Global Outlook 2017: China’s rocky year
The election of Donald Trump in the United States brings with it a great deal of uncertainty for China and its leaders. It could face the threat of a trade war, and diplomatic challenges regarding Taiwan and the South China Sea. However, as Washington takes a more isolationist stance, 2017 will also offer China the opportunity to fill the vacuum.
A new look at the pivot to Asia
U.S. allies in Southeast Asia have been turning toward China for various reasons. President Donald Trump has declared he will take a tough line toward Beijing, while his determination to retreat from the TPP agreement and reduce foreign involvement has aroused worry in the region. The Trump administration will have a difficult time keeping allies in line, but a focus on bilateral trade agreements offers flexibility and new opportunities.
Global Outlook 2017: Southeast Asia and the U.S.-China dynamic
Southeast Asian nations will continue their long-term strategy of making the most out of their relationships with the United States and China in 2017. Though some leaders, especially in the Philippines and Malaysia, have made high-profile overtures to Beijing, and Vietnam has much to lose from TPP’s demise, none of these countries will abandon partnership with Washington.
Will Duterte end the Philippines-U.S. alliance?
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has made a splash for many reasons, one of the most important being his suggestions that Manila will work toward a new strategic alignment. While shunning the United States, he has called for new alliances with Russia and China. How likely is this shift to take place in the all-important South China Sea region?
Beijing’s maritime militias add to growing instability in the China Seas
Territorial waters disputes in East Asia have led to an arms race in the region. Military expenditure by East and Southeast Asian nations has risen by almost 90 percent between 2005 and 2015. A striking feature of the evolving geopolitical game is the increasing use of civilian maritime militias; at this point, China is positioned to win this lesser-arms race.
Clarity and instability in the South China Sea
A Hague-based arbitration panel has declared that China’s famous “nine-dash line” provides no legal basis for its claims to the vast maritime territory it encloses. The decision suddenly brings legal clarity to the dispute between Beijing and several countries in the region over control of islands and shipping lanes in the South China Sea. How these countries – in particular the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan – react will be critical to the peace and security in the region.