Asia and Pacific
China’s rise poses two broad challenges for U.S. foreign policy: how to deter the People’s Republic from destabilizing East Asia and how to encourage it to contribute to multilateral global governance. Although China is not yet a military peer competitor of the United States, it has become powerful enough to challenge U.S. friends and allies in East Asia and to pose serious problems for U.S. forces operating there.
See more in Asia and Pacific; International Organizations and Alliances
Khmer New Year is the closest thing Cambodia has to a High Holiday, and in April, Prime Minister Hun Sen celebrated it in style with his fiercest opponent. During a festival at the ancient temples of Angkor, he and Sam Rainsy ate together from a gigantic cake of sticky rice weighing more than four metric tons—a Guinness World Record.
See more in Cambodia; Presidents and Chiefs of State
Ever since 9/11, the United States has provided Pakistan with a steady supply of security and nonsecurity assistance. U.S. officials have justified these generous transfers—worth more than $30 billion since 2002—on the grounds that they secure Pakistan’s ongoing cooperation in Afghanistan, bolster Pakistan’s ability to fight terrorism, and give the U.S. government influence over the country’s ever-expanding nuclear weapons program.
See more in Pakistan; Foreign Aid
Peace talks, if not peace itself, may be close at hand in Afghanistan. Over the past few months, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Afghan Taliban have made unexpected strides toward talks.
See more in Afghanistan; Wars and Warfare
As China’s global power grows, Beijing is learning that its image matters. For all its economic and military might, the country suffers from a severe shortage of soft power. According to global public opinion surveys, it enjoys a decidedly mixed international image.
See more in China; Energy and Environment
Most observers agree that the United States, propelled by its boom in oil and gas production, is becoming increasingly central to global energy. As oil prices have plummeted, American oil producers have taken credit. As U.S. imports have fallen, foreign policy thinkers have suggested that Washington could rely far less on the Middle East.
See more in Asia and Pacific; Energy and Environment
Since the start of its post-Mao reforms in the late 1970s, the communist regime in China has repeatedly defied predictions of its impending demise. The key to its success lies in what one might call “authoritarian adaptation”—the use of policy reforms to substitute for fundamental institutional change.
See more in China; Regime Changes
It is clear by now that China’s economy is set to slow in the years to come, although economists disagree about how much and for how long. Last year, the country’s GDP growth rate fell to 7.4 percent, the lowest in almost a quarter century, and many expect that figure to drop further in 2015. Plenty of countries struggle to grow at even this pace, but most don’t have to create hundreds of millions of jobs over the next decade, as China will.
See more in China; Economics
In September 2008, when Chinese President Hu Jintao got word that Lehman Brothers, then the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, was on the verge of bankruptcy, he was traveling by van along the bumpy roads of Shaanxi Province. Surrounded by policy advisers and members of the Politburo, Hu asked them how China should respond to the inevitable spillover.
See more in China; Budget, Debt, and Deficits
At a conference on the Chinese economy in 2012, Cai Fang, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, issued a dire warning: “There’s now no doubt China will be old before it is rich.” He was expressing a view widely held by economists and China watchers. Over the past 65 years, life expectancy in China has more than doubled, from 35 years to roughly 75, as the fertility rate has plunged. Many fear that if these trends continue, China’s population will age faster than the country can accommodate.
See more in China; Population
What does it mean to be Chinese? A strong tradition in premodern China held that it meant thinking, behaving, and living in a society in accord with heaven-sanctioned principles exemplifying the best way to be human.
See more in China; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity
In a series of speeches he delivered shortly after taking office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping cast corruption as not merely a significant problem for his country but an existential threat. Endemic corruption, he warned, could lead to “the collapse of the [Chinese Communist] Party and the downfall of the state.”
See more in China; Corruption and Bribery
For all the tremendous change China has experienced in recent decades—phenomenal economic growth, improved living standards, and an ascent to great-power status—the country has made little progress when it comes to the treatment of its ethnic minorities, most of whom live in China’s sparsely populated frontier regions.
See more in China; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity
In past years, Andrew Krepinevich, Jr., has argued for a U.S. military operational concept in the Pacific theater called “Air-Sea Battle.” This concept relies heavily on preemptive deep strikes in the early stages of a conflict and would have been highly escalatory.
See more in Asia and Pacific; Defense and Security
Across the globe, the lessons from affirmative action programs are clear: they can occasionally help in the economic sphere, produce mixed results in improving social cohesion, and are an unmitigated disaster when it comes to politics.
See more in United States; Malaysia; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity
To deter Chinese expansionism, the United States must deny China the ability to control the air and sea around the “first island chain”—Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan—and offset the PLA’s efforts to destabilize the region’s military balance.
See more in United States; China; Preparedness
International donors have many compelling causes to choose from, but reducing energy poverty—a plight afflicting over two billion people—should rank among the very top. The poor need energy to alleviating all their other problems, from poor health to unemployment to instability.
See more in Africa (sub-Saharan); Asia and Pacific; Energy Policy
In his critique of U.S. President Barack Obama’s India policy, Nicholas Burns (“Passage to India,” September/October 2014) correctly identifies the issues that have bedeviled U.S.-Indian relations, such as differences over international agreements on climate change and trade.
See more in India; Diplomacy and Statecraft
After 13 years of war, the loss of many thousands of lives, and the expenditure of trillions of dollars, what has the United States learned? The answer depends on not only who is asking but when.
See more in Afghanistan; Iraq; Wars and Warfare
In the concluding pages of his fascinating memoir, War Comes to Garmser, Carter Malkasian, a Pashto-speaking U.S. diplomat who was stationed in a volatile region of Afghanistan in 2009–11, voices a fear shared by many of the Westerners who have participated in the Afghan war during the past 13 years: "The most frustrating thing about leaving Garmser in July 2011 and now watching it from afar is that I cannot be certain that the [Afghan] government will be able to stand on its own. ... The British and the Marines had put the government in a better position to survive than it had enjoyed in the past. What they had not done was create a situation in which the government was sure to win future battles against Taliban [fighters] coming out of Pakistan."
See more in Afghanistan; Defense and Security