Connect with us

East Asia

Security and Development in Northeast Asia: New Approaches Needed

Published

on

Today’s Northeast Asia—or the NEA—apparently witnesses a co-existence of two international agenda. The two are closely interconnected; yet, each tends to follow its own logic and dynamics. We inherited the first agenda from last century. The second agenda reflects the realities of the current 21st century.

Of problems hindering the region in making steady progress, many are rooted in the past. These are the problems of a divided nation—or, alternatively, even two such nations if we include Taiwan, which is not far from the NEA. These problems have to do with the unresolved territorial disputes in which virtually each NEA nation is embroiled. These problems include non-proliferation concerns related to both nuclear and conventional weapons. These are problems of old ethnic stereotypes, biases and historical grievances that many regional countries still hold against their closest neighbors.

Conversely, the region has been incurring a spate of problems of a new kind. Suffice it to mention environmental issues and climate change, man-made and natural disasters, various aspects of cyber- and food security, concerns about terrorism and political extremism. These problems also include shortages of raw materials, unpredictable consequences arising from technological progress and the effects of globalization. Each year, these emerging challenges become increasingly evident, sometimes pushing the old familiar threats to the back of the public’s mind.

Could the NEA nations somehow leapfrog over the old agenda to concentrate on the new challenges? I believe they should not. We should not shift the burden of old problems onto the shoulders of new generations. If we follow this path, the remaining legacy of the Cold War will continue to poison politics in the region, eating away at our ability to effectively handle new challenges and threats. Strictly speaking, this is exactly what we stand to witness today in the NEA, and it puts a question mark over the region’s long-term security and development prospects.

Without joint and persistent efforts, the Cold War legacy will not disappear all by itself. One of the NEA’s defining features is that no particular event marked the end of the Cold War in this region, something like the fall of the Berlin Wall in Europe. Here, there have been no attempts to devise a collective security system, much as there have been no agreements on limitations of weapons, be they nuclear or conventional. For the NEA, the collapse of the Soviet Union never had the significance it had for Europe as it did not result in radical recalibrations of the regional balances and did not entail the unconditional victory of Western models of development. It would, therefore, be fair to say that the NEA entered the 21st century without quite bidding goodbye to the 20th.

Currently, the NEA nations are highly interdependent economically—significantly more so than the countries of Latin America or the Middle East. Nonetheless, economic interdependence is not automatically converted into regional political stability. Exceptional levels of regional trade and foreign direct investment co-exist with equally high military spending, with polls suggesting that nationalistic sentiments run equally high in most countries of the region. In some instances, asymmetric economic interdependence is turned into a means for exerting political pressure, while regional technological chains tend to become hostage to the geopolitical confrontation between the great powers.

Even such momentous events as the establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in late 2020 has failed to have a particularly powerful effect on the geopolitical trends that dominate the NEA. Of course, one could always cite the destructive influence of out-of-the-region factors—in particular, hegemonic policies of the U.S.—but one cannot deny that there is significant crisis and potential for conflict within Northeast Asia as such.

What practical consequences does this observation hold for the region’s decision-makers, politicians and experts? It appears that we need to come together to think of the ways to align the priorities of national development envisioned by the regional nations. Most leaders in the NEA, much as most leaders globally, set themselves three strategic goals: namely, ensuring national security, accelerating economic growth and promoting human development. Most frequently, however, progress towards these three goals runs along parallel tracks. The three sections in national budgets rarely overlap, while three different government bodies and agencies are engaged in the three areas of work; even experts, as a rule, specialize in one of the three national strategies.

Yet, history teaches us that a national strategy being artificially split into three scarcely-connected components cannot yield positive results. Prioritizing security over economic growth can win a nation a war but would mean a loss in times of peace. By stressing economic growth at the expense of social justice, a nation can ultimately trigger social instability with pernicious political consequences. Focusing on the human dimension while neglecting national security, a nation can ultimately lose a significant chunk of its state sovereignty.

Northeast Asia demonstrates a large number of obvious imbalances in national priority rankings: Japan, for instance, has for many decades been living with a significantly restricted sovereignty, while North Korea, having focused on bolstering its security, has been experiencing grave economic problems. Alignment of national strategies is an extraordinarily difficult task, especially since the NEA nations stand at different levels of socioeconomic development, professing wildly different political systems. Nevertheless, this task has to be handled without waiting for the development levels of the region’s nations to level out. The NEA countries should probably scrutinize the experience of Southeast Asia, where the subsisting socioeconomic and political plurality, grave inter-country contradictions and conflicts did not hamper successful integration under the banners of ASEAN.

As a matter of fact, a certain degree of fragmentation and disunity are present in the very dynamic and extensive Russia–China cooperation in the NEA. So far, our interactions have often fanned out into a set of highly important yet independent projects that are not always closely interconnected. Individual projects are implemented in the military-technical area, energy, transport, cross-border partnership, etc. Priorities for cooperation are sometimes selected on the basis of the ability of individual government agencies, big business groups and leaders of border regions in both states to promote their interests at the top level of political leadership. In some cases, these projects compete with one another instead of being mutually complementary.

With the political will and interest of both parties obviously present, it is still very hard to achieve a bilateral balance of priorities for cooperation while such balance is even harder to achieve in a multilateral format given a lack of trust and of significant experience in joint projects. As for selecting the right tools for ensuring security and promoting regional cooperation, we should proceed from the premise that the region appears to have no ideal military, political or economic umbrella mechanisms for resolving all security and development problems.

We often have to hear that the NEA has a pronounced deficit of institutions, which is particularly noticeable in comparison with Europe. Indeed, the contrast between the two regions in their respective saturation with multilateral mechanisms is rather evident. Yet, recent history has demonstrated that many European multilateral institutions and organizations have failed to prevent a new spiral of confrontation between the East and the West. Today, Europe and the NEA—like the rest of the world—has been increasingly exhausted from institutional fatigue, while national governments are unwilling to make large investments in establishing new internationally-operating cumbersome bureaucracies.

This being so, the solution to security and development tasks in the region should come from the top down as well as and as much as from the bottom up. The regional states thus need to hone their skills in establishing tactical coalitions to focus on individual problems. Coalitions should be based not so much on common values as on common interests. They can involve not only specific NEA nations but also non-state actors, such as big corporations, leading universities, civil society institutions, etc. These coalitions could focus on a variety of issues, from building trust and reducing military risks to joint transition to new energy. Apparently, non-regional actors could also participate in such coalitions in some of the cases.

In general, Russia and China are facing the task of mastering the skills to enable productive collaboration within complex multilateral structures, each having its own membership of different-level actors. This task is far from easy, especially so since both China and Russia have historically sparse experience of working within full-fledged multilateral structures. Imperial traditions are still strong in both Moscow and Beijing, favoring asymmetrical bilateral formats over those multilateral in nature. Theoretically, however, this task appears quite feasible both for Russian and for Chinese diplomacies as both countries have already accumulated some positive experience of working in multilateral regimes.

In conclusion, a few words to be said on the future role of Russia and China in Northeast Asia. It appears our two states have every reason to stake a claim to regional leadership, in no way infringing upon the interests of third states.

Russia and China are, first and foremost, large states with significant military and other resources that other regional actors are lacking. This is particularly important for implementing long-term and capital-intensive public-private partnership projects. Moscow and Beijing have significant flexibility in their foreign policy as they are not part of rigid bilateral or multilateral military-political alliances. Russia and China have experience in implementing large-scale public-private partnerships, including international ones. Besides, Russia and China share an objective interest in restructuring the current system of relations in the NEA as it no longer fits the region’s political and economic realities.

The region’s current needs require Russia and China to co-operate in a more systemic fashion, being more open to flexible multilateral formats. If the task is to gradually establish an integral security and development ecosystem in the NEA, this can only be achieved by pooling the efforts of all regional states. The trilateral “China – Russia – South Korea” or the quadrilateral “China – Russia – South Korea – Japan” formats seem to be highly promising. Although multilateral formats are far more complex than bilateral ones, they allow for a common synergy to be created that is hardly achievable at the bilateral level.

In any case, the task of tying security and development priorities in NEA requires innovative approaches on the part of regional decision-makers and experts. International cooperation between interdisciplinary analytical centers could become an important catalyst to developing and promoting such approaches.

From our partner RIAC

Continue Reading
Comments

East Asia

The Demise of a French Sub Deal: Is China a Threat?

Published

on

The conflict between emerging and existing powers is almost as old as time.  Labeled the Thucydides Trap, it first recounted the 5th century BC Peloponesian war and its inevitability as Sparta, the dominant power, feared the rise of Athens.  Is something similar about to transpire between the US and China?

The latest war of words is about nuclear submarines.  When armed with ballistic missiles, they become a hidden mortal danger.  So the US also deploys nuclear attack submarines which shadow rival nuclear ballistic submarines … just in case.

Australia was in the process of acquiring 12 French conventional attack submarines (a deal worth $37 billion) when the US and UK stepped in with the AUKUS deal.  Intended to counter China, it offers Australia  advanced nuclear propulsion systems and an opportunity to construct nuclear subs of their own with the technology transfer.  Australia will then become the seventh country in the world to build and operate nuclear submarines.

The fear of the ‘yellow peril’ is ingrained in the Australian consciousness from the days when they were afraid of being swamped by Chinese immigrants.  It led to restrictive immigration policies for non-whites. 

Much of the concern with China is due to the forceful nature of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s policies.  In Xinjiang the Uyghur population is a minority in its home province due to the influx of Han Chinese.  Moreover, Uyghurs feel discriminated against, in jobs and the progress they can make.  Some have rebelled causing many to be put in re-education camps where there are tales of torture although denied by Chinese authorities.  Biden has declared it a genocide and introduced sanctions on leading Chinese officials there. 

China’s proactive foreign policy, renewed interest in Afghanistan, its warships patrolling all the way across the Indian Ocean to Africa are further evidence.

The new Afghan leaders, at least many of them, spent their exile in Pakistan giving the latter influence with the new government.  And Pakistan is effectively a Chinese client state.  The mineral wealth of Afghanistan, if it is to be developed, is thus likely to include Chinese help.

The UN General Assembly holds its first debate of the new session on the third Tuesday of each year; the session then runs through to the September following.  As leaders converge, one of the questions being asked of those involved in AUKUS is how they are going to pacify an angry France.  It has recalled its ambassadors from Australia and the US — in the latter case a move without precedent in almost 250 years of diplomacy.

If the French feel the Australians have been duplicitous, the Australians for their part claim they are obligated to do the best for the people who elected them.  The new deal brings jobs, technology and a greater role for Australia in dealing with an increasingly powerful China

It would be a great shame if the West in trying to shore up its interests in the Indo-Pacific region loses a crucial ally — France — at the very least in wholehearted support.  Is Mr. Xi smiling and quoting some ancient Chinese proverb, perhaps Lao Tzu, to his colleagues?   

Continue Reading

East Asia

Japanese firms’ slow and steady exit is sounding alarm bells in Beijing

Published

on

Last year in March, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had indicated Japan would initiate measures to reduce the country heavily relying on China for factory production. Since July 2020, Japan has rolled out subsidies totaling over 400 billion Yen to move its enterprises out of China to Southeast Asia and beyond. It is yet to be seen if the scale of incentives has actually triggered a major change in where Japanese companies relocate production.  On the other hand, experts in China continue to wonder why would Japanese companies which are on average making 17% profit diversify into the ASEAN nations, where in 2019, their rate of return on direct investment was a mere 5%?

***

In less than ten days, Japan is going to have a third prime minister within a short span of twelve months. On September 1 last year, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned on health grounds, Yoshihide Suga was chosen as Abe’s successor. At the time, China’s leadership did not show any worrying signs as the new Japanese leader was expected to continue with the foreign policy of the previous government. But one year later, Suga’s unexpected departure is leaving Japan’s diplomatic relations with China considerably strained over Taiwan. Yet the leadership in Beijing is not going to lose sleep over the next prime minister’s public stance on the Japan-Taiwan “alliance.” What China will be closely watching is how many more billions of Yen and for how long a new leader in Tokyo will carry on with rolling out subsidies to lure away Japanese businesses out of China?

Interestingly, on assuming office Prime Minister Suga had promised continuity in domestic policies and that he will respect Abe’s foreign policy. However, Suga’s promised commitment to further improve relations with China was viewed differently in the People’s Republic. Writing in an article on the day Yoshihide Suga took office in Tokyo, Zhou Yongsheng, professor of Japanese studies at Beijing’s China Foreign Affairs University, observed: “[Under Suga] Japan will continue to align with the US as far as international relations and security affairs are concerned, and continue to back the US policy of containing China It is under these preconditions that Japan will seek cooperation with China.”

In sharp contrast, reviewing Suga’s foreign policy performance after two months, NIKKEI Asia’s foreign affairs analyst Hiroyuki Akita wrote in November 2020: “Suga has not said much publicly about his views on diplomacy but he has urged his aids to continue Abe’s diplomacy as it is at least for one year.” Akita gave a thumbs up to this approach and recalled a Japanese saying to describe it: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, not everyone agreed with Akita praising Suga’s brief record in diplomacy as flawless. Having spent seven years in the Abe cabinet as Chief Cabinet Secretary, Suga’s image was that of “a fixer, not a leader.” Suga did everything in diplomacy in his early phase as the prime minister what Abe had been espousing for the past seven years.

But as Toshiya Takahashi, professor of IR at Shoin University in Japan had predicted within a few weeks of Suga becoming the top leader, “Abe’s shoes were too big for Suga to fill.” Why so? Mainly because unlike Abe, not only Suga was not ideological, he was also far less diplomacy driven. “Suga is not an ideologically driven revisionist — he is a conservative politician, but his attitude has no relation to ideology. He does not seem to hold any specific cherished foreign policy objectives that he is willing to push with all his political capital in the way that Abe did in 2015 with the passage of the security-related bills,” Takahashi had commented.   

To observers and experts in both Japan and China, Prime Minister Suga’s (he will relinquish office on September 30) non-enthusiastic approach to foreign policy might have much to do with the current state of strained relationship between Japan and China. Asahi Shimbun opinion poll last year claimed foreign policy and national security as among the two most popular elements of Abe’s legacy. No wonder, critics in Japan have been pointing out that Suga’s cabinet did not have the luxury and support Abe enjoyed in foreign affairs of having in the government someone like Shotaro Yachi – the former secretary general of the National Security Secretariat. In China too, reacting to Suga’s first policy speech after taking office, scholars such as Lü  Yaodong, Institute of Japanese Studies, CASS in Beijing had observed, “Suga seems not to be as enthusiastic about China-Japan ties as Abe. Compared with Abe’s administration, Suga may walk back China-Japan ties.” (Emphasis added)

Remember, as already mentioned, the LDP had succeeded in pursuing policy of (economic) cooperation and avoiding confrontationist diplomacy with China under Abe. But Suga government’s failure to effectively fight coronavirus pandemic and its perception that China was increasingly becoming aggressive in SCS, are being cited as reasons why Japan was compelled to take strong steps against China. It is too well-known by now how Tokyo angered Beijing by referring to the importance of Taiwan to regional security in the recently released 2021 Defense White Paper. In fact, a Chinese scholar had warned as early as within a month of Suga taking over as prime minister from Shinzo Abe, saying that “Japan will take a more offensive stance against China over maritime boundary disputes under the incitement of the US” (emphasis added).

Hence, it is of extreme import to mention here China’s top diplomat Wang Yi’s recent trip to four ASEAN nations. Apparently, the second visit by the Chinese foreign minister in quick succession in the neighborhood had aroused the global media attention as it was soon after the recent visit to the region by the US vice president Kamala Harris. However, according to a Chinese commentator, Wang Yi’s recent visit to ASEAN countries must be viewed in the context of the region turning into a “battle ground” for rising economic one-upmanship among big powers. “Just a day after Wang Yi’s departure, Vietnam reached an agreement on defense equipment and technology cooperation with Japan,” the commentary noted.   

Furthermore, whilst under the previous Abe government, Japan consistently increased its investments in the ASEAN nations, except in the year 2016, all through from 2014 until last year, Japan’s investment in the region far exceeded that of China’s. Contrary to his vows, since coming into office in September last year, especially following his meeting with President Biden in the White House in April this year, Prime Minister Suga’s quiet agenda has been to confront China in both political and economic arena. In Japan, the Suga agenda was interpreted by analysts as “rebuilding Japan-US industrial chain, decoupling economic ties with China.”    

A policy report released by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in March 2021, revealed three important facts: first, in the year 2019, total Japanese investment in ASEAN nations stood at USD 265.5 billion – 14% of the country’s overall overseas investment, i.e., USD 1,858.3 billion.; second, in 2000, Japanese investments in ASEAN totaled USD 25 billion as against its USD 8.7 billion investment in China – a gap of USD 16.3 billion. Whereas in 2019, Japan invested USD 135.2 billion more in ASEAN as compared with China. As pointed out by one Chinese analyst, this gap is hugely significant, especially as the overall size of the ASEAN economy is a little over one-fifth of China’s GDP; third, followingthegovernment’s new strategy last year to encourage Japanese businesses to move out of China to new locations in ASEAN nations, the new guidelines also entailed reducing investments into China. A large part of the investments was diversified into ASEAN markets.

Finally, what is beginning to worry the Chinese authorities is the trend and direction of slow exodus of Japanese businesses out of China going back to Japan and towards Vietnam and Indonesia on one hand, and widening gap in Japanese investments between ASEAN and the PRC, on the other hand. At the same time, it was beyond anyone’s imagination in China that Japan would be acting foolish and risking “economic security” by diversifying businesses and investments into less profitable “barren” markets. But then who could anticipate what political and economic policy-rejigging coronavirus pandemic would bring about?

Overall, China’s more immediate and bigger concerns are firstly the sudden departure of Prime Minister Suga – in spite of Suga having made it clear he had no will to change or reverse “decoupling” policy he had been pursuing, and secondly, whoever emerges as the new leader of the four contenders by the month-end, analysts in Japan believe Tokyo is unlikely to change its “anti-China” political and economic policies.  

Continue Reading

East Asia

How China Exacerbates Global Fragility and What Can be Done to Bolster Democratic Resilience to Confront It

Published

on

Authors: Caitlin Dearing Scott and Isabella Mekker

From its declared policy of noninterference and personnel contributions to United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Missions to its purported role in mediating conflicts, China has long sought to portray itself as a responsible global leader, pushing narratives about building a “community of common destiny” and promoting its model of governance and economic and political development as a path to stability. This narrative belies the reality. Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-style “stability,” whether to protect Belt and Road Investments (BRI) or regimes with favorable policies towards China, in practice facilitates authoritarianism and human rights violations, contributes to environmental degradation and corruption, and undermines democratic governance, all of which can fuel instability, intentionally or otherwise.

In pursuit of its true goal – “a world safe for the party” – China has leveraged its diplomatic and economic power to weaken  the international human rights system, bolstering support for illiberal regimes, contributing to democratic decline and exacerbating global fragility in the process. Nowhere is this more apparent than in conflict-affected contexts.

Conflict Resolution, CCP Style

Although China brands itself as a ‘promoter of stability, peace, and unity’, its very definition of stability is built on its authoritarian model of governance. This, plus its concerns about non-interference in its own domestic issues, informs its conflict resolution approach, which emphasizes host state consent and political settlement, two-ideas that can be laudable in theory, depending on the context. In practice, however, China’s conflict mediation efforts in some instances have provided support to incumbent regimes who are perpetuating violence and conflict, promoting a  ‘stability’ that disregards the voices of vulnerable populations and the need for inclusive governance. In the case of the Syrian civil war, China’s “political solution” meant maintaining China-friendly Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power, while blocking resolutions condemning the regime’s brutality against its citizens. 

“Stability” promoted by China can also come at the expense of human rights. China (and Russia) have previously pushed for cuts to human rights positions within peacekeeping missions, endangering the capacity of these missions to protect civilians in conflict.  In Myanmar, where the military is committing unprecedented human rights violations against its own citizens, China initially blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the military coup and other international efforts to restore stability at a time when a strong international response was much needed. This was in line with China’s previous engagement in the country, working closely with the military regime to “mediate” conflict near the Chinese border in a way that preserved China’s interests and influence, but did little to actually address conflict. After a growing humanitarian crisis began to threaten its investments on the Myanmar side of the border, however, China changed rhetorical course, showing where human rights violations stand in its hierarchy of stability.

Advancing China’s Interests, Undermining Governance

China’s policies in fragile states mirror its unstated preference for expanding its economic and political interests, even if securing them sidelines the stated imperative of addressing fragility. In some instances, China has lobbied for UN policies in conflict-affected contexts that appear to support its own agenda rather than – or sometimes at the expense of – peace. According to the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2020 report to Congress, “China has shown an apparent willingness to leverage its influence in the UN peacekeeping operations system to advance its economic interests in African countries, raising the possibility that Beijing is subverting UN norms and procedures in the process.” Per the report, the most notable example of this was in 2014 when China lobbied to expand the UN Mission in South Sudan to protect oil installations of which the China National Petroleum Corporation held a 40 percent stake.

Moreover, China’s pursuit of its interests sets up countries on unstable trajectories. China’s economic investment policies and initiatives exacerbates governance deficits and increases fragility by encouraging corruption, facilitating authoritarianism and human rights violations, and contributing to environmental degradation, all key drivers of conflict. Two cases from Nigeria and Pakistan highlight the point.

In Nigeria, China’s investment projects have exacerbated corruption and fueled distrust in local government – key drivers of conflict and intercommunal violence in the country. China has exploited poor regulatory environments and worked within illegal and corrupt frameworks, often tied to armed groups and criminal networks. In one illustrative example, China state-owned timber trading companies  offered bribes to local officials to illegally harvest endangered rosewood. Members of local communities have cited feelings of exploitation by officials accepting bribes from Chinese businessmen, further stressing fragile ties between local government and citizens. Such business practices also demonstrate a blatant disregard for the environmental consequences of illegally harvesting endangered flora and fauna. Moreover, the inherently opaque nature of these projects that are tied to CCP interests makes it difficult to demand accountability.

Similarly in Pakistan, a 62-billion-dollar project known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) aimed at linking Xinjiang to the Arabian sea, has exacerbated tension in conflict-affected provinces. The project plans to build infrastructure and extract resources from several less developed regions, while overwhelmingly benefitting industrial and political hubs such as Punjab. Many provinces, including Balochistan and Sindh, have accused political elites of altering the route of the corridor in their own interests, thus further marginalizing their communities. Separatist groups have launched several attacks throughout the country, not only fueling conflict between Pakistani ethnic groups but also leading to attacks against Chinese expatriates. Recently, prominent voices from within China have called for a military intervention in Pakistan. CPEC has increased military presence throughout small villages, sparked an uptick in violent conflict along the route, and further eroded trust in local government institutions.

These cases may of course signal more opportunism and indifference by China to the impact of its engagement on stability in any given country, as opposed to an explicit attempt to undermine democratic governance (as it has done elsewhere in support of pro-China interests). Regardless of the intent, however, the impact is the same. China’s focus on political leverage and profits first and foremost undermines stability – and China likewise can benefit from instability in states with corrupt politicians interested in trading local resources for short-term political gains.

What Can be Done: Bolstering Democratic Resilience to Address Fragility and Foreign Influence

Foreign authoritarian influence has a compounding impact in conflict-affected contexts, further undermining governance structures, institutions, and processes that can mitigate or exacerbate fragility.  Good governance, on the contrary, can not only help countries prevent and manage conflict, but can also help countries address the myriad challenges associated with foreign authoritarian influence. Strong democratic institutions help societies respond positively and productively to threats both domestic and foreign.

Targeted investment in democracy in conflict-affected contexts vulnerable to foreign authoritarian influence offers an important opportunity for utilizing the Global Fragility Strategy in support of US foreign policy initiatives and advancing the Biden Administration’s policy priorities to tackle climate change, prevent authoritarian resurgence, confront corruption, and prevail in strategic competition with China.  An investment in support of democracy and good governance to address any one of these issues will reap dividends across each of these issues – engaging in conflict prevention and stabilization programming will both advance global democracy and advance US goals vis-à-vis China and other authoritarian rivals. Such investments, which must be long-term to account for the compounding impact of foreign authoritarian influence in already fragile environments, should include:

  • Supporting governments, civil society, and citizens to better understand, expose and counter foreign authoritarian influence, particularly in conflict-affected contexts where data and research efforts can be challenging. An understanding of China’s playbook is critical to countering CCP influence operations;
  • Helping independent media to investigate and expose foreign authoritarian influence and how it fuels conflict, whether through training, financial support, or other protections of the civic and information space, to raise public awareness of the impact of such engagement on conflict dynamics and promote transparency and accountability in dealings with foreign actors;  
  • Developing evidenced-based tools to prevent and mitigate foreign authoritarian influence in fragile contexts;
  • Strengthening electoral institutions, political parties, legislative bodies, and judiciaries to uproot elite capture and mitigate malign influence;
  • Leveraging diplomacy to build political will and incentives for government officials to resist foreign malign influences. Such diplomatic efforts can include increased outreach and contact with countries previously neglected by the US – but prioritized by China – and public diplomacy to both expose the CCP’s misleading narrative and advance narratives about what democracy can deliver;  and
  • Coordinating with similarly-minded donors such as the European Union, Japan, and Australia, to implement a unified approach to match the scale of Chinese investment and maximize the impact of any intervention.

Only democracy can help countries navigate the nexus of domestic and foreign threats to their stability. In the era of COVID-19, authoritarian resurgence, and climate crisis, supporting countries to develop these “resilience” fundamentals is a sound – and necessary – investment.

*Isabella Mekker is a Program Associate with IRI’s Center for Global Impact, working on countering foreign authoritarian influence and conflict prevention and stabilization programming.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Development2 hours ago

Demand for Circular Economy Solutions Prompts Business and Government Changes

To truly tackle climate goals, the world must transform how it makes and consumes. To support this effort, circular economy...

Africa4 hours ago

Money seized from Equatorial Guinea VP Goes into Vaccine

As a classic precedence, the Justice Department of the United States has decided that $26.6m (£20m) seized from Equatorial Guinea’s...

forest forest
Environment6 hours ago

More Than 2.5 Billion Trees to be Conserved, Restored, and Grown by 2030

Companies from across sectors are working to support healthy and resilient forests through the World Economic Forum’s 1t.org trillion tree...

Americas8 hours ago

AUKUS aims to perpetuate the Anglo-Saxon supremacy

On September 15, U.S. President Joe Biden worked with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison...

Terrorism Terrorism
Terrorism10 hours ago

A shift in militants’ strategy could shine a more positive light on failed US policy

A paradigm shift in jihadist thinking suggests that the US invasion of Afghanistan may prove to have achieved more than...

Eastern Europe12 hours ago

Ukraine’s EU-integration plan is not good for Europe

Late this summer, Estonia, in the person of its president, Kersti Kaljulaid, became the first EU country to declare that...

Intelligence14 hours ago

The AUKUS Alliance and “China’s Maritime Governance Strategy” in the Indo-Pacific

1) Announcing the (French-Indian alliance) to confront the (Australian-American alliance) for establishing a (new multilateral system), and the AUKUS alliance...

Trending