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Earlier this year, The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) convened its multidisciplinary Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs to further investigate the intersections of these trends. In the forthcoming weeks, CSR will publish a series of posts expanding on workshop discussions.
The South China Sea: A Potential Climate, Nuclear, Security Hotspot
By Andrea Rezzonico
The Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs, a project of CSR’s Converging Risks Lab, examines the nexus of existential threats stemming from climate change and nuclear risks—overlaid on the stress of ongoing security challenges such as terrorism and state fragility.
The South China Sea region faces a range of disruptive climate and security challenges, as several countries explore nuclear energy. The region is also influenced in various ways by most nuclear weapons-possessing countries, including the United States, China, India, Pakistan, and Russia. Ongoing territorial disputes, incidents of maritime confrontation and other current events underscore the area’s tenuous state of affairs. The Working Group accordingly considers this region a priority for investigation.
For the rest of the article, visit the Council on Strategic Risks’ website here.
The Center for Climate and Security’s Dr. Marcus Dubois King writes about the climate change-fisheries-conflict nexus in a new briefer titled “Climate Change and Vietnamese Fisheries: Opportunities for Conflict Prevention.” The article will also appear in a forthcoming multi-author volume from the Center. For the full briefer, click here. For a summary, see below.
Summary: Climate Change and Vietnamese Fisheries: Opportunities for Conflict Prevention
Vietnamese fisheries in the South China Sea are a vital economic resource that is in decline and susceptible to climate change. Chinese vessels have engaged Vietnamese counterparts as they pursue catches in waters claimed by China. Projected further northward migration of fish stocks into these waters caused by warming ocean temperatures could aggravate tensions as Vietnamese fishers follow. Likewise, climate change’s impacts on Vietnamese aquaculture threaten food security in areas including those experiencing heavy inward migration. Ethnic minority groups experience a disproportionate share of the negative consequences; a situation that may aggravate existing tensions. Vietnam is an emerging strategic partner in the region. Vietnamese conflict with China and internal instability are inimical to U.S. interests. As it rebalances foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific, the U.S. government should dedicate more resources, including military assets and climate finance, toward improving climate resilience and fisheries management in Vietnam. Constructive engagement on climate change can promote Vietnamese internal and external security while reducing the possibility of conflict with China. Click here for the full briefer.
The United States and China concluded a joint climate agreement yesterday. While the effect of this agreement on the rate and scale of climate change is potentially significant, it may also serve a broader geopolitical benefit as the United States gradually “rebalances” its foreign and security policy to the Asia-Pacific region, and pursues other national security interests in forums such as the UN Security Council.
Enduring tensions between China and the United States (and its allied and partner nations) over the South China Sea, as well as a broad range of other difficult dynamics in the relationship (e.g. cyber warfare, U.S. concerns over a growing and more assertive Chinese military, human rights, consistent disagreement at the UN Security Council, and competing proposals for free trade zones in the region, one that excludes China and the other that’s China-led), are likely to continue for some time to come. However, an agreement of this kind can spill over into other areas of the relationship, thereby broadening the aperture for U.S. cooperation (and competition) with China on a range of issues of core concern to U.S. national security.
In other words, this is not just a climate agreement. It’s also a trust-building exercise that may offer the United States a greater amount of freedom and flexibility in pursuing the national security goals of the US and its allied and partner nations.
The American Security Project (ASP) has just released an updated version of its Global Security Defense Index on Climate Change, which examines how national security establishments across the globe view (and address) climate change. The update hones in on a handful of specific countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Guyana, India, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Here is a description of the index, and update ,from the ASP website: (more…)
The Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum has just published the 12th edition of its China Environment Series (CES12). This edition, like previous editions, is packed full of interesting content focusing on environmental issues in and around China. This year, the special focus is on the water-energy nexus, and opportunities for cooperation over clean energy between the United States and China. (more…)
There is quite a bit of research on the opportunity to forge peace agreements in the wake of natural disasters. Geoff Dabelko, among others, is a leader in this space (see for example “Climate Change, Adaptation and Peacebuilding in Africa”). Could there be such an opportunity in a typhoon-torn Philippines?
The road to recovery in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda will be long, a fact recognized by the Philippine government that has declared a “state of national calamity.” But there is evidence to suggest that the recovery effort could help resolve conflict between separatists and the Filipino government, as well as tensions between the Philippines and China. (more…)