A month after attacks by Islamic State (ISIS) inspired militants outside a Jakarta Starbucks, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has set into motion tougher anti-terrorism laws to help the country better protect itself from future attacks. Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world, with the highest population of ...

The January 14 attack in Jakarta that left four civilians and four terrorists dead serves as a reminder that Indonesia remains vulnerable to groups that would resort to violence and terrorism to achieve their Islamist aspirations. The previous major terrorist attack in the country had been the twin bombings that ...

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has begun a new phase in its long-term, multi-dimensional military modernization process that began in the late 1970s as part of the Four Modernizations. The general outline for the current round of reforms was announced in November 2013 and forecast changes in the size ...

On November 26, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced sweeping structural reforms to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The announcement finally made good on Xi’s promises of military reform beginning with the creation of a military reform leading small group and the work report of the Third Plenum in November 2013. ...

As President Barack Obama was meeting with leaders from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) this week, U.S. satellite imagery confirmed China has deployed surface-to-air missiles on an island in the Paracel chain in the South China Sea. The Paracel island chain is claimed by the People’s Republic ...

The Trans Pacific Partnership may be a signed deal, but it is far from seeing the light of day.  Following seven years of mostly secret negotiations, 12 member countries signed the TPP last week in New Zealand, taking the first step in uniting more than 40 percent of the world’s ...

In New Zealand on 4 February, trade ministers from the twelve signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) formally signed the pact, an important step towards lowering trade barriers and introducing new rules governing trade and investment among some of the Asia-Pacific region’s largest economies. However, while signing the agreement was ...

There has been a good deal of hype touting the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as the first “21st Century” trade pact.   Whether it lives up to this high accolade is currently under debate, both in the United States and among the 11 other TPP member states.  But in ...

North Korea’s satellite launch over the weekend, on the heels of its nuclear test last month, raises the prospects of renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.  Beijing has heretofore protected Pyongyang from stricter economic sanctions.  Former U.S. foreign service officer and Northeast Asia expert, Dr. Thomas ...

Chinese President Xi Jinping has a moral and cultural crisis on his hands.  For decades following the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Chinese leaders focused rebuilding efforts on economic prosperity and development, rarely providing moral guidance or encouraging cultural activities as a way to cultivate a balanced and well-rounded society.  Now, nearly ...

As China, the current economic superpower of the East, becomes increasingly unstable and its markets unpredictable, many are focusing newfound attention southward on India. With its economy growing at a rate of seven percent, India is poised for an economic surge similar to that of China, with the benefit of ...

With the international community focused on the expanding threat from ISIS, the persistent threat the Taliban poses to stability in Afghanistan seems to be getting little attention.  The recent rise in Taliban attacks threatens the fragile state of affairs after more than 15 years of war and calls into question ...

Conventional wisdom expected the Taliban to pose a security challenge following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan. The Obama Administration and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pinned hopes on Pakistan, the Taliban’s traditional backer, in arranging talks with the Taliban to manage the extent of the threat posed ...

By all accounts, the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated sharply since U.S. and NATO troops ended combat operations in December 2014. The Taliban control more territory now than at any time in the last 14 years, and the group was able to temporarily capture a key Afghan city in ...

Former Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Teresita Schaffer, discussed with The Cipher Brief the continued importance of a close U.S.-India relationship.  Schaffer explained India’s tenuous security dynamic with China and Pakistan, and emphasized the importance of continuing active U.S.-Indian consultation and cooperation on East Asian security issues as India shapes its ...

Recent efforts by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have resurrected the idea of rapprochement between India and Pakistan. So successful were these efforts that Pakistani militants felt compelled to stage an attack on an airbase in Indian Punjab early last month to derail them. ...

President Xi Jinxing’s visit to the Middle East last week appeared to be business as usual. Short and relatively low-key, his studious avoidance of controversy was in keeping with China’s longstanding approach to the region: focus on energy and economics, and keep your head down on security and political matters. ...

Chinese President Xi Jinping began 2016 with a tour through the Middle East, visiting Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt in hopes of strengthening ties and increasing Chinese influence in the region. The trip was part of the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative, a strategy proposed by Xi in 2013 ...

In 2012, China’s President Xi Jinping announced the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative (OBOR) when visiting Indonesia and Kazakhstan. OBOR has since dominated discourse among China’s media and foreign policy analysts. However, the rest of the world is overlooking the initiative’s groundbreaking significance, which essentially amounts to a new Chinese ...

On Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Iran, the last stop on a whirlwind tour of the Middle East, which included visits to Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well. There, Xi upgraded the two countries’ relations to a strategic partnership and signed an agreement to increase bilateral trade by ...

For the first time in Taiwan’s history, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) controls both the Presidency and the Parliament, and that development has all eyes focused on China, because the DPP leans in favor of independence from the mainland. Tsai Ing-wen won the election with 56 percent of the vote, ...

The rocky relationship between the U.S. and China was in full view last year, highlighted by President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Navy challenging China’s claims in the South China Sea. Known for his frank comments on current U.S. policy towards China, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ...

The United States rebalance to Asia has drawn mixed reviews from members of Congress. Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) discussed with The Cipher Brief the strengths and weaknesses of current U.S. policy towards China. Rep. Bordallo emphasized the need for a strong U.S. response to aggressive actions taken by China, while ...

Understanding China and its future ambitions is a fundamental first step in assessing the U.S.’ options on how to best engage China as an important strategic and economic partner.  We asked former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the CIA John McLaughlin to lay out the framework for understanding the challenges of China, which provides the context for the differing perspectives ...

The U.S. rebalance policy in the Asia-Pacific has led to a deterioration of China’s security environment, with increasing tensions in the East China Sea, including the dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkakus Islands, and the South China Sea, where China has territorial disputes with Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and ...

China and India are gradually assuming leading positions at the global and regional levels, with over $11 trillion and $2 trillion in gross domestic product respectively. China initiated a comprehensive plan for expanding its footprint in Asia, Europe, and Africa through its Silk Road and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China’s ...

On January 16, Bei Bei, the male giant panda cub who was born on August 22 last year at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., will make his public debut. He’s one of four pandas at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, along with his 2-year-old sister, Bao Bao, their mother Mei ...

Taiwan’s upcoming election has received considerable attention regarding its potential impact on cross-strait and U.S.-China relations. Following eight years under the Kuomintang (KMT) party and improvements in cross-strait relations, Taiwan is poised to elect its first female president in Tsai Ing-Wen, a Western educated leader of the Democratic Progressive Party ...

Probably the only certain aspect of the China-Taiwan relationship is its uncertainty, which has never been more apparent than in the upcoming Taiwanese presidential and legislative elections. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose foundational platform advocates the independence of Taiwan from mainland China, is expected to win the presidency.  And ...

The expected victory of Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential elections threatens to destabilize relations across the Taiwan Straits, and the Asia-Pacific more broadly. Tsai represents the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a pro-independence party. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province of descendants of the Kuomintang (KMT) government, which lost ...

For American policymakers, Taiwan has been an oasis of calm in a turbulent region during the past eight years.  But that may be about to change. When President Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party was elected in 2008, he made rapprochement with mainland China the centerpiece of his ...

North Korea’s claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb last week continues to draw both skepticism and outrage from the international community. The Cipher Brief spoke with Gordon Chang, author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World, about Pyongyang’s capabilities and motivations, and how the U.S. can ...

North Korean President Kim Jong Un announced Wednesday the successful test of what he claimed was a hydrogen bomb outside Pyongyang, and in doing so, angered the international community, including its closest ally, China.  Mike Chinoy, Senior Fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at USC, discussed with The Cipher Brief China’s likely ...

North Korea tested what was initially announced by Pyongyang to be a hydrogen bomb on Wednesday, though the Obama Administration is skeptical.    White House Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, “the initial analysis is not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test.”   Still, Pyongyang’s announcement has serious ...

Security in Afghanistan is worsening, and the trend has been downward for over a year.  Afghan military and police force casualties are rising and rapidly reaching a point which makes it difficult to sustain, while morale is impacted as desertions are growing and some soldiers and police go months without ...

India and China agree that the global political architecture is undergoing a fundamental transformation with gravity increasingly shifting from the Atlantic to Indo-Pacific. Both have pronounced the 21st Century as India’s, China’s or Asian Century. However, the fate of this century will be determined by the relationship between the two, ...

India and China, two of the oldest civilizations, had friendly relations and learned from each other in history. As Rabindranath Tagore put it, “China and India are very old and beloved brothers.” The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, or Panchsheel Agreement of 1954, was a milestone of India-China brotherhood and ...

At least since the end of the Cold War, U.S. policymakers and analysts have devoted considerable thought to the dissonance between existing international institutions and the shifting global order. It is now widely recognized that the emerging powers of the 21st century—such as China and India—have yet to be accommodated ...

The Himalayan mountain range separates the world’s two most populous states, India and China, whose rapidly expanding economies are instrumental in the ongoing shift of the global balance of power towards the East.  India and China have many things in common: both are developing Asian countries struggling to compete in ...

China enters 2016 facing an increasingly complicated domestic political and economic environment and growing challenges to its assertive foreign policy. Since becoming General Secretary of the Communist Party in November 2012, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has sought to consolidate his power and rejuvenate the Party through a sweeping campaign against ...

Before Chinese President Xi Jinping made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for his meeting with President Obama this fall, his Boeing 747-400 had a layover in Redmond, Washington, where he met with chief executives from the top American technology companies. Western tech firms have come into conflict with the Chinese ...

The increased tempo of commercial partnerships between American and Chinese technology companies has begun to raise eyebrows in Washington. National security circles worry that such partnerships are degrading the American military’s technological superiority, because American technologies are being transferred to Chinese partners tied to the military. Such concerns are valid.   ...

Robert Atkinson, founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, discussed implications for western technology firms operating in China as the Chinese government begins to demand access to encryption keys. Atkinson views this move as an attempt by the Chinese government to push its own protectionist policies, under ...

The U.S.-China summit has concluded and the announced results provided little good news on the cyber front, at least for us. Beijing certainly got what it wanted: no executive order sanctions against its officials and companies for benefitting from its planetary-scale cyber espionage campaign.  The Obama Administration apparently got what ...

It’s one of, if not the most, dangerous border in the world.  Nuclear-armed powers, India and Pakistan, have a history of strained relations since their independence from Great Britain in 1947, fighting three wars and regularly exchanging fire across their heavily militarized border. Two of the wars were over their ...

Born from the territorial splitting of British India in 1947, India–Pakistan relations have been historically beset by disagreements, pressure, and conflict over the status of Kashmir on India’s north-western border but also issues of regional pre-eminence.  With the dispute over Kashmir leading to direct war between the two sides in ...

Even though both India and Pakistan are members of the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA), established in January 2006, trade between them is strikingly small. Total trade (exports plus imports) between the two countries in the last few years has been averaging only a little over $2.5 billion. Currently, ...

Nowhere on earth is an act of terrorism more likely to spark a nuclear war than in South Asia. This is by no means a unique or recent observation. In early 2010, I wrote a “Contingency Planning Memorandum” for the Council on Foreign Relations suggesting that in the aftermath of ...

On the heels of his tour of the western world, Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou for 20 minutes this Saturday in Singapore. Despite the short length, it’s groundbreaking - this will be the first time the leaders of these two governments have met since ...

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s statements continue to confuse observers.  She has said that she is most interested in building trust with the North, but she has brought back ideas and government policies from the authoritarian past.  She suggests she is interested in peaceful reunification, but she does not talk ...