Predictions are a tricky business, especially with something as complicated as the outcome of Manila’s arbitration case against Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. A tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, will rule on the case on July 12. Given the complexity of the ...

With a ruling imminent in the arbitration case initiated by the Philippines against China over claims in the South China Sea, officials around Asia are bracing for the results, while analysts are busy handicapping the potential fallout. As I wait for the verdict, I prefer to abide by Yogi Berra’s ...

As global warming continues, the geography of the Arctic changes, and, subsequently, human activity in the Arctic increases.  Countries with economic and national security interests in the region need to develop new infrastructure and technology not just for land and sea, but also for space. “The entire planet is warming. ...

The reduction of sea ice in the Arctic has increased prospects for shipping to and from the Northwest Passage, development of offshore oil in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, and migration of fish stocks from the Bering Sea to the Arctic Ocean. The legal and political regime of the Arctic ...

The Arctic is shifting, along with U.S. economic and strategic interests in the region. To respond to increasing temperatures and melting ice, the U.S. needs infrastructure and technology. But North America is largely behind the ball, compared to Russia and the Nordic countries. To explain the current U.S. position and ...

Trade and South China Sea dominated the agenda at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Beijing last week. However, with much focus on the Asia pivot and U.S. military buildup in the Western Pacific, Washington may be missing an opportunity to reduce bilateral tensions and cooperate with China ...

Cybersecurity is one important area where both China and the U.S. agree cooperation is necessary, but on very different terms. The Cipher Brief spoke to Adam Segal, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, to learn more about these differences and what it will take to create and ...

As the 8th round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) drew to a close on Tuesday, Chinese fighter jets buzzed a U.S. reconnaissance plane in the South China Sea—highlighting that underneath the promises of greater bilateral cooperation, tensions continue to simmer between the world’s two strongest powers. While ...

Good relations with China are necessary and achievable.  Since President Richard Nixon’s historic meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong in 1972, the U.S. - China relationship has developed into a dynamic and challenging strategic relationship that should not be taken for granted. The bilateral relationship was established primarily because both the ...

A People’s Liberation Army Type 59 tank weighs 36 tons, but on June 4th, 1989 a man stopped one in its tracks. This Saturday marks the 27th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square democracy protests in China, and while the annual vigil in Hong Kong is likely to draw thousands, turn ...

Tsai Ing-wen’s inaugural address and Beijing’s reaction to it have done nothing more than confirm the fact that has been evident for the past few months: cross-strait relations are entering a period of stalemate. The mainland’s position was reaffirmed in the post-inaugural statement of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office. ...

The Presidency of Tsai Ing-wen, which began on 20 May, promises even more “interesting” developments in relations across the Taiwan Strait. China’s communist government has always had a deep allergy to the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which Tsai represents, because it regards Taiwan as a renegade province that must ...

In advance of today’s inauguration of Tsai Ing-wen as Taiwan’s first female president, The Cipher Brief interviewed Randy Schriver, founding partner at Armitage International LLC and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, to ask about the cross-strait implications of this change in leadership. As ...

All eyes are on Tsai Ing-wen today as she takes office as Taiwan’s first female president, but Beijing in particular will be watching closely to see how Tsai transforms her party’s independence-leaning rhetoric and her contrasting promise to preserve the status quo into policy towards China.  Tsai’s actions must balance ...

As Tsai Ing-wen officially takes office as Taiwan’s first female president, she will face the difficult task of balancing the competing interests of her political supporters in Taiwan and an increasingly antagonistic China. The Cipher Brief sat down with Bonnie S. Glaser, Director of the China Power Project and Senior ...

North Korea held its Seventh Workers’ Party Congress last week. The primary focus of the Congress was to consolidate Kim Jong-un’s domestic power base and clarify the policy direction for the country’s future development.  Based on the statements released from the Congress, North Korea continues to seek nuclear power status, ...

China’s President Xi Jinping has committed himself to the country’s development as a maritime power and to protecting its sovereignty. One can reasonably assume that China’s long-term objective in the South China Sea is the establishment of strategic pre-eminence. That ambition probably extends within the entirety of the so-called ‘”first ...

China’s neighbors are gravely concerned about what they see as a clear and determined strategy being implemented by Xi Jinping, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party and now Commander in Chief of the People’s Liberation Army.  They believe Xi is committed to leveraging China’s indisputable economic power to force ...

China sent a major signal to the U.S. last week, when it turned away the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier and accompanying vessels from making a routine port call in Hong Kong – the first time in nearly a decade that China has refused entry to an American military ...

Beijing’s “Great Wall of Sand” in the South China Sea is likely to expand: a recent report in the South China Morning Post unveiled China’s intention to turn Scarborough Shoal into another island military base. Observations by U.S. Navy vessels suggest China has been conducting survey work around the shoal, ...

With Germany’s chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2016, OSCE is back in business after a 15-year slumber. The Ukraine crisis highlighted OSCE’s unique role in conflict management between Russia and the West, and now Berlin wants to use this platform to engage China ...

If Xi Jinping is the father and China’s people are his children, then Xi’s parenting style is definitely based on discipline rather than trust.  The question is, will tightening his grip on society through restrictions of media, entertainment and free speech make China’s youth respect their father figure, or resent ...

Since 2012, President Xi Jinping has mounted an aggressive anti-corruption campaign against the so-called “tigers and flies,” corrupt officials at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as well as local bureaucrats and businessmen throughout the country.  Over 1500 officials have been prosecuted for corruption so far, including ...

The Chinese Communist Party under President Xi Jinping is viewed more favorably by China’s youth than any previous regime in the country’s recent history. Yet there is no guarantee that Beijing will be able to meet their increasingly material expectations. If it cannot continue to grow economic opportunities, the Party ...

Despite the fact that relatives of eight of China’s most senior officials were implicated in the Panama Papers released last week, the Chinese public knows little about it. Citizens of other affected countries have been calling for investigations, even leading to the resignation of named leaders, like Icelandic Prime Minister ...

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced a “…regular periodic presence [in the Philippines] of American forces,” something that has not occurred since the Philippines voted to expel U.S. forces in 1991. The announcement in Manila is an important milestone in the resurrection of one of the U.S.’s ...

Over the past decade, the Philippines has gradually shifted from an equi-balancing strategy vis-à-vis the United States and China in favor of a more explicit tilt into the American strategic orbit. Bilateral relations with America have been rapidly blossoming, while Sino-Philippine relations have wilted. Today, the Philippines is among the ...

The newly reinvigorated U.S. – Philippines alliance has assumed a central role in the developing regional strategic competition with China. Less than 25 years ago, the U.S. – Philippine alliance was moribund, with both sides paying no more than lip service to the notion of mutual defense. That era gave ...

Defense Secretary Ash Carter left India on Tuesday after a three-day trip focused on deepening ties to the country that has been eyed as the significant counterweight to China in the region. With the US and India agreeing to strengthen maritime security cooperation and in principle to share military logistics, ...

Sri Lanka’s many harbors and its location amidst major shipping routes bestow strategic importance on the island nation and have also made it one of the many sites where India and China are competing for influence. In an effort by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s government to increase cooperation with ...

If there was one way to emphasize the grave problem of nuclear security to the international community, South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s recent visit to Washington summed up the issue pretty well. On the fringes of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), Park met with President Barack Obama and the leaders ...

Vietnam is experiencing its highest level of international attention in nearly a decade. The country is going through a major leadership transition, starting with the Communist Party Congress that took place in January. The all-important political event saw the surprising departure of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, arguably one of ...

In early March, the Cam Ranh International Port (CRIP) was inaugurated with much fanfare, marking the beginning of its revitalization following decades of post-Cold War neglect as well as quelling speculations as to whether Cam Ranh Bay will become yet another foreign naval base – like it was until the ...

On April 3rd, Cam Ranh International Port (CRIP) hosted an erstwhile enemy. A group of Japanese naval ships docked at a port the country once occupied in World War II. The opening of CRIP signals Hanoi’s commitment to reconciling with former enemies in order to expand, not only its foreign ...

North Korea watchers knew what to expect following Pyongyang’s 4th nuclear test on January 6th, 2016: a new round of United Nations sanctions. Known as UNSC Resolution 2270, this latest group of sanctions increases inspections on cargo vessels, limits the import of North Korean raw materials such as coal, gold, ...

In the aftermath of the North Korean nuclear weapon test in January and its satellite launch/ICBM test in February, the United States and South Korea announced that they would begin formal talks on deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea. The THAAD System  THAAD would join ...

In the wake of a 4th nuclear test, a satellite launch, and, most recently, a KCNA film portraying a North Korean ICBM striking Washington, DC, the question has been raised yet again about whether the U.S. is doing enough to curb North Korean provocations. While the notion that North Korean ...

Future prosperity, security, even the realization of its full nationhood all depend on South Korea’s relationship with the isolated, rigid, fellow Korean nation to the north.  North Korea may cooperate with the South for enhanced security and economic and development advances, but it will not accept anything that suggests surrender ...

Since Russia’s “pivot to the East” was launched amid great fanfare in 2013, much commentary has been devoted to its significance, its scale, and indeed what if anything has actually happened beyond the official rhetoric. I have been commuting between Russia and China for the last two years for my ...

The foreign ministers of China and Russia met last week amid North Korean aggression and the potential for a U.S. deployed THAAD missile defense system in South Korea. While the threat of a nuclear North Korea is “unacceptable” to both, they are at least equally concerned about the potential for ...

The Western perceptions of China-Russia relations tend to be polarized. In the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis, the pessimists see another Sino-Russia alliance emerging with strategic and political ambitions in Eurasia against the democratic free world.  The optimists are suspicious of any genuine friendship between two assertive powers with too ...

The recent North Korean nuclear test and the subsequent disguised long-range missile test have seriously cornered China. The world community, especially the United States and South Korea, have urged China to take decisive actions to “punish” Pyongyang’s flagrant challenges to international norms and rules. Beijing, however, is reluctant to impose ...

The United States and its allies believed their policy of “strategic patience” would allow them to wait for North Korea to denuclearize on its own, assuming sanctions and international pressure would ultimately force Pyongyang’s hand. However, five years later, with the most recent test of a nuclear bomb and the ...

In the wake of North Korea’s January nuclear test, White House spokesman Josh Earnest described U.S. goals for the Korean peninsula. “We want the North Koreans to end their provocative acts,” he said, “both in the form of missile tests and nuclear tests, to commit to denuclearization, and to demonstrate ...

In an interview with The Cipher Brief last month, former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell said that one of the things he would tell the next president is that “the health of a nation’s economy is the single most important determinant in its ability to protect itself, the single most ...

With the delivery of Australia’s latest defense White Paper last week, the necessity of a long haul and regional capacity building commitment to counter-terrorism was apparent. Unquestionably, the Southeast Asia threat scenario is informed by global considerations. With the re-emergence of violent extremism since June 2014 and a realization of ...

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull plans to almost double his country’s annual defense spending by 2026. The move comes as China threatens peace in the Asia Pacific, and ISIS continues to wreak terror at home and abroad. The 2016 Defense White Paper released last month will require Australia to “ride ...

The publication on February 25 of the 2016 Defense White Paper by the Australian government highlights Canberra’s response to evolving trends in the Asia-Pacific region.  The white paper, released by the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after a long gestation, outlines an ambitious modernization program for the Australian Defense ...

China’s less discussed territorial dispute is one that has the greatest potential for the United States to be drawn into conflict. While China has been more aggressive in building up military power in the South China Sea, for the past three years the Chinese have slowly been seizing control over ...

As the world pays attention to the recent Chinese militarization of the South China Sea islets, China is establishing a “new normal” with more frequent military and paramilitary presence in the East China Sea. China is taking necessary steps to make the South China Sea a Chinese lake with surveillance ...