Kim Jong-il’s Death Draws Major Reactions in Asia

The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il this week provoked a variety of reactions across the globe. Kim Jong-un, the late Kim’s third son, will succeed his father. In this post, we examine reactions to Kim’s death from Asia and what it means for North Korea’s future.

JAPAN

Given Japan’s proximity and interest in the Korean peninsula, reactions were markedly heightened. Many speculated on what the post-Kim era might mean for Japanese interests in the region.

Kim’s death triggered a flurry of responses from Japanese government officials, who emphasized their hope for continued stability while monitoring developments on the Korean peninsula:

A group of academics mulled over North Korea’s future and its relations with the rest of the world in aroundtable interview with the Asahi Shimbun.

  • Noting Pyongyang’s close ties with Beijing, Masao Okonogi, professor emeritus at Keio University, predicted that China’s leaders will support the Kim Jong-un regime, fearing the consequences of a North Korea plunged into turmoil. Okonogi also predicted that North Korea’s foreign policy will remain unchanged for the time being. Read more of this post
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Asian Powers Comment on U.S. Plans for Asia-Pacific Economic Integration

The United States is “pivoting” toward Asia. This strategy was formally publicized last month with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s essay on “America’s Pacific Century.” This week, President Barack Obama has been visiting Asia to push for a Trans-Pacific trading bloc and stronger military ties with US allies. How are major Asian powers reacting to America’s strategy to “re-engage” the Asia Pacific region? Today’s post  highlights Chinese, Russian and Japanese views on the economic aspects of this strategy.

CHINA
Chinese officials have so far made only brief comments on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), all of which express China’s support for regional economic integration but stressing its preference for existing mechanisms. Assistant Commerce Minister Yu Jianhua said any trade mechanism should be “open and inclusive,” while Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said economic integration should proceed in a “step-by-step manner.”

Commentary in the press characterized the TPP as a part of a wider strategy to contain China:

 Academic opinions leaned toward a “wait-and-see” attitude:

  • Wang Yuzhu of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said, “Economic regionalism is China’s most pragmatic choice, because the international architecture is changing rapidly. China has to recalibrate its relations with the rest of the world.”
  • According to Lu Jianren, deputy director of the APEC Study Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, “How the TPP negotiations will progress is still a matter of great uncertainty. What can be certain is it will be strategically detrimental to the old ASEAN Plus Three coalition, which has long been lagging behind in forming a free-trade zone that can allow a level of economic unity in the region.”

RUSSIA

As Russia gears up to host the 2012 APEC summit in Vladivostock, commentary on U.S. re-engagement in Asia was introspective, questioning Russia’s own unique orientation as both a European and Asian state.  Read more of this post

Asian reactions to Gaddafi’s death

Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gaddafi’s death last Thursday sparked heated reactions from major powers in Asia. In this post, we highlight the viewpoints coming out of Russia, China and India, many of which are highly critical of NATO’s role in Libya.

RUSSIA

Compared to China and India, reactions from Russia have been the most critical and extensive, including the official response. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said NATO actions preceding the death of Gaddafi should be scrutinized for their compliance with international law, and emphasized “they should not have killed him.”

Commentaries in the press have likewise been negative. A round-up of expert reactions was reported by the Moscow News:

  • Andrei Fedvashin, RIA Novosti political analyst: “No one gave NATO sanction to hunt Gaddafi and bomb the suburbs of Sirte under siege.”
  • Georgy Mirsky of the World Economy and International Relations Institute, however, thought that Russia was to some extent complicit in NATO’s actions in Libya: “If in March, Moscow did not abstain in the UN Security Council vote [that authorized the no-fly zone], then the colonel would still be in power now.”

Views on Libya’s future appear mixed:

  • Sergey Markov, director of the Institute for Political Research: the situation in Libya “will be more or less peaceful.” He expressed confidence that the new Libyan government would be able to unify the different tribal factions, including those who were dominant during Gaddafi’s rule.
  • Evgeny Minchenko, director of the International Institute for Political Enterprise, was less optimistic: “low-intensity civil war…is likely to continue for quite a while, same as…in Iraq and…the AfPak region.” Read more of this post

Do Asians See a Role in Solving the Eurozone Crisis?

The Eurozone’s debt crisis has spurred talk about a possible role for BRIC countries to lend a helping hand through increased financing of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While discussions are still under way over whether the IMF will even step into the euro crisis, rising powers such as China and Brazil continue to express interest. G20 finance ministers and central bankers met in Paris over the weekend and said they expected the October 23 European Union summit to “decisively address the current challenges through a comprehensive plan“. Today’s blog post highlights the views in China, India, and Russia on this issue:

CHINA

The mixed views in China indicate an interest to help the Eurozone in such a way that is both economically practical and politically beneficial to China-EU relations.

  • Ding Gang, a senior reporter with the People’s Daily, was more blunt about what China should expect in return: It is only “the most basic fair treatment” to ask that the EU recognize China’s market economy status and end the arms sale ban on China.
  • Specific policy recommendations came from a recently organized academic forum at Tongji University. It was reported that Qiao Yide, secretary-general of the Shanghai Development Research Foundation, recommended the following: 1) purchase bonds from multilateral institutions (the European Financial Stability Facility) instead of national bonds; 2) encourage Chinese businesses to expand in Europe; and 3) increase the euro’s weight in the currency basket of the Chinese yuan.

Ten years after 9/11: What are key Asian states saying?

This past weekend, the U.S. commemorated the ten year anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Across the globe, other countries also took a moment to reflect on this day.  In this post, we examine views from Russia, India, China and Japan.

RUSSIA

InRussia, commentators asserted thatU.S.unilateralism in the “war on terror” has interfered in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. At the same time, they concede that the Kremlin also lost an opportunity to deepen U.S.-Russian relations in the 9/11 aftermath.

  • The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that although the 9/11 attacks were “provocative and cruel,” they also led to broad international cooperation that has helped to bring global counter-terrorism cooperation to a higher level. The Foreign Ministry emphasized thatRussia supports an international coalition of nations, as opposed to some form of unilateralism, as the best mechanism for battling against the specter of terrorism.

Multiple commentaries described the 9/11 tragedy and subsequent global fight against terrorism as a missed opportunity for the Kremlin to boost ties with the West:

  • The Moscow Times, which tends to express opinion that the Rising Powers Initiative characterizes as Pro-Western Liberal, favoring modernization and integration with the West, noted that although U.S.-Russian cooperation got off to a strong start after 9/11, it quickly fizzled. “Moscow was counting on getting something in return fromWashington…butWashington simply tookMoscow’s assistance for granted, interpreting it as a response that any civilized country would have taken to support a partner hit by a major terrorist attack.”
  • RIA Novosti military commentator Konstantin Bogdanov remarked, “If there’s anything that the ten years of the ‘war on terror’ have demonstrated, it’s that the world leader is incredibly isolated. America is stubbornly and methodically trying to impose its own designs on a desperately recalcitrant world.” As the state news agency, RIA Novosti’s views are close to the current government position and reflect what the Rising Powers Initiative has identified as the Great Power Balancers viewpoint—those that seek great power status in relations with U.S. and China.

INDIA

In India, 9/11 was an occasion to reflect on the country’s own problems with terrorism, in the context ofAmerica’s war on terror over the past ten years.     Read more of this post

The U.S. Debt Impasse and Views from Greater Asia

With the deadline for a U.S. credit default just two weeks away, concern mounts over the consequences of a U.S. government delay or paralysis in resolving the debt ceiling crisis. Overseas, countries holding large sums of U.S. Treasury securities are watching the debate with heightened apprehension and scrutiny. In this post, we examine Chinese, Russian, and Indian views on the U.S. debt impasse.

CHINA

As the U.S.’ largest creditor, China has repeatedly called for compromise in the debt talks while encouraging Washington to protect China’s investments in the U.S. debt market. Meanwhile, Chinese ratings agency Dagong placed the U.S. on negative watch for a possible downgrade, highlighting the increasing role of rating agencies as a political tool to influence the global financial system.

  • I think there is a risk that the U.S. debt default may happen,” said Li Daokui, advisor to the People’s Bank of China. “The result of U.S. debt default is very serious and Republican lawmakers should stop playing with fire.” Li’s comments also underscored that China is constrained by its vast holdings of Treasuries, and that it is best protected against a U.S. debt default if it stands by the United States. “China can promise that we will not sell our holdings of U.S. debt, but the United States must also promise that you will not hurt our interests by guaranteeing the safety of our investment,” he said.

RUSSIA

In Russia, commentary was cynical across the board with allusions to the massive financial disaster that may result in global markets should the U.S. government fail to raise the debt ceiling. Read more of this post

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