Global & Regional Issue

Martin Indyk, vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings Institution, delivered a public speech at Brookings-Tsinghua Center on October 27. Researcher of Division for Middle East Studies at Chinese Academy of Social Science Institute of West Asian and African studies Tang Zhichao also joined as a guest commentator. The discussion was warmly welcomed by more than 100 students, scholars and representatives from the media and the industry.

Energy is back in the headlines in a way not seen since the 1970s. Europe's reliance on natural gas from Russia is under increased scrutiny because of the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine. China recently signed a multiyear, multibillion-dollar gas deal with Russia that underlines the strengthened economic and political cooperation between the two neighbors. Meanwhile, the United States is at the epicenter of a shale oil and gas revolution that is transforming domestic as well as global energy markets and politics. Yet while perhaps less noticed, the energy-based relationships that the United States and China each have with Venezuela—and the interactions among those three countries—have geopolitical implications that are particularly pressing.

If everything happens as planned, the construction of the new East Africa railway signed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kenyan president Kenyatta earlier this year will formally commence in October. The railway will link the Kenyan port city of Mombasa with Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan and is hoped to rejuvenate the existing but outdated East Africa railway system.  According to a report by Bloomberg, China Exim Bank will provide 90 percent of the $3.8 billion cost of the project and Kenya will finance the remainder. One of China's largest overseas construction contractors, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) will be the lead contractor of the project. The project has been cheered in Africa as a historical event for East Africa's regional connectivity and integration, as well as in China for another success by Chinese companies in the railway construction business and the expansion of Chinese railway standards in the continent.  

On Friday, September 12, Brooking's Center for East Asia Policy Studies convened a conference on China-Taiwan relations, in cooperation with Taiwan's Association of Foreign Relations. The presentations were stimulating and the audience participation was good (a transcript of the event should be posted soon).

In recent years, the rising terrorist threat in Africa has become an increasing concern for the region and the international community. From Boko Haram in Nigeria to al-Shabab in Somalia, from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, the rising threats from the "arc of terror" have become a "plague" for the continent. As one of the major investors in the continent, China is also threatened by these increasing terrorist attacks. As the region and the world seek a cure for this terrorism "plague," the role of China in this effort, especially in potential counterterrorism cooperation with the U.S., deserves examination.

The recent deal between Russia and China on the delivery of natural gas was precast by confusion and obfuscation. After a decade of tough negotiations, the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping amid the stand-off between Russia and the US and the EU over Ukraine could not have come at a better moment, for Russia.

This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping visits South Korean President Park Geun-Hye in Seoul, and next week, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew will meet with Chinese leaders in Beijing. These meetings provide an opportunity for the three countries to consider next steps on the vexing problem of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs-and in particular, to discuss whether and under what conditions to resume multilateral talks on the denuclearization of the DPRK.

The most significant achievement to emerge from the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit was a pledge by 35 countries to observe the terms of a joint agreement, known as Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation. This document committed the signatories to incorporate the principles and guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding nuclear security into their national laws, and to allow teams of international experts to periodically evaluate their security procedures. Promoted strongly by the chairs of all three nuclear summits-the United States, South Korea, and the Netherlands- the 2014 initiative is an important step towards creating a robust global security system designed to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

The United States and South Korea are facing new and increasingly dangerous dynamics on the Korean Peninsula. The situation in North Korea underwent an enormous qualitative change over the past three months that heightens the urgency of a potential crisis for the North and could even signal the regime's eventual undoing.

The influence of the United States in the world is undoubted. The U.S. plays a major role in global economic and political governance, and its relationship with Africa is cherished, especially after the introduction of the Millennium Challenge Account program. On the other side of the globe, China, in the past few decades, has grown in dominance in the global economy and continues to sustain record growth. Now, China is the world's second largest economy after 30 years of fast-paced economic growth (Lawrence & MacDonald, 2012). China's population is estimated to increase by approximately 123 million people by 2025 from a population of 1.3 billion people in 2008. However, it is feared that without sufficient minerals and natural resources coupled with sufficient economic growth, China will fail to meet its economic and social demands according to 2008 United States Census Bureau data (Butts & Bankus, 2009). The Chinese economy has been growing between 7 and 10 percent since the 1980s and has been doubling every decade. For China, maintaining this level of growth is imperative for keeping a grip on governance and shifting from inefficient, state-controlled industries (Butts & Bankus, 2009). Thus, like the U.S., an increase in economic growth in China means more demand for nonrenewable natural resources.