Fellows' Reports

Our fellows are involved in a variety of work both at the Department of State and around Washington, D.C. Fellows' Reports offers an inside look into their activities from the students themselves.

Wilson Center panel discuss India-Japan strategic cooperation, implications for US, China

Matthew Choi | June 29, 2017

With China’s growing presence in Asian politics and economics, India and Japan’s relationship has become one of the fastest developing in the region, panelists said at an event Thursday hosted at the Wilson Center.

The panel discussion focused on the evolution of India and Japan’s strategic cooperation and its implications for the United States and China. Panelists included National Defense University research fellow Thomas Lynch III; Nirupama Rao, former Indian foreign secretary and ambassador to the United States and China; and Shihoko Goto, senior associate for Northeast Asia at the Wilson Center. The discussion follows the release of a study on India and Japan’s strategic cooperation, written by Lynch and James Przystup, also of National Defense University.

During the event, Lynch described the relationship between India and Japan as the “most dynamic and most enticing bilateral relationship developing in the world today.” Lynch outlined the regional and domestic political contexts in both India and Japan that led them to greater cooperation in recent years. Following India’s shift in orientation away from its non-alignment strategy toward East Asia in the 1990s, India worked not only to collaborate but also emulate East Asian countries’ development and global interaction.

Japan also shifted its policy of official development assistance from humanitarian aid to strategic development, Lynch said. With China’s economic presence ballooning in the region, India and Japan sought to diversify their economic interests to prevent reliance on China. As much as finding alternative partners benefits them economically, it also alleviates security concerns by preventing China from using economic leverage to dominate the two countries, Lynch said.

Lynch said the cooperation between India and Japan is a “great complement to, and not substitute for” U.S. security presence in the region. Though Indian and Japanese cooperation may have strong security motivations, Lynch emphasized that they still operate within close collaboration with the United States and that there is no concern of a diminished U.S. role coming from either India or Japan.

Goto added that as China’s prominence increases in the region, there is “high expectations for middle powers” such as Japan and India to counterbalance China. Goto said Japan and India have had close ties since early in the 20th century, but under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, security concerns over China have deepened the need for cooperation. Still, Goto said though there has been greater convergence in recent years, divergence is still present, such as with Japan’s attendance and India’s absence at the latest meeting on China’s Belt and Road policy.

India and Japan’s mutual economic growth, as opposed to solely military expansion, is necessary to appeal to other countries in the region to counterbalance China’s increased presence, Goto said. Japan demonstrated its commitment to mutual economic growth during the Fukushima nuclear disaster as it maintained its flow of developmental aid to India, even when other aid programs were cut back to address the domestic crisis.

Though Rao agreed security concerns remain a major factor in India and Japan’s cooperation, she added that the two countries have long shared common economic goals even before a common Chinese security concern. She emphasized India’s long-held view of cooperation with Japan being essential for development. Japan is the only country whose ties with India are called “special” by the Indian government, which Rao said speaks to the two countries’ unshaked rapport.

Watch the entire event here.


Panelists discuss Chinese FDIs following Atlantic Council study

Matthew Choi | June 27, 2017

Chinese investments in Latin America contributed considerably to economic development in the region, panelists said at a discussion Monday on Chinese FDI in Latin America. But now, Latin America needs to participate more actively in the relationship.

The event, hosted by the Atlantic Council and part of its HSBC China series, included a keynote conversation with Brazilian Ambassador Sérgio Amaral and a panel discussion featuring Angel Melguizo of the OECD Development Center, Claire Reade of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP and José Juan Ruiz Gómez of the Inter-American Development Bank. The panel was moderated by Shawn Donnan, world trade editor of the Financial Times. The event follows the release of a report on Chinese FDI in Latin America, published by the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center of The Atlantic Council.

During his talk, Ambassador Amaral highlighted the key aspects of China’s economic relationship with Latin America, namely its considerable growth rate in the last five years, its increasingly diversified presence and its high complementarity with Latin American business interests. Chinese involvement in Latin American commodities and financial services amped investment in infrastructure and other projects in the region, and China has outpaced the United States and Brazil’s largest trading partner.

Still, Brazil maintains “better” economic ties with the United States as that relation is focused more heavily on manufactured goods rather than commodities. But the United States should continue to monitor competition with China as a global economic decision maker when dealing with Brazil, Ambassador Amaral said, as China and Brazil both seek a larger role on the global stage.

“China has a wider presence. It’s growing fast,” Ambassador Amaral said. “The United States may be losing ground in terms of opportunities of investment, of increase in participation in the market, even in the political aspects… BRICS means something from a political point of view. We share a common goal of higher participation in the decision making process in the world scene.”

During the panel, Melguizo discussed the rapid evolution of Chinese investment in Latin America, noting its transition from focusing on destructive industries, such as mining, toward sustainable sectors including renewable energy, telecommunications and financial services. In some countries in the region, more than 10 percent of the GDP is led by Chinese FDIs.

Melguizo, one of the authors of the report, emphasized the need for Latin America to participate in the discussion over how China invests in the region, instead of having China lead development.

“We are confirming that Latin America and China is a partnership to be built,” Melguizo said. “Now, Latin America has to be more proactive. We cannot wait for China to decide where to invest in which sectors. We also have to decide which is a kind of development that we want to have.”

Reade added she doubts a slowing down of Chinese investments in the near future and agreed with the need for greater Latin American participation. As Chinese decision making is often driven by political incentives rather than market forces, Reade said it’s important for Latin America to have “preparation and leverage” when dealing with China. She added that greater Latin American cooperation akin to an economic bloc would be “amazing.”

Gómez complicated the idea of China’s role in Latin American development, arguing its investment is largely concentrated in a few, large economies in the region and that only recently did China begin diversifying its investments there. Still, Gómez said, China has considerable potential leading the intersection between infrastructure development and environmental sustainability, which are some of the leading concerns for development in the region.

When asked about the sustainability of China’s investment in Latin America, Melguizo responded that the factors encouraging Chinese FDIs  — from the country’s strategy of diversifying its global trading partners to its need for a sustainable source of food and resources — will remain for the foreseeable future. Still, he said, Latin American needs to work to advocate that the relationship continues to benefit the region socially and environmentally in additional to economically for it to be truly sustainable.

“Everything is sustainable until it is not,” Melguizo said.

Watch the entire event here.