Whilst President-elect Donald Trump’s plans for East Asia are still largely unknown, his lack of foreign-policy experience and intentions to renegotiate trade and defence deals have led some to suggest that his presidency may contribute to destabilisation across the region, and particularly on the Korean Peninsula. Negative consequences for the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) economy, uncertainty over defence and heightened tensions with regards to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are all possible features of the ROK’s post-Trump future.
During his election campaign, Trump asserted that he would decrease US defence spending in the ROK and demand a greater ROK contribution to the shared costs of defence against the DPRK threat. With the cost-sharing agreement between the ROK and the US up for renegotiation in 2017, these remarks raise concerns that a Trump presidency will lead to a weakening of the alliance between the two countries and exacerbate instability on the Korean Peninsula. Continue reading →
With a rapidly changing regional context and increasing tension from neighbouring states, Japan’s foreign affairs plate is very full. In the last seven months, North Korean nuclear tests, incursions into territorial water by Chinese vessels, and planned construction of Russian military bases in the disputed Northern Territories, are just a sample of the activities undertaken by regional actors in East Asia. Japan has approached these arguably aggressive activities, and subsequent perceived rise in tension, by showing off its muscle. Not the traditional military kind, but rather an unprecedented display, in Japanese terms, of diplomatic soft power. Continue reading →
Post by Cristina Varriale, Research Intern at ICSA
The beginning of 2016 has seen several major blows to the threat perceptions of South Korea. On the 6th January, its isolated and precarious neighbour, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted an underground nuclear test. Shortly following this on the 7th February, the DPRK successfully launched a satellite into orbit, testing prohibited dual-use missile launch technologies. While scepticism of exact capabilities persists, the steps between current technologies and a deliverable nuclear tipped missile appear to be reducing. Nevertheless, despite a total of four nuclear tests, numerous missile launches and suggestions of a fifth nuclear test possible, South Korea are not currently countering with their own nuclear weapons programme despite calls from senior politicians. Continue reading →
On 1st April, a new era began for Myanmar. On that day, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), under the presidency of newly inaugurated Htin Kyaw, took power in a country which has only known democracy for 14 of its 1,000 year recorded history. Not only does the country face domestic challenges including rampant internal conflict, corruption and poverty, but Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD will have to navigate the country’s complex relationship with China.
Tsai Ing-wen’s election as President of the Republic of China is an indication that the people of the country known to most people as Taiwan want a change of direction from their leaders. From being defeated by the incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou four years ago, Tsai has now been elected with a sizeable majority, having received 56% of the vote, with her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also taking control of the Legislative Yuan. While this clearly demonstrates a new trajectory for the island nation, it remains to be seen what the consequences of this election result and long-term effects for relations in the region will be.