divert waters, including from international rivers, to the Yellow River, the main river of water-stressed northern China, which also originates in Tibet.

With its industry now dominating the global hydropower-equipment market, China has also emerged as the largest dam builder overseas. From Pakistani-held Kashmir to Burma's troubled Kachin and Shan states, China has widened its dam building to disputed or insurgency-torn areas, despite local backlashes.

For example, units of the People's Liberation Army are engaged in dam and other strategic projects in the restive, Shia-majority region of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-held Kashmir. And China's dam building inside Burma to generate power for export to Chinese provinces has contributed to renewed bloody fighting recently, ending a 17-year ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese government.

As with its territorial and maritime disputes with India, Vietnam, Japan and others, China is seeking to disrupt the status quo on international river flows. Persuading it to halt further unilateral appropriation of shared waters has thus become pivotal to Asian peace and stability. Otherwise, China is likely to emerge as the master of Asia's water taps, thereby acquiring tremendous leverage over its neighbours' behaviour.

Brahma Chellaney is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Centre for Policy Research and the author of "Water: Asia's New Battleground." Project Syndicate, 2011.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The future of politics will be decided in Asia, and the US will be right at the center of the action

America's Pacific Century. By Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton
November Issue of Foreign Policy Magazine 
The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.

October 11, 2011

As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment -- diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise -- in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific has become a key driver of global politics. Stretching from the Indian subcontinent to the western shores of the Americas, the region spans two oceans -- the Pacific and the Indian -- that are increasingly linked by shipping and strategy. It boasts almost half the world's population. It includes many of the key engines of the global economy, as well as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. It is home to several of our key allies and important emerging powers like China, India, and Indonesia.

At a time when the region is building a more mature security and economic architecture to promote stability and prosperity, U.S. commitment there is essential. It will help build that architecture and pay dividends for continued American leadership well into this century, just as our post-World War II commitment to building a comprehensive and lasting transatlantic network of institutions and relationships has paid off many times over -- and continues to do so. The time has come for the United States to make similar investments as a Pacific power, a strategic course set by President Barack Obama from the outset of his administration and one that is already yielding benefits.

With Iraq and Afghanistan still in transition and serious economic challenges in our own country, there are those on the American political scene who are calling for us not to reposition, but to come home. They seek a downsizing of our foreign engagement in favor of our pressing domestic priorities. These impulses are understandable, but they are misguided. Those who say that we can no longer afford to engage with the world have it exactly backward -- we cannot afford not to. From opening new markets for American businesses to curbing nuclear proliferation to keeping the sea lanes free for commerce and navigation, our work abroad holds the key to our prosperity and security at home. For more than six decades, the United States has resisted the gravitational pull of these "come home" debates and the implicit zero-sum logic of these arguments. We must do so again.

Beyond our borders, people are also wondering about America's intentions -- our willingness to remain engaged and to lead. In Asia, they ask whether we are really there to stay, whether we are likely to be distracted again by events elsewhere, whether we can make -- and keep -- credible economic and strategic commitments, and whether we can back those commitments with action. The answer is: We can, and we will.

Harnessing Asia's growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia. Strategically, maintaining peace and security across the Asia-Pacific is increasingly crucial to global progress, whether through defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, countering the proliferation efforts of North Korea, or ensuring transparency in the military activities of the region's key players.

Just as Asia is critical to America's future, an engaged America is vital to Asia's future. The region is eager for our leadership and our business -- perhaps more so than at any time in modern history. We are the only power with a network of strong alliances in the region, no territorial ambitions, and a long record of providing for the common good. Along with our allies, we have underwritten regional security for decades -- patrolling Asia's sea lanes and preserving stability -- and that in turn has helped create the conditions for growth. We have helped integrate billions of people across the region into the global economy by spurring economic productivity, social empowerment, and greater people-to-people links. We are a major trade and investment partner, a source of innovation that benefits workers and businesses on both sides of the Pacific, a host to 350,000 Asian students every year, a champion of open markets, and an advocate for universal human rights.

President Obama has led a multifaceted and persistent effort to embrace fully our irreplaceable role in the Pacific, spanning the entire U.S. government. It has often been a quiet effort. A lot of our work has not been on the front pages, both because of its nature -- long-term investment is less exciting than immediate crises -- and because of competing headlines in other parts of the world.

As secretary of state, I broke with tradition and embarked on my first official overseas trip to Asia. In my seven trips since, I have had the privilege to see firsthand the rapid transformations taking place in the region, underscoring how much the future of the United States is intimately intertwined with the future of the Asia-Pacific. A strategic turn to the region fits logically into our overall global effort to secure and sustain America's global leadership. The success of this turn requires maintaining and advancing a bipartisan consensus on the importance of the Asia-Pacific to our national interests; we seek to build upon a strong tradition of engagement by presidents and secretaries of state of both parties across many decades. It also requires smart execution of a coherent regional strategy that accounts for the global implications of our choices.

WHAT DOES THAT regional strategy look like? For starters, it calls for a sustained commitment to what I have called "forward-deployed" diplomacy. That means continuing to dispatch the full range of our diplomatic assets -- including our highest-ranking officials, our development experts, our interagency teams, and our permanent assets -- to every country and corner of the Asia-Pacific region. Our strategy will have to keep accounting for and adapting to the rapid and dramatic shifts playing out across Asia. With this in mind, our work will proceed along six key lines of action: strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening our working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.

By virtue of our unique geography, the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power. We are proud of our European partnerships and all that they deliver. Our challenge now is to build a web of partnerships and institutions across the Pacific that is as durable and as consistent with American interests and values as the web we have built across the Atlantic. That is the touchstone of our efforts in all these areas.

Our treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand are the fulcrum for our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific. They have underwritten regional peace and security for more than half a century, shaping the environment for the region's remarkable economic ascent. They leverage our regional presence and enhance our regional leadership at a time of evolving security challenges.

As successful as these alliances have been, we can't afford simply to sustain them -- we need to update them for a changing world. In this effort, the Obama administration is guided by three core principles. First, we have to maintain political consensus on the core objectives of our alliances. Second, we have to ensure that our alliances are nimble and adaptive so that they can successfully address new challenges and seize new opportunities. Third, we have to guarantee that the defense capabilities and communications infrastructure of our alliances are operationally and materially capable of deterring provocation from the full spectrum of state and nonstate actors.

The alliance with Japan, the cornerstone of peace and stability in the region, demonstrates how the Obama administration is giving these principles life. We share a common vision of a stable regional order with clear rules of the road -- from freedom of navigation to open markets and fair competition. We have agreed to a new arrangement, including a contribution from the Japanese government of more than $5 billion, to ensure the continued enduring presence of American forces in Japan, while expanding joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance activities to deter and react quickly to regional security challenges, as well as information sharing to address cyberthreats. We have concluded an Open Skies agreement that will enhance access for businesses and people-to-people ties, launched a strategic dialogue on the Asia-Pacific, and been working hand in hand as the two largest donor countries in Afghanistan.

Similarly, our alliance with South Korea has become stronger and more operationally integrated, and we continue to develop our combined capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean provocations. We have agreed on a plan to ensure successful transition of operational control during wartime and anticipate successful passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. And our alliance has gone global, through our work together in the G-20 and the Nuclear Security Summit and through our common efforts in Haiti and Afghanistan.

We are also expanding our alliance with Australia from a Pacific partnership to an Indo-Pacific one, and indeed a global partnership. From cybersecurity to Afghanistan to the Arab Awakening to strengthening regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific, Australia's counsel and commitment have been indispensable. And in Southeast Asia, we are renewing and strengthening our alliances with the Philippines and Thailand, increasing, for example, the number of ship visits to the Philippines and working to ensure the successful training of Filipino counterterrorism forces through our Joint Special Operations Task Force in Mindanao. In Thailand -- our oldest treaty partner in Asia -- we are working to establish a hub of regional humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in the region.

AS WE UPDATE our alliances for new demands, we are also building new partnerships to help solve shared problems. Our outreach to China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Brunei, and the Pacific Island countries is all part of a broader effort to ensure a more comprehensive approach to American strategy and engagement in the region. We are asking these emerging partners to join us in shaping and participating in a rules-based regional and global order.

One of the most prominent of these emerging partners is, of course, China. Like so many other countries before it, China has prospered as part of the open and rules-based system that the United States helped to build and works to sustain. And today, China represents one of the most challenging and consequential bilateral relationships the United States has ever had to manage. This calls for careful, steady, dynamic stewardship, an approach to China on our part that is grounded in reality, focused on results, and true to our principles and interests.

We all know that fears and misperceptions linger on both sides of the Pacific. Some in our country see China's progress as a threat to the United States; some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China's growth. We reject both those views. The fact is that a thriving America is good for China and a thriving China is good for America. We both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict. But you cannot build a relationship on aspirations alone. It is up to both of us to more consistently translate positive words into effective cooperation -- and, crucially, to meet our respective global responsibilities and obligations. These are the things that will determine whether our relationship delivers on its potential in the years to come. We also have to be honest about our differences. We will address them firmly and decisively as we pursue the urgent work we have to do together. And we have to avoid unrealistic expectations.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, one of my top priorities has been to identify and expand areas of common interest, to work with China to build mutual trust, and to encourage China's active efforts in global problem-solving. This is why Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and I launched the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the most intensive and expansive talks ever between our governments, bringing together dozens of agencies from both sides to discuss our most pressing bilateral issues, from security to energy to human rights.

We are also working to increase transparency and reduce the risk of miscalculation or miscues between our militaries. The United States and the international community have watched China's efforts to modernize and expand its military, and we have sought clarity as to its intentions. Both sides would benefit from sustained and substantive military-to-military engagement that increases transparency. So we look to Beijing to overcome its reluctance at times and join us in forging a durable military-to-military dialogue. And we need to work together to strengthen the Strategic Security Dialogue, which brings together military and civilian leaders to discuss sensitive issues like maritime security and cybersecurity.

As we build trust together, we are committed to working with China to address critical regional and global security issues. This is why I have met so frequently -- often in informal settings -- with my Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, for candid discussions about important challenges like North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and developments in the South China Sea.

On the economic front, the United States and China need to work together to ensure strong, sustained, and balanced future global growth. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the United States and China worked effectively through the G-20 to help pull the global economy back from the brink. We have to build on that cooperation. U.S. firms want fair opportunities to export to China's growing markets, which can be important sources of jobs here in the United States, as well as assurances that the $50 billion of American capital invested in China will create a strong foundation for new market and investment opportunities that will support global competitiveness. At the same time, Chinese firms want to be able to buy more high-tech products from the United States, make more investments here, and be accorded the same terms of access that market economies enjoy. We can work together on these objectives, but China still needs to take important steps toward reform. In particular, we are working with China to end unfair discrimination against U.S. and other foreign companies or against their innovative technologies, remove preferences for domestic firms, and end measures that disadvantage or appropriate foreign intellectual property. And we look to China to take steps to allow its currency to appreciate more rapidly, both against the dollar and against the currencies of its other major trading partners. Such reforms, we believe, would not only benefit both our countries (indeed, they would support the goals of China's own five-year plan, which calls for more domestic-led growth), but also contribute to global economic balance, predictability, and broader prosperity.

Of course, we have made very clear, publicly and privately, our serious concerns about human rights. And when we see reports of public-interest lawyers, writers, artists, and others who are detained or disappeared, the United States speaks up, both publicly and privately, with our concerns about human rights. We make the case to our Chinese colleagues that a deep respect for international law and a more open political system would provide China with a foundation for far greater stability and growth -- and increase the confidence of China's partners. Without them, China is placing unnecessary limitations on its own development.

At the end of the day, there is no handbook for the evolving U.S.-China relationship. But the stakes are much too high for us to fail. As we proceed, we will continue to embed our relationship with China in a broader regional framework of security alliances, economic networks, and social connections.

Among key emerging powers with which we will work closely are India and Indonesia, two of the most dynamic and significant democratic powers of Asia, and both countries with which the Obama administration has pursued broader, deeper, and more purposeful relationships. The stretch of sea from the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Malacca to the Pacific contains the world's most vibrant trade and energy routes. Together, India and Indonesia already account for almost a quarter of the world's population. They are key drivers of the global economy, important partners for the United States, and increasingly central contributors to peace and security in the region. And their importance is likely to grow in the years ahead.

President Obama told the Indian parliament last year that the relationship between India and America will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, rooted in common values and interests. There are still obstacles to overcome and questions to answer on both sides, but the United States is making a strategic bet on India's future -- that India's greater role on the world stage will enhance peace and security, that opening India's markets to the world will pave the way to greater regional and global prosperity, that Indian advances in science and technology will improve lives and advance human knowledge everywhere, and that India's vibrant, pluralistic democracy will produce measurable results and improvements for its citizens and inspire others to follow a similar path of openness and tolerance. So the Obama administration has expanded our bilateral partnership; actively supported India's Look East efforts, including through a new trilateral dialogue with India and Japan; and outlined a new vision for a more economically integrated and politically stable South and Central Asia, with India as a linchpin.

We are also forging a new partnership with Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy, the world's most populous Muslim nation, and a member of the G-20. We have resumed joint training of Indonesian special forces units and signed a number of agreements on health, educational exchanges, science and technology, and defense. And this year, at the invitation of the Indonesian government, President Obama will inaugurate American participation in the East Asia Summit. But there is still some distance to travel -- we have to work together to overcome bureaucratic impediments, lingering historical suspicions, and some gaps in understanding each other's perspectives and interests.

EVEN AS WE strengthen these bilateral relationships, we have emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation, for we believe that addressing complex transnational challenges of the sort now faced by Asia requires a set of institutions capable of mustering collective action. And a more robust and coherent regional architecture in Asia would reinforce the system of rules and responsibilities, from protecting intellectual property to ensuring freedom of navigation, that form the basis of an effective international order. In multilateral settings, responsible behavior is rewarded with legitimacy and respect, and we can work together to hold accountable those who undermine peace, stability, and prosperity.

So the United States has moved to fully engage the region's multilateral institutions, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, mindful that our work with regional institutions supplements and does not supplant our bilateral ties. There is a demand from the region that America play an active role in the agenda-setting of these institutions -- and it is in our interests as well that they be effective and responsive.

That is why President Obama will participate in the East Asia Summit for the first time in November. To pave the way, the United States has opened a new U.S. Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta and signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN. Our focus on developing a more results-oriented agenda has been instrumental in efforts to address disputes in the South China Sea. In 2010, at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi, the United States helped shape a regionwide effort to protect unfettered access to and passage through the South China Sea, and to uphold the key international rules for defining territorial claims in the South China Sea's waters. Given that half the world's merchant tonnage flows through this body of water, this was a consequential undertaking. And over the past year, we have made strides in protecting our vital interests in stability and freedom of navigation and have paved the way for sustained multilateral diplomacy among the many parties with claims in the South China Sea, seeking to ensure disputes are settled peacefully and in accordance with established principles of international law.

We have also worked to strengthen APEC as a serious leaders-level institution focused on advancing economic integration and trade linkages across the Pacific. After last year's bold call by the group for a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, President Obama will host the 2011 APEC Leaders' Meeting in Hawaii this November. We are committed to cementing APEC as the Asia-Pacific's premier regional economic institution, setting the economic agenda in a way that brings together advanced and emerging economies to promote open trade and investment, as well as to build capacity and enhance regulatory regimes. APEC and its work help expand U.S. exports and create and support high-quality jobs in the United States, while fostering growth throughout the region. APEC also provides a key vehicle to drive a broad agenda to unlock the economic growth potential that women represent. In this regard, the United States is committed to working with our partners on ambitious steps to accelerate the arrival of the Participation Age, where every individual, regardless of gender or other characteristics, is a contributing and valued member of the global marketplace.

In addition to our commitment to these broader multilateral institutions, we have worked hard to create and launch a number of "minilateral" meetings, small groupings of interested states to tackle specific challenges, such as the Lower Mekong Initiative we launched to support education, health, and environmental programs in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the Pacific Islands Forum, where we are working to support its members as they confront challenges from climate change to overfishing to freedom of navigation. We are also starting to pursue new trilateral opportunities with countries as diverse as Mongolia, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, and South Korea. And we are setting our sights as well on enhancing coordination and engagement among the three giants of the Asia-Pacific: China, India, and the United States.

In all these different ways, we are seeking to shape and participate in a responsive, flexible, and effective regional architecture -- and ensure it connects to a broader global architecture that not only protects international stability and commerce but also advances our values.

OUR EMPHASIS ON the economic work of APEC is in keeping with our broader commitment to elevate economic statecraft as a pillar of American foreign policy. Increasingly, economic progress depends on strong diplomatic ties, and diplomatic progress depends on strong economic ties. And naturally, a focus on promoting American prosperity means a greater focus on trade and economic openness in the Asia-Pacific. The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama's goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia. Last year, American exports to the Pacific Rim totaled $320 billion, supporting 850,000 American jobs. So there is much that favors us as we think through this repositioning.

When I talk to my Asian counterparts, one theme consistently stands out: They still want America to be an engaged and creative partner in the region's flourishing trade and financial interactions. And as I talk with business leaders across our own nation, I hear how important it is for the United States to expand our exports and our investment opportunities in Asia's dynamic markets.

Last March in APEC meetings in Washington, and again in Hong Kong in July, I laid out four attributes that I believe characterize healthy economic competition: open, free, transparent, and fair. Through our engagement in the Asia-Pacific, we are helping to give shape to these principles and showing the world their value.

We are pursuing new cutting-edge trade deals that raise the standards for fair competition even as they open new markets. For instance, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement will eliminate tariffs on 95 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial exports within five years and support an estimated 70,000 American jobs. Its tariff reductions alone could increase exports of American goods by more than $10 billion and help South Korea's economy grow by 6 percent. It will level the playing field for U.S. auto companies and workers. So, whether you are an American manufacturer of machinery or a South Korean chemicals exporter, this deal lowers the barriers that keep you from reaching new customers.

We are also making progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will bring together economies from across the Pacific -- developed and developing alike -- into a single trading community. Our goal is to create not just more growth, but better growth. We believe trade agreements need to include strong protections for workers, the environment, intellectual property, and innovation. They should also promote the free flow of information technology and the spread of green technology, as well as the coherence of our regulatory system and the efficiency of supply chains. Ultimately, our progress will be measured by the quality of people's lives -- whether men and women can work in dignity, earn a decent wage, raise healthy families, educate their children, and take hold of the opportunities to improve their own and the next generation's fortunes. Our hope is that a TPP agreement with high standards can serve as a benchmark for future agreements -- and grow to serve as a platform for broader regional interaction and eventually a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific.

Achieving balance in our trade relationships requires a two-way commitment. That's the nature of balance -- it can't be unilaterally imposed. So we are working through APEC, the G-20, and our bilateral relationships to advocate for more open markets, fewer restrictions on exports, more transparency, and an overall commitment to fairness. American businesses and workers need to have confidence that they are operating on a level playing field, with predictable rules on everything from intellectual property to indigenous innovation.

ASIA'S REMARKABLE ECONOMIC growth over the past decade and its potential for continued growth in the future depend on the security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the U.S. military, including more than 50,000 American servicemen and servicewomen serving in Japan and South Korea. The challenges of today's rapidly changing region -- from territorial and maritime disputes to new threats to freedom of navigation to the heightened impact of natural disasters -- require that the United States pursue a more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable force posture.

We are modernizing our basing arrangements with traditional allies in Northeast Asia -- and our commitment on this is rock solid -- while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean. For example, the United States will be deploying littoral combat ships to Singapore, and we are examining other ways to increase opportunities for our two militaries to train and operate together. And the United States and Australia agreed this year to explore a greater American military presence in Australia to enhance opportunities for more joint training and exercises. We are also looking at how we can increase our operational access in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region and deepen our contacts with allies and partners.

How we translate the growing connection between the Indian and Pacific oceans into an operational concept is a question that we need to answer if we are to adapt to new challenges in the region. Against this backdrop, a more broadly distributed military presence across the region will provide vital advantages. The United States will be better positioned to support humanitarian missions; equally important, working with more allies and partners will provide a more robust bulwark against threats or efforts to undermine regional peace and stability.

But even more than our military might or the size of our economy, our most potent asset as a nation is the power of our values -- in particular, our steadfast support for democracy and human rights. This speaks to our deepest national character and is at the heart of our foreign policy, including our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific region.

As we deepen our engagement with partners with whom we disagree on these issues, we will continue to urge them to embrace reforms that would improve governance, protect human rights, and advance political freedoms. We have made it clear, for example, to Vietnam that our ambition to develop a strategic partnership requires that it take steps to further protect human rights and advance political freedoms. Or consider Burma, where we are determined to seek accountability for human rights violations. We are closely following developments in Nay Pyi Taw and the increasing interactions between Aung San Suu Kyi and the government leadership. We have underscored to the government that it must release political prisoners, advance political freedoms and human rights, and break from the policies of the past. As for North Korea, the regime in Pyongyang has shown persistent disregard for the rights of its people, and we continue to speak out forcefully against the threats it poses to the region and beyond.

We cannot and do not aspire to impose our system on other countries, but we do believe that certain values are universal -- that people in every nation in the world, including in Asia, cherish them -- and that they are intrinsic to stable, peaceful, and prosperous countries. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Asia to pursue their own rights and aspirations, just as we have seen people do all over the world.

IN THE LAST decade, our foreign policy has transitioned from dealing with the post-Cold War peace dividend to demanding commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. As those wars wind down, we will need to accelerate efforts to pivot to new global realities.

We know that these new realities require us to innovate, to compete, and to lead in new ways. Rather than pull back from the world, we need to press forward and renew our leadership. In a time of scarce resources, there's no question that we need to invest them wisely where they will yield the biggest returns, which is why the Asia-Pacific represents such a real 21st-century opportunity for us.

Other regions remain vitally important, of course. Europe, home to most of our traditional allies, is still a partner of first resort, working alongside the United States on nearly every urgent global challenge, and we are investing in updating the structures of our alliance. The people of the Middle East and North Africa are charting a new path that is already having profound global consequences, and the United States is committed to active and sustained partnerships as the region transforms. Africa holds enormous untapped potential for economic and political development in the years ahead. And our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere are not just our biggest export partners; they are also playing a growing role in global political and economic affairs. Each of these regions demands American engagement and leadership.

And we are prepared to lead. Now, I'm well aware that there are those who question our staying power around the world. We've heard this talk before. At the end of the Vietnam War, there was a thriving industry of global commentators promoting the idea that America was in retreat, and it is a theme that repeats itself every few decades. But whenever the United States has experienced setbacks, we've overcome them through reinvention and innovation. Our capacity to come back stronger is unmatched in modern history. It flows from our model of free democracy and free enterprise, a model that remains the most powerful source of prosperity and progress known to humankind. I hear everywhere I go that the world still looks to the United States for leadership. Our military is by far the strongest, and our economy is by far the largest in the world. Our workers are the most productive. Our universities are renowned the world over. So there should be no doubt that America has the capacity to secure and sustain our global leadership in this century as we did in the last.

As we move forward to set the stage for engagement in the Asia-Pacific over the next 60 years, we are mindful of the bipartisan legacy that has shaped our engagement for the past 60. And we are focused on the steps we have to take at home -- increasing our savings, reforming our financial systems, relying less on borrowing, overcoming partisan division -- to secure and sustain our leadership abroad.

This kind of pivot is not easy, but we have paved the way for it over the past two-and-a-half years, and we are committed to seeing it through as among the most important diplomatic efforts of our time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Deutsche CEO: West's Levies on Banks May Lift Asia's Role

Deutsche CEO: West's Levies on Banks May Lift Asia's Role. By ALISON TUDOR And PETER STEIN
WSJ, Jul 18, 2010

HONG KONG — Asia's already rising importance as a profit center for financial services could gain more momentum as governments in the U.S. and Europe levy new taxes on global banking profits, according to Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive Josef Ackermann.

"The relative importance of Asia will even increase" as a result of regulatory moves against banks in the West, Dr. Ackermann said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "Asian countries would be well advised not to copy levies which are so popular in many other parts of the world."

The German bank's chief , who has become a prominent voice for bank interests in the wake of the financial crisis and heads the global lobby group Institute of International Finance, was in Hong Kong to attend the listing ceremony Friday for Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.

The levies cumulatively could translate into a substantial hit for lenders with branches in many countries, such as Deutsche Bank, which generates about three-quarters of its revenue outside of its home market, Dr. Ackermann said. Instead, he called for a home bias to the levies because the country of domicile was the one called on most to help out in the banking crisis.

Emerging markets could even take advantage of the backlash against banks in the West to grab market share in financial services, he said. "A lot of governments are determined, including the Chinese, to build up financial hubs at a time when other countries are more skeptical about the financial sector," he said, noting that Turkey and Russia are making similar advances.

Dr. Ackermann also warned that the war for talent in Asia is causing a bubble in bankers' compensation that is detrimental to the industry, even as he hired another rainmaker to keep business flowing.

Late Sunday, Deutsche Bank named Henry Cai its corporate-finance chairman for Asia as well as head of its corporate and investment bank in China. Mr. Cai is known as one of China's most consistent deal makers and is well-connected with the business and political elites in Beijing. He resigned from UBS AG in recent weeks as investment-banking chairman for Asia. It isn't known how much he will be making at Deutsche Bank.

Other senior banking executives in Asia complain that increasing competition for talent in the region is leading to excessive pay packages for bankers working in such areas as mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings. Compensation, a key cost for banks, can cause serious problems for management when one division's or one region's pay is out of kilter with the rest. The buzz over bankers' pay in Asia comes at a time when governments in the U.S. and Europe are seeking to curb excesses that in recent years contributed to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

"If the industry pushes compensation levels up by just poaching people from each other, in the long term it is not a sustainable model and not good for the culture of banks in the region," Dr. Ackermann said.

To combat this problem, Deutsche Bank has started recruiting more Asian graduates with the aim of steeping them in the bank's culture and later returning them to the region to run its businesses.

"It's not a short-term solution. It may take up to five years to see the first successes, but that is what we are working on," said Dr. Ackermann, who was also in Asia to give a speech at an International Monetary Fund conference in South Korea.

Like other banks weighing the prospects of the global economy, Deutsche Bank has made boosting its operations in Asia a top priority. "Europe's slow economic growth and the very competitive environment in the U.S. means Asia is a very attractive market, so it would be unwise not to do everything we can to be part of the market," Dr. Ackermann said.

The German bank is targeting four billion euros ($5.17 billion) in annual revenue from the Asian-Pacific region excluding Japan by next year, about double the amount it generated from the region in 2008.

Deutsche Bank already has a strong foothold, with operations in 17 Asian countries and over 17,000 employees.

Local regulators restrict foreign banks in ways that allow them to earn only about a third of their potential revenues, according to a recent report by consultancy McKinsey & Co., so the banks need to be careful not to compete in the same niches, such as high-profile underwriting deals in financial centers like Hong Kong. Deutsche Bank says only about 5% of its revenue in Asia comes from "public" deals such as initial public offerings.

One such deal that Deutsche Bank was involved in was the IPO for AgBank, which began trading Friday in Hong Kong. Clients like AgBank and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., which Deutsche Bank also helped take public four years ago, are potential competitors as their business grows in scope and sophistication.

"I have no doubt [China's banks] want to first strengthen their domestic operations by moving towards more fee income then expand internationally gradually," Dr. Ackermann said. "We will also be confronted with stronger competitors coming from China."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beijing is poised to project ever greater power in the Pacific. The U.S. doesn't appear up to the challenge

Farewell to America's China Station. By MARK HELPRIN
Beijing is poised to project ever greater power in the Pacific. The U.S. doesn't appear up to the challenge.
WSJ, May 17, 2010

The United States and China are on a collision course in the Western Pacific. Far sooner than once anticipated, China will achieve effective military parity in Asia, general conventional parity, and nuclear parity. Then the short road to superiority will be impossible for it to ignore, as it is already on its way thanks to a brilliant policy borrowed from Japan and Israel.

That is, briefly, since Deng Xiaoping, China has understood that, without catastrophic social dislocation, it can leverage its spectacular economic growth into X increases in per-capita GDP but many-times-X increases in military spending. To wit, between 1988 and 2007, a tenfold increase in per-capita GDP ($256 to $2,539) but a 21-fold purchasing power parity increase in military expenditures to $122 billion from $5.78 billion. The major constraint has been that an ever increasing rate of technical advance can only be absorbed so fast even by a rapidly modernizing military.

Meanwhile, in good times and in bad, under Republicans and under Democrats, with defense spending insufficient across the board the United States has slowed, frozen, or reversed the development of the kind of war-fighting assets that China rallies forward (nuclear weapons, fighter planes, surface combatants, submarines, space surveillance) and those (antisubmarine warfare capacity, carrier battle groups, and fleet missile defense) that China does not yet need to counter us but that we need to counter it.

We have provided as many rationales for neglect as our neglect has created dangers that we rationalize. Never again will we fight two major adversaries simultaneously, although in recent memory this is precisely what our fathers did. Conventional war is a thing of the past, despite the growth and modernization of large conventional forces throughout the world. Appeasement and compromise will turn enemies into friends, if groveling and self-abasement do not first drive friends into the enemy camp. A truly strong country is one in which people are happy and have a lot of things, though at one time, as Edward Gibbon describes it in "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," "So rapid were the motions of the Persian cavalry," that the prosperous and relaxed citizens of Antioch were surprised while at the theater, and slaughtered as their city burned around them. And the costs of more reliable defense and deterrence are impossible to bear in this economy, even if in far worse times America made itself into the greatest arsenal the world has ever known, while, not coincidentally, breaking the back of the Great Depression.

China is on the cusp of being able to use conventional satellites, swarms of miniature satellites, and networked surface, undersea, and aerial cuing for real-time terminal guidance with which to direct its 1,500 short-range ballistic missiles to the five or six aircraft carriers the United States (after ceding control of the Panama Canal and reducing its carrier fleet by one-third since 1987) could dispatch to meet an invasion of Taiwan. In combination with antiship weapons launched from surface vessels, submarines, and aircraft, the missile barrage is designed to keep carrier battle groups beyond effective range. Had we built more carriers, provided them with sufficient missile defense, not neglected antisubmarine warfare, and dared consider suppression of enemy satellites and protections for our own, this would not be so.

Had we not stopped production of the F-22 at a third of the original requirement, its 2,000-mile range and definitive superiority may have allowed us to dominate the air over Taiwan nonetheless. Nor can we "lillypad" fighters to Taiwan if its airfields are destroyed by Chinese missiles, against which we have no adequate defense.

With the Western Pacific cleared of American naval and air forces sufficient to defend or deter an invasion, Taiwan—without war but because of the threat of war—will capitulate and accept China's dominion, just as Hong Kong did when the evolving correlation of forces meant that Britain had no practical say in the matter. If this occurs, as likely it will, America's alliances in the Pacific will collapse. Japan, Korea, and countries in Southeast Asia and even Australasia (when China's power projection forces mature) will strike a bargain so as to avoid pro forma vassalage, and their chief contribution to the new arrangement will be to rid themselves of American bases.

Now far along in building a blue-water navy, once it dominates its extended home waters China will move to the center of the Pacific and then east, with its primary diplomatic focus acquisition of bases in South and Central America. As at one time we had the China Station, eventually China will have the Americas Station, for this is how nations behave in the international system, independently of their declarations and beliefs as often as not. What awaits us if we do not awake is potentially devastating, and those who think the subtle, indirect pressures of domination inconsequential might inquire of the Chinese their opinion of the experience.

In the military, economic, and social trajectories of the two principals, the shape of the future comes clear. In 2007, a Chinese admiral suggested to Adm. Timothy J. Keating, chief of U.S. Pacific Command, that China and the United States divide the Pacific into two spheres of influence. Though the American admiral firmly declined the invitation, as things go now his successors will not have the means to honor his resolution, and by then the offer may seem generous.

None of this was ever a historical inevitability. Rather, it is the fault of the American people and the governments they have freely chosen. Perhaps five or 10 years remain in which to accomplish a restoration, but only with a miracle of leadership, clarity, and will.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt), "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt) and, most recently, "Digital Barbarism" (HarperCollins).

Friday, May 14, 2010

U.S. Alliances in East Asia: Internal Challenges and External Threats

U.S. Alliances in East Asia: Internal Challenges and External Threats. By William Breer, Senior Adviser, Center for Strategic and International Studies
The Brookings Institution, May 2010

May 20 marks the 60th anniversary of the ratification of the U.S.-Japan alliance by Japan’s House of Representatives. While the alliance is a bilateral arrangement, it has had a significant impact on Asia as a whole and is regarded by other nations as a key part of the regional security structure. The following is a brief survey of the treaty's role in the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific. It also demonstrates that the tensions currently confronting the U.S.-Japan alliance are not unique, but in fact have been faced by various bilateral alliances in the region; some have been resolved successfully and some have not.

Most experts believe that the series of alliances the United States created after World War II was one of the most astute and far-sighted acts of diplomacy in history. The alliance with Japan laid the foundation for reconciliation between two enemy nations and the groundwork for the reconstruction of a nation whose industrial power, infrastructure, and morale lay in shambles but which rose to become the world’s second largest economy. The alliance played a key role in the Cold War by allowing the United States to cover the USSR's eastern flank and demonstrating to China and North Korea that we would defend our interests and those of our allies in East Asia.

The arrangements with Japan provided a base from which the U.S. was able to defend its Republic of Korea ally from aggression by the North. Although the Korean War ended in an armistice—not a victory for the ROK, U.S., and their allies—without the use of facilities in Japan the peninsula could have been lost. Another plus was that American protection relieved Japan of having to acquire an offensive military capability, possibly including nuclear weapons. This reassured Japan’s neighbors that it would not again become a threat to their independence.

The result has been five decades of peace in Northeast Asia without a serious arms competition and remarkably few serious threats to the peace. This, along with the stimulus of Korean War procurement, enabled Japan to devote its resources to economic development which resulted in a previously unimaginable economic expansion and improvement in living standards. The ROK, Taiwan, and later China, piggy-backing on Japan's success and partaking of Japan's foreign aid and investment policies, replicated Japan's experience and delivered even faster rates of economic growth and prosperity to their people. None of this would have been possible without the American alliance system and the stability it provided throughout the region. The American presence in East Asia has been reassuring to allies, and our naval and air deployments beyond the region have played a major role in protecting the key energy trade routes through the Malacca Strait and Indian Ocean.

American alliances around East Asia

While the results have been good and generations of alliance managers on both sides can take considerable satisfaction in their accomplishments, the presence of foreign military bases in sovereign countries is not necessarily a natural phenomenon. Many Americans feel that we are motivated by altruism in undertaking to defend other peoples and that our actions are benign. But this view is not necessarily shared by citizens of host countries, many of whom view the American presence as an extension of the occupation in the case of Japan, an intrusion on sovereignty, or as a nuisance. These feelings are reinforced by a complex legal regime governing our bases and serious incidents (rape, hit-and-run accidents, etc.) involving American personnel. At the same time, the base arrangements provide significant employment opportunities for local populations there are some who welcome their presence. The policies of the new Hatoyama government reflect these contradictory views.

Governments have responded to these issues in different ways. In Japan we have developed mechanisms for dealing with problems and have accumulated a great deal of experience in working together. As a result Japanese citizens have tolerated a foreign military presence remarkably well. This may be a historic first. The leaderships of both nations realize the important role that the alliance plays in maintaining stability in East Asia and have striven to protect it.

In the Philippines, where we had maintained major naval and air facilities for many decades, a combination of domestic political pressure, the destruction of one base by a volcanic eruption rendering it unusable, and a strategic reassessment in Washington resulted in the withdrawal of U.S. forces, but the continuation of the defense treaty. In recent years, small numbers of U.S. military advisors have assisted the Philippine armed forces in countering Muslim insurgents in the southern islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

This was followed a few years later by the New Zealand government's refusal to allow port calls by U.S. Navy vessels, as clearly envisioned in the ANZUS treaty, without a prior finding by the prime minister of New Zealand that the ships in question were not carrying nuclear weapons. This was contrary to our long-standing policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear weapons aboard our ships and put at risk our arrangements with Japan. The result was a suspension of our defense relationship with New Zealand and strained relations with this ally for a number of years. When the U.S. Navy revised its "neither confirm nor deny" policy our defense relationship gradually improved. However, as Secretary of State George Shultz stated at the time of the break in 1986, "We remain friends, but we are no longer allies."

We do not have a security treaty with Taiwan and do not maintain forces on the island. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, however, we are obligated to provide certain defensive weapons and equipment and it is understood that we would come to Taiwan's defense in a clear-cut emergency. While this is not an explicit or legal commitment, U.S. policy toward Taiwan has assured the people of Taiwan and other countries in the region that the United States takes the security of Taiwan seriously and that only a peaceful, non-coercive resolution of the political issues across the Taiwan Strait would be satisfactory.

Under our mutual defense treaty with the Republic of Korea we deploy sizable ground and air forces to the peninsula to backup ROK defenses in the event of aggression by North Korea. We have made clear to the North that the American commitment to the defense of South Korea is rock solid, and the peace has been maintained. While the U.S. posture has effectively deterred North Korea from a frontal attack, it has not prevented North Korea from mounting provocations, ranging from the capture of the USS Pueblo in 1968, through the tree-cutting incident in 1976, to the recent apparent sinking of an ROK warship. The biggest challenge posed by North Korea is its determination to acquire deployable nuclear weapons which would threaten U.S. interests throughout East Asia, potentially pose an existential threat to Japan, and create a proliferation problem of vast proportions. Our treaty relationships with Japan and Korea, and our many decades of experience working together, have greatly facilitated our cooperation on this issue.

From time to time, base issues (one of our major bases is in the center of Seoul) and occasional incidents caused by American personnel have aroused latent nationalism among the people, which has in the past resulted in large scale demonstrations, strains in our relations with the host government, and pressure to relocate our facilities. That we are making necessary adjustments to our deployments without significantly reducing our support for the ROK or the effectiveness of our deterrent is a credit to the common sense and foresight of Korean and American officials, many of whom have devoted entire careers to the management of the defense of the ROK.

Australia and Southeast Asia have been direct beneficiaries of America's alliance structure. While Australia is a member of ANZUS it has never become a platform for large scale American deployments. It has a keen interest in the stability and economic well-being of Northeast Asia because of its enormous and profitable economic ties with the region. It is also a beneficiary of American attention to the sea lanes to its West and North on which it depends for the bulk of its international commerce. Australia has been a valued ally in a large number of military operations in which the U.S. has engaged over the last fifty years, despite periodic internal opposition to American policy.

What about the future?

Despite periodic outbursts of opposition to nuclear ship home-porting or other aspects of the U.S. deployment in Japan, support among the Japanese people for the security relationship has remained at a remarkably high level. As a result the U.S. has had a relatively free hand in the use of our facilities and in the deployment of forces there. Generations of Japanese leaders have cooperated with U.S. security needs. These include a contribution of $13 billion in support of the first Gulf War, the dispatch of ground forces in support of our operations against Saddam Hussein, and generous foreign assistance to many places in which we have a strategic interest, including Afghanistan. Japan has also for the past 25 years made major contributions - $4-5 billion per year - to the support of U.S. forces in Japan. Who would have imagined 60 years ago that there would be significant U.S. military facilities in Japan in 2010?

There are some clouds on the horizon. The planned relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma has posed major political issues for both Japan and the United States. Okinawa is host for the majority of U.S. forces in Japan and has endured the lion's share of the impact of foreign bases. Under considerable local pressure, Tokyo and Washington in 2006 reached an agreement to move the noisy Futenma facility from a densely populated area in central Okinawa to a sparsely populated region in the north. But the new Japanese administration, which took office in September 2009, ran on a platform calling for the removal of the facility from Okinawa. The U.S. side has adamantly insisted that the agreement be implemented as is and the two sides have reached an impasse which could result in the resignation of the prime minister. This is not a satisfactory situation, especially when it is not clear that the Marine Corps deployment in Okinawa is a vital piece of our deterrent posture on which it is worth Japan spending more than $10 billion to relocate.

The decision to attack Iraq in 2003 and the sloppy execution of the war called into question American judgment and leadership. Uncertain progress in Afghanistan has compounded this. Neither of these has significantly weakened Japanese support for the alliance, but these creeping doubts, coupled with an increasingly inward-looking Japanese public, have helped create an era in which American strategic assessments and solutions will be viewed with greater skepticism. Another serious incident involving U.S. military personnel would put further strain on the relationship. This is not to say that we cannot cooperate on a wide range of issues, but such cooperation will require higher level USG attention and a willingness on both sides to listen more attentively to the other's point of view. On the Japanese side, it will require the development of greater expertise among its political leaders and greater awareness among the general public of the changing environment. The increasing economic, military, and political importance of China demands that our two nations work together to assure a successful outcome in Asia.