India, U.S. Policy »

Political Costs in New Delhi and Washington

India often finds itself making major demands of the United States. It asked the U.S. to rewrite global nonproliferation rules to accommodate India’s status as a de facto nuclear power (accomplished under the George W. Bush administration), to revise U.S. technology export controls so that Indian companies and India’s military can gain access to more advanced U.S. technology (a priority for the Obama administration), and to advocate permanent membership for India in the UN Security Council (a goal to which no U.S. administration has yet committed itself).

But America turns to India rarely; and when it does, in important areas from climate change to global trade to isolating Iran, India’s approach is often at odds with that of the United States. This limits the extent of the U.S.-India relationship. Indeed, many Indian politicians are sensitive about even the perception of aligning with the United States. While it doesn’t help to blindly accuse India of intransigence without understanding its policy environment, we would be equally mistaken to deny that the relationship will have limits until circumstances change.

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China, U.S. Policy »

[3 February 2010, Comments Off on Complications for the U.S. and China]

I did a radio interview this morning on the sources of recent U.S.-China disagreement, particularly the arms sale to Taiwan and President Obama’s expected April 2010 meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Click here for the audio (Spanish/English).

China, U.S. Policy »

Despite How It Looks, Everyone Wins–Even China

As usual, the Chinese government is wildly overreacting to the most recent U.S. sales of arms to Taiwan, this time threatening sanctions against involved U.S. companies. (Even though such sanctions would hurt China more than anyone else.) Today’s China Daily editorial claimed “China’s response, no matter how vehement, is justified.” But both China’s government and the Western media are missing the ways that the U.S. security relationship with Taiwan benefits all of the parties involved, including China.

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U.S. Policy »

Obama on American Competitiveness
[28 January 2010, Comments Off on Free Trade = American Jobs, Tags: , , , , , ]

Obama State of the Union

Obama speaks, and Biden is impressed

The 0verall success or failure of President Obama’s State of the Union address last night won’t be known for some time. Dan Balz of the Washington Post reports that the real issue coming out of the speech is whether Congressional Democrats and Republicans will or won’t change their behavior in the coming months.

But an aspect of the speech that certainly deserves praise was the president’s focus on American competitiveness, including comparisons to China, Germany, and India. It was unusually honest for a president to acknowledge that the U.S. could end up playing second fiddle to another economy if it doesn’t “get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.” This kind of honesty is welcome and overdue.

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China »

A New Round of Talks with the Dalai Lama, and U.S. Diplomacy Fails Again
[26 January 2010, 3 Comments, Tags: , , , ]

The Dalai Lama’s representatives are beginning a new round of talks with the Chinese government, after a 15-month hiatus. Though this has not been widely reported, the U.S. government is involved in facilitating this round of talks. But despite renewed attention to the Tibetan issue, there is little reason to believe this round of talks is any more likely than before to lead to a breakthrough. Another failure for U.S. diplomacy?

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China »

Google’s threat to exit the Chinese market, which I discussed here yesterday in the context of human rights and Google’s corporate interests, has two other important dimensions.

First, there is growing and universal concern in the business community about unfair Chinese business practices (this was previously limited to the manufacturing sector).

Second, we should all be deeply concerned by the massive cyber espionage program China has been developing and deploying, which is aimed at learning inside information on foreign companies and governments.

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China »

Gambling for Free Speech, and Losing

GoogleGoogle’s decision yesterday to begin reviewing “the feasibility” of its business operations in China has reverberated around the world, particularly in the high tech sector. Responding to the hacking of its corporate network and the accounts of Chinese human rights activists, Google is threatening to leave the Chinese market entirely, and says it is no longer willing to censor its search results on Google.cn.

What is Google’s strategy here? And what happens next?

Google’s statement reads, to me, like pure frustration and anger, not strategy. Human rights advocates are heartened by this move, which suggests finally that Western countries can stand up to Chinese authorities; but the outcome of this mess is likely to be bad for Google’s corporate interests and detrimental to the goal of developing freedom of speech in China.

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