Afghanistan

Police stand guard near the parliament building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 17 May 2022. (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP)

Families that rule: Thoughts about Asia's political landscape

The political environment in Asia has been marked with upheavals and instability. While each country has their own system of democratic elections in the modern sense, they appear to share a number of common themes that resembles the backward political practices of 19th century Europe. Academic Chen Liujun assesses the regional developments.
Traffic moves past apartment buildings in the Clifton area of Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 March 2022. (Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg)

Pakistan, Russia and China: A new tripartite geopolitical centre of gravity in South Asia?

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Moscow during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Pakistan’s abstention in the UN General Assembly vote denouncing the Russian war could be an indication of a policy shift towards a more independent Pakistani foreign policy. Such a development could mean closer Pakistani ties with both China and Russia and the forming of a new geopolitical nexus in South Asia.
In this photo taken on 18 February 2022, a Taliban fighter stands guard at the entrance gate of the Afghan-Iran border crossing bridge in Zaranj, Afghanistan. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP)

Afghanistan's role in changing the power balance in Eurasia

Afghanistan has proved to be a quagmire, whether for the British, Russians or Americans. While it seems that the US exit leaves a power vacuum eagerly filled by regional challengers, Afghanistan’s unique set of attributes seems to be running strategic stakeholders ragged. In the event, the Afghan exception could offer lessons for constraining rivals in other spheres such as the Taiwan Strait.
A view shows a burning police car during a protest against LPG cost rise following the Kazakh authorities' decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 5 January 2022. (Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters)

US, Russia and China using Kazakhstan unrest as a proxy

China and Russia have been quick to point to external hands, namely the US’s, in stoking recent unrest in Kazakhstan. But the main issue is not so much what precipitated the unrest, but how it has been expedient for major players US, Russia and China to capitalise on it for geopolitical gain. Zhang Chi analyses the situation.
In this picture taken on 13 November 2021, Taliban fighters stop next to destroyed armoured vehicles displayed along a road in Ghazni, Afghanistan. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China and Russia compete for influence in Central Asia

China-Russia rivalry in the Central Asian region is intensifying, with the US's departure from Afghanistan and the two countries seeking to fill the power vacuum by working within their Central Asian spheres of dominance. Can the two powers work together to foster greater regional stability or will they let their competitiveness get the better of them?
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, on 6 December 2021. (Money Sharma/AFP)

India and Russia remain on opposite sides of the Indo-Pacific’s balance of power

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to New Delhi should be seen as one of correcting the downward slide in India-Russia relations rather than a celebration of an age-old strategic partnership, says Yogesh Joshi. Against the backdrop of a rising China, India feels the threat of strengthening Russia-China relations and the latter’s engagement of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, India-US relations have taken on greater strategic significance, and Russia may be wary of India’s involvement in the Quad. With divergent national interests and threat perceptions likely to continue, will it be harder for both powers to find themselves on the same side?
Indian Army soldiers stand next to a M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer positioned at Penga Teng Tso ahead of Tawang, near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), neighbouring China, in India's Arunachal Pradesh state on 20 October 2021. (Money Sharma/AFP)

Overcoming power imbalances and policy clashes: The quest for a peaceful China-India future

Mind games among the US, China, Russia and India may influence Sino-Indian engagement in the new year and beyond. China could move even closer to Russia in dealing with India, and the US could further call on India as a “major defence partner” in its intense competition with China. External factors aside, a peaceful and cooperative China-India future requires synchronised political will in their bilateral and global diplomacy. Key is unequal power and core interests as China and India each employ the diplomacy of smart power. Will an uneasy status quo be maintained in their long-unresolved boundary dispute, and will they find the impetus for collaboration in a post-Covid-19 order?
Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey, 1 October 2021. (Dilara Senkaya/Reuters)

The Xinjiang problem: Can Washington be the defender of all?

Amid revived calls for countries to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing over Xinjiang, academic Peter Chang reflects that the Xinjiang issue has drawn the attention of the West, Muslim populations and others around the world. But the issue, while important, has been further politicised in the wider US-China contest. Moral grandstanding by the West when confronting China does not help the situation either. How much collateral damage will there be in this strategic game?
US President Joe Biden listens as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a 'Quad nations' meeting at the Leaders' Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework held in the East Room at the White House in Washington, US, 24 September 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

AUKUS and Quad do not solve India's regional security problems

China’s efforts to reap strategic gains in Kabul, in partnership with Pakistan and Russia, are of real concern to India following the US pullout from Afghanistan. Will Beijing reinforce Islamabad’s navy in retaliation for the AUKUS pact? Is an alternative arrangement linking China, Pakistan and Russia emerging to rival the US-led Quad which includes India?