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"Could permanent neutrality be the answer for Korea?"

Sangpil Jin erläutert, warum eine vertraglich abgesicherte Deklaration der "dauerhaften Neutralität" durch die Regierungen Nord- und Südkoreas ein "game changer" in der Sicherheitsarchitektur Ostasiens sein könnte. "A permanently neutralised Korean Peninsula would reassure China that this gateway to the heart of continental Eurasia would become less affected by Washington’s geopolitical designs. From the United States’ standpoint, this Sun Tzu-esque balancing mechanism of subduing the enemy without fighting could contain China’s hegemonic ambition by exploiting a neutral Korea’s geography, since the Peninsula would provide a natural buffer between continental and maritime Asia. Moreover, Korean neutrality could serve as a test case for future cooperation between these two rivals in other conflict zones. Russia and Japan also stand to gain from neutrality. (...) Following in the footsteps of the Congress of Vienna — which formalised Switzerland’s neutrality — the final step would see a special session that hammers out a binding treaty on Korea’s permanent neutrality, with China, Japan, Russia and the United States acting as its guarantors. Washington would also agree to end its military presence in South Korea (a strategy that is already gaining traction in policy circles) and terminate the US–South Korean alliance after Korean unification. These steps would pave the way for a non-aligned and neutral Korea."

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"Are arms exports a tool of Chinese foreign policy?"

Lucie Béraud-Sudreau und Meia Nouwens vom International Institute for Strategic Studies kommen in ihrer Analyse der chinesischen Waffenexporte zu dem Schluss, dass es sich bisher nicht um ein Instrument der chinesischen Außenpolitik handle. "Chinese arms sales appear to be more transactional than an instrument of foreign policy. For instance, there has been no uptick in Chinese arms deliveries to core Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partner countries since this initiative was announced in 2013. Indeed, out of the 74 countries that are directly linked to BRI projects, only 23 of them — 31 per cent — have received Chinese major weapon systems since 2013. (...) Arms sales take place if and only if recipient states have the need for new weapons systems and have a preference for Chinese products. China still traditionally sells to states where Western exporters will not sell due to sanctions (like Iran), states that cannot afford to purchase Western weapons systems (like Zambia) and states that fall into both categories (like Sudan and Venezuela)."

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"The two Korea’s tryst with destiny"

Sourabh Gupta vom Institute for China–America Studies in Washington DC. meint dagegen, dass die Erklärung Nordkoreas, unter bestimmten Bedingungen auf seine Atomwaffen verzichten zu wollen, nicht voreilig als Täuschung abgetan werden sollte. "Kim Jong-un already enjoys the assured ability to inflict unacceptable damage to his adversary — the logic of possessing nuclear weapons — by way of thousands of artillery tubes located within 50 kilometers or so of Seoul. An actual nuclear weapon mated to an inter-continental or intermediate range ballistic weapon is a leverageable asset that can be traded away for the right price — the full denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, revocation of the United States’ extended deterrence guarantee to Seoul, security assurances by Washington and Beijing to the North Korean regime and state, conversion of the armistice agreement into a peace treaty, and normalisation of diplomatic relations with the United States. In this regard, Kim’s circumstances are markedly different from those of Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi."

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"China’s vision for a new world order"

Yong Wang, Politikwissenschaftler an der Peking University, erläutert Chinas Vision einer neuen Weltordnung, die generell darauf basieren soll, dass Staaten in ihrer internationalen Politik die "legitimen Interessen" anderer Länder berücksichtigen. "The ideal of this model would be mutually beneficial and win-win international partnership, as opposed to the current dominant conception of international relations — namely one of anarchy, power politics and a winner-takes-all dynamic. Under Xi’s plan, the security alliances formed during the Cold War would be replaced by ‘common security’. Under traditional models of collective security, the focus is the security of the alliance, and this exclusivity can easily lead to tension between rival security groups. (...) In China’s proposed community, the world would continue in the general direction of economic liberalisation but would also work towards a new global system that is more equitable, inclusive and fair. (...) The first challenge is whether the West can adapt to and accept the changes brought about by the rise of China. The West — the United States in particular — has grown accustomed to making the rules of the international order, which all other countries are then expected to follow. The rise of China and other emerging economies has changed this pattern of relations."

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"Squeezing North Korea will not result in revolution"

Die Vorstellung, dass harte Sanktionen gegen ein Land wie Nordkorea eine Revolte der Bevölkerung gegen die Regierung auslösen können, werde von Forschern seit langem hinterfragt, schreibt Andrew David Jackson von der Monash University in Melbourne. "Anger, hunger and deprivation may be features of revolutions, but they are not their sole cause. If they were, revolutions would be a great deal more predictable. The 'paradox of revolution', to borrow Jack Goldstone’s phrase, is that, in hindsight, revolutions appear inevitable but no one ever sees them coming. The 2011 Arab Spring is a case in point. North Korean citizens have a lot to be angry about, but there is no reason to believe revolution is inevitable. Other important variables must be factored into predictions of revolutionary change. (...) If unrest occurs again on North Korea’s border with China, it is unlikely that rebels will receive any support from Beijing. Wendell Philips observed that ‘revolutions are not made, they come’. If there is to be a revolution in North Korea, it may be better to just let it come."

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"Democracy isn’t receding in Southeast Asia, authoritarianism is enduring"

Thomas Pepinsky von der Cornell University interpretiert die stagnierende Demokratisierung in Südostasien als Zeichen der Widerstandsfähigkeit der autoritären Strukturen vor Ort. "Trends from 1980 to 2016 for all eleven Southeast Asian countries show that the general picture of regional democracy has been one of institutional stagnation over the past three decades. The only Southeast Asian country where civil liberties and political rights have consistently deteriorated is Thailand. By contrast, liberalisation has been real (if limited) in Myanmar and substantial in Indonesia. Even in hard authoritarian Vietnam, there has been an expansion of civil liberties, even if no progress at all in political rights. (...) What makes the politics of disorder a thorny problem for Southeast Asian democracy is that these illiberal policies are popular among many citizens. The trend towards illiberal politics and authoritarian leadership styles is a consequence of the perceived weaknesses of democratic politics, which has proven unable to eliminate poverty, crime, identity-based conflict or political instability."

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"Multiple risks and limited options on the Korean peninsula"

In seiner Analyse der Situation auf der koreanischen Halbinsel kommt Ramesh Thakur, Direktor des Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, zu dem Schluss, dass es an der Zeit sei, Nordkorea als Atommacht anzuerkennen und die internationale Strategie gegenüber dem Regime entsprechend anzupassen. "By 2020, North Korea will either be a post-atomic wasteland; an active war zone; or a de facto nuclear-armed state with a fully developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability, and grudgingly accepted as such. To paraphrase Churchill’s familiar bon mot on democracy, learning to live with that reality would be the worst outcome, except for all the alternatives. (...) Denuclearisation is dead and should be buried. (...) Engagement must focus on the elements of a 'grand bargain' as was done with Iran: a freeze-for-freeze as proposed by China and backed by Russia, meaning a suspension of US–South Korean military exercises in return for a freeze on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile testing programs; formal diplomatic recognition of and relations with Pyongyang by the United States; and a formal peace treaty following the armistice that has been in operation since 1953."

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"Ending North Korean brinkmanship"

Vinod Saighal, indischer Generalmajor im Ruhestand, warnt noch einmal eindringlich vor den Folgen eines atomaren Krieges, der durch die Provokationen Nordkoreas ausgelöst werden könnte. Ein möglicher Ausweg aus der Krise wäre ein gemeinsames Ultimatum der Großmächte USA, China und Russland, das Diktator Kim Jong-un an den Verhandlungstisch zwingen würde. "Kim is unlikely to agree to this even if two of his supporters were to join with the United States. Here is where compellance comes in. After authorisation by the UN Security Council, China, Russia and the United States carry out a full-scale blockade of North Korea by land, sea and air. Simultaneously, leaflets would be regularly dropped over North Korea by China and Russia (not the United States) urging the population to force their leader to come to the negotiating table, failing which the army and the people would be urged to topple the leader before complete starvation sets in. The blockade would be lifted only when neutral observers are allowed to come into Pyongyang to monitor the agreement, and the three powers feel assured that there is no possibility of the North Korean leader reneging on the deal."

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"South Korea should prepare for reunification"

Angesichts der verschärften Krise auf der koreanischen Halbinsel sollte die südkoreanische Regierung Vorbereitungen für einen plötzlichen Sturz des Regimes im Norden und eine Wiedervereinigung der beiden Länder treffen, mahnen Jong-Wha Lee von der Korea University in Seoul und Warwick McKibbin von der Australian National University. Die beiden Forscher erläutern drei mögliche Szenarien einer derartigen Entwicklung. "South Korea should prepare for a unification process, which could happen unexpectedly. No one expected the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification. And the costs of not being prepared could be high. We analysed the economic impacts of Korean unification on North Korea, South Korea and the rest of the world under three hypothetical scenarios using a global dynamic model called G-Cubed. These scenarios are reform and gradual convergence in North Korea, North Korea’s sudden collapse and immediate unification, and chaos and crises in North and South Korea. Needless to say, there is no way to determine and quantify the exact outcomes of Korean unification. The simulations are potential scenarios rather than forecasts."

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"The real risk on the Korean peninsula"

Kurz vor dem jüngsten Raketentest Nordkoreas hat Richard C Bush von der Brookings Institution auf das vielleicht größte Risiko eines nordkoreanischen Atomwaffenprogramms hingewiesen. "(...) the real danger stems from the possibility of weakened alliances and unchecked escalation in the Korean Peninsula that could spiral out of control. (...) As North Korea’s nuclear program inches closer to success, scepticism is increasing in Seoul and Tokyo about the credibility of the US commitment. Reasonably, the sceptics ask, if North Korea attacked them, would Washington be willing to retaliate with nuclear weapons when North Korea could counter-retaliate by hitting the United States? (...) Pyongyang may soon assume that it can act more recklessly vis-à-vis South Korea at the conventional level because it could hypothetically counter the United States at the nuclear level. (...) The United States needs to assume that North Korean conventional probes will come, sooner or later. It is far better that Washington formulate its responses in advance and urge South Koreans to do the same, in order to reduce the chances that a reaction is bungled when more aggressive provocations inevitably occur."

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"What type of East Asian order will China accept?"

Das Auftreten Chinas in Ostasien werde von vielen Nachbarstaaten als "Revisionismus" kritisiert, schreibt Huang Jing von der National University of Singapore. China selbst gehe es vor allem darum, den regionalen Einfluss ausländischer Mächte und vor allem der USA zu begrenzen und die Bildung einer antichinesischen Koalition zu verhindern. "From China’s perspective, any substantial involvement of a ‘foreign power’ in its neighbourhood would be seen as a potential threat. As history has shown, political turmoil in Southeast Asia can provoke waves of anti-Chinese activity, where overseas Chinese become scapegoats for internal socioeconomic conflicts. Not only would this pose a diplomatic challenge to Beijing, but anti-Chinese activity overseas could also stir up nationalistic resentment in China, undermining political stability at home. (...) Obviously it is unrealistic to expect China to 'win over' Southeast Asia entirely. Instead, Beijing’s top priority is to prevent the region as a whole from siding with the United States and its ally Japan."

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"THAAD is no easy withdrawal for Moon"

Die von China kritisierte Installation des amerikanischen Raketenabwehrsystems THAAD in Südkorea steht seit dem Amtsantritt des neuen südkoreanischen Präsidenten Moon Jae-in in Frage. Kai He, Politikwissenschaftler an der Griffith University in Australien, glaubt allerdings nicht, dass Moon den USA eine leichtfertige Absage erteilen wird. "(...) there are at least three reasons why South Korea will not withdraw THAAD easily. One is Seoul’s relationship with the United States. THAAD has become a new litmus test of the US–South Korean alliance. (...) Second, there is the bureaucratic establishment in the Moon administration that supported THAAD. Moon will have to work through many different South Korean bureaucracies — especially in the military — to run the government effectively. Withdrawing THAAD might damage his relations with elements in these bureaucracies and thereby damage his government’s efficacy. Finally, there is the cost to credibility and reputation. The deployment of THAAD has not been free. The United States has agreed to pay the equipment, maintenance and operational costs of THAAD. By withdrawing THAAD, Moon would potentially expose South Korea to huge monetary losses".

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"Alternative facts and the threat in the South China Sea"

Sourabh Gupta vom Institute for China–America Studies in Washington erläutert die historischen und völkerrechtlichen Hintergründe des Territorialstreits im Südchinesischen Meer, die aus seiner Sicht keineswegs eindeutig gegen die chinesischen Ansprüche und Aktivitäten in der Region sprechen. Die neue US-Regierung sollte sich schnell mit den komplexen Zusammenhängen der Krise vertraut machen, um eine unnötige Konfrontation mit China zu vermeiden, so die Empfehlung Guptas. "China is within its rights to construct artificial islands on the high-tide features that it administers in the South China Sea, as well as on those submerged features that lie within the territorial sea of a high-tide feature that it administers or claims. Such construction is not an 'illegal taking of disputed international territories' — much less a violation of the undisputed territorial sovereignty of a neighbouring state 'akin to Russia’s taking [of] Crimea'. (...) China and the claimant states have made valuable progress in bilateral ties since the 2016 ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Laos. The Trump administration should support — not disturb — this progress."

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"Russia can curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions"

Rensselaer Lee vom Foreign Policy Research Institute und Artyom Lukin von der Far Eastern Federal University in Russland sind der Ansicht, dass Russlands Einfluss in Nordkorea groß genug sein könnte, um den Fortschritt des nordkoreanischen Atomwaffenprogramms zu stoppen. "Why Russia? Russia shares a land border with North Korea and has a wealth of experience in dealing with the Kim dynasty, whose installation it directly supported some 70 years ago. History matters. The unique circumstances of North Korea’s founding have generally been a stabilising factor in DPRK–Russian relations. Moreover, Russia may one day be the only country of consequence with whom Pyongyang remains more or less on friendly terms. Although China is still North Korea’s treaty ally and by far its biggest trade partner, relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have recently been marked by growing distrust. (...) Russia clearly has substantial leverage that could be used to inflict considerable pain on the regime, or to reward improved behaviour. That said, Moscow’s role in the Korean peninsula is currently constrained by its quasi-alliance with Beijing."

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"What’s wrong with the United States’ Southeast Asian allies?"

Die USA hätten nicht nur mit den Philippinen, sondern auch mit Thailand, einem weiteren Verbündeten in Südostasien, neue Probleme, schreibt Greg Raymond vom Strategic and Defence Studies Centre der Australian National University. "A shifting international power structure is changing the way Thailand and the Philippines balance between the United States and China. Cooperation with the United States offers access to desirable technology and training, as well as a shield against China, but neither state wants to become the patsy for US–China rivalry nor a proxy battleground for the United States. Yet neither wants Chinese hegemony either. To get around this, these states frequently compartmentalise different components of their bilateral relationships. (...) The familiar separation of economic and security ties — China being the dominant economic partner and the United States the preferred security partner — appears to now extend to the politico-security dichotomy, where stormy political relations can be accompanied by stable military-to-military relationships."

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"The geopolitical rationale for climate action"

Christian Downie von der Australian National University erläutert, warum Klimaschutzbemühungen für internationale Großmächte auch aus geopolitischer Perspektive sinnvoll seien. "(...) nations that are seen as leaders during times of crisis are likely to receive geopolitical benefits. A state that has acted in anticipation of crisis has more chance of being followed by other states than being a follower. And it has more chance of being a rule-setter rather than a rule-taker. In this position, a state has a much better chance of shaping global responses to climate interests in ways that attend to its other interests, such as sovereignty and domestic stability. (...) With the United States and China together responsible for about 44 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the more both countries do now, the more geopolitical sway they are likely to have as the climate crisis unfolds. Doing so will only enhance international cooperation efforts, which though unlikely to solve the crisis on their own, provide critical momentum for domestic actions."

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"Why has Chinese foreign policy become more assertive?"

Masayuki Masuda vom National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) in Tokio hat sich mit den Ursachen der neuen "selbstbewussten" Außenpolitik Chinas beschäftigt, mit der sich das Land zum strategischen Rivalen der USA entwickelt habe. "China’s assertive foreign policy has often been understood as a response to the 2008–2009 global financial crisis. In July 2009, Chinese President Hu Jintao delivered a speech to a national envoy meeting, insisting on the need to increase Chinese power and influence in the international arena. Hu referred to the strategic guideline usually abbreviated as taoguang yanghui, yousuo zuowei — 'keeping a low profile and achieving something' (KLP/AS) — coined by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1990s. Hu further stressed this policy, stating that China should 'insist upon keeping a low profile and proactively achieving something'. (...) China’s 'new' assertive behaviour since 2012 should be understood as a unified, intentional development by Beijing. China has emerged as a major strategic power and Beijing’s emphases on sovereignty, security and its great power status reflect this. Now, and in the years to come, the Chinese dream will be played out on the world stage."

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The US is the big winner in ‘comfort women’ agreement

Das für viele Beobachter überraschende japanisch-südkoreanische Abkommen zur Beilegung des Streits über Sexsklavinnen im Zweiten Weltkrieg wird von Mikyoung Kim vom japanischen Hiroshima Peace Institute auch als diplomatischer Sieg der US-Regierung interpretiert. Zugeständnisse habe dabei vor allem Südkorea machen müssen. "While Abe is enjoying rosy reviews of the agreement, the Park administration is drawing fire from various domestic corners of opposition. The surviving 'comfort women', a total of 46 women with an average age of 89, have not contained their anger about being excluded from the negotiation process. The compensation offered by Japan, roughly US$180,000 per person, is regarded as insufficient given the nature and duration of the victim’s suffering. (...) The domestic backlash will come at a hefty price for the Park administration. Domestic critics will question her government’s decision to support what is seen as a last-minute trade-off between national honour and mediocre financial gains."

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"Why the West is wrong about Beijing and Kiev"

Seit der Ukraine-Krise erwarten viele westliche Experten, dass Moskau und Peking näher zusammenrücken. Duan Xiaolin von der University of Singapore zufolge übersehen diese Prognosen, dass zwischen Russland und China immer noch beträchtliches strategisches Misstrauen herrsche. Zudem unterhalte China immer noch gute Beziehungen zur Ukraine. "Abandoning Ukraine may never be an option for China, although a short period of stagnation is possible. While Beijing is usually active in evacuating its civilians from restive situations, that did not happen in Ukraine. Chinese investors, most of which are state-owned enterprises, remained. (...) Many observers also argue that China sided with Russia in the Crimean crisis. They then raise the possibility that Russia may support China’s sovereignty claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea in return. But this is questionable. Russia definitely has more strategic significance than Ukraine in Beijing’s eyes, yet Beijing is not ready to change its non-interference principle for Russia."

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"Russian roulette at the G20"

Bruce Jones berichtet, dass die BRICS-Staaten eine Initiative Australiens zum Ausschluss Russlands aus der G20 auf recht "schroffe" Weise abgelehnt hätten. "The immediate reaction from the rest of the BRICS (...) made clear that trying to exclude Russia from Brisbane would be very costly — that it might not be possible without breaking the G20 itself. For China and India and other emerging powers, membership of the G20 is not only an important symbol of their rise, it’s a seat at what many of them view as the top decision-making table on international affairs, certainly international economic affairs. Many commentators in the West saw the BRICS standing behind Russia’s participation in the G20 as evidence of BRICS support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine. What actually motivated the BRICS was a firm intent to assert the principle that they couldn’t be excluded from international decision-making at the say-so of the West. Those days are behind us."

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"Why India doesn’t support Western sanctions on Russia"

Der Grund für die für viele Experten überraschende indische Ablehnung der westlichen Isolationspolitik gegenüber Russland sei in Indiens Ziel einer neuen polyzentrischen Weltordnung zu suchen, schreibt Priya Chacko von der University of Adelaide. "India’s stance on Crimea and its rejection of Western attempts to isolate Russia reflects the importance of its strategic partnership with Russia as well as its view of Russia’s role in its desired poly-centric world order. (...) None of this means that India is a radical revisionist state which is seeking sweeping changes in the international system. There will be limits to what India will tolerate from Russia and other states that challenge the system. Ultimately global stability is important for India’s economic development. But what India’s response to the Crimea situation does suggest is that the assumption that with a little wooing India would line up beside the West in the post post-Cold War era is an assumption based on faulty premises. India wants more than just a seat at the table — it wants to reshape the design of the table itself."

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"The Ukrainian crisis and Japan’s dilemma"

Der westliche Konflikt mit Russland stelle auch Japan vor ein diplomatisches Problem, schreibt Dmitry Filippov von der University of Sheffield. Premierminister Abe sei es in den vergangenen Jahren gelungen, das russisch-japanische Verhältnis zu verbessern, die Sanktionspolitik der G7-Staaten könnte diesen Erfolg wieder zunichte machen. "Given Tokyo’s inability to impose any serious sanctions on Moscow, and its carefully woven rapprochement strategy with Russia, it would be reasonable for Japan to limit itself to moderate, ceremonial sanctions and hope that Russia is too caught up in the Crimean crisis to pay attention to Japan’s reaction. Yet future events may well force Tokyo to make a definite decision."

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"A louder, more independent European voice in Asian affairs"

Maaike Okano-Heijmans und Frans-Paul van der Putten vom niederländischen Clingendael Institute stellen fest, dass die EU in letzter Zeit eine zunehmend eigenständige Ostasienpolitik verfolge. "(...) the EU is reinforcing the trend towards greater outspokenness on Asian affairs that started in the summer of 2012, when Ashton and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a joint declaration on the need for closer trans-Atlantic co-ordination on security, development, well-being and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region. Next came a statement by Ashton alone, expressing concern about 'developments' in East Asia’s maritime areas. (...) These moves should not be discarded as mere wordplay. Official statements do have the potential to influence states’ behaviour and to shape norms of international conflict management. East Asia in particular lacks actors that are sufficiently detached from regional security issues and yet influential enough to sound an independent voice. High Representative Ashton’s public statements are part of an increasingly active EU positioning towards East Asian security affairs."

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