Friday, September 23, 2016

No Big Deal

Please Remain Calm
The recent naval exercises demonstrate Russian support for China. Their implications are significant and should be monitored, but they should not be exaggerated. Apart from Russia’s desire to balance its relations with other regional partners, there are also signs that both Russia and China are aware of the sensitivity surrounding their actions. The fact that the exercises took place just east of the port of Zhanjiang in Guangdong province, and not near to the contested Spratly islands, is an indication of a conscious decision on the part of Russia and perhaps even China not to push the boundaries too far. While this geographical restraint may be partly due to logistics, it certainly also signifies a diplomatic choice. 
In effect, Russia and China are playing a balancing act in their bilateral relationship: they show mutual support on issues that are important to both, but gingerly navigate around other contentious matters in each other’s backyard. Just as Russia has not protested against Chinese economic influence in Central Asia, Beijing seems to be quiet on Moscow’s move towards regional cooperation in Southeast Asia. 
Some Say The Sino-Russian Alliance May Not Be All That. It's certainly not as deep as some represent

Limited attention on the Asia-Pacific need not obfuscate the reality that this region can be a critical node for more effective, dignified and durable action on migrants and refugees. Concerted progress in the region on trafficking, disaster preparedness and the new Bali Process consultation mechanism can be a catalyst for greater global ambition. 
Asia has seen large forced migration flows in the past. But there has been a respite in the last year. Nevertheless, the continent is home to the world’s largest-known stateless group, the Rohingya. 
Asia also hosts the world’s largest group of undocumented labour migrants and the most refugees and displaced people of any region. It includes, in Afghanistan, the world’s second-leading producer of refugees and second-largest source of refugees into Europe. 
The top-ten countries most at risk from sea-level rises and climate-induced displacement are in the corridor from India to the US. 
The brief period of calm in Asia presents policymakers with the space to deal more effectively with human trafficking, asylum-seeker protection and refugee status determination, and to improve regional co-operation. They must take decisive action to deal with the issues at hand and prepare the region for what’s likely to come.
Despite the Mediterranean holding world attention, the Indo-Pacific is the real theatre for progress on migration issues

OBOR unarguably offers great potential for the GCC. Even though it is a Beijing-led project, it is impossible for China to do everything by itself. There are plenty of opportunities for GCC businesses and sovereign wealth funds to evaluate investments that are mitigated by Chinese support. Although some observers are measuring GCC gains or losses carefully in comparison to Iran, the Gulf approach to the Chinese initiative must not be founded solely upon regional rivalry, especially as the volatile political environment and problematic government regulations in some Gulf States pose challenges for Chinese investors. Zhao thinks that Chinese companies will have to be cautious in marching into these new markets. This does not mean China will bypass the Middle East, but it will certainly take a gradualist approach and increase its investment incrementally as it becomes more familiar with the local environment. Security challenges will require Beijing to play a more active role in these issues, or at least pressure relevant stakeholders to resolve their rivalries; according to China’s special envoy to the Middle East, Gong Xiaosheng, OBOR could contribute significantly to the Middle East peace process.
China's New Silk Road presents opportunities for Gulf states, but the Devil is in the Details

In many ways, Bangladesh is still fighting the battles of 1971. The domestic political tension between the two Begums — Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Opposition leader Khaleda Zia — itself emanates from a debate over ‘who owns the narrative of 1971, and who secured freedom’, as Salil Tripathi, the author of a book on Bangladesh’s modern history, puts it. 
India played a part in these events; it has been considered Delhi’s most successful neighbourhood intervention. But the intervention did not create the kind of pliant state that Delhi would have hoped. As India prepares to engage with another internal movement in Pakistan, the experience offers lessons.
As we wrote earlier, Bangladesh' violent history is catching up with her. However, India also played a role and still has lessons to learn

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