Summary of BRI report published Hong Kong Trade Development Council

Summary of my report  on Sweden’s approach to China’s Belt and Road Initiative published by Hong Kong Trade Development Council. See http://china-trade-research.hktdc.com/business-news/article/The-Belt-and-Road-Initiative/Sweden-s-approach-to-China-s-Belt-and-Road-Initiative/obor/en/1/1X3CGF6L/1X0ACL54.htm 

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Conference: The power of narratives in East Asian International Relations

On December 7-8, 2017 I am organising a conference on “The power of narratives in East Asian International Relations” together with Prof. Linus Hagström and Assoc. Prof. Karl Gustafsson. This is part of the Power Shift in East Asia project funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.

During the two days, leading researchers from around the world gather to focus on a variety of themes such as for example Okinawa-Taiwan narratives and counter-narratives, the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands dispute through narratives, regional narratives and expectations on China as a leading power in Southeast Asia, memes, narratives, and an emergent US-China security dilemma and more. The forum gathers international guests and prominent researchers such as Alice Ba, Alastair Iain Johnston, Peter Gries, LHM Ling, Mari Nakamura, Kosuke Shimizu, Hidekazu Sakai and others.

On the second day a seminar open to the public entitled Xi Jinping´s “New Era”: What Does It Mean for China´s Role in the World? will close the conference.

The conference is co-funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, the Japan Foundation and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Stockholm.

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WORKSHOP: Hybrid Threats and Asymmetric Warfare: What to do?

In November I am organising a workshop on Hybrid Threats and Asymmetric Warfare: What to do? in Stockholm 14-15 November, 2017 at the Swedish Defence University (SEDU). It is organised by the Land Operation Section, Dept. of Military Studies at the Swedish Defence University (SEDU) in collaboration with the Centre for Conflict, Rule of Law and Society, Bournemouth University and the
Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS). It is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) (Grant No: F16-1240:1)

The workshop

The international security environment has seemingly left the post-cold war parenthesis of everlasting peace and evolved into a volatile and increasingly grey area of war and peace. Security challenges arising from both hybrid wars and hybrid threats are today high on security agendas in Sweden, Europe as well as internationally. However, despite the attention there is today a lack of research that address how such “new” wars and threats should be handled. While studies do exist addressing specific issues, a comprehensive approach to how hybrid wars and threats are to be handled are still lacking. This is particularly so when it comes to experience sharing between states. The here proposed workshop will be a first step towards developing such a comprehensive approach.

The aim of this workshop is to bridge across disciplinary boundaries as well as between researchers and practitioners within and outside Sweden, utilising each group’s extensive experiences and knowledge in to a coherent whole. The aim of the workshop is to besides producing and disseminate new knowledge, to work as the foundation for long-term collaboration, being the first step in the creation of a European Network on Hybrid Warfare Capabilities that can work across borders as well as being a channel between the state of the art of research and practice.

The workshop

Though being mainly a scientific workshop, a number of practitioners will be invited. Our aim is that each session shall include a mix of presentations by academics and practitioners. The workshop will also include round-table discussions to facilitate innovative and reflective discussions across the academic-practitioner border. To facilitate the production of new knowledge and the development of future cooperation we are not expecting finished papers from all participants, but instead we want to put emphasise on facilitating the development of new ideas associated with hybrid threats/warfare broadly speaking.

For more information contact mikael.weissmann@fhs.se.

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Sweden’s approach to China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Still a glass half-empty

New paper on Sweden and the Belt and Road Initiative just out: Sweden’s approach to China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Still a glass half-empty (UI Paper, No.1 2017 with Elin Rappe).

Executive summary
In 2013 China’s President Xi Jinping launched the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative, later renamed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which involves China undertaking to make infrastructure investments worth billions of US dollars in the countries along the old Silk Road connecting China with Europe. While commonly seen as an infrastructure initiative aimed at strengthening the Chinese economy, it is also a political project with far-reaching strategic aims.

This UI Brief outlines how China has approached the BRI with Sweden, how Sweden has responded and the perceptions of major Swedish stakeholders. It finds that Swedish officials are often highly cautious, maintaining a wait-and see policy. While also cautious, members of the business community are cautiously optimistic and have been more actively following BRIrelated developments, seeking out avenues for potential business. The actual impact of BRI in Sweden, however, is so far very limited.

The Brief concludes that Sweden’s approach to BRI has been too reactive and too passive. It argues that both the government and the business community need to engage more actively with the BRI in order to maximize its possible benefits. To this end, a national strategy is needed that includes the government and the business sector. Better coordination is also needed between government agencies and to link existing intra-governmental cooperation with the business community. Their importance cannot be overemphasized as the BRI is a political project, not an idealistic free-market endeavour.

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DN Debatt – ”Allt bör göras för att bygga relationer med Nordkorea”

Today Prof, Linus Hagström, Dr. Ulv Hansen and myself contribute with an op-ed on North Korea in Sweden’s biggest newspaper (DN Debatt).

”Allt bör göras för att bygga relationer med Nordkorea”  http://www.dn.se/debatt/allt-bor-goras-for-att-bygga-relationer-med-nordkorea/

We address the question about how to understand North Korea and how to handle the threat it poses. Our interpretation is that the North Korean leadership aims to gain international recognition and status, thus to focus on nuclear weapons are not surprising as they are a hallmark of most “great powers”. It is clear from history what might happen without nuclear capability (think Libya and Iraq).

Thus, for diplomatic initiatives to be successful they need to address the North Korean feeling of insecurity. Until this is done, the most realistic “solution” is for us to learn to live with a certain level of uncertainty in the case of North Korea, in the same way as we have learned to live with other nuclear powers with many more nuclear weapons.

A fundamental question here is why do we perceive the threat from North Korea so different and so much larger than that of the others? We think this that a key difference is that there is a lack of relations and interactions with North Korea. There is a need to build such relations, in particular on the unofficial level. We should put a lot of effort into supporting the emerging middle class in North Korea, both by supplying their black markets that do exist with foreign goods and to actively spread information about life in other countries, in particular in South Korea. While there are moral issues with enhancing relations with a country as North Korea, we believe that such relations are a necessary step to enhance the living conditions of the North Korean people.

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Endast genom anfall kan ett avgörande nås

Our findings on why the offensive dominates in military tactical thinking among Swedish army officers just published in the Proceedings and Journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences:

“Endast genom anfall kan ett avgörande nås: Varför dominerar offensiven militärt taktiskt tänkande?” (with Övlt Peter Ahlström), Kungl Krigsvetenskapsakademiens Handlingar & Tidskrift [Proceedings and Journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences], No 2 April/June, 2017:6-18. [OPEN ACCESS]

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Will there be a war in North Korea?

Interviewed by KIT on whether ther will be a war in North Korea. My part is in chapter 4, but the whole article is quite nice (in Swedish).

 

https://kit.se/2017/06/01/86496/sveriges-osannolika-relation-till-nordkorea/?ksid=051fb610-46c7-11e7-b629-a1b6f689c9d4

 

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Belt & Road Iniative

Today’s contribution sharing knowledge on the Belt and Road initiative – https://insights.nordea.com/b-r-bridging-divide-china-nordics .

You might also want to read my original article on the Swedish approach to the BRI/OBOR – http://fhs.diva-portal.org/…/g…/diva2:1067710/FULLTEXT01.pdf .

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