U.S. Policy

american policies in asia on trade, security, and global issues

India

insight and analysis on the perpetual potential superpower

China

politics, economics, and foreign policy of america’s rival

Japan

an ally in the midst of economic and political ferment

Miscellaneous

korea, russia, asian institutions, and other miscellany

China, U.S. Policy »

Strategic Dialogue in the Old Days (Courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Library)

Strategic Dialogue in the Old Days (Courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Library)

Some recent reports surrounding U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel’s visit to China claim that the United States “release[d] cyber warfare plans to China” in December in an effort to encourage greater Chinese transparency. It is more likely that the United States has simply shared the contours of a doctrine already widely known, particularly after Edward Snowden’s release of a classified presidential directive (read it here). In any case, the U.S. has previously held several bilateral cyber war games with China under the auspices of think tanks, which would have provided China with more useful information about how U.S. officials think about these issues than a prepared briefing.

In general I am supportive of these discussions, but I have several concerns/questions about where we are headed:

First, the most immediate cyber security concerns, particularly with China, are commercial and deeply linked with broader worries about state-sponsored intellectual property theft (like the Google mess of 2010). So long as Chinese firms benefit more from state-sponsored industrial espionage than they stand to lose to theft by others, the incentives don’t seem to be on our side. To the extent that our outreach to China is aimed at dissuading the Chinese government from using military cyber resources to steal commercial secrets from U.S. firms, I wonder if we really have much leverage, particularly acting alone.

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China, Publications, U.S. Policy »

Apple's first retail store in China, located in Beijing. A bilateral investment treaty would give U.S.-based companies like Apple greater rights in China, while attracting more Chinese investment into the United States.

Date: 8 April 2011.

Publication: The Huffington Post.

Author: Daniel Michaeli.

In recent years, Beijing has asked repeatedly for a treaty that would give U.S. investors in China greater and more enforceable rights. It is high time for the Obama administration to respond seriously — by concluding its open-ended review of bilateral investment treaties and working one out with China. The U.S. and China should work aggressively over the next several weeks to prepare to announce a timeline for negotiations at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington next month.

American firms have nearly $50 billion invested in China, and a recent survey of companies investing in China indicates that most intend to increase their investments substantially this year. The performance of these investments is crucial to the U.S. economy: they enable American companies to access China’s huge domestic market and catalyze American exports — U.S. multinationals send half of their total exports from the United States to their own foreign affiliates. American corporations, when successful overseas, bring jobs and investment back to the United States. Recent data indicates that U.S.-based multinational corporations locate more than half of their employees in the United States, where they have 70 percent of their operations and spend 87 percent of their research and development budget.

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China »

Turmoil in the Middle East and Prospects for the Chinese Communist Party

Public Security Bureau car at Tiananmen Square; photo by author, 2008

In recent weeks, many in the West, and even some in China, have speculated about the resilience of China’s authoritarianism. Could what happened in Egypt happen in China? (For some U.S. perspectives, see a Forbes.com article by Gordon Chang from January 30th and a Wall Street Journal article by Loretta Chao from a couple weeks ago.) China is clearly playing it safe as it reacts with force to even the smallest hints of protest this week.

The Tiananmen Square massacre remains the template for authoritarian responses to popular pro-democracy movements. “The unity of China is more important than those people in Tiananmen Square,” Muammar Qaddafi said last Tuesday. (In fact, Qaddafi was attempting to justify actions so appalling that even China has voted in favor of a unanimous UN Security Council resolution that said those attacks against civilians “may amount to crimes against humanity.”)

So, what would it take for another revolution in China? And what would China’s communist party (the CCP) be willing or able to do to stay in power?

Here are some things to think about.

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India, Publications, U.S. Policy »

Image courtesy of Flickr's tomdz

Date: 8 November 2010.

Publication: The Huffington Post.

Author: Daniel Michaeli.

The future of American global influence will be decided in Asia, and India’s success could be a prerequisite for America’s long-term position in the region. So President Obama just made a substantial step towards securing U.S. interests in Asia by endorsing India’s aspiration to greater global and regional influence. He declared today in New Delhi, “I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.” Indians have been waiting for this for a long time.

Successive U.S. administrations have avoided taking a position on India’s Security Council aspirations. Diplomatic non-answers denied New Delhi a clear path to U.S. backing, a source of exasperation for many Indians. And the U.S. approach also obscured legitimate American concerns about the limits of U.S.-Indian cooperation on some foreign policy issues of great importance to the United States.

The only problem is that when Obama endorsed India’s membership “look[ing] forward,” he actually ignored these legitimate concerns, too.

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India »

The Commonwealth Games and India’s Global Image

This week’s shooting of two tourists in front of Delhi’s Jama Masjid drew a great deal of unwanted attention just days before the Commonwealth Games, expected to bring some 8,000 athletes and 100,000 tourists to India beginning on October 3rd. The security fears exacerbated existing worries that New Delhi won’t be ready in time (a footbridge collapsed Tuesday, for example, injuring 27 people).

After the incident, Australia warned its citizens of a “high risk of terrorism” at the games and the United States issued a travel advisory. At least three major British athletes pulled out of the games, with one quoted in the Guardian saying, “Sorry people, but I have children to think about…. My safety is more important to them than a medal.” The terrorist organization Indian Mujahadeen reportedly promised a “great surprise” for October. And today’s Asia Times reports from Pakistan that Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organizations are planning to use ongoing unrest in Kashmir and the international attention of the Commonwealth Games to bring India into their “broader regional theater.”

Yet this incident–whether it turns out to be a terrorist act or not–is just the latest in a series of events that reflects both India’s internal security problem and the country’s global image problem.

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Japan, Miscellaneous »

Personal Reflections on a Visit

A room of the Yasukuni Shrine museum featuring photographs of the enshrined (Tokyo, August 2010)

This past Sunday, August 15th, was the 65th anniversary of Japan’s surrender to end World War II, in which tens of millions perished, from Europe and North Africa through Russia to Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and the United States. In a departure from my usual blogging style, I want to share some more personal reflections on one of the historical legacies that continues to haunt Northeast Asia.

On a trip to the region earlier this month, I met with scholars from Japan, China, and Korea, in part to explore the ways the United States and those three countries can overcome the region’s painful history. And I also visited Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine for the first time.

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China, Miscellaneous, U.S. Policy »

Can the United States Keep China at Bay?

Southeast Asians want the United States active and engaged in the region, and the U.S. is clearly trying to deliver. But Southeast Asian countries cannot hope to receive full U.S. support in the South China Sea until they resolve ongoing disputes among themselves.

This burst of U.S. activity in Southeast Asia is, in part, a response to China’s recent assertiveness, particularly in the maritime space (more on that here). Southeast Asians hope drawing the United States more deeply into the region can help balance China’s heft in multilateral organizations and deter China from using force to resolve territorial disputes, even as Southeast Asians beef up their own defense capabilities.

Map of the South China Sea (1988). (Source: University of Texas Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

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