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Category archive for: Asia and Pacific

How Indonesia’s 1965-1966 anti-communist purge remade a nation and the world

Written by Asvi Warman Adam.

Between October 1965 and March 1966, members and supporters of Indonesia’s Communist Party (PKI), the third largest in the world at the time, were hunted down and murdered. Historian Robert Cribb estimates 200,000 to 800,000 people were killed.

The anti-communist violence brought Suharto to power in 1967, replacing the country’s founding president Sukarno. In the midst of the Cold War, the tragedy changed Indonesia from a fiercely independent Asian nation into a pro-Western country.

Historian Asvi Warman Adam explains what happened and the impact it had on Indonesia and global politics. Continue reading How Indonesia’s 1965-1966 anti-communist purge remade a nation and the world

Disputes over the South China Sea could put East Asia at war again

Written by Timo A. Kivimäki.

Philippine authorities have released satellite pictures of six reefs in the Spratly archipelago that indicate that the Chinese are building artificial structures in the disputed territories of the South China Sea. According to some observers, these features could allow China to extend the range of its navy, air force, coastguard and fishing fleets into the disputed areas.

In response, the US and the Philippines announced they would further strengthen their alliance to increase their military capacity. The Philippines have already given the US military access to bases on Philippine soil, two decades after the closing of the last American bases there.

The news about Chinese building projects and the possible military consequences have not yet been commented on by the Chinese media or by Chinese officials, but it seems clear that the reinforcements are yet another move in a long, steady game of escalation between the US and China. Continue reading Disputes over the South China Sea could put East Asia at war again

North Korea unveils its nuclear ‘treasured swords’ to the world again

Written by Robert Winstanley-Chesters.

North Korea’s announcement that “normal operation” was again underway at its Yongbyon reactor complex sent a characteristic wave of anxiety through the world’s Pyongyang watchers. The country’s nuclear ambitions had, after all, been largely forgotten in what seemed like a lull in North Korea’s fractious relations with the wider world.

Even as the Korean peninsula itself endured a summer of high tension, the West’s complicated fear of North Korea has been displaced by a myopic public narrative currently fixated on the European refugee crisis, the murderous idiocy of Islamic State, and the travails of Donald Trump.

Things are clearly rather different on the inside. The regime’s primary tool of geo-political leverage can have slipped nobody’s mind – and North Korea’s recent statements speak volumes about how the Kim regime conceives of its nuclear programme. Continue reading North Korea unveils its nuclear ‘treasured swords’ to the world again

Xi Jinping’s Pakistan visit: what’s left behind?

By Filippo Boni

The long-awaited visit has finally taken place. Xi Jinping’s first official visit abroad this year was to Islamabad, previously postponed due to the September 2014 dharna (sit-in) organised by Imran Khan’s PTI.  “I feel as if I am going to visit the home of my brother” said Xi Jinping ahead of his trip to Pakistan in an editorial published in the Daily Times, a tradition that the Chinese President inaugurated last fall at the dawn of his South Asian tour to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and India.

The arrival saw a red carpet welcome at the airport, and a reminder of the Pakistan and China’s long-standing joint defence cooperation with four JF 17 Fighters accompanying Xi’s plane as it entered Pakistani airspace. While reiterating the intangible dimension of Pakistan-Chinas’ “all-weather” narrative, the more tangible, substantive part of his trip was yet to come.

Continue reading Xi Jinping’s Pakistan visit: what’s left behind?

The rise and rise of Narendra Modi

By Katharine Adeney

As the results began to be released at the end of the Indian election in May 2014 (which took over 5 weeks to complete) it became apparent that Modi had managed what few, if any, observers would have predicted; a majority of seats for one party: his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  As the results rolled in, soon-to-be prime minister Modi preached a message of unity, promising to ‘keep everyone together’, and, despite the overall majority secured by the BJP, to continue to work with his alliance partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Modi was Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat in 2002 when a massacre of between 1-2000 Muslims took place. Although he has never been convicted of crimes relating to this massacre, which human rights organisations concluded were abetted by the state, several people associated with the BJP were.  Many countries consequently refused him visas (including the UK and the US).  These visa restrictions were lifted when it became likely that he would be India’s next premier.  That Modi was a controversial choice as prime ministerial candidate can be shown by the fact that one of the partners of the BJP in the state of Bihar resigned from the BJP–led NDA alliance in protest at his elevation in 2013.  Many observers were unsure if the BJP would manage to appeal beyond its core base with Modi as their leader.

Continue reading The rise and rise of Narendra Modi

Disaster, Development and Urban Risk: a comment on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

Written by Pauline Eadie.

The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) was held in Sendai, Japan from 14-18 March 2015. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) organized the conference. The objective of the conference was to facilitate a post-2015 framework for disaster relief. The result of the WCDRR was the non-binding Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). ‘Post-2015’ is now embedded in the lexicon of development practitioners as a signifier of the post Millennium Development Goal (MDG) era.  2015 also heralds the end of the ten-year Hyogo Framework for Action: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disaster (HFA). The HFA listed five priorities for Action that involved scaling up institutional and cultural awareness of safety, risk and resilience ‘at all levels’. A key theme was preparedness, including early warning.

Continue reading Disaster, Development and Urban Risk: a comment on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

China’s principle of intervention

By Miwa Hirono

Until the turn of the century, China’s response towards international conflicts had been based on the principle of non-intervention affirmed at the Bandung Conference in 1955. However, since the beginning of the 2000s, it seems China has begun to take mixed approaches to dealing with various international conflicts, ranging from a very flexible interpretation of the principle of non-intervention and participation in ‘intrusive’ international policy in relation to conflict states; to its tactic of abstention at the UN Security Council (UNSC); and even to very firmly abiding by the principle of non-intervention in the occasional exercise of its  power of  veto.

Continue reading China’s principle of intervention

A new political turn for Indian Kashmir

By Andrew Whitehead

The 79-year old Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was sworn-in on Sunday (1st March) as the new chief minister of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Attending the ceremony in the state’s winter capital of Jammu was India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. For his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), it was a landmark moment. For the first time, a party often described as Hindu nationalist is in power in Jammu & Kashmir, India’s only Muslim minority state and its most disaffected.

Continue reading A new political turn for Indian Kashmir

Intelligence as the Philippines’ First Line of Defense

By Francis Domingo

A formidable defensive strategy is dependent on the understanding of an adversary’s intentions and capabilities. Inherently, a good strategy must then be based on solid intelligence. While military strategists have acknowledged the importance of intelligence, many doubt its quality and reliability considering the devastating intelligence failures in the 21st century. In the case of Philippines, intelligence is generally regarded an enabler of military operations. However, given the limited operational capacities of the military, improving intelligence capabilities should be the main focus of the Philippine Government. This article argues for the importance of prioritizing intelligence in defending the Philippines against adversaries.

Continue reading Intelligence as the Philippines’ First Line of Defense

The End of Cheap Labour in China?

By Andreas Bieler

China’s developmental strategy has been based on cheap labour, foreign direct investment (FDI) and the assembling of pre-fabricated parts for export to North American and European markets. This export-oriented growth strategy in low value added production sectors has, however, come under pressure as a result of the global economic crisis and a decline in global demand. In his presentation at Nottingham University on 17 February, jointly hosted by theSchool of Contemporary Chinese Studies and the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, Florian Butollo from Jena University in Germany investigated whether China’s attempts at industrial upgrading in response to the crisis have also resulted in ‘social upgrading’ for its workforce.

Continue reading The End of Cheap Labour in China?