Dispatch from Beijing: PLA Writings on the New Silk Road

Publication: China Brief Volume: 15 Issue: 4

February 20, 2015 02:12 PM Age: 1 day By: Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafag

Major General Ji Mingkui, a professor at China’s National Defense University and a   prolific writer on the New Silk Road.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “New Silk Road” has become a signature policy initiative, with over 50 countries participating and a new $40 billion Silk Road Fund to ensure its success (see China Brief, December 19, 2014; Xinhua, February 5). First espoused in 2013 by President Xi, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, also known as “one belt, one road,” places China’s growing economy at the center of a global trading network. While there is no public military component to the New Silk Road, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has become an active participant in China’s internal debate over its future shape and implications. Continue reading


Islamism and Islamists: a Very Short Introduction

What exactly is ‘Islamism’ and what forms can it take? For Florence Gaub, the term embraces any political project that’s ‘inspired’ by the Muslim faith. That being said, she also believes Islamism comes in three basic varieties – revolutionary, electoral and authoritarian.

By Florence Gaub for European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS)

This Issue Brief was originally published by the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) on 17 October 2014.

Islamism today has many faces: militant groups in Iraq and Lebanon, political parties in Tunisia and Egypt, and regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia. But this umbrella term conceals the fact that these groups use different tactics, tap into different grievances and have different political goals. Lumping them together is a gross oversimplification – it is time for an overview.

Although often associated with terrorist groups, the term Islamism simply denotes a political project inspired by Islam. Current streams of political Islam all belong to a wave of Islamist revivalism, the likes of which was last seen on several occasions between the 11th and 14th centuries. Their goal is the re-Islamisation of their respective societies, and ultimately a state based on theprinciples of Islam. The three major currents belong to this wave, however, differ starkly on religious doctrine, on what kind of state to establish, and how to fulfil their objectives. In contrast to adherents of authoritarian Islamism, who believe they have already accomplished the goal of creating an Islamic state, advocates of both revolutionary and electoral Islamism are ‘changists’, seeking to replace incumbent regimes. The latter two disagree, however, on the means to bring about the desired change, as well as on the form of the Islamic state to be achieved. Continue reading

Joko Widodo’s Indonesia: possible future paths

Thursday, 25 September 2014 By: Peter McCawley

This paper looks at the possible paths for policy and development in Indonesia under the leadership of the seventh president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, who will take office in Jakarta on 20 October. The first part is a stocktake of the challenges that lie ahead. The stocktake assesses the state of play in five areas: the political system; economic challenges; government and administration; social issues; and foreign affairs.

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Al Qaeda seizes the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority?

Night View of India-Pakistan Borderlands (NASA...

Night View of India-Pakistan Borderlands (NASA, International Space Station, 08/21/11) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

Mr Prime Minister, development is not just launching mega-projects. Development also means expansion of freedoms and enjoyment of fundamental human rights


The national media was already consumed by agency-fuelled warfare when the breaking news of Altaf Hussain’s arrest by Scotland Yard over money laundering charges further shrank any space for other important social issues. While the finance minister Ishaq Dar was upbeat with economic growth and current account figures, a very retrogressive activity was in operation right under the nose of the government. In a swift and clandestine move the operatives of al Qaeda masquerading as officials of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) banned all social media websites that had been campaigning against extremism and militancy in the country. While we were clamouring for lifting illegal restrictions imposed on a private television channel and condemned attacks on journalists, another draconian move has silenced social media pages belonging to progressive and secular voices. These include ‘Laal’, ‘Roshni’, and many more. Interestingly the websites run by banned outfits still flourish and disseminate hate and militancy under the blissful guardianship of the PTA. Continue reading

What Is Internet Governance?

Author: Jonathan Masters, Deputy Editor
April 23, 2014


Disclosures of controversial U.S. surveillance practices, including the monitoring of some foreign leaders, have reignited an international debate over Internet governance. Some countries hope to leverage the scandal to diminish the influence Washington has over some Internet infrastructure—principally processes managed by the U.S.-based nonprofit, ICANN, that coordinates the unique identifiers (Internet Protocol addresses and domain names) that people and devices use to connect on the Internet. (ICANN is an acronym for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.) But a broader discussion of Internet governance touches on a range of public policy issues, including freedom of expression, trade, privacy, cybersecurity, and sovereignty.

What is Internet governance?

The term Internet governance has evolved over time, and various groups have attempted to develop working definitions. As the Internet first opened to commerce and the wider public in the mid-1990s, the term referred to a limited set of policy issues associated with the global synchronization and management of domain names (e.g., samplesite.com) and IP addresses (e.g.,

But as the Internet became a unified medium for all types of information, the definition broadened considerably. In 2005, the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society defined Internet governance as “the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.”

As contentious public policy issues have emerged, the concept of Internet governance has conflated management of the technical resources necessary for its stability and continued expansion with discussion of behaviors emerging from the use of the Internet at what is known as the content layer.

Internet users surf at a cyber cafe in Kuala Lumpur August 7, 2009. (Photo: Bazuki Muhammad/Courtesy Reuters)
How is the Internet governed? Continue reading

Ukraine: And the Winner Is . . . China

Artyom Lukin

This essay is an expanded version of an article published originally by the Russian International Affairs Council.

There is one international player that stands to gain from the recent turn of events in Ukraine, regardless of its outcome. This player apparently has nothing to do with the crisis, which has engulfed Russia, the EU and the United States, and makes a point of staying on the sidelines. The country in question, of course, is China.

The leadership in Beijing must be secretly delighted watching the struggle between Russia and the West. The Ukraine mess can seriously poison Moscow’s relations with Washington and Brussels for a long time to come, thus reducing their mutual ability to coordinate policies on the major issues in world politics. One such issue, perhaps the most important, concerns geopolitical risks associated with China’s rise and its impact on the global economic and military balance.

Up to the present, Russia has pursued a relatively balanced and circumspect policy toward its giant Asian neighbor. Although the Chinese side recently has signaled that it would welcome closer strategic ties with Russia, even a security alliance perhaps, Moscow so far has been reluctant to transform their current “strategic partnership” into a full-blown geopolitical entente. In particular, Russia has not been ready to back Beijing’s assertive stance on the various territorial disputes in East Asia. Continue reading

Japan’s Uphill PR Battle

China and South Korea mount a vigorous campaign abroad against revisionist thinking in Japan.

Topographic map of South Korea. Created with G...

By Yo-Jung Chen March 06, 2014

Japan is involved in a worsening quarrel with its two neighbors, China and South Korea, not only concerning sovereignty over some tiny islets, but also its alleged tendency to whitewash its history of military aggression and brutal colonial rule.

One of the major points of antagonism is the issue of “comfort women” (or “sex slaves” as an angry Hillary Clinton called them), namely women in Japan-occupied Asia who were forced into prostitution serving Japanese soldiers. Despite the 1993 Kono Statement in which the Japanese government admitted that Japan’s military had coerced these women, a recent rise of nationalism has led a majority of Japanese to deny any such thing, giving rise to suspicion that Japan is again refusing to take responsibility for its war crimes.

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