1/10/20 Former Visiting Scholar published “How Will Shifts in American Foreign Policy Affect Southeast Asia?”

Daljit Singh, former Visiting Scholar, published “How Will Shifts in American Foreign Policy Affect Southeast Asia?” in ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute’s Trends in Southeast Asia, 2019 no. 15.  

In it, Dr. Singh notes, “This paper is based on fieldwork done in Washington, DC, in April–May 2019 as well as research undertaken in Singapore. In Washington, DC, the author interviewed sixteen long-time experts, former officials and current officials. Many of them agreed to be cited by name in this paper while a few have preferred to be cited anonymously. The author is indebted to the Sigur Center for Asian Studies of George Washington University for providing him with the opportunity to experience the stimulating intellectual climate in Washington, DC.”

The Executive Summary details:

  • A new phase in US foreign policy, in which China is viewed as a major threat to American economic and security interests, has begun under the Trump administration.
  • The strong anti-China sentiment is accompanied by efforts to “decouple” from China. If carried too far, they will alienate allies and friends whose cooperation the US will need in order to compete with China.
  • In the broader American foreign policy community, there is an intense ongoing debate on how strong the push-back against China should be. Both moderates and hawks agree on the need for a “tougher” approach but differ on the degree and method of toughness. No coherent strategy has been possible partly because President Trump’s thinking does not always accord with that of his own administration and partly because it is still too early in the day to come out with well-thought-out policies to support such a major change in foreign policy direction.
  • The ongoing adjustments to global policy and strategy will therefore continue as the security focus shifts to the Indo-Pacific region. The “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” concept provides some signs of the broad direction policy may take but its vital economic dimension is still missing.
  • There is greater recognition in Washington of the importance of Southeast Asia. Located in the middle of Indo-Pacific, it will be a contested zone between China and the US and its allies. The US will step up its public diplomacy to better promote its own narrative in Southeast Asia.
  • Under the Trump administration the importance of the South China Sea to the US has risen.
  • The US will remain a powerful factor in Asia despite Trump and problems at home. China is not on an inevitable path of dominance given its own significant domestic challenges.

Read the full article here.

1/10/20 Prof. Shambaugh published “Navigating the divide: South-east Asia between the US and China”

David Shambaugh, the Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies and Director of the China Policy Program at the Elliott School published the article “Navigating the divide: South-east Asia between the US and China” in The Straits Times.

Read the full article here.

6/6/2019 Director Benjamin D. Hopkins interviewed by BBC’s The Forum on “How Afghanistan won its freedom from Britain”

Benjamin Hopkins, Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Professor of History & International Affairs at George Washington University, was interviewed by BBC’s The Forum on the key months between May – August 1919 in Afghanistan.

Listen to the full interview here.

5/1/19 “GW in the News” Double Feature of Sigur Center Affiliated Faculty

The New York Times quoted Susan Aaronson, Research Professor of International Affairs, in the article “As Trade Talks Continue, China Is Unlikely to Yield on Control of Data,’’ by Ana Swanson. Read more about it here.

The Hill mentioned a paper co-authored by Donald Clarke, Professor of Law, in the article “Only one way with Huawei — don’t let it control 5G,’’ by Adonis Hoffman. Read more about it here.

In Honor of Gaston Sigur’s Legacy

It is no secret that the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) is one of The George Washington University’s most prestigious schools, and the Sigur Center is proud to have been its helm for Asian studies since 1991. Today, the Sigur Center coordinates the largest Asian Studies program in metro DC area, and has long established their reputation for exceptional education, academic and policy research both at home and abroad. But what does the “Sigur” in Sigur Center stand for, and who is the man who started it all?

Gaston Sigur was born in Louisiana in 1924. At the age of 19, Sigur joined the US Army, where he was pulled from the ranks to study Japanese, irreversibly launching his career in East Asian studies. After World War II, Sigur returned to the US and received his Ph.D. in Japanese History from the University of Michigan in 1957. He was then employed for many years by the Asia Foundation, with postings across the globe including Afghanistan, Japan, and Washington, D.C. It was not until 1972 that Sigur arrived at George Washington University to teach and direct the Institute for Sino-Soviet Studies. While serving in this position, Sigur wrote several major works on U.S. foreign policy in Asia and was a regular contributor to Orbis, a leading journal of world affairs.

On January 24, 1986, Sigur was nominated by President Reagan as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. In this position, Sigur is widely credited for having negotiated advantageous economic deals for the United States with Japan — even as he strengthened the overall US-Japan alliance — and for promoting the democratization of the Republic of Korea via his personal and forceful interaction with South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan. After the 1988 election, Sigur went on to serve as Assistant Secretary under President George H.W. Bush and continued to act as an informal adviser for him despite officially stepping down from his position one year later.

In 1989, Sigur retired from public service and promptly returned to George Washington University. Although Sigur wished to resume his active involvement with the Institute of Sino-Soviet Studies, in light of the new geopolitical environment after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the George Washington University began to restructure its teaching and programming on Asia and Russia, eventually forming two separate institutes for the study of these regions.

Recognizing Sigur’s contributions to Asian studies, the George Washington University, and public service, the university administration decided to name the new Center for East Asian Studies, established in September 1991, in his honor. Sigur was appointed Senior Counsellor of the Sigur Center, while Professor Young C. Kim was appointed founding director. William R. Johnson, professor of Chinese history, was made Associate Director.

On October 3, 1991, President George H.W. Bush wrote to Sigur to offer his congratulations, stating that “the Center is fitting recognition of your success in promoting stronger ties between the peoples of the United States and East Asia” and that he was “pleased to be counted among your many admirers.” University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg also commented that “we see the Center as a primary place in the Nation’s capital to educate a new generation of students, scholars, policymakers, and analysts prepared to cope with the expanding role of East Asia.”

After several years of actively promoting the Sigur Center, Sigur passed away in April 1995. His death was intimately felt across the university and within the Center, which noted that “while cognizant that no person can fully replace the leadership, wisdom and contributions of Dr. Sigur, we are now even more determined than ever to continue to strengthen this Center and its role in the academic and policy community of this country as a living testimony in his honor.”

What “Sigur” stands for to the Sigur Center is the continuous dedication to Dr. Gaston Sigur’s legacy of promoting education, academic and policy research, and public service in Asian affairs. It is forever a reminder of our mission and a constant challenge for us to further it. In 2018, together with the GW Institute for Korean Studies (GWIKS), the Sigur Center received the prestigious designation of National Resource Center (NRC) for East Asian Studies from the U.S. Department of Education. Sigur Center for Asian Studies has also evolved from focusing solely on East Asia to covering the entire region of Asia.

This year, we honored our namesake, Dr. Gaston Sigur, with the 24th Annual Gaston Sigur Memorial Lecture, which featured Dr. Sunil Amrith as the distinguished speaker discussing the topic of “Water and the Making of Modern India.” Check out the audio recordings here and join us as we pay tribute to the legacy of Dr. Sigur. 

4/24/19 Prof. Shambaugh quoted in South China Morning Post on US and China blocking academic visas

David Shambaugh, Professor of Asian Studies at the Elliott School was quoted in a South China Morning Post on how academic discussion is now much needed between the United States and China, and halting academic visas only exacerbates the tensions. Read the full article here.

4/23/19 MA Asian Studies graduate student Jordan Link published in the China Africa Research Initiative Blog

Jordan Link, an MA Asian Studies graduate student published his article, “Chinese Lending to Africa for Military and Domestic Security Purposes” in the China Africa Research Initiative Blog on April 9th.

Jordan Link is responsible for leading the China-Africa finance database research team and conducting quantitative and qualitative studies of China-Africa trade, finance, and security affairs.  Jordan graduated from the George Washington University with an M.A. in Asian Studies.  His previous work has focused on understanding the strategic and economic challenges that China presents for the future of American foreign policy.  He holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary in International Relations. 

Read the full article here.

4/12/19 Spring 2019 Asian Connection Newsletter

 

The Sigur Center for Asian Studies publishes a biannual report – called The Asian Connection – highlighting the Center’s activities, affiliated programs, students and alumni, faculty and scholars, and the Center’s robust public outreach initiatives. 

The latest edition reviews our Fall 2018 events, shares information on our Title IV Grant and New East Asia National Research Center, and much more! Check out the full publication of The Asian Connection with the button below!

 

4/9/19 Prof. Mochizuki quoted in a Japan Today article on U.S. mitigating Japan, South Korea tension

Mike Mochizuki, associate professor of political science and international affairs, was quoted in a Japan Today article on his take on whether or not the Trump administration can mediate between Japan and South Korea to ensure regional stability. Read the full article here.

4/20/19 GW Student Organization Global China Connection (GCC) to Host its Annual Summit on Sino-U.S. Relations

The world’s largest, student-run, non-profit, Global China Connection cordially invites you to join us our 2019 GCC Global Summit in Washington DC on April 20, 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM. The theme of this year’s summit is: “Under Pressure: Sino-U.S. Relations on the Threshold”. The summit presents comprehensive analysis on US-China relations through panels on foreign policy, economic policy, and business.  The Summit gives opportunity for making person-to-person connection with a wide range of distinguished speakers, including former ambassador to China, executives and business policy makers from the Alibaba Group, PayPal, J.P. Morgan, as well as top experts from US-China Business Council, Congressional Research Service, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and more. See details and purchase tickets at gccsummit2019.com. Your ticket includes complimentary refreshments, access to our VIP Luncheon, as well as a grad school fair presented by APSIA. The early-bird tickets are officially sold out BUT join today and use the exclusive discount code, GCCElliott.

4/5/19 Interview with GW Student Okinawa Essay Contest Award Recipient

Nina Udagawa, a sophomore majoring in International Affairs at GWU, is the 3rd Place Award recipient of the Okinawa Essay Contest for her essay: “The Okinawan Amerasian Identity—A Vanguard for Japanese Multinationals.” The award includes a trip to Okinawa to meet with professors and students there and gain some inspiration for further research.
 
Read our exclusive interview with her below: 
 

1. Please provide a brief abstract paragraph describing the content and main argument of your essay.

My essay looked into the transformation of the Okinawan Amerasian identity over time and the various movements which allowed those in the community to live more comfortably as years passed. To provide some context, an Amerasian is individual who has a U.S. military service member and a local Okinawan as parents. Okinawa is home to many Amerasians because of the prominent US bases in the region. The perception of this identity changed over time; in the immediate post World War II era, Amerasians were killed for being a product of shame, however, the current Okinawan governor was elected by his own people to represent their voice. My essay compartmentalized such transformations in three main sections. Firstly, local organizations appealed and successfully gained the government’s assistance in recognizing the rights of abandoned mothers and Amerasians in the 1970s. Secondly, the discourse surrounding the need to create a safe space for Amerasians emerged through the set-up of the AmerAsian School in the late 1990s. The third, and current phase is about self-affirmation. Although the internet has sparked discussions between the Japanese multicultural community, Okinawan media picked up such discussions and brought them to a wider platform. My thesis argued that  one commonality of the resolution of issues that Amerasians faced was the local support for grassroots activism. This positive response and enacted policies reverberated nationwide, allowing many Japanese multicultural people to live more comfortably. I end my essay with questions regarding the place of multicultural Japanese people in the nation’s society.

2. What motivated you to pursue research on Okinawa?

I have always enjoyed writing papers and pursuing research in the social sciences. My research for this task was topic-motivated. This was because Denny Tamaki, who was elected as governor of Okinawa in October 2018 is an Amerasian. His election sparked a lot of discourse on the Japanese multicultural, along with American identity in society. I came across these many articles when reading the news and started looking into the history of the identity. I already knew about this research topic and wanted to acquaint myself more with the Okinawa collection at Gelman. This was because I heard from professors that it was one of the few collections based on Okinawa in the world. After being exposed to primary sources and personal narratives of those in the 70s and 80s who were mothers of Amerasians who attempted to make Okinawa more accommodating for their children, I was drawn to my topic.

3. What did you learn about Okinawa through this essay contest that you would like most to share with others?

I learned the essence of community in Okinawa through this essay contest. These various movements solving the issues present for Okinawan Amerasian people in Okinawan society showed me that a strong sense of community was a strong reason for such nationwide changes. Many of the advocates for Okinawan Amerasian identity were backed by support from their surrounding communities. Although supporters and prefectural officials were not Amerasians themselves, they showed interest and understanding in the need for legislation or a safe space for Okinawan Amerasians. Therefore, I want to share the importance of the sense of Okinawan community in shaping perceptions towards multicultural Japanese people today.

4. Did you use any GW resources during your research? If so, which ones, and how helpful were they?

Yes, I used the Okinawa Collection at the Global Resource Center in Gelman which was extremely helpful. This gave me a lot of access to newspapers from the 90s which was insightful in understanding how efforts for Amerasians were projected onto the community. I was also recommended a number of books and resources by the Global Resource Center staff and professors which were also extremely helpful in finding sources and ensuring my information regarding the bases was accurate.

5. What do you plan to do during your trip to Okinawa? Are there specific research questions you would like to address while there?

I have always been fascinated by Okinawan culture and am very excited to experience it firsthand. I am currently writing a paper about identity politics in Okinawa for my Japanese politics class, so it would be interesting to talk to people about the importance of the Okinawan identity and what it means to the people of the prefecture.. From what I’ve researched so far, it seems that many Okinawans are extremely proud of their unique culture, so I am sure that experiencing that for a week will be exciting.

6. How has this essay contest contributed or shaped your current academic and professional aspirations?

This essay contest showed me that I really enjoy research and that it is something I would like to continue to do. Although I balanced this research and school work, I felt myself allocating any free time to this essay because I was very passionate about it. I am also interested in the field of U.S.-Japan relations, and this essay showed me the importance of people-to-people connections and civil society in creating social change. It lay an important foundation in furthering my knowledge on how social movements work in Japan.

7. Do you plan to integrate your research about Okinawa with your future research and/or career path?

Absolutely! As a multicultural Japanese person myself, I have always been very interested in the community I have been a part of and our place in Japanese society. In 2016, I gave a TedTalk titled “Double not Half, Reevaluating Cultural Identity” which was about my experience growing up in Japan as one who is half Japanese. I have since been questioning and looking into the idea of what it means to be Japanese, and the importance in answering this question for those of my community to find their place in society. I definitely want to continue my research in this field. Looking into the Okinawan Amerasian identity was crucial in understanding where a lot of this movement originated, and how it had evolved throughout the years. Therefore, I am sure if I continue to delve into this topic, Okinawa and the Okinawan Amerasian identity will continue to surface.

 
 
 

3/27/19 Prof. Sutter raises question in Inside Higher Ed’s article on Chinese students studying abroad

Prof. Sutter, affiliated Sigur Center for Asian Studies faculty, raised the difficult question of whether professors should counsel discretion when Chinese students say or write things Chinese authorities likely wouldn’t like. To read the full article, please click here

3/27/19 Prof. Mochizuki consulted with Okinawa government to discuss relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station

Prof. Mochizuki, affiliated Sigur Center for Asian Studies faculty, consulted with the Okinawa prefectural government to discuss the relocation of a United States Marine Corps Air Station in the region. To read the full article, please click here

3/19/19 GW Student Wins Award in Okinawa Essay Contest

Nina Udagawa, a sophomore majoring in International Affairs at GWU, is the 3rd Place Award recipient of the Okinawa Essay Contest for her essay: “The Okinawan Amerasian Identity—A Vanguard for Japanese Multinationals.” The award includes a trip to Okinawa to meet with professors and students there and gain some inspiration for further research.
 
The 3 winning essays were:
 

1st Place: “Passively Passing: Exploring Okinawan identity in the work of Yamanokuchi Baku” by Hilson Reidpath, PhD Student in Japanese Literature, East Asian Languages and Literature, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

2nd Place: “Contesting Japanese Post-War Memory in Modern Okinawan Literature” by Christine Mari Inzer, Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies: Asia, University of Richmond

3rd Place: “The Okinawan Amerasian Identity—A Vanguard for Japanese Multinationals” by Nina Udagawa, Sophomore, major in International Affairs, George Washington University

 
Prof. Mike Mochizuki, affiliated Sigur Center for Asian Studies faculty, will be moderating the 2019 Okinawa Essay Contest Awards Ceremony. 
 

The details of the ceremony are below.

Title: Okinawa Essay Contest Awards Ceremony
Date: March 19, 2019
Time: 2:30 pm – 4 pm (doors open at 2pm)
Location: Room 702 in Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, George Washington University (2130 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20052)
RSVP: https://goo.gl/forms/C2fSFQkzV2ZbEeMe2

 

3/1/19 Professor David Shambaugh quoted in Texas A&M’s “The Eagle”

Professor David Shambaugh, Professor of Asian Studies at the Elliott School, recently spoke at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. Student Caitlin Clark wrote a piece in Texas A&M’s “The Eagle” which summarizes Professor Shambaugh’s discussion on US-China relations. Read the full article here!

3/12/19 Professor Paul Heer to be featured in CSIS event

Professor Paul Heer, an adjunct professor here at GW, will be a featured commentator at a CSIS event on March 12th titled “China’s 21st Century Rise in Historical Perspective.” The event is to celebrate the launch of Klaus Mulhahn’s new book China Modern: From the Great Qing to Xi Jinping. Details about the event as well as access to the livestream can be found at this link!

This Spring Break: Prof. Janet Steele to give 3 talks in Australia

Professor Janet Steele, Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs, will be traveling to Australia this spring break to give talks at the University of Sydney (March 11), Australian National University (March 13), and Monah University (March 14) on the topic of “The journalisms of Islam: contending views in Muslim Southeast Asia”.

 

About the Talk:
 
What is Islamic journalism?
 
It depends on where you stand. In Indonesia or Malaysia, journalism and Islam can have many different faces.
 
At Sabili, an Indonesian Islamist magazine first established as an underground publication, journalists were hired for their ability at dakwah, or Islamic propagation. They believed that the solution to the ills of modern society lies in sharia, the law laid down in the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad in the seventh century. At Tempo on the other hand, a weekly Indonesian news magazine that was banned by the Soeharto regime and returned to print in 1998, journalists don’t talk much about sharia. Although many are pious and see their work as a manifestation of worship, the Islam they practice has been described as cosmopolitan, progressive, and even liberal. Does Islamic journalism require that reporters support an Islamic party as they do at Harakah newspaper in Malaysia?  Or is it more important to practice the kind of substantial Islam promoted by the Indonesian newspaper Republika? What about Muslim journalists who work at secular news organisation such as Malaysiakini
 
Journalists at these five news organisations in one of the world’s most populous Muslim regions draw upon what are arguably universal principles of journalism, but understand and explain them through the lens of what I call an Islamic idiom. What they say about the meaning of their work suggests a richness of experience that has been overlooked by both scholars and those engaged in international affairs. 
 
About the speaker: 
 
Janet Steele is an Associate Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University, and the director of the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication. She received her PhD in history from the Johns Hopkins University, and focuses on how culture is communicated through the mass media. Her 2005 book, Wars Within: The Story of Tempo, an Independent Magazine in Soeharto’s Indonesia, focused on Tempomagazine and its relationship to the politics and culture of New Order Indonesia. A frequent visitor to Southeast Asia, she lectures on topics ranging from the role of the press in a democratic society to specialised courses on narrative journalism. Awarded two Fulbright teaching and research grants, she has served as a State Department speaker-specialist in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, the Philippines, East Timor, Taiwan, Burma, Jamaica, Sudan, Egypt, India and Bangladesh. Her most recent book, Mediating Islam, Cosmopolitan Journalisms in Muslim Southeast Asia, focuses on what she refers to as an ‘Islamic idiom’ in journalism.

2/18/2019: Professor Mika Natif interviewed by Indian Cultural Forum

Professor Mika Natif, Assistant Professor of Art History, was interviewed in the Indian Cultural Forum article, “Did Akbar really examine paintings every week? All the World’s a Mughal Stage” by Somok Roy. In the interview, Professor Natif discusses her new book Mughal Occidentalism (Brill, 2018). 

Read the full article here.

2/14/2019: Professor David Shambaugh mentioned in the South China Morning Post

Professor David Shambaugh, Director of the China Policy Program and affiliated faculty member at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, was mentioned in the South China Morning Post article, “Think smarter and carry a bigger stick in Asia, China-watchers urge US President Donald Trump’s administration” by Jodi Xu Klein. Professor Shambaugh was mentioned as a contributor to the report “Course Correction: Toward an Effective and Sustainable China Policy.”

Read the full article here.

2/8/2019: Professor Gregg Brazinsky Quoted in the Wall Street Journal on North Korea Nuclear Summit

Professor Gregg Brazinsky, affiliated faculty member at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, “U.S. Envoy Voices Optimism Ahead of North Korea Nuclear Summit” by Andrew Jeong and Timothy Martin. 

Read the full article here.

2/12/19 Professor Mika Natif Returns from India

Professor Mika Natif, Assistant Professor of Art History, was a recipient of a Sigur Center travel grant that helped her travel to India for a new research project. Read below for a description of her trip!

Over the break I went to India in order to start my new research project, focusing on Mughal female patrons, artists and portraiture. During this trip I visited palaces, museums, special libraries, and private collections in Delhi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur and Rampur. I was mostly looking for images of women related to the Mughal courts during the times of Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. I also wanted to see the places from which some of these women, wives, concubines and court ladies came. And I was also searching for any visual and textual materials I could find that were related to this topic. In some places I got luckier than in others.

One of these amazing places was the Raza Library in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh. This incredible collection of illustrated manuscripts and albums grew out of the personal library of the nawab (governor) of Rampur, Faizullah Khan, in end of the 18th century. The current beautiful building was constructed about one hundred years later to house the ever-growing library of rare specimens in Persian, Urdu, Arabic, Sanskrit, and other languages. Working at the Raza library, I was looking at portraits of Mughal women, especially of Nur Jahan, as well as illustrated historical texts, such as Rashid al-Din’s World History (Jami al-Tawarikh). I would like to thank Dr. Abu Sad Islahi and Faisal Khan for their generosity and help throughout my visit.  

In my last days in New Delhi, I gave a lecture at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Prof. Kavita Singh invited me to celebrate the publication of my new book “Mughal Occidentalism” and I was delighted to do so in India, not too far from the Mughal palace itself. The lecture was a wonderful opportunity to see old and new colleagues, and meet with graduate students to discuss their work.

2/6/2019: Professor Ben Hopkins interviewed by the Voice of America

Benjamin Hopkins, Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Professor of History & International Affairs at George Washington University, was interviewed by Voice of America regarding US withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan and US position shift towards the Taliban.

Listen to the full interview here.

2/4/2019: Professor Sean Roberts Quoted in SCMP on Ilham Tohti Issue

Professor Sean Roberts, affiliated faculty member at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, was quoted in the South China Morning Post article, “US lawmakers nominate jailed Uygur Ilham Tohti for Nobel Peace Prize, seeking global pressure on China” by Jodi Xu Klein. The article takes a look at U.S. lawmakers nominating Uygur academic Ilham Tohti for the 2019 Novel Peace Prize. 

Read the full article here.

1/31/2019: Sigur Center Faculty quoted in new GW Hatchet article

Professors David Shambaugh and Daqing Yang, faculty at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies were both quoted in the recent GW Hatchet article, “Amid political pressure, Confucius Institute will stay open” by Meredith Roaten.

The article takes a deep look into the role of Confucius Institutes in the US, as well as the one on our campus at GW.

Read the full article here.

1/31/2019: The Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Institute for Korean Studies have been awarded funding to establish an East Asia National Resource Center

The Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Institute for Korean Studies, both housed in the Elliott School of International Affairs, have been awarded $1.8 million to establish an East Asia National Resource Center at the George Washington University.

The new center’s aim will be to address a national need for greater knowledge and expertise on East Asia through expanded language instruction, area studies educational programs, outreach and teacher training. 

Read the full article here.

1/30/2019: Professor Ben Hopkins Quoted About Future of Afghanistan

Benjamin Hopkins, Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Professor of History & International Affairs at George Washington University, was quoted in the USA Today article “US-Taliban deal may be close, but future of Afghanistan remains bleak.” In it, he discusses President Trump’s actions regarding the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Read the full article here!

The views expressed are solely those of the speaker and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty. However, the views expressed within articles and highlights are those of the faculty member and not of the Sigur Center. 

1/30/2019: Professor Gregg Brazinsky Quoted in the Wall Street Journal about US-North Korea Ties

Gregg BrazinskyProfessor of History & International Affairs at George Washington University, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal article “US-North Korea Talks Are Moving Decisively to the Diplomatic Phase.” Read the full article here!

The views expressed are solely those of the speaker and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty. However, the views expressed within articles and highlights are those of the faculty member and not of the Sigur Center. 

1/30/2019: Professor David Shambaugh Reflects on the Past and Future of U.S.-China Relations

David Shambaugh, Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science & International Affairs at George Washington University, gave a speech at the Carter Center and Emory University Symposium on “The United States & China at 40: Seeking a New Framework to Manage Bilateral Relations.” In it, he discusses what the 40th anniversary of U.S.-China Relations means for him personally, as well as how the two countries can forge a constructive path forward during a time of increased divisiveness. The symposium in Atlanta, Georgia was held from January 16 – 19, 2019. Read the full speech here!

The views expressed are solely those of the speaker and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty. However, the views expressed within articles and highlights are those of the faculty member and not of the Sigur Center. 

1/22/2019: Professor Donald Clarke Interviewed by Canada’s CTV News

Donald Clarke, professor of law,  was interviewed by Canada’s CTV News Channel about a letter he signed calling for China to release two Canadian citizens being detained. Watch the clip here.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty. However, the views expressed within articles are those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. 

1/15/2019: Donald Clarke, Professor of Law, Commented on the Death Sentence Given in China to a Canadian Man for Drug Smuggling.

Donald Clarke, professor of law, commented on the death sentence given in China to a Canadian man for drug smuggling. Selected coverage includes:

The New York Times in the article “China Sentences a Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, to Death,’’ by Chris Buckley.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/world/asia/china-canada-schellenberg-retrial.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

Reuters in the article “China condemns Trudeau’s remarks about Canadian’s death sentence,’’ by Michael Martina and Philip Wen.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-canada/canadian-sentenced-to-death-in-china-for-drugs-will-appeal-lawyer-idUSKCN1P9094

The Los Angeles Times in the article “Canadian sentenced to death in China, escalating a bitter diplomatic row,’’ by Robyn Dixon.  Note: This article appeared in additional publications including the Miami Herald.

https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-china-canadian-death-20190114-story.html

Business Insider in the article “China sentenced a Canadian man to death in the latest escalation of the countries’ feud over Huawei,’’ by Alexandria Ma. Note: This article appeared in additional publications including the Seattle Post-intelligencer, the San Antonio Express-News and the Albany Times-Union.

https://www.businessinsider.my/china-sentences-canadian-robert-schellenberg-to-death-amid-huawei-feud-2019-1/

Canada’s The Globe and Mail in the article “Trudeau says China acting ‘arbitrarily’ as Canadian sentenced to death on drug charges,’’ by Nathan Vanderklippe.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-chinese-court-sentences-canadian-to-death-on-drug-charges/

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty. However, the views expressed within articles are those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. 

1/10/2019: Trump’s Bullshit-Savant Moment on Afghanistan

Benjamin Hopkins is the Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and an Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at the George Washington University. Dr. Hopkins is a specialist in modern South Asian history, in particular that of Afghanistan, as well as British imperialism. His first book, The Making of Modern Afghanistan, examined the efforts of the British East India Company to construct an Afghan state in the early part of the nineteenth century and provides a corrective to the history of the so-called ‘Great Game.’ His second book, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, co-authored with anthropologist Magnus Marsden, pairs a complex historical narrative with rich ethnographic detail to conceptualize the Afghan frontier as a collection of discrete fragments which create continually evolving collage of meaning. He has additionally co-edited Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier with Magnus Marsden.

 

Trump’s Bullshit-Savant Moment on Afghanistan

By: Professor Benjamin Hopkins

This article was originally published on the History News Network (January 10, 2019). Please click here to access the original article.

 

Once again, the President put his factually-challenged relationship with the past on public display. In a January 3rd Cabinet meeting, Trump offered a tour de force with a fanciful alternative history of Afghanistan. According to him, the Soviets invaded in late 1979 because of cross-border terror attacks. The subsequent decade-long war, the President insisted, bankrupted the USSR and led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Trump clearly had no idea what he was talking about. If the past is a foreign country, then in Trump’s parlance, he is an illegal immigrant trespassing upon it. 

To briefly correct the President’s (mis)understanding of Afghan history: The Soviet Union invaded the country on December 26, 1979, ostensibly to support a friendly communist government under threat from a domestic insurgency provoked by unpopular reforms and the violent suppression of political dissent. Fearing the collapse of an allied regime on its southern border, the Soviets replaced the Afghan communist leadership with a more moderate and pliable cadre. Though initially planning for a swift withdrawal, Soviet forces soon found themselves sucked into a quagmire which proved impossible to escape. Over the next decade, they deployed roughly 100,000 troops, losing 15,000 of them, in a bloody counter-insurgency against the so-called mujahideen– American supported ‘freedom fighters’. The war forced over 7 million to flee as refugees, created an unknown number of internally displaced persons, and killed, maimed and wounded an untold number of Afghans. The Soviet war ended with the Geneva Accords in 1988, allowing the USSR to feign ‘peace with honor’ which covered an ignominious retreat. 

The United States and its allies immediately denounced the Soviet invasion, which made Afghanistan a battleground in the increasingly hot Cold War. American policy-makers saw the potential of turning Afghanistan into the Soviet Vietnam. Beginning with the Carter administration, and significantly ramped up under Reagan, the US secretly funneled $3 billion to the Afghan mujahideen. By bleeding the soft underbelly of the beast, American Cold Warriors hoped to strike a mortal wound to the evil empire. Following the end of the Cold War, some conservative commentators characterized the Soviet defeat as a consequence of Reagan’s tough stance which forced them to spend an incessant, and unsustainable amount on defense. These analysts contend that the Afghan war, along with the cost of Soviet military aid to Central America and the US deployment of Pershing missiles in Europe, bankrupted the Soviet Union and led to its collapse. 

It was this interpretation of history which Trump’s stream of consciousness soliloquy rather clumsily tipped his hat to. Nevertheless, the President’s alternative history almost immediately earned him a scathing rebuke from a no-less august stalwart of the right than the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. The Journal’s willingness to take him to task for a position loosely held by many on the American right over the years is notable. Doubly so for a publication which has repeatedly proven reticent to fact-check the man. 

Yet the Journal’s response is a non-sequitur. What has been lost in the consternation provoked by the President’s remarks is the fundamental question which remains unanswered – namely, what the hell is the US doing in Afghanistan? Though he got his facts wrong – Trump does not seem to care about them anyway, and is thus the bullshitter-in-chief in the Harry Frankfurt sense – the essence of his question is correct. The US has lacked a clear policy on and purpose in Afghanistan since the early 2000s, making the President’s rambling, historically uninformed remarks something of a bullshit-savant moment. 

Now entering its eighteenth year and one of the costliest wars in American historythe President has reportedly grown frustrated with a continuing conflict which he seemingly does not understand. While his ignorance provides fodder for detractors and evokes the concern of the national security establishment, it also allows him to ask basic questions regarding the purpose of that war which have long been considered settled within Washington circles of power. The President’s ignorance of Afghanistan, though extreme, is far from unique amongst the American policy establishment. Such ignorance is the consequence of a larger failing of American policy in the country – the lack of a clear publicly pronounced purpose and end-goal for the continued American presence in Afghanistan. 

Despite nearly two decades of war in the country, American policy is largely driven by a noxious combination of inertia and sunk costs. A large part of the problem is that America’s civilian political leadership long ago abdicated its war-fighting responsibilities regarding Afghanistan. It is the role of civilian elected officials to formulate, articulate and communicate the fundamental purpose of an armed conflict and to direct the military and security apparatus of the government to execute that vision. But this has not been the case with Afghanistan. Since the quick victory over the Taliban in 2001, America’s political attentions quickly wandered elsewhere, most importantly Iraq. This meant that the Afghan war has largely been farmed out to the generals to fight a war whose aims and purpose they have not been instructed in. The military has thus continued to do what the military knows best – fight a war. It is no wonder then this conflict goes on, with no end in sight. 

What the hell is the US doing in Afghanistan? The President clearly does not know. But this is the central question. The one the President himself, along with the other elected officials of the US Government, needs to answer. It is neither the responsibility nor the place of the US military leadership to do so. In his bullshit-savant moment, Trump has set himself a challenge. Sadly, it is one he has demonstrated little interest in or ability to rise to. 

Please note that any views expressed in highlighted articles, interviews, or such posts are solely those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty.

1/11/2019: Director Hopkins Publishes Article on Trump’s Afghanistan Comments

Benjamin Hopkins, Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, published an article titled “Trump’s Bullshit-Savant Moment on Afghanistan” on History News Network. In it, he addresses recent comments made by U.S. President Trump regarding the history of Soviet and U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. Read the full article here!

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty. However, the views expressed within articles are those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. 

1/10/2019: Director Hopkins Quoted About Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

Benjamin Hopkins, Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, was quoted in an article on Politifact titled “Trump Gets Facts Wrong on Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.” In it, he discusses how Afghanistan was viewed by the United States as an area of competition with the Soviet Union, and how rivalry for Afghanistan’s support developed between the two powers. Read the full article here!

1/4/2019: Associate Director Ollapally Published Article on India’s Near Region

Deepa Ollapally, Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Research Professor of International Affairs, published an article on East Asia Forum titled “India Needs to Keep its Friends Close and Its Rivals Closer.” In it, she discusses India’s diplomatic setbacks in its near region, and how a new approach with China could shore up India’s own influence. Read the full article here!

12/30/2018: Professor Mochizuki Quoted in The Japan Times on Assessing the CPTPP

Mike Mochizuki, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and co-Director of the Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific research and policy project of the Sigur Center, was quoted by The Japan Times on the subject of Japan’s role in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and how Japan can be a regional “gyroscope” amidst US-China rivalry and competition. Read the full article here!

12/11/2018: Professor Shambaugh Discusses the Cycles of Chinese Politics in Podcast Interview

David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of the China Policy Program at GW, discussed the cycles of Chinese politics and analyzed current as well as potential future trends of Chinese domestic politics and foreign policy. Professor Shambaugh was interviewed by University of Virginia Professor Brad Carson on “Jaw-Jaw,” the newest addition to the War on the Rocks family of podcasts. Listen to the full interview here!

12/13/18: Professor Sutter Quoted in The National Interest Article

Robert Sutter, Professor of International Affairs and Director of GW’s B.A. Program in International Affairs, was quoted in an article by The National Interest titled “What Does Growing U.S.-China Rivalry Mean for America’s Allies in Asia?” In the article, Professor Sutter discusses the evolving view U.S. policymakers have toward China in historical context. Read the full article here!

12/16/2018: Sigur Center Fulbright Visiting Scholar Discusses Cross-Border Tunnels on Think Tank Central

Current Sigur Center Fulbright Visiting Scholar Aqab Malik was interviewed as a discussant on Think Tank Central, a segment of i24NEWS, to analyze cross-border tunnel issues. In it, he discusses Pakistan’s experiences in recent decades. Watch the full interview here!

12/6/2018: Three Elliott School professors to retire after decades of work

Professors Edward McCord, Henry Nau and Ronald Spector have taught, researched and held administrative positions at the school for roughly 25, 45 and 30 years, respectively. Reuben Brigety, the dean of the Elliott School, said in a press release last week that the professors “leave an enduring legacy and will be sorely missed by colleagues and students.”” Read the full article here

11/29/2018: Professor Shambaugh Quoted in “Trump Eyes Tariffs Deal With China at G-20 Summit”

David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of the China Policy Program at GW, was quoted in an article titled “Trump Eyes Tariffs Deal With China at G-20 Summit” published by VOA News. Click HERE to read the full article.

11/10/2018: Sigur Center Non-Resident Scholar Fang-Yu Chen Co-Authors Diplomat Article

Sigur Center Non-Resident Scholar Fang-yu Chen co-authored a piece in The Diplomat titled, “What Does the 1992 Consensus Mean to Citizens in Taiwan?” According to the authors, the definitions of the Consensus employed by official sides do not reflect the public perception of cross-Strait relations. Read the full article here!

11/19/2018: David Shambaugh Publishes Article in East Asia Forum

David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of the China Policy Program at GW, published “China under Xi Jinping” in the East Asia Forum. The article examines Xi Jinping’s accomplishments and the direction in which he is pulling China. Read the full article here!

11/12/2018: Former ESIA Student Brian Harding Quoted in the Washington Post

Brian Harding, Deputy Director of the South East Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former student at the Elliott School of International Affairs, was quoted in a Washington Post article titled “With Trump absent, China and Russia to take center stage at Asia Pacific summits.” Read the full article here!

11/12/2018: J.LIVE Talk Covered by Sankei Shimbun

The George Washington University’s fourth annual J.LIVE Talk contest is featured in both the print and online versions of Sankei Shimbun, one of the leading national papers in Japan. The article recognizes the expanding scale and coverage of J.LIVE, with contest attendees from Florida, Texas, and other states from all across the United States.
Read the article (in Japanese) HERE.

11/6/2018: Graduate Student John Caves III Publishes Article in Las Vegas Sun

Graduate Student John Caves III (Elliott School of International Affairs) published an article in the Las Vegas Sun titled, “Why Mars Should be Our Next Stop.” The article suggests that the United States takes action to keep its lead in human space exploration, particularly against China, an increasingly emerging rival in the space race.

11/5/2018: Professor David Shambaugh Quoted in Forbes

David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of the China Policy Program at GW, was quoted recently in Forbes‘ article, “Dear Chinese Government, the Democrats Won’t Save You.” The article explains that not even a House flip during the current election would change the U.S.’ approach to the trade dispute with China.

10/29/2018: Associate Director Deepa Ollapally Delivered Two Lectures at Pondicherry University’s Centre for Maritime Studies

During the week of October 29, 2018 Associate Director Deepa Ollapally delivered two lectures at Pondicherry University’s Centre for Maritime Studies, located on the Bay of Bengal. Focusing on the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean, Ollapally spoke on “India’s Predicament in the Indian Ocean Region: Too Little, Too Late?” This was followed by a lecture on “The QUAD in the Indo-Pacific: Explaining the Leadership Gap in the US, India, Japan, Australia Group.”
The Centre for Maritime Studies is a vibrant intellectual hub in the region  Every year, the University sponsors two students each from the neighboring countries in South Asia to do a Masters in International Studies. The regional outreach program is celebrating its tenth year this year.

11/1/2018: Robert Sutter Publishes Brief for the National Bureau of Asian Research

 

Confronting Growing China-Russia Cooperation: Options for Congress

By: Professor Robert Sutter 

This article was originally published in the National Bureau of Asian Research (November, 1, 2018). Please click here to access the original article.

 

The 115th Congress has taken the lead in the recent across-the-board re-evaluation of U.S. policy toward China. Hearings, legislation, and authoritative letters from members of both parties culminated in many provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act passed in August hardening U.S. policy on China as a “whole of government” response to Chinese behavior undermining U.S. interests. Unfortunately, Congress continues to neglect the major negative implications for the United States resulting from Chinese president Xi Jinping’s increasing collaboration with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

As Congress works with the administration to push back against China, it has focused on the country’s pursuit of high-technology that jeopardizes U.S. national security and Beijing’s clandestine information operations that destabilize U.S. and Western democracy. These issues have joined intensifying disputes over strategic rivalry in Asia, unfair trade practices, Chinese territorial expansion, Taiwan, and human rights issues.

Absent from the list is China’s deepening collaboration with Russia and what it means for U.S. policy. Presidents Xi and Putin met in September for the third time this year. The two leaders spend more time together than any other two world leaders, and this pattern is likely to continue as neither one seems ready to leave office. Russia’s massive military exercises that same month involving 300,000 troops—the largest since 1981—were clearly designed to intimidate opponents; and they impressed China, which sent a strong supporting contingent to the exercises. Meanwhile, the values and outlook of authoritarian leaders in Moscow and Beijing converge in opposition to U.S. interests and goals.

What such cooperation means for the United States has been examined in a two-year project conducted by the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) involving 80 U.S. and 30 foreign specialists, including some from Russia and China. The project findings are based on 50 commissioned papers, expert workshops and public events, and briefings with relevant officials in the U.S. administration and Congress. The findings reveal adverse developments and a grim forecast for U.S. policy. [1]

Sino-Russian Cooperation against the United States

The China-Russia relationship continues to deepen and broaden with negative implications for the United States. The drivers of cooperation overshadow the brakes on forward movement at the United States’ expense. The momentum is based on (1) common objectives and values, (2) perceived Chinese and Russian vulnerabilities in the face of U.S. and Western pressures, and (3) perceived opportunities for the two powers to expand their influence at the expense of the United States and allied powers seen in decline.

Today, Russia and China separately pose increasingly serious challenges to the U.S.-supported order in their respective priority spheres of concern—Russia in Europe and the Middle East, and China in Asia along the country’s continental and maritime peripheries. The challenges that Russia presents involve military and paramilitary actions in Europe and the Middle East, along with cyber and political warfare undermining U.S. and European elections, European unity, and NATO solidarity. China undermines U.S. and allied states’ resolve through covert and overt manipulation and influence-peddling that employs economic incentives and propaganda. Chinese cyberattacks have focused more on theft of information and intellectual property to accelerate China’s economic competitiveness and dominate world markets in key advanced technology at the expense of leading U.S. and international companies. Coercion and intimidation of neighbors backed by an impressive buildup of Chinese military and civilian security forces expands Beijing’s regional control and influence.

China and Russia also coordinate their moves and support one another in their respective challenges to the United States and its allies and partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. These joint efforts include diplomatic, security, and economic measures in multilateral forums and bilateral relations involving U.S. adversaries in Iran, Syria, and North Korea. The two powers also back one another in the face of U.S. and allied complaints about their coercive expansion and actions challenging the global order, norms, and institutions.

While China and Russia are not yet formal allies, analysts predict that the next stage in their collaboration could involve one side incurring major risks and costs by coming to the assistance of the other in an international confrontation against a common adversary where Beijing’s and Moscow’s interests do not overlap. Indeed, U.S. officials are anxious about what some participants in the NBR project see as the potential for a two-front dilemma that would force the United States to divide resources. An example of such a dilemma would be Russia mobilizing its forces and threatening Europe to distract the United States in the event of a military confrontation between the United States and China over Taiwan.

And yet there are differences and asymmetries in Sino-Russian relations that limit cooperation and provide openings for the United States to gain an advantage over the longer term. The two countries have deep historical differences that translate into serious elements of distrust in the current period. Areas of friction between China and Russia can be exploited as the United States enhances its military, economic, and diplomatic capacity to deal with the powers from a stronger position. For example, Russia is an avowed opponent of the United States but China is more ambivalent. China benefits much more from stable relations with the United States and the existing U.S.-led international order. As a result, it may be more inclined in the event of a confrontation with the United States to adopt a moderate stance that would disadvantage its truculent Russian partner.

The asymmetries in the Sino-Russian relationship are enormous and growing. The Chinese economy is ten times the size of the Russian economy. Putin’s Russia has been compelled to curb its serious concerns about Chinese economic, political, and even military expansion in its near abroad—Moscow’s top foreign policy concern. How much longer the Russian leader can sustain deference to Beijing and comfort with Moscow’s growing role as the junior partner is a question that could be exploited by adroit U.S. policy.

Finally, China’s and Russia’s respective strategies in pursuit of regional leadership come at the expense of neighboring powers. Both countries’ goals are at odds with the core interests of most of their neighbors. Taken together, Beijing and Moscow favor the fragmentation of NATO, the European Union, the U.S. alliance structure in Asia, and regional groupings led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and others that impinge on Chinese or Russian ambitions. The United States opposes coercive changes to the status quo and supports existing boundaries, stronger regional collective security, and the sovereignty and aspirations of all states in accord with international norms.

Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes. The United States’ ability to deal with these rising challenges is commonly seen as in decline. The U.S. position in the triangular relationship among the United States, Russia, and China has deteriorated. Russia’s tension with the West and dependence on China, in conjunction with the United States’ active engagement with China, have given Beijing the advantageous “hinge” position in the triangular relationship that Washington used to occupy.

Approach: U.S. Strengthening

A strong United States provides a welcome counterweight for Asian and European nations affected by Chinese and Russian ambitions. This dynamic provides U.S. policymakers numerous opportunities going forward. The NBR project participants not from China and Russia generally favored a multiyear and wide-ranging approach focused on U.S. domestic and international strengthening to better position the country to deal with the negative implications of Sino-Russian cooperation. This seems to be in line with existing congressionally backed pressures against Russia and the new whole-of-government approach favored by both Congress and the Trump administration for dealing with China’s challenges to the United States. Participants in the NBR project differed on the appropriate amount of strengthening. Some stressed the importance of sustaining U.S. primacy without compromising, while others favored various mixes of strengthening and accommodation that require significant compromise of U.S. interests and values.

In determining the appropriate mix of strengthening and accommodation, the participants often disagreed on how the United States should seek an advantage in its competition with China and Russia. For some, Russia looms as the most immediate and disruptive danger, whereas China continues to have a strong interest in working cooperatively with the United States. Thus, these participants promoted the option of working cooperatively with China in seeking to weaken Russia. For others, China is a much more powerful and potentially existential threat, and they argued that the United States should seek common ground with Russia to offset potential Chinese dominance. Several participants remained convinced that the closeness of Chinese and Russian interests and identities make seeking a U.S. advantage by exploiting Sino-Russian differences unlikely to succeed. Chinese and Russian experts generally put the onus on the United States to compromise and substantially change existing policy to meet both countries halfway.

In sum, the situation is grim and the outlook murky. What is needed today is careful attention by U.S. policymakers focused on what is at stake and what should be done. Ignoring this massive international development with adverse consequences for the United States is a path to failure with lasting implications for both the country and the prevailing international order.

Relevant Congressional Initiatives

To manage this growing challenge, Congress could utilize the following three political mechanisms to shape U.S. foreign policy: oversight, sanctions, and public interface.

Oversight. Congress could exercise its oversight powers to call on experts to testify in legislative hearings, commission reports and reviews, and request resolutions of inquiry with regard to the nation’s China-Russia strategy so as to press the Trump administration to prioritize the threat that the partnership poses.

Sanctions. A key recommendation from many experts in the NBR project is to sustain U.S. economic pressure on Moscow. Tough sanctions on Russia, which is less globally integrated and economically powerful than China, could over time make Putin more willing to negotiate with Washington. Giving more teeth to bills waiting in committee such as the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018 (S.3336) would apply further pressure to Russia’s already stagnant economy.

In conjunction with this pressure buildup on Russia, if the United States were to provide an off-ramp, negotiations could be more effective. Such an offer could come with major strings attached in the form of easing U.S. pressure in return for Russia taking such steps as dismantling its aggressive cyber initiatives, withdrawing from Ukraine, and discontinuing joint-militarization programs with China.

Public interface. While presidential leadership will be critical to elevating the issue of Sino-Russian cooperation, in the midst of a tense political divide a bipartisan congressional approach will be beneficial for gaining domestic support. Showing consensus across the aisle on the need to strengthen the United States against the dangers posed by China-Russia cooperation will not only send a powerful message to Americans at home, it will also show leaders in Moscow and Beijing that political squabbles are not enough to disunite the United States in opposing those that wish the country harm.

ENDNOTES

[1] These findings are published in the NBR Special Report “China Russia-Relations: Strategic Implications and U.S. Policy Options” (September 2018) and the edited volume Axis of Authoritarians: Implications of China-Russia Cooperation(October 2018).

 

 

Robert Sutter is Professor of Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University and the principal investigator of the project “Strategic Implications of China-Russia Relations” at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR).

 

11/2/2018: Robert Sutter Publishes Diplomat Report on U.S.-China Relations

Professor Robert Sutter offers an assessment of the U.S. government’s rivalry with China in a report for The Diplomat. The report, titled “Pushback: America’s New China Strategy,” outlines the beginning of tensions, describes the current climate, and predicts further escalation in the future.

Read the full report here!

 

11/1/2018: Robert Sutter Publishes NBR Report on China-Russia Relations

Professor Robert Sutter discusses China’s increasing collaboration with Russia and what it means for U.S. policy in a report for the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). The report, titled “Confronting Growing China-Russia Cooperation: Options for Congress,” proposes ways for policymakers to strengthen the U.S.’ position in order to better deal with the negative implications of this alliance.

Read the report here!

 

11/1/2018: Former Sigur Center Visiting Scholar Publishes Research on Global Diaspora Engagement

Former Sigur Center Visiting Scholar Catherine Craven recently released a free publication in the SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research. The article, titled “Critical Realism, Assemblages and Practices Beyond the State: A New Framework for Analysing Global Diaspora Engagement,” proposes a unique perspective on global diaspora engagement and explores how this view can provide insight into the political struggles within.

Read the article here!

 

10/30/2018: “Education About Asia” Issue Mentions AAS Workshop Hosted by Sigur Center!

In their latest issue of Education About Asia, the Association for Asian Studies included an article stemming from its workshop held in March 2018 at the Elliott School of International Affairs and supported by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies! The article, titled “Leaving North Korea: My Story,” is about the experiences of a North Korean defector whom spoke at the workshop, and has requested anonymity.

Read the article here!

 

10/29/2018: Scholar Michael Yahuda in Panel Discussion on China-Japan Relations

Dr. Michael Yahuda, current non-resident scholar with the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Professor Emeritus of International Relations from The London School of Economics and Political Science, participated in a panel discussion about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Beijing and the current status of China-Japan relations. This discussion aired on CGTN America’s The Heat, hosted by Mike Walter on October 26, 2018.

Watch the discussion here!

 

10/22/2018: Jisoo Kim Lectures on Korean History

Professor Jisoo Kim, the Director of GW Institute for Korean Studies and Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Literature, is set to give two lectures. On October 22, Professor Kim will give a lecture at the Foreign Service Institute entitled, “Historical Disputes in East Asia: Focusing on Korea.” On October 26, she will present a paper entitled, “The Practice of Forensic Medicine and Criminal Justice in Choson Korea” at a workshop on “Law and Religion in Asia” at Rutgers University.

 

10/15/2018: Jisoo Kim Gives Talks on Early Modern Korea

Professor Jisoo Kim, the Director of GW Institute for Korean Studies and Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Literature, gave two talks last week. On October 5, Professor Kim presented a paper titled “Gender, Sexuality, and the Law in Chosŏn Korea” at the University of Pennsylvania. Then on October 8, she traveled to Salisbury University to give a talk titled “The Emotions of Justice: Legal Equality in Early Modern Korea and Today.”

Read more about Professor Kim’s book titled The Emotions of Justice: Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Choson Korea here!

10/11/2018: David Shambaugh Quoted in South China Morning Post

Professor David Shambaugh, Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science & International Affairs and the Director of the China Policy Program, was quoted in an article by the South China Morning Post about the Trump Administration being the first American administration explicitly labeling China as a “strategic competitor” in national security documentation. He also noted that the areas of competition between the United States and China “now far outweigh the areas of cooperation,” but that the United States would cooperate when it can on select issues. His comments were included in the article originally published on October 10th, titled “FBI chief tells US Congress that China poses bigger security threat than Russia.”

Read the article here!

10/8/2018: Mike Mochizuki Quoted in South China Morning Post

Professor Mike Mochizuki, Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the Elliott School of International Affairs, was quoted in an article by the South China Morning Post about the possible implications that the latest Okinawan gubernatorial race may have on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration. His comments were included in the article published on October 1, titled “Why the Okinawa election outcome may weaken PM Abe’s grip on power.”

Read the article here!

10/2/2018: Alexa Alice Joubin Interviewed by South China Morning Post

Dr. Alexa Alice Joubin, professor of English and East Asian language and literature, was interviewed by the newspaper South China Morning Post about the cultural diplomacy of jointly sponsored literary and tourist ventures. Her comments were included in an article published on October 2 and written by Laurie Chen titled “Work to start soon on Chinese replica of Shakespeare’s birthplace in literary tourist town.”

Read the article here!

9/21/2018: Sigur Center & GWIKS Receive Prestigious Title VI Grant

The Sigur Center and Institute of Korean Studies together received the highly regarded designation of National Resource Center (NRC) for Asian Studies. The designation – the first time these two centers have received NRC status – enhances the institutes’ ability to engage the broader public community, including students, K-12 educators, HBCUs, policymakers, military veterans, journalists and the general public on regional and global issues of importance. With this award, GW joins a handful of other world-leading universities, including Stanford, Columbia and the University of Chicago, which have likewise been recognized with this honor.

“The recognition of our programmatic excellence significantly enhances our reputation and funding resources. It demonstrates the scholarly excellence and will increase public outreach which have long been hallmarks of the Center’s collective intellectual life,” Sigur Center Director Ben Hopkins said.

Additionally, the Sigur Center and GWIKS have been awarded funding for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships which support undergraduate and graduate students studying modern foreign languages and related area or international studies.

Please click here to read the full press release!

About the Title VI:

Title VI is a provision of the 1965 Higher Education Act, funding centers for area studies that serve as vital national resources for world regional knowledge and foreign language training. National Resource Centers teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels and conduct research focused on specific world regions, international studies, and the teaching of less commonly taught languages. The FLAS fellowship program complements the NRC program, providing opportunities for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students to engage in area studies and world language training.

 

 

9/14/2018: Deepa Ollapally Interviewed by India Abroad on U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

Deepa Ollapally, Research Professor of International Affairs and Associate Director of the Sigur Center, was interviewed by the newspaper India Abroad about the first US-India strategic dialogue under the Trump administration held on September 5. Her comments were included in an article written by Aziz Haniffa titled “Experts say two-plus-two adds up to more secure India-U.S. relationship.”

Read the article here!

9/13/2018: Robert Sutter Publishes NBR Report on China-Russia Relations

Professor Robert Sutter, Elliott School of International Affairs professor, published a report titled “China-Russia Relations: Strategic Implications and U.S. Policy Options” with the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) in their September 2018 edition of NBR Reports. Additional details below.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This report provides an overview of the scope and implications of China-Russia relations, explains why Sino-Russian cooperation against U.S. interests has increased during the past decade, assesses key determinants, and examines U.S. policy options.

Main Argument
The China-Russia relationship continues to deepen and broaden with ever more negative implications for the U.S. The drivers of Sino-Russian cooperation overshadow the brakes on forward movement at the U.S. expense. The momentum is based on (1) common objectives and values, (2) perceived Russian and Chinese vulnerabilities in the face of U.S. and Western pressures, and (3) perceived opportunities for the two powers to expand their influence at the expense of U.S. and allied countries that are seen as in decline. The current outlook is bleak, offering no easy fixes for the U.S. Nonetheless, there remain limits on Sino-Russian cooperation. The two governments continue to avoid entering a formal alliance or taking substantial risks in support of one another in areas where their interests do not overlap. Longer-term vulnerabilities include Russia’s dissatisfaction with its increasing junior status relative to China, China’s much stronger interest than Russia in preserving the existing world order, and opposition to Russian and Chinese regional expansion on the part of important lesser powers in Europe and Asia seeking U.S. support.

Policy Implications

  • The main recommended U.S. policy option involves multiyear and wide-ranging domestic and international strengthening—militarily, economically, and diplomatically—to better position the U.S. to deal with the challenges from China and Russia.
  • Participants in the NBR project differ on the appropriate amount of strengthening, with some urging sustained U.S. primacy and most others favoring various mixes of strengthening and accommodation requiring compromise of U.S. interests.
  • In applying this appropriate amount of strengthening and accommodation, some participants view Russia as the leading danger, warranting U.S. accommodation with China to counter Russia; others seek to work cooperatively with Russia against China, which is seen as a more powerful longer-term threat; and others view the above maneuvers as futile in the face of strongly converging Russian and Chinese interests and identity.

Click here to read the report!

 

9/11/2018: Robert Sutter Interviewed by Bloomberg on Russia-China Ties

Professor Robert Sutter, Elliott School of International Affairs professor, discussed what closer Russia-China relations means for the United States. He spoke with Bloomberg’s Haidi Stroud-Watts and Shery Ahn on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Asia.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Click here to watch what Professor Robert Sutter said!

 

9/7/2018: Benjamin D. Hopkins Offers Thoughts on the U.S. War in Afghanistan in Business Insider Article

Professor Benjamin D. Hopkins – Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies – was recently quoted in a Business Insider article, “’We are losing’: Trump and his top advisors aren’t publicly admitting how bad things are in Afghanistan,” by John Haltiwanger. In the article, Dr. Brazinsky commented on comparisons between current U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and past involvement in Vietnam, and how the war is downplayed by U.S. government officials.

Click here to read what Professor Hopkins said!

 

8/29/2018: ESIA Highlighted for Hosting Taiwan Art Exhibition

On August 29, 2018, Taipei Times published an article about an art exhibition – titled Taiwan, A Beautiful Landscape – that the Elliott School of International Affairs hosted from July 26, 2018 through August 3, 2018. On July 26, 2018, the Elliott School of International Affairs, in collaboration with the Global Taiwan InstituteSigur Center for Asian Studies, and the GW Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures, held an opening ceremony for the art exhibition titled Taiwan, A Beautiful Landscape, by Taiwanese artist Ku Chin Yi (also known by his aboriginal name Temi Minu), and held a guided tour of his exhibition.

Please click here to read the full article!

About the Exhibition:

Taiwan, a Beautiful Landscape depicts landscapes throughout various parts of Taiwan, with a focus including but not limited to the island’s diversity, architecture, culture, ecology, and humanities. Taiwan is about the size of the state of Maryland and Delaware, and has a diverse geological features ranging from mountains to plateaus to basins. Taiwanese artist Ku Chin Yi (Temi Minu) based his works on the element of ink wash painting, an East Asian type of black and white brush painting, combined with the addition of colors, perspectives and techniques of Western paintings. His style of Taiwanese modern color ink wash painting was developed in the early 1980s in Taiwan and has become a modern artistic style among contemporary artists. The opening reception on July 26 will include a guided tour of the paintings by the artist.

 

 

8/30/2018: Robert Sutter Article Published on PacNet

 

The 115th Congress Aligns with the Trump Administration in Targeting China

By: Professor Robert Sutter 

This article was originally published in PacNet, 62 (August 30, 2018). Please click here to access the original article.

 

After a slow start in 2017, reflecting preoccupations with health care and tax reform, the 115th Congress has demonstrated remarkable activism on China policy in 2018. This Congress has broken the mold of past practice where the US Congress more often than not since the normalization of US relations with China four decades ago has served as a brake and obstacle impeding US initiatives in dealing with China. That pattern saw repeated congressional resistance to administration efforts to advance US engagement with China at the expense of other US interests that Congress valued such as relations with Taiwan and Tibet, and human rights.

Today’s congressional-executive cooperation rests on the Trump administration’s overall hardening of US policy toward China. Congress is responding with widespread support and asking for more. Notably, Congress strongly backs the Trump administration’s push for greater military, intelligence, and domestic security strength to protect US interests abroad and to defend against Chinese espionage and overt and covert infiltration to influence the United States. It opposes perceived predatory lending of President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative and Chinese expansion in the South China Sea. It seeks greater protection against Chinese efforts to acquire advanced US technology companies in pursuit of economic leadership in these fields. And it presses for greater US support for Taiwan.

Like the Trump administration, Congress remains divided on how to deal with trade issues. Members often object to adverse impacts punitive tariffs have on their constituencies. They also voice opposition to imposing tariffs on allies at the same time tariffs are imposed on China. Congressional efforts to check President Trump’s personal proclivity to seek compromise after raising tensions came in the sharply negative congressional response to Trump’s decision in May to ease the harsh sanctions against the prominent Chinese high technology firm ZTE, in response to a personal plea from the Chinese president. Nevertheless, Trump’s dominance in the Republican Party and repeated vindictiveness against opponents mean that few in the Republican ranks controlling Congress are willing to stand against him.

Congress in action

In 2018, Congress has turned attention to China policy through:

  • extensive hearings on how China is challenging the United States,
  • many bills on specific issues, with some incorporated into the annual National Defense Authorization bill, and
  • letters to the administration warning of and urging a firm response to China challenges.

Congressional moves against China prominently display conservative Republicans like Senator Marco Rubio and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, but also feature leading liberal Democrats. Though past congressional hearings on China regularly had witnesses favoring accommodation and constructive engagement with China, it is common in 2018 to find no such witnesses, with those testifying stressing the need to defend against Chinese malign actions. FBI Director Christopher Wray warned the Senate Intelligence Committee in February of China’s espionage and influence campaigns in the United States, including wide use of Chinese students researching sensitive technologies. The US National Intelligence Council in June informed the House Armed Services Committee about China’s acquisition, including by illicit and clandestine means, of US military and commercial technology Beijing seeks to use in challenging US leadership.

A bipartisan group of 27 of the most senior senators, headed by Cornyn and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, sent a letter to the administration in May, urging a firm stand against recent Chinese technology theft and ambitions. In June, 12 Senators, including Elizabeth Warren, urged defense against Chinese influence operations. In August, opposition to perceived predatory lending practices in China’s Belt and Road Initiative showed in a letter signed by 16 senators, including Patrick Leahy, a leading liberal with long experience with US foreign assistance and international finance. Meanwhile, a variety of bills with bipartisan support have proposed various ways to strengthen Taiwan.

National Defense Authorization Act FY-2019

The capstone of congressional hardening toward China in 2018 came with the numerous provisions of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that impact China policy. Widely seen as one of the very few foreign and defense policy bills that must be passed and approved each year, the Act passed the Congress and was signed by the president in August. The language on China is harsh, accusing Beijing of using an “all-of-nation long-term strategy” involving military modernization, influence operations, espionage, and predatory economic policy to undermine the United States and its interests abroad. In response, the law directs a whole-of-government US strategy with provisions on the South China Sea, the Indo-Pacific region, and China’s “malign activities” including information and influence operations, as well as predatory economic and lending practices. The Act’s provisions on Taiwan seek to enhance US arms sales, higher level US defense and related personnel exchanges, training and exercises with Taiwan. The Act contains a separate set of provisions to modernize, strengthen, and broaden the scope of the interagency body, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), to more effectively guard against the risk to US national security seen posed by Chinese and other predatory foreign investment. It also includes key reforms in US export controls designed to better protect emerging technology and intellectual property from Beijing and other potential adversaries.

Outlook for future congressional-administration cooperation on China

Trump administration strategy documents undergird a substantial strengthening of the US measures at home and abroad to defend against perceived Chinese inroads. Such steps enjoy strong congressional backing. The documents are grim in portraying an array of serious challenges and dangers posed by China. Crafting and implementing effective US countermeasures will require years of expensive and effectively managed US whole-of-government efforts. Congressional activism on China policy in 2018 demonstrates strong support for such countermeasures, establishing bipartisan executive-congressional hardening in a broad-based US policy targeting China.

Sustaining US resolve against China will be costly and potentially risky, especially given that internal differences continue on punitive tariffs and implications of a trade war with China. For now, it appears that barring major concessions from Beijing to meet US demands, an abrupt change in course by the avowedly unpredictable President Trump, or an unexpected crisis or war, the executive and legislative branches of the US government seem likely to remain remarkably united on a path of intense rivalry with a perceived powerful and predatory China.

Robert Sutter is Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the George Washington University. PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged. Click here to request a PacNet subscription.

 

9/22/18 – Jonathan Chaves Discusses Wang Wusheng’s Work at China Institute’s International Symposium

Dr. Jonathan Chaves will serve as a panelist on China Institute’s memorial panel about Wang Wusheng and his art on September 22, 2018. The memorial panel is part of a one-day international symposium in New York titled Photography and China, which will be held in conjunction with the China Institute Gallery’s current exhibition Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens. Dr. Chaves will discuss Wang Wusheng’s work, and its place in world art.

To learn more about the symposium, click here!

8/07/18: David Shambaugh Writes an Op-ed for South China Morning Post

David Shambaugh is the Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science & International Affairs, and the
director of the China Policy Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs. He is also a senior visiting fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, and is currently working on a book about the United States and China in Southeast Asia

The US gives more to Asean than China does. Asean just needs to know it

By: David Shambaugh

This excerpt is from an article originally published by the South China Morning Post, on August 7, 2018. Access the entire original publication here

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent diplomatic tour through Southeast Asia  visiting Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore – was a useful opportunity to begin resetting the regional narrative about America’s roles in the region. Unfortunately, Pompeo’s “parachute diplomacy” through three of the 10 Asean states is likely only to further fuel the entrenched perception of the United States as an episodic actor that has no real strategy for the important region.

Meanwhile, regional media and governments lavish attention on China – and most Asean states have drawn increasingly close to China over the past two years. The exceptions are Vietnam – which casts a wary eye towards its northern neighbour while still engaging it – and Malaysia since Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad returned to office and began to freeze multiple Belt and Road Initiative projects. Yet, despite the review and likely renegotiations (which Mahathir will discuss with Chinese leaders in Beijing in mid-August), Malaysia is unlikely to alter its long-standing close relationship with China.

Despite the region-wide gravitation towards China, and the pervasive pro-Beijing regional narrative, the empirical reality is that the US offers the region more than does China. The US maintains a comprehensive and robust presence throughout Southeast Asia. But most Southeast Asian governments are reluctant to recognize or publicise the US presence or contributions to regional security, stability and growth.

The US presence has deep roots, dating back to the post-second world war period, which have grown dramatically since the 1980s, covering commerce, security, education and diplomacy, among other domains. America’s strengths lie in both hard and soft power, and the US economic footprint is both broad and deep.

 

8/02/18 Gregg Brazinsky Quoted in the Wall Street Journal

Dr. Gregg Braznsky was recently quoted in a Wall Street Journal article, “New Sign of Trump-Kim Warmth Comes Amid a Frosty Diplomatic Process,” by Michael R. Gordon, Michael C. Bender and Jonathan Cheng. In the article, Dr. Brazinsky commented on North Korea’s hesitance to trust the rapprochement process with the US. Dr. Brazinsky also highlighted the improbability of completely disarming North Korea in just two months.

Click here to read what Dr. Brazinsky said!

8/06/18 – Janet Steele Talks About Islam and Journalism at the Singapore Press Club

Dr. Janet Steele, will hold a talk at the Singapore Press Club on August 6, 2018. Dr. Steele’s talk will focus on the practice of journalism in Malaysia and Indonesia through the lens of Islam. Recently, Dr. Steele published her book Mediating Islam: Cosmopolitan Journalisms in Muslim South-east Asia, which moves away from a western liberal approach to journalism, and  looks at how Islamic values and principles influence journalism in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.

To learn more about the event click here. For more information about Dr. Steele’s book, click here!

7/30/18: David Shambaugh Discusses Contemporary China with North Asia CAPE

Dr. David Shambaugh was recently named the inaugural North Asia CAPE fellow by the North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence, a New Zealand based organization. During his recent visit to New Zealand, Dr. Shambaugh had the opportunity to discuss the complexities of contemporary China with North Asia CAPE.

Dr. Shambaugh addressed diverse topics including Chinese president Xi Jinping’s leadership, China’s socio-economic development, and China’s contribution to global governance.

To learn more about his observations, watch his interviews below!

 

Click here to read about Dr. Shambaugh on North Asia CAPE’s official website.

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