The recent terror attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Sinai are profound tragedies and have massive security and economic consequences around the world. With a broad focus on global issues and deep expertise in key regions, the Wilson Center is uniquely positioned to provide a wide-angle view. In this publication of original essays by Wilson Center experts representing every corner of the globe, we work to give context to breaking news. As the story continues to unfold, our analysts will update this collection with new perspectives on the key emerging issues. In trying times, we hope you find our insights useful.
China’s sympathetic response toward the Paris attacks is tempered by its reluctance to engage more closely in Middle Eastern affairs, but longer-term political and economic considerations may complicate its policy of noninvolvement.
The glow from September’s Obama-Xi summit faded as the USS Lassen made its way through the South China Sea on a Freedom of Navigation (FON) patrol last month. Just as the fifth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party Central Committee kicked off in Beijing, the guided missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China. Beijing warned the U.S. that if it continued to “create tensions in the region,” China might “increase and strengthen the building up of our relevant abilities.” General Secretary Xi stated in September that “China does not intend to pursue militarization” in the South China Sea, but China’s netizens are calling for a military response to the American challenge.
"If this meeting is historic, it is for a different reason: it is a chance to say farewell to Ma, who will most likely be the last president elected in Taiwan who still has a “one-China” mentality. This meeting is a farewell to the old tradition and paradigm of cross-Strait relations," writes Zheng Wang.
The White House was wise to ignore GOP candidates’ calls for the cancellation or downgrading of the September state visit of General Secretary Xi Jinping. Xi’s visit brought both ceremony and substance—even if Pope Francis and John Boehner sucked most of the media oxygen from the autumn air. As you will read in the articles below, President Obama and General Secretary Xi have much to be proud of. The two leaders announced cybersecurity and climate change agreements, an accord on military encounters at sea and air, and consequential trade deals. More importantly, they seem to have arrested the downward slide in mutual perceptions of the relationship, at least for a while.
Chinese President Xi Jinping would be pleased if his meeting Saturday with Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, swayed the island’s coming elections in favor of Mr. Ma’s Nationalist Party. But Xi certainly isn’t counting on that outcome. He knows that Ma is a deeply unpopular, lame duck leader and that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) attempt to influence Taiwan’s elections in 1996 backfired. He’s also aware that public sentiment in Taiwan does not favor Beijing’s cause. Chinese officials track polls showing that most Taiwanese no longer identify as Chinese and have scant desire to join the People’s Republic.
Kissinger Institute Director Robert Daly explains the American and Chinese perspectives on the showdown in the South China Sea.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has long suffered from a poor international image and weak “soft power.” The country’s negative image has hindered international acceptance of its rise as a global great power. Because the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants China to “gain face” (yao mianzi) in the international arena, it has in recent years invested heavily in boosting the country’s international approval rating. Yet, to date, China’s considerable efforts to modernize its foreign propaganda apparatus have only been partly successful in shifting international public opinion. On the one hand, CCP efforts to raise global awareness of the country’s economic transformation have been very effective, as have its efforts to shape the discourse on Taiwan. On the other hand, as polls and other research show, CCP efforts to improve non-Chinese foreigners’ perceptions of China’s domestic politics and role on the international stage have so far largely failed to sway these audiences.
In a spirited Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, Asia Society Policy Institute President Kevin Rudd and Kissinger Institute Director Robert Daly faced off with University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer and Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Peter Brookes over this provocative motion: “China and the U.S. are long-term enemies.”
The meeting between President Xi and President Obama has come and gone leaving in its wake opinions on outcomes and expectations. Kissinger Institute Director Robert Daly helps us sort through the details and also provides thoughts on how China views the TPP agreement.