China’s Economic Slowdown: Strategic Responses and Global Implications
Programmes
23 May 2024

China’s Economic Slowdown: Strategic Responses and Global Implications

China, despite being the second-largest economy globally, encounters challenges such as a distressed real estate sector, reduced domestic consumption, and high debt levels. In response to these obstacles, the government is enacting policies aimed at encouraging domestic spending, mitigating the real estate downturn, and cultivating innovation to ensure sustainable development. The way these measures are implemented will not only impact the economic trajectory of China, but also that of the entire world.
ASEAN’s Lessons: A Blueprint for Peace in the Middle East
Programmes
22 May 2024

ASEAN’s Lessons: A Blueprint for Peace in the Middle East

This article was originally published on Ahram Online on May 21, 2024.   Southeast Asia's history, marred by prolonged conflicts since the 1950s, offers pertinent lessons for strife-torn regions seeking stability. The spectre of the Cold War transformed countries like Vietnam into battlegrounds for over two decades, pitting communist and capitalist ideologies in a gruelling contest. Laos, too, bore the scars of proxy warfare, enduring a protracted struggle between the communist Pathet Lao forces, backed by a sizable contingent of North Vietnamese troops of Laotian descent, and the royal government, in a conflict that spanned more than two decades.
The War on TikTok: Security Concerns and Anti-Semitism
Programmes
22 Apr 2024

The War on TikTok: Security Concerns and Anti-Semitism

Social media has played a pivotal role in reshaping the narratives of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since the outbreak of Oct. 7. The dissemination of news and information now extends far beyond traditional media outlets. Instead, social media platforms have emerged as potent influencers, surpassing the resonance of weapons and delineating a global divide between Israel and Palestine. These platforms have become arenas of contention, with users segregating into supporters and opponents, rendering them susceptible to content-related pressures amid the war. The war on Gaza has once again thrust TikTok into a heated discourse regarding the application's dangers and impact as a global forum for ordinary individuals to voice their opinions while also serving as a battleground for political factions to vie for narrative control. This debate assumes added significance as the audience of traditional news outlets continues to dwindle.   Recently, numerous TikTok videos concerning the war on Gaza garnered widespread attention, accompanied by pro-Palestinian hashtags, prompting Israeli President Isaac Herzog to engage in discussions with TikTok executives in February 2024. Expressing apprehension over the surge in antisemitic content on the platform since the onset of the Israeli war on Gaza, they assured President Herzog of their commitment to address the issue in the future. In a related context, social media companies based in the United States have already demonstrated a readiness to censor pro-Palestinian content. Human Rights Watch, in its December 2023 report, documented over 1,050 instances of content removal and suppression on Instagram and Facebook by Palestinians and their supporters between October and November 2023.   In this context, U.S. legislators, conservative activists, and technology investors have voiced calls to ban TikTok in the U.S., citing escalating concerns. These calls gained significant traction on March 13, 2024, when the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favour of a bill. The bill places ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, with two options, both fraught with implications: either sell the application to a U.S.-based company or confront a ban on distribution through significant platforms and application stores. President Joseph Biden voiced his backing for the bill and signalled his readiness to sign it into law pending Senate approval. However, the U.S. initiative this time brings forth broader concerns beyond national security, encompassing the application's ramifications on Israel's reputation. The country's standing has been damaged due to the swift dissemination of content depicting Israel's crimes against civilians in the Gaza Strip.   This analysis aims to elucidate the reasons behind the shift in the U.S. perspective on TikTok, moving from security concerns to the perception of promoting antisemitism. What repercussions would the embargo have on both the United States and Israel?
What if the U.S. Ceased Providing Military Aid to Israel?
Publications
3 Mar 2024

What if the U.S. Ceased Providing Military Aid to Israel?

A recent statement from the European Union Foreign Policy Commissioner, Josep Borrell, urging Israel's allies, notably Washington, to cease supplying weapons to Israel has ignited widespread controversy. This call comes amid heightened concerns over the significant civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip. Coinciding with this plea, a Dutch appeals court decision has prohibited the export of all spare parts for F-35 fighter jets destined for Israel. These developments unfold against the backdrop of Israel's plans to initiate an expanded military operation in Rafah. Such an operation raises the spectre of a potential humanitarian catastrophe, particularly concerning the over 1.3 million displaced individuals from the Gaza Strip who have sought refuge in Rafah since the commencement of military activities in the enclave.   The United States provides Israel with annual military aid worth $3.8 billion, which stands as one of the most substantial military aid packages supplied by the U.S. to any country globally. This commitment was reaffirmed by U.S. officials, including President Joseph Biden, who, during his tenure as Vice President under Barack Obama, emphasised the enduring strategic alliance between the two countries. Then Vice President Biden said the U.S. commitment to Israel transcends moral obligations and is a deeply rooted strategic obligation. During a visit to Tel Aviv amid the events of Oct. 7, he underscored that “the existence of an independent and secure Israel within globally recognised borders aligns with the practical strategic interests of the United States.” He further emphasised, “I have long said: If Israel didn't exist, we would have to invent it.” Evidence of the depth of relations and continued support is further demonstrated by Congress' approval of an additional $14.1 billion in military aid to Israel. This aid is intended to bolster Israel's capabilities in its conflict with the Hamas movement, specifically by providing air and missile defence support and replenishing U.S. military stock granted to Israel. This level of support echoes the assistance provided by the United States to Israel during the October 1973 War with the Egyptian Army.   The generous and unconditional support provided by the U.S. to Israel prompts numerous inquiries, particularly in the context of the U.S.'s inability to exert pressure on Israel to stop its war on Gaza. Additionally, its loss of control over the right-wing government's decision-making process regarding the potential expansion of the war to include Rafah, portending an imminent conflict with Egypt. Hence, this analysis endeavours to address a pivotal question: Will these developments prompt a shift in the U.S. stance toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government, potentially leading to a withdrawal from the notion of an expanded operation in Rafah? Furthermore, can the United States feasibly cease its military aid to this strategic ally in the Middle East?
An Open Letter to COP28
Programmes
30 Nov 2023

An Open Letter to COP28

Dear leaders, negotiators, and decision makers,   This year, "Unite-Act-Deliver" is the slogan of COP28, a pivotal event in the international endeavour to combat climate change. The increasing number of climate disasters in 2023, wherein severe weather phenomena have wreaked devastation on a global scale, shows the urgency of the need to act. The United States, Hong Kong, Greece, Libya, Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain, Taiwan, Pakistan and China were all affected by hurricanes, storms, droughts, and flooding. The floods that struck Libya and Pakistan were particularly devastating, resulting in substantial destruction of infrastructure and loss of life, and increasing sea levels and heat surges that have been felt globally have also occurred.   Furthermore, the adverse effects of climate change on food and water security on a global scale have impeded progress towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, food systems are accountable for one-third of worldwide green gas emissions and have slowed agricultural productivity for the past five years which entails the transformation of food systems to achieve net-zero emissions.
Great Power Competition and Rebalancing Acts in the Middle East
Programmes
31 May 2023

Great Power Competition and Rebalancing Acts in the Middle East

Many analysts argue that Washington is losing its position as the only global hegemon with the rise of other Great Powers in the international arena. The relative demise of the American superpower paves the way for the end of an exceptional era of a Uni-Polar system and the rise of either a Bi-Polar or a Multi-Polar one. Arguments usually revolve around the rise of Russia and China as the main rivals to the United States. However, in this analysis, we argue that the Russian side is better to avoid being considered for such a competition for being involved in a hectic war which requires a sweeping victory for Moscow to compensate for heavy economic losses. China, on the other hand, is gaining momentum on the diplomatic and, to a lesser extent, the security front as new territories for Beijing ever to set foot on. Nevertheless, it is also the case that Washington is still maintaining its supremacy in major arms sales. The Middle East proved to be of paramount importance in the competition among great powers. With Beijing, Washington, and even Moscow trying to gain some influence, countries of the region have been shifting their foreign policies to be more independent to maximise benefits from the newly established world order. Accordingly, they are playing the rebalancing game which stipulates balancing powers mainly between the United States and China.
Will India Become the Next Global Superpower?
Programmes
16 Apr 2023

Will India Become the Next Global Superpower?

The current state of the world economy can be linked in large part to global uncertainties, the escalating crisis in Ukraine, the volatility of commodity prices, tight monetary policy, and other factors. Nevertheless, the World Bank said in its most recent analysis on India's development that the country displayed more resilience to global shocks and better than anticipated quarterly growth figures. In recent years, India's economy has become one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing, and it is now largely regarded as an emerging economic power. India's large and rising workforce, its massive domestic market, and a number of economic reforms and laws meant to encourage it are just a few of the factors that have contributed to the country’s economic success. India is now the fifth-largest economy in the world. India’s emergence requires the assessment of the factors and the signs that India is growing to be a significant global power and its implications.
Between Grain and AK-47s: Russian Influence in Africa
Programmes
11 Apr 2023

Between Grain and AK-47s: Russian Influence in Africa

The Russian presence in Africa has recently increased after a decline of nearly three decades since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the nineties of the last century. Russian-African relations are part of Russia's new strategy to enhance its international influence. This strategy conforms to Russia's situation in international affairs, including its support for countries that contradict Western policies. Moscow has focused its influence on the West African region, taking advantage of Western policy mistakes, the mounting anti-European sentiment, and the long-standing failure of international and domestic actors to address the root causes of the regional instability. The first Russian-African summit in Sochi in October 2019 concluded contracts with more than 30 African countries for the supply of weapons and military equipment. It thus opened the door for state-backed companies to invest heavily in the security and technology sectors and industries that extract natural resources such as oil, gas, gold and other minerals.   On the other hand, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict did not impede this rapprochement but rather contributed to developing the partnership between the two parties to take the form of a strategic alliance. This was apparent in the speeches and statements of President Vladimir Putin, the most prominent of which was the speech he delivered at the International Parliament Conference "Russia - Africa in a Multipolar World", which was held in Moscow in March of this year on the sidelines of Saint Petersburg preparations for the second coming Russian – African summit to be held in July 2023. Putin reiterated that cooperation between Moscow and African countries was and will always be one of the top fixed priorities of Russia's foreign policy, declaring Russia's fulfilment of all its obligations, including supply of food, fertilisers, fuel and other essential products to the countries of the continent, which helps ensure food and energy security.   In light of the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict, this analysis aims to shed more light on the motivations and characteristics of the Russian strategy in Africa. It also seeks to highlight the challenges to Russian influence expansion as well as the prospects for Russian-African relations in the future.
IMF Policies in Countries in Crises: Helping of Harming?
Programmes
10 Apr 2023

IMF Policies in Countries in Crises: Helping of Harming?

The world is probably facing one of the worst debt crises in decades. The disruption of global supply chains caused by Covid-19, which resulted in shortages of many items and higher prices, caused more pressure on the international balance of payments and led to this high-level debt crisis. The Russia Ukraine conflict added to these inflationary pressures, and the United States (US) Federal Reserve's move to raise interest rates to combat US inflation has driven the dollar's value to its highest level in twenty years. As a result, countries that borrowed money in dollars now have more expensive debt since their currencies are worth less, which drives up the price of their imports even more. Consequently, developing countries turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial support as a result of all these factors in order to deal with their debt crises and economic instability. The IMF in its turn grants loans to countries subject to the adoption of a number of harsh and rigorous economic reforms. Because of its austerity policies and conditionality, the IMF has come criticized and the question of whether the countries in crises actually benefit or suffer harm from the IMF has been raised. To evaluate the success of IMF policies, examples of countries that have benefited from IMF policies need to be examined to answer this question.
China: The Upcoming Hegemon
Programmes
4 Apr 2023

China: The Upcoming Hegemon

China has been considered as the main threat to the current world order maintained by Western powers. It became clear when the U.S. for the first time identified Beijing as its “number one challenge” and NATO members included the same country in its “strategic concept”. China has long advertised for itself as a trading partner for many countries with no political interests. For years, world leaders have accepted this propaganda created by the Chinese and perceived the Asian giant as only an economic competitor. However, it seems that Beijing has decided to break up with its old strategy of “hiding our capabilities”, known as taoguang yanghui (韬光养晦).   Lately, China has been engaging in diplomatic initiatives such as the peace plan aimed at ending the war in Ukraine as well as brokering the process of normalizing relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, leading to Western apprehension from rising Chinese diplomatic power as they understand that altruism has no space in politics. Analysts have been trying to identify the new role to be played by Beijing relying on the concepts coined by William T.R. Fox which concludes that China is not a superpower but it is only a regional power for not being able to deploy military forces overseas. Nevertheless, we argue, contesting prevalent IR theories, that in the new world order, economic might could be enough weapons to extract global political influence. In other words, the contemporary definition of a superpower is different from the one coined by Fox.
Sports Diplomacy: How Do Sports Events Enhance the Reputation of Countries?
Programmes
29 Mar 2023

Sports Diplomacy: How Do Sports Events Enhance the Reputation of Countries?

The FIFA World Cup in 2022 in Qatar garnered more attention from the international community due to Qatar's ability to change perceptions of it as a nation capable of hosting the biggest sporting events. Many countries have recently sought to host international sports events in an effort to enhance their posture diplomatically, improve their reputation as well as shore up their position within the international community. To that end, “Sports Diplomacy” has been used to achieve understanding and peace among nations and promote the countries’ political and ideological goals. On the other hand, countries exploited sports as an approach aiming at asserting the superiority and strength of the state; for instance, the 1936 Olympic Games were held in Germany, and the 1934 FIFA World Cup was held in Mussolini’s Italy. In other cases, sports played a more constructive role in the 1990s, representing an opportunity for South Africa to surpass the apartheid era and look forward to a better future. For China, sports have played a role in introducing an open policy and a more influential economy.   A state’s reputation is one of the key factors affecting its international relations, as it reflects its global image, influencing its recognition and interaction with other countries. With sports diplomacy, states could carry out several interests, such as boosting diplomatic ties with other states, raising the degree of understanding and cooperation among people and governments, and improving the state's public image globally. In other words, sports diplomacy is an effective tool for attaining diplomatic goals and promoting the state’s reputation worldwide. This analysis seeks to shed more light on the link between sports diplomacy and the state’s reputation and how the state’s stance in the international community is enhanced by sports diplomacy.
Ramifications for the Global Economy in the Case of a China-Taiwan Conflict?
Programmes

Ramifications for the Global Economy in the Case of a China-Taiwan Conflict?

China believes that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and that Taiwan is part of its territory and routinely threatens to invade it to prevent Taiwan's formal independence. On Saturday 18th of February 2023, China's top diplomat Wang Yi said, at the Munich International Security Conference: "Taiwan has never been an independent country, nor will it be an independent country in the future. This is the status quo of the Taiwan issue”. As greater and more aggressive Chinese military exercises outside Taiwan become the norm, there are rising concerns of a full-blown cross-strait crisis with severe military and far-reaching economic repercussions for the global and Chinese economy. A China-Taiwan conflict will have a worse effect than the Russia-Ukraine war given the economic and industrial power that the two countries possess.