Archive for January, 2011

Indonesia Steps onto the World Stage

January 29, 2011 Leave a comment

By Ernest Z. Bower, Senior Adviser & Director of the Southeast Asia Program, CSIS

Yesterday in the snowy Swiss enclave of Davos, Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) threw down the rhetorical gauntlet and announced Indonesia’s plans be a global player.  Addressing a well-heeled World Economic Forum audience, he asserted Indonesia’s intent to influence global trends:  “Asia is of course more than China, Japan and India,” he said.

Mr. Yudhoyono has a good case to make.  Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest country and third largest democracy.  By most criteria, Indonesia has a stronger claim on BRIC membership than Russia.  It is a member of the G-20 and a massive presence in other global fora such as the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).  Indonesia is the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East Asia Summit (EAS) this year, and will chair the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 2013.

Indonesian influence could be an overwhelmingly positive input as the world defines new frameworks and architecture.  The World Bank is restructuring the relative representation of countries taking into account the new role of countries like Indonesia, Brazil, China and India; the United Nations is moving in the same direction.  The EAS and the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus represent ASEAN-based nascent regional security architecture. These changes are investments in enhancing global stability, peace and prosperity.

However, to be effective globally, Indonesia must strengthen its institutions at home and provide real leadership in its immediate neighborhood – in ASEAN.  Neither of these challenges has been fully met. Read more…


11th Party Congress in Vietnam: A Vote for Continuity

January 26, 2011 Leave a comment

By Ernest Z. Bower, Senior Adviser & Director of the Southeast Asia Program, CSIS

Last week, the Communist Party of Vietnam announced its new leadership line up as it wrapped up the 11th National Party Congress.  The outcome underlined a fundamental commitment to continuity in its national security, economic reform and foreign policy.  Understandably, some highly credible Southeast Asia analysts were caught up in the more conservative rhetoric that traditionally surrounds the five-year cycle of intra-Party politicking in Vietnam.  Notably, CFR’s Josh Kurlantzick detected a more hard-line regime, “not exactly a step forward” on his blog.  The truth is the Party knows it must stick with economic reform, a strong investment in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and closer ties with the United States.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was tapped for another term.

General Secretary, nominally the top job in the Party, went to 67-year old former National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong.  A Hanoi-born stalwart of the Party, Trong indicated that he expects to continue the recent tradition of the General Secretary not having a direct or strong hand in decisions of the Government.  Importantly, 62-year old Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was recommended for a second term and fellow 62-year old southerner Truong Tan Sang was tapped as the candidate to be President.  Standing Deputy Prime Minister and former finance minister 65-year old Nguyen Sinh Hung will be chairman of the National Assembly.  These leaders must be approved by the National Assembly when it convenes in late April or early May, and they will put forward a new cabinet that will be vetted and approved by the National Assembly in the third quarter of 2011. Read more…

Japanese Foreign Minister Speaks at CSIS

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

On January 6 Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara addressed the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC.  The speech, entitled “Opening a New Horizon in the Asia Pacific,” emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance in maintaining regional peace and security and the roles the two countries can play in shaping a new order for the region.

Maehara introduced several themes including the need to develop “institutional foundations” in the region based on rules and norms; U.S. and Japanese leadership in multilateral institutions such as the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum; the Trans-Pacific Partnership as an important first step towards the realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP); and initiatives under three pillars of U.S.-Japan cooperation—security, economy, and cultural exchange—currently animating dialogue between Tokyo and Washington.

Some video highlights of the speech, after the jump: Read more…

A Memo for President Hu Jintao

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

By Charles W. Freeman III, who holds the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

To: President Hu Jintao
From: Charles Freeman, the Freeman Chair in China Studies
Date: January 18, 2010
Re: What Do the Americans Want?


As you begin your U.S. state visit, you will encounter increasing ambivalence among mainstream U.S. policy circles about the U.S. relationship with China. This is worth examination: U.S. policy toward China has been remarkably consistent over the past 40 years. While originally conceived in a Cold War context, the fundamental thrust of that policy is to engage China and build equities for Beijing in a U.S.-led international order in such a way as to (1) reduce Beijing’s interests in disrupting or challenging that order; and (2) encourage Beijing to contribute positively to the maintenance and strengthening of that order. The essence of this longstanding policy was articulated in 2005 by then Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick: that Washington seeks a China that is a “responsible stakeholder” in the international political and economic architecture. The basic tenet of this policy, of course, is the unquestioned assumption of U.S. primacy in international affairs. Read more…

Secretary Campbell and Ambassador Zhang Talk U.S.-China Relations

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Last Friday, as the U.S. and Chinese governments rushed to finalize preparations for the state visit of President Hu Jintao that begins today, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and the Chinese Ambassador to Washington, Zhang Yesui, took some time to sit down with CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies Charles Freeman to discuss U.S.-China relations, and what both sides are doing to promote educational and cultural exchanges. The conversation was broadcast by Phoenix Television in Hong Kong just a few hours ago.