Special Reports

Special Reports are longer, often more technical, documents consisting of entire articles, government statements, and other documents relevant to security and peace in Northeast Asia.

NAPSNet, Special Reports

The role of arctic hydrocarbons for future energy security

Against the background of a growing demand for energy worldwide, many claim that the hydrocarbon resources of the Arctic region have become an important variable for future energy security. Multiple factors seem to render Arctic energy resources attractive: the expected persistence of fossil fuels (especially oil and gas) in the global energy mix, instability in oil-supplying countries in the Middle East, and the unclear future of nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster. Nonetheless, the complexity of resource exploitation in such a remote region as the Arctic, as well as the potential for environmental disasters, raises significant questions about such a proposition. Rather, how promising Arctic resources really are for future energy security concerns is an empirical question requiring careful evaluation. How many resources are actually in the Arctic relative to resources farther south? What are the conditions under which they could be viably and commercially exploited? What interest do the states possessing Arctic hydrocarbons, i.e. the five Arctic littoral states US, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark/Greenland, have in exploring and exploiting their Arctic resources? Only after answering these questions is it possible to come to tangible conclusions about the role of Arctic oil and gas for future energy security concerns.

Kathrin Keil is currently a PhD Candidate at the Berlin Graduate School for Transnational Studies(BTS) at the Freie Universität Berlin. She is writing her dissertation on the international politics of the Arctic, with a focus on international regimes and institutions in the areas of energy, shipping and fishing.

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Kim Jong-un’s “Fresh Leap Forward” 2014 New Year Speech

Peter Hayes and Roger Cavazos analyze Kim Jong-un’s 2014 New Year’s speech. They find that the speech provides important clues about North Korea’s perception of its domestic and international environment. Kim laid out his priorities primarily to a domestic audience, but many of the areas he wishes to develop, such as improving the economy and also advancing two specific industries; metallurgy and chemical will also necessitate some degree of opening to the outside world. His priorities also require some amount of external reaching out to North Korea or at least non-rejection of North Korean overtures. Kim reaffirmed his “byungjin” policy of simultaneously developing two fronts: the economy and nuclear weapons. He also upholds the decision to rid the party of “anti-party counterrevolutionary factionalists”. Perhaps in a nod to common experience, the Korean and Chinese language versions characterize the factionalists as “sectarian filth종파오물” or “sectarian dregs宗派污泥浊水“. The English-language version is much more anti-septic. Under normal ‘songbun’ dictates the Kim family would have been subject to jail for being so closely related to a known traitor, but Kim Jong-il established himself as a law unto himself and immune from effects of the law. He is well along the way to establishing himself as the third heir in the “Baektu line”. There were almost no “untrodden paths” in the 2014 address as Kim stuck to roughly the same formulae used in the 2013 New Year’s address. North Korea raises the prospect of conflict – and nuclear conflict at that – in the coming year. This may bode an even more contentious relationship between the U.S. and North Korea in the upcoming year of the Wooden Horse, and will surely be an irritant in U.S.-China relations if not managed well. However, there are particular opportunities for the international community to interact with North Korea on energy efficiency and energy conservation efforts. North Korea clearly wants to convey the impression they are concerned about nuclear war. However, for the second New Year’s address in a row, North Korea has failed to mention nuclear weapons as a “treasured sword” and therefore not a topic for negotiation. The best way to ascertain North Korea’s concerns and intentions is to ask them directly by engaging in Track 11 or Track 1.5 discussions.

Peter Hayes is Executive Director of the Nautilus Institute and a Professor of International Relations at RMIT University. Roger Cavazos is a Nautilus Institute Associate and retired US military officer with assignments in the intelligence and policy communities.

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Internet Events, Social Media and National Security in China

Peter Hayes and Roger Cavazos analyze information flows to and from China and analyze social media use (especially the use of micro-blogging or “weibos”) and find that those flows allowed a much broader dialogue and even some inclusionary processes regarding national security issues in China. There are also anecdotal, yet illustrative examples of the extent to which these developments likely affected Chinese policy-making. We also argue that China’s government recognizes there is an opportunity to interact with China’s huge “netizen” communities at a speed and volume that exceeds the government’s current capabilities. The dialectical response has been a clamp on information flows until policy and technology are in balance. The new inclusionary processes also allow for a type of participatory government. We also infer that just as information flows inside China are changing, Chinese social media actors will also interact with external security players—states, corporations, and transnational civil society—in new ways that will change the nature of geopolitics in the region. Managing these changes will require new forms of civic diplomacy and a greater emphasis on conducting discussions with China in Chinese language.

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Fueling electricity generation in Northeast Asia: full fuel-cycle impacts of energy imports

In this Special Report David von Hippel first provides a general description of the elements of the full energy cycle that should be included in any comparison of different options for supplying electricity, followed by a description of the potential categories of “costs”, broadly defined to include a wide range of costs and impacts, that may be incurred as a part of each element of the energy cycle. He then applies these fuel cycle elements and costs to qualitatively examine some of the key potential relative costs and impacts of three potential options for providing electricity in Northeast Asia—coal-fired, gas-fired, and nuclear power. Following this qualitative treatment, von Hippel presents the assumptions and results of an initial quantitative analysis at two specific categories of costs/impacts for these generation options: direct costs and greenhouse gas emissions, focusing on coal- and gas-fired options in NEA fired with fuels imported from the United States (or North America more generally). A concluding section summarizes the findings of this Working Paper.

David F. von Hippel is a Nautilus Institute Senior Associate. His work with Nautilus has centered on energy and environmental issues in Asia, with a particular emphasis on Northeast Asia and North Korea.

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U.S. Alliance system and Northeast Asia regional cooperation

In this Special Report, Chen Jimin makes three observations and three suggestions while discussing the U.S. alliance system in Northeast Asia. The first observation is that the U.S. alliance system in Asia constrains Asian regional integration. The second observation is that the U.S. alliance system challenges relations among major powers such as the U.S., China and Russia. The third observation is that the U.S. alliance system causes uncertainty in U.S.-Sino relations. Three suggestions flow from those observations: 1) View history correctly; 2) Promote cooperation and promote regional cooperation. He offers the Africa model as an example of a cooperative model; and 3) Promote cooperation by starting with the easiest tasks and working toward the more difficult tasks.

Dr Chen Jimin is an Assistant Research Fellow at the Institute for International and Strategic Studies of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

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Indonesia, Australia and Edward Snowden: ambiguous and shifting asymmetries of power

Richard Tanter writes “Courtesy of Edward Snowden, the Australian government is discovering that an asymmetry in electronic surveillance capacity does not trump the fundamental asymmetry of power between Australia and Indonesia. NSA documents that the premier Australian intelligence agency monitored and intercepted phone calls by the Indonesian president, his wife, and inner circle of advisors has generated an extraordinarily rapid collapse in relations between the two governments, possibly with longterm effects. The Indonesian government has called for a new intelligence accord, which will prove difficult for the Abbott government, not least because of the role of the NSA in Australian signals intelligence. A review of supervision and oversight of Australian intelligence agencies is urgently required.”

Richard Tanter is Senior Research Associate at the Nautilus Institute and teaches in the School of Poiltics and Social Science at the University of Melbourne.

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Seeking to address the rise of China and non-zero sum relationship modalities: Exploring the Obama administration’s China policy

This is the second half of a two part article from Professor Yang Wenjing of the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, China. The article has two major parts: 1) an overview of game theory, descriptions of zero-sum, non zero sum games and examples of how both have played a role at various times in great power relationships – with specific emphasis on the U.S.-China relationship; 2) an analysis of China policy in the Obama administration with a focus on modalities, connotations and interpretations.

In this Policy Forum, Yang Wenjing argues that China’s rise not only benefits China, but also the whole world. Toward that end, China’s peaceful rise not only requires China’s relentless efforts, but also requires understanding and cooperation from the rest of world, especially the United States. China’s peaceful rise is based on China’s national conditions and social development needs, rather than a challenge to America’s dominant status, as China has no intent to change the world order. A zero-sum game is a lose-lose game. Only a non-zero sum approach can produce “win-win”, “winning” or “multiple win” results. Yang Wenjing then explores China policy in President Obama’s administration, based on official statements she concludes relations between the U.S. and China are in a non-zero sum mode and we should expect Sino-US relations to have a competitive-cooperative relationship, where only through successfully and peacefully dealing with competition can a rational “rebalancing” be realized.

Yang Wenjing is an associate research professor in the American Studies Department at the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations. The article originally appeared in CICIR’s journal and is re-printed with the author’s permission.

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Seeking to address the rise of China and non-zero sum relationship modalities: Exploring the Obama administration’s China policy

This is the first half of a two part article from Professor Yang Wenjing of the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, China. The article has two major parts: 1) an overview of game theory, descriptions of zero-sum, non-zero sum games and examples of how both have played a role at various times in great power relationships – with specific emphasis on the U.S.-China relationship; 2) an analysis of China policy in the Obama administration with a focus on modalities, connotations and interpretations.

In this Policy Forum, Yang Wenjing argues that China’s rise not only benefits China, but also the whole world. Toward that end, China’s peaceful rise not only requires China’s relentless efforts, but also requires understanding and cooperation from the rest of world, especially the United States. China’s peaceful rise is based on China’s national conditions and social development needs, rather than a challenge to America’s dominant status, as China has no intent to change the world order. A zero-sum game is a lose-lose game. Only a non-zero sum approach can produce “win-win”, “winning” or “multiple win” results. Yang Wenjing then explores China policy in President Obama’s administration, based on official statements she concludes relations between the U.S. and China are in a non-zero sum mode and we should expect Sino-US relations to have a competitive-cooperative relationship, where only through successfully and peacefully dealing with competition can a rational “rebalancing” be realized.

Yang Wenjing is an associate research professor in the American Studies Department at the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations. The article originally appeared in CICIR’s journal and is re-printed with the author’s permission.

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Potential Regional Nuclear Energy Sector Cooperation on Enrichment and Reprocessing: Scenarios, Issues, and Energy Security Implications

This Special Report by David von Hippel looks at the relative impacts of different fuel cycle options on other aspect of (broadly defined) energy security.

In this Special Report von Hippel presents a summary of the current status of and recent trends in electricity consumption in general, and nuclear generation capacity in particular, in the nations of East Asia and the Pacific, offer three future scenarios of nuclear power development in the region (section 2); notes some of the options for nuclear fuel cycle cooperation that have been previously offered for the region, and describe and evaluate four potential scenarios for nuclear fuel cycle cooperation (or non-cooperation) in the region (section 3); and describes some of the key conclusions of the analysis of fuel cycle options for energy security policies in the region (section 4).

David F. von Hippel is a Nautilus Institute Senior Associate. His work with Nautilus has centered on energy and environmental issues in Asia, with a particular emphasis on Northeast Asia and North Korea.

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中美日三边关系与三边对话前景

[Chinese Version] This is the second half of a two part Special Report from Professor Yang Wenjing of the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, China. The article has three major sections: 1) An overview of significant changes in the U.S.-China-Japan trilateral relationship since the Obama administration took office; 2) A basic description of extant U.S.-China-Japan trilateral dialogs and analysis of the pros and cons of those dialogs; 3) Prospects for future dialog and policy recommendations.

In this Policy Forum, Yang Wenjing explains that there have been new changes in trilateral relations between China, the U.S. and Japan since the Obama administration took office: The US-Japan alliance finally achieved a substantial improvement after several twists and turns; U.S.-China relations are moving from “competitive cooperation” toward the direction of a “new type great power relationship” because of great efforts from both sides; China-Japan relations suffered a downturn due to the U.S. strengthening its military cooperation with Japan and exacerbating the Diaoyu Islands situation. The state of trilateral relations between the U.S., China and Japan shows an “unbalanced” (evocative of the “rebalance”) relationship; U.S-China and U.S.-Japan relations are close while China and Japan are estranged. Nevertheless, in light of the three countries’ close-knit economic interests and high degree of interdependence, none of the parties can bear the cost of all out conflict; it is especially important to prevent the antithesis to security from forming if the U.S. and Japan are on the same side in opposition to China. This tripartite coordination and active dialog provides rationale and motivation to do so.

Yang Wenjing is an associate research professor in the American Studies Department at the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations.

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