Recently in Asian Affairs Category

Africa’s Population Growth’s Impact on Europe

“The wave of migrants coming into Europe at the moment has a proximate cause - sectarian war and chaos in the Middle East - but it isn't a transient phenomenon. The current migration is just the beginning of a long-term trend that will almost certainly last for at least a hundred years,” according to Nils Zimmerman, a freelance business journalist for  Deutsche Welle English.

Mr. Zimmerman said the reason is that, “Over that time-period, Africa's population is set to go from 1.16 billion today - exactly twice that of the European Union - to 2.4 billion by 2050. That's five times the EU's current population of 508 million,” he opined. “By 2100, according to the UN, Africa's population could be 4.2 billion - eight times that of today's EU.”

Mr. Zimmerman also said, “The arc of Muslim countries from North Africa and the Middle East through South and Central Asia is also in the midst of a demographic explosion. According to Pew Research Center, the world's Muslim population will grow from 1.6 billion today to 2.8 billion by 2050,” he added. To read more, see “Opinion: Europe's grand challenge - Africa's future.”

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Afghanistan’s Neighbors Making Post U.S. Plans

Recommended: Vanderbilt University doctoral student Jaideep Prabhu’s August 28, 2013, post in  India’s Daily News & Analysis headlined “A tangled web of diplomacy - India, Iran, US and Afghanistan.” According to Mr. Prabhu:
As the United States winds down its role in Afghanistan, its neighbors are busy with plans to deal with the blow back and shore up their interests. India and China have taken the lead in Afghanistan's infrastructural and economic development, and Kabul has been promised military support too. However, prosperity may be denied the resource-rich Central Asian country just yet.
Mr. Prabhu noted that, “Normalization needs stability, which is premised upon economic development, which in turn is affected by Kabul's success against the Taliban. For all the assurances given, that may be easier said than done.”

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Will Asia Get Priority in Obama’s Second Term?

Richard Weitz,director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, analyzed President Barack Obama’s Asia policy in an insightful article in The Diplomat headlined “Obama 2.0 Confronts Asia.”

“Obama has clearly resolved to make Asia his priority region on the foreign-policy front,” he contends. “He has spent more time in East Asia than in any other foreign region. Most Asian leaders have welcomed Obama’s reelection, though the political transitions in China, Japan and South Korea increase uncertainties over how long such views will prevail.”

I think he should publicly devote more time to sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

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Obama, Abe to Meet in U.S. on February 22, 2013

“Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his first overseas visit to Southeast Asian countries (on January 16, 2013). Very soon, he will make the more usual pilgrimage from Tokyo to Washington (on February 21, 2013), to meet U.S, President Barack Obama (on February 22, 2013),” notes Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs in a February 18, 2013, opinion piece in the South China Morning Post. Mr. Abe will depart the U.S. on February 24, 2013. Mr.Tay asks:

What should he say to Obama as both begin their new terms in office? What do other Asians hope the two long-standing allies will focus on? The expectation - or fear - is that the conversation will turn to the other Asian giant not in the room: China.

Mr.Tay, who teaches international law at the National University of Singapore, lists several issues he thinks the two leaders should discuss. If you interested in his perspective, please see

Abe and Obama must reassure Asia of their agenda for peace and growth.”

Mr. Obama spoke with Mr. Abe on February 13, 2013, after it became known that North Korea had conducted another nuclear test. See “Obama speaks to Japan's Abe about North Korea's nuclear test.”

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The U.S. Role in Afghanistan After 2014

Professor Juan Cole writing at Informed Comment on February 13, 2013:

President Obama announced Tuesday that he would pull some 34,000 US troops out of Afghanistan over the next year, about half of the force that is in the country now. US forces are going into a support role this spring, but one suspects they will be doing more than that till they leave, given the sad shape of the Afghanistan National Army.

I totally agree. For more, please see: “America at Peace? Obama Halving US force in Afghanistan, winds down War.”

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‘Is China ready to go to war over a pile of rocks?’

“Is China really ready to go to war over a pile of rocks?” asks Adam Minter, Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View, in a February 13, 2013, article headlined “China Shifts Ever So Slightly on Debate Over Islands.”

His answer: “Six months ago, it certainly felt that way. Now, not quite as much.”

The Chinese call the “pile of rocks” Mr. Minter is referring to the Diaoyu Islands. The  Japanese call them the Senkaku Islands. According to Mr. Minter:

The small archipelago (five islets and three rocks), located 90 miles northeast of Taiwan, is notable only for the oil, minerals and fish that allegedly lie beneath it and the intense emotions and claims that surround it.

He noted that both Chinese and Japanese public opinion were inflamed by the dispute. According to China. Org.Cn, “Chinese ships continue patrolling Diaoyu Islands.”

I highly recommend Mr.Minter’s analysis of this issue, which may seem remote and inconsequential to many Americans, if they know about it at all. Nevertheless, war or the threat of war between these two major Asian powers could potentially have significant economic, diplomatic and military consequences for the United States and its Asian allies, if diplomacy is overtaken by war. 

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