This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reforms and opening up. In four decades, China has learned how to grasp the benefits of globalisation and has become a world economic champion. As the world’s second-largest economy, today China is no longer the factory of the world but an industrial power aiming at the forefront of major hightech sectors, in direct competition with Europe and the US. In sharp contrast with Trump’s scepticism on multilateralism, President Xi has renewed his commitment to growing an open global economy.
U.S. American President Donald Trump announced – during his first Asia tour in November 2017 – that it was now time to think about the Indo-Pacific strategy. This has de facto put an end to Washington's previous Asia-Pacific strategy adopted by Trump's predecessor in 2011: the U.S. "pivot to Asia". This shift increases the chances of recreating what has been known as the so-called 'Quad', that is, an alliance which comprises the US, India, Japan, and Australia.
Australian policy makers and strategists have recently embraced the so-called "Indo-Pacific" as a geopolitical construct to guide foreign and security policy (sometimes referred to as "Indo-Pacific strategy" - IPS). The concept was outlined in both the 2016 Defence White Paper and 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and has prominently featured in the speeches of policy makers and the accompanying think tank/academic discourse.
The "Indo-Pacific" is the geopolitical referent for the Trump administration’s foreign policy toward Asia – East, Southeast and South – and the Pacific. Since it was first articulated in November 2017, the concept has taken on a more normative tinge and is now an integral part of the larger "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”. As much is implicit in the phrase as is explicit, however, and those assumptions are perhaps even more important.
Tokyo's "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" (FOIP) concept, Tokyo claims, has taken shape and is turning from a concept into a concrete strategy jointly implemented by Japan, the U.S., India and Australia. But not so fast. And that not only because U.S. President Trump could endorse and cheer the concept in a morning tweet and dismiss it as irrelevant in the evening, but also because coordinated and institutionalized security cooperation between the four countries in the Indo-Pacific region has yet a long way to go to be referred as such.
US-China trade tensions rose sharply since early 2018. The first round of direct confrontation starts with the US Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and China retaliated with tariffs covering roughly same amounts of US imports ($3 billion). Threats to impose 25 percent tariffs on about $50 billion imports from China by the United States under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 started the second round, and China retaliated by releasing its own list of products that would be subject to proposed tariffs on imports from the US.
Donald Trump won the Presidency promising to upend decades of American trade policy. A year and a half into his administration, has he delivered on these promises? And what is the future of American trade policy?
Will Trump Launch a Trade War?
In 2017, China closed around 170 ivory shops and imposed a total ban on producing and selling ivory products, (effective from 1st January 2018).
A surprising decision
In a recent ISPI article, Valbona Zeneli wrote that, despite other big actors at play, the European Union is the only game in town in the Western Balkans (WB). Is it really so? A review of the activities of the three most important non-EU players in the region - Russia, Turkey and China - points us in another direction.