Category Archives: East Asia

Analytical Framework for Understanding “Soft Power”

In my new article in Asian Perspective Capturing Power Shift in East Asia: Toward an Analytical Framework for Understanding “Soft Power” in Asian Perspective proposes an analytical framework for analyzing soft power that problematizes the rigid soft power/hard power binary. The framework proposes a way to understand soft power and the hard-soft spectrum of behavior that allows for the inclusion of economic power while still drawing a line between hard and soft power, where not all economic power is soft, but nor is it all hard. Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1353/apr.2020.0016 

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Mainstream International Relations (IR) theory has problems fully accounting for the regional dynamics of East Asia. This article explores whether the pursuit of soft power—a concept that has been given a prominent position in research on East Asian IR—can provide one piece of the puzzle for understanding East Asia’s regional dynamics. This article proposes an analytical framework for analyzing soft power that problematizes the rigid soft power/hard power binary. The framework proposes a way to understand soft power and the hard-soft spectrum of behavior that allows for the inclusion of economic power while still drawing a line between hard and soft power, where not all economic power is soft, but nor is it all hard. It is argued that to keep the concept of soft power relevant in the East Asian context economic power needs to be included. The line is drawn between economic coercion and economic inducement, arguing that when induced there is still a certain level of freedom as one can choose whether the payments or bribes offered are good enough for it to be worthwhile to change one’s preference and behavior. Coercion, in contrast, utilizes a different dynamic where the point is to force someone to do something they are unwilling to do.

EU-ROK strategic dialogue

On 14 September I participated in the EU-ROK strategic Dialogue organised by the Sofia Security Forum and the Korean Institute for Defence Analysis (KIDA). The Korean and European participants engaged in discussions on a wide range of issues of shared concern, including The dynamics of the security environment in NEA and Perspectives and challenges to the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.

NEW RSIS Policy Report

Just published an RSIS Policty Report titled Building Peace and Prosperity – The Role of Elite Networks in ASEAN and Beyond.

This report explores how elite networks among ASEAN countries can contribute to peace and prosperity in the region. Indeed, the building of cross-border elite networks is particularly relevant today given the heightened tension in the region and beyond caused by the ongoing power shift from the West to the East, and from the United States and Japan to China. In fact, with today’s new challenges such as the Sino-US trade war and the ongoing pandemic, it is particularly important to ensure both formal and informal elite interactions among ASEAN members and with the broader Asia-Pacific region, as they can often work as “normal” even during uncertain times.

Citation: Weissmann, Mikael, Building Peace and Prosperity – The Role of Elite Networks in ASEAN and Beyond, RSIS Policy Report, July, 2020. Available at https://www.rsis.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/PR200730_Building-Peace-and-Prosperity.pdf

Special Issue: Understanding Power (Shift) in East AsIA

Just published: Special Issue in Asian Perspective on Power, Narratives, and the Role of Third Parties: Understanding Power (Shift) in East Asia with Mikael Weissmann and Mingjiang Li as guest editors.

Find the articles on https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/40440/print .

Introduction to the Special Issue [SUBMITTED COPY]
Mikael Weissmann, Mingjiang Li
pp. 215-221
DOI: 10.1353/apr.2019.0008

Understanding Power (Shift) in East Asia: The Sino-US Narrative Battle about Leadership in the South China Sea [OPEN ACCESS]
Mikael Weissmann
pp. 223-248
DOI: 10.1353/apr.2019.0009 (Open Access)

China’s “Belt and Road” in Southeast Asia: Constructing the Strategic Narrative in Singapore
Alice D. Ba
pp. 249-272
DOI: 10.1353/apr.2019.0010

China’s Economic Power in Asia: The Belt and Road Initiative and the Local Guangxi Government’s Role
Mingjiang Li
pp. 273-295
DOI: 10.1353/apr.2019.0011

Return to Geopolitics: The Changes in Japanese Strategic Narratives
Hidekazu Sakai
pp. 297-322
DOI: 10.1353/apr.2019.0012

The Relationship between Narratives and Security Practices: Pushing the Boundaries of Military Instruments in Japan
Petter Y. Lindgren, Wrenn Yennie Lindgren
pp. 323-348
DOI: 10.1353/apr.2019.0013

Contending Narratives of the International Order: US/Chinese Discursive Power and Its Effects on the UK
Rex Li
pp. 349-385
DOI: 10.1353/apr.2019.0014

Research visit to Singapore

This week I will be conducting a visit to Singapore to work on a Special Issue on “Power, Narratives, and the role of third parties: Understanding Power (Shift) in East Asia” for Asian Perspective with my RSIS co-guest editor Dr Li Mingjiang. This issue is part of Prof. Linus Hagström and my Power Shift in East Asia project funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.

I will also be visiting, among others, the East Asia Institute at National University of Singapore and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).

Stockholm Belt & Road Observatory – web launch

Now the official site of the Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory has been launched:  https://www.ui.se/english/research/asia/SBRO

The Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory is an independent research network dedicated to questions arising in relation to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China’s growing global footprint.

Gathering expertise from several leading Swedish institutions, the observatory serves as a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing for actors in academia, government, civil society and the business sector.

The observatory was officially launched at a seminar on 4 June, 2018. The event included discussions about how the BRI is impacting Sweden and Europe, how the BRI relates to Chinese global leadership, and how to handle challenges emerging from the BRI.

Launching the Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory

Today we held a seminar titled “Making Sense of China’s Belt and Road Initiative – What’s at Stake for Sweden and Europe?” marking the establishment of the Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory, a research network created to tackle questions arising in relation to BRI and China’s growing global footprint for which I am the head coordinator.

You can listen to the full seminar here:

 

 

 

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 

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.

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

 

New project on the South China Sea after the ruling of the International Court of Arbitration

New project on The Beijing-Washington Power Shift in the South China Sea after the ruling of the International Court of Arbitration in collaboration with The Association of Foreign Relations, Taipei, Taiwan.

The project looks to track political, military and diplomatic developments in the South China Sea and compare the impacts of the afore-mentioned in addition to those of other significant cases. The project also seeks to examine the role and use of soft power and its projection in the South China Sea. It is hoped that different viewpoints and perspectives could be shared, exchanged and discussed between the two sides.

Besides research on the topic, seminars and workshops will be held in Taiwan and in Sweden. The project also includes exchange, with a Vincent Siew Fellow being based at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs during spring 2017 to conduct research within the scope of this project.

Partners:
The Association of Foreign Relations, Taipei, Taiwan
The Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm, Sweden

Key participants:
Dr. Mikael Weissmann (principal investigator, Sweden)
Assoc. Prof. Kwei-Bo Huang, AFR Secretary-General (principal investigator, Taiwan)
Dr. Emma Björnehed (project manager)

For more information see the project page.