China’s Rare Earth Export Restrictions

August 15, 2012 by

The World Trade Organization convened a panel last month at the request of the United States, the European Union, and Japan to rule on China’s export policies for rare earth metals. These countries had earlier held formal consultations which failed to reach agreement. China said rare earth exports are impacted by new environmental and sustainability policies, and there is no intention of market distortion.

Reviving the Pacific Solution: The Houston Panel Recommendations

August 14, 2012 by

This is a story of embittered stinginess that never ends. Poorer countries have done more, and have been more conspicuous in the way they have been flooded (yes, flooded) by refugees. Nation states with porous borders, located in areas of regional conflict, have had to live for generations with the movement of displaced peoples. But it seems to be a golden rule that the richer the country, the more pinched it becomes.

Ethnic Strife in Burma: A History of Violence

July 25, 2012 by

For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a month of peace and calmness. That is hardly the case for the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The ethnic rift between them and the ethnic Buddhists since June has spiraled out of control, leaving scores of Rohingya Muslims dead and homeless. Many have crossed the border into Bangladesh. Amnesty International’s Benjamin Zawacki said the latest violence has been “primarily one-sided, with Muslims generally and Rohingya specifically the targets and victims.”

The Chinese Central Bank’s Delicate Tap Dance

July 16, 2012 by

This past week’s release of China’s second quarter GDP growth number – at 7.6 percent - was viewed as an ominous sign of the future direction of the global economy by some pundits, while others see the Chinese government’s stimulus measures as a hopeful sign that its economic growth will be higher in the second half of the year. It is important to understand that the root cause of the decline in China’s economic growth this year is not the trouble in Europe or funk of the global economy, but rather the unsustainable economic bubbles that have been created by the government, and the collapsing demand that has accompanied it.

South Korea: Stuck in the 20th Century?

July 16, 2012 by

South Korea is at the cutting edge of global technology. It is one of the most wired countries, and its biggest cities have the fastest Internet connections in the world. Whether it’s cell phones or genetic engineering, Korean scientists and companies set the pace. Korean culture, too, is thoroughly up to date, from K-pop sensations like Rain to blockbuster movies like “Old Boy.” In many ways, South Korea has replaced Japan as the face of the future: wired, fast-paced, dynamic. If Hollywood remakes “Blade Runner”, the characters will navigate an urban landscape that looks more like Seoul than Tokyo.

U.S. Foreign Policy and the Human Rights Council Resolution on Sri Lanka

June 28, 2012 by

The Obama administration did fight to get a seat on the Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2009; something that George W. Bush probably did not even contemplate. And, as David Bosco has noted, the US has been relatively active at the HRC since that time. Bosco goes on to say that “The United States has laid special emphasis on the Council’s use of special experts, individuals given a mandate to investigate some particular country or human rights theme.”

Women’s Rights in Malaysia

June 26, 2012 by

The mostly Muslim nation of Malaysia has always walked a fine line between protecting the rights of Malay women and acknowledging the role that Islam plays in the daily lives of its citizens. Yet many of the obstacles facing Malaysian society disproportionately affect women. These include endemic poverty, human trafficking, environmental degradation, a rise in the numbers of refugees, civil unrest, crime and a resurgent Islamic movement.

No Simple Thing: How Rice Will Reshape the World

June 13, 2012 by

“Have you eaten rice today?” In Asia this time honored greeting is synonymous with ‘how are you?’ and is heard from flooded paddies to corporate boardrooms. A passing reminder of how essential this crop is for the 3.5 billion people whose day begins and ends with rice. From India’s dusty plains to the metropolises of China to the Philippines’ emerald hills no common thread runs through Asia’s diverse cultures, mythologies, and languages like rice.

To the Pacific We Go: The US ‘Rebalancing’ Act

June 4, 2012 by

Empires huff and puff, and sometimes stutter. Bloodied heels are not taken as a warning that their time has come – rather they are simply seen as part of the job prescription. Despite a slow economy and stagnation in such theatres as Afghanistan, the United States is moving inexorably into the Pacific, and the military wise men are intent that they do so with speed. The 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance called “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense” is the guiding document in that mission.

Will Pakistan Apologize to Bangladesh for its War Crimes?

May 25, 2012 by

The war between East and West Pakistan in 1971 lasted only nine months. But the atrocities were cowering – an estimated three million people dead, 400,000 women raped, 600,000 children killed, and scores of targeted intellectuals slaughtered in an attempt to cripple East Pakistan’s social and cultural backbone. Besides politics, atrocities against the people of East Pakistan by the West Pakistani army stemmed from ethnic hatred.

Chinese Domestic Policy and Sino-North Korean Relations

May 24, 2012 by

A key element in the debate over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (North Korea or DPRK) nuclear weapons program that has evaded attention is the complex relationship between Chinese foreign and domestic policy. A historical trend exists in the Communist Chinese Party (CCP) that foreign policy decisions are made in regards to pursuing domestic objectives.

Frictions in the South China Sea: Chinese Strategic Mistakes

May 24, 2012 by

Indonesia and Japan will play pivotal roles in the further development of Asia as an economic block to counter China’s growing influence. Beijing, presently, cannot contemplate or afford to allocate any resources in search of alternative forms of energy, which will have greater ramifications in the future. Importantly, China’s economy is becoming overheated and too well integrated into the petrodollar system. The Sino economy is low-wage and labor intensive and Chinese revenues are heavily dependent on exports and Chinese reserves are predominantly a mix of the USD and US Treasury bonds.

Asia’s Mad Arms Race

May 23, 2012 by

Asia is currently in the middle of an unprecedented arms race that is not only sharpening tensions in the region, but competing with efforts by Asian countries to address poverty and growing economic disparity. The gap between rich and poor—calculated by the Gini coefficient that measures inequality—has increased from 39 percent to 46 percent in China, India, and Indonesia. While affluent households continue to garner larger and larger portions of the economic pie, “Children born to poor families can be 10 times more likely to die in infancy” than those from wealthy families.

Indo-Japan Relations: Growth and Future Challenges

May 23, 2012 by

Every relationship has its ups and downs and the Indo-Japan relationship is no exception. The link connecting India and Japan has existed for several decades. The history of Indo-Japan relations has been quite unique and the growth of this alliance has been slow. The physical distance between these two states has also meant a level of mental distance as neither country has figured on each other’s political or economic radars for decades.

After Chicago: What Next for NATO?

May 20, 2012 by

Last year – for the first time in modern history – Asia outspent Europe on their militaries. The true significance of this milestone lies in how easily the Asian countries were able to achieve it. There is no arms race in Asia. Over the past decade, most Asian nations have consistency spent roughly the same percentage of their GDP on defence.

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