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Eurasia Politics

Russia and its ‘diversionary space race’?

The International Space Station (ISS), that hub of extra-terrestrial cooperation, recently announced that Russia will be withdrawing from its team from 2025. Russia plans to set up a separate orbital space station by 2030. As a result, there has been much debate about what this means in terms of Russia-US  and Sino-Russian relations. However, little attention has been paid to the domestic implications of Russia’s decision: is it an attempt to divert attention from the ongoing saga with Alexei Navalny and muster patriotic fervor?

Latin America Politics

Honduras and Vaccine Diplomacy: Are Increased Relations with China Likely?

Honduras, one of the few countries that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state, is making attempts to build diplomatic bridges with China in order to acquire the much needed Covid-19 vaccines. So far, only 1% of the Honduran population has been vaccinated. This situation constitutes another chapter in the so-called ‘vaccine diplomacy’, where geopolitics comes into play in vaccine acquisition.

Environment North America

Concern for the planet, or a statement that the US is back? Biden’s virtual summit puts the ball in Xi’s court, as the US reclaims a leading role on international climate action

President Biden has shown his intent to restate the US as global leaders on climate change as he hosted a virtual summit on 22-23 April, encouraging states to build on their climate pledges. It has been hailed as a major success, uniting leading countries in climate action. However, the summit has sparked debate regarding climate politics. As competition between the US and China reaches its zenith, climate change remains one of the few areas left for them to cooperate on. Whether climate action will lead to healthy competition or conflict will depend on a range of factors over the next decade.

Asia Pacific Security

Japan: Is A Boost to National Defence On The Way?

In late May, a panel on national security and defence held by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) issued a draft proposal calling for a significant increase in Japan’s defence budget, among other defence related recommendations. This proposal, alongside recent comments made by Japan’s Minister of Defence, suggests a shift towards higher levels of spending and a more proactive defence policy.

International Southeast Asia

Russia and the Myanmar Coup: An Opportunity for Increased Arms Exports

Whereas most countries have condemned the coup in Myanmar, Russia is openly advocating for enhancing military technological cooperation with the military regime. In doing so, Russia seems to see the new military rule as an opportunity to increase its influence in Myanmar whilst boosting its arms exports. This may be a classic example of Moscow’s limited bilateral engagement, seeking financial gain and increased influence whilst preserving their strategic autonomy.

China Economics

China’s Plan for the Post-Pandemic World Order: The Dual Circulation Strategy

On the 5th of February, 2021, China’s National People’s Congress passed the fourteenth five-year economic plan (14FYP) from 2021 to 2025. A core component of the 14FYP is the Dual Circulation Strategy (DCS). First set forth by President Xi Jinping during the Politburo Standing Committee Meeting of May 14th, 2020, the DCS is set to determine legislative, diplomatic and economic developments in China for the coming decade. Yet, the DCS is not well-defined. By looking into its origins, context, and objectives, this article will forecast the systemic changes to the Chinese economy introduced by the DCS. This article will argue that the DCS is nothing but a plan to advance China’s economic and political interests by strengthening its domestic market, achieving technological self-sufficiency, and promoting the adoption of its standards.

International South and Central Asia

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: How Delhi is losing the Indian-Chinese soft power game in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has increasingly become a focus of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the last decade. The Hambantota port development project is a notable example, an ambitious but costly endeavour by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which was in the end handed over by the government to a Chinese enterprise on a 99-year lease in 2017 to reduce its spiralling debt burden.

Europe Politics

Can the EU work with Biden in the Balkans?

The Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) signed in December provides access to the Chinese market for European investors while protecting China’s existing rights in EU trade. However, US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, voiced concern over the deal, stating Washington would welcome early consultations with Brussels when addressing Beijing’s economic relations. The lack of coordinated EU-US strategic thinking on China poses a risk to Euro-Atlantic integration in the Western Balkans. 

Economics International

US-China Phase One Trade Deal: Challenges for Trade Expansion

After a year since the United States and China signed the phase one trade deal agreement, it is evident there are several systemic challenges to its full implementation. China’s decentralized governance, limitations in the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, and failure to address structural issues in the bilateral economic relationship limit the prospects of reaching phase one goals of trade expansion. The consequent market distortions may negatively impact international trading partners, whereas China’s search for alternatives to US imports will hinder progress in subsequent negotiations.

Asia Pacific Economics

A Big Deal: Signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

On November 15th 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was signed. An ASEAN-led initiative, the agreement was signed during a virtual ceremony in Vietnam. The bloc takes sole position as the world’s largest trading bloc, representing roughly 30% of global GDP.
The signing of this imminent and long-awaited free trade agreement is between 15 nations: the 10 ASEAN members in addition to China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.
The timing of this pan-Asian trading agreeement’s signing is symbolic – amid a global pandemic that has shaken the global economy and caused free trade and globalisation to be questioned; however, it’s significance goes far beyond symbolism.
While this agreement appears to support ASEAN’s incrementalist approach, the pact will do little to halt China’s creeping dominance over the surrounding region, nor influence America’s position of distancing itself from China, or indeed influence any agreement in which China plays a part.