Meet the New Generals. Same as the Old Generals?

“China’s New Military Leadership and the Challenges It Faces
Greg Chaffin
National Bureau of Asian Research

Greg Chaffin interviews Roy Kamphausen, Senior Advisor for Political and Security Affairs at NBR, on what he thinks the new Central Military Commission will mean for the People’s Liberation Army and for China’s defense posture.

Perspective on China’s New Senior Services

“China’s Navy and Air Force: Advancing Capabilities and Missions
Greg Chaffin interviews Andrew S. Erickson
National Bureau of Asian Research
September 27, 2012

With the most recent changes in the Central Military Commission, the Chinese Navy and Air Force now have a degree of prominence denied them for the past six decades. With the growing importance of global trade and far-flung interests, these services look to be the focus of defense policy during Xi Jinping’s first term.

Andrew S. Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College and Harvard University offers his perspective on why this is the case and what it will mean for the world in a thoughtful interview with Greg Chaffin of the NBR.

On the Rack: China Brief

English: Gordon G. Chang 中文: 章家敦

English: Gordon G. Chang 中文: 章家敦 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

China Brief
The Jamestown Foundation

Of all of the free publications circulating about China, the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief has frustrated me the most – but in a good way.

Let me explain.

When I first started reading China Brief, I was struck by the number of authors who were unrepentant Panda Punchers, people like Gordon Chang (pictured) who seemed more interested in foisting a negative perspective on the PRC than on adding insight to the debate.

There is still some of that, as Chang remains a contributor and Willy Lam is a columnist. Under the editorship of Peter Mattis, who comes out of the National Bureau of Asian Research and the U.S. Government, the publication has become less shrill but much more insightful.

The tone is serious but not so academic that it is off-putting. The style strikes a balance between the insider insight of The Economist and the deep-diving thoughtfulness of professional and academic journals. In short, it belongs in the inbox of any regular reader of The Peking Review.

I have to confess that the fortnightly arrival of China Brief means that I don’t always get to read through the whole publication, but I feel intellectually naked if I don’t at least scan its pages.

The China Brief is a free download.

Dead Dinosaurs and Asian Geopolitics

“Oil and Gas for Asia: Geopolitical Implications of Asia’s Rising Demand
Philip Andrews-Speed, Mikkal E. Herberg, et. al.
The National Bureau of Asian Research
September 2012

Though it seems obvious now, the first inkling I had that Asia’s future – and the world’s – would be determined largely by the region’s thirst for fossil fuels was when I read Thomas P.M. Barnett’s excellent The Pentagon’s New Map in 2004. Barnett noted that one of the four major forces that would shape the world of the future was the growing demand for energy coming out of Asia, and how that positioning Asia in potential conflict with both the U.S. and the E.U. as competitors for those resources.

In Oil and Gas for Asia, the NBR offers six essays that dive into the details of how that demand in Asia is intensifying. Naturally the authors cover the matter of the region’s role in (or effect on) global energy security and the entire issue of China’s relationship with Iran, two areas that have come to global attention.

Intriguingly, they also examine the effect that Japan is having on the global market of LNG after the Fukushima melt-downs all but put Japan out of the nuclear energy business, and the question of whether investments by national oil companies (think China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Sinopec, and PetroChina) actually enhance energy security at home. They then wrap up the analysis with policy recommendations for U.S. leaders.

There is a lot written about China and energy, much of it driven by petrodollars in an effort to create a policy environment in the U.S. that is favorable to greater development of oil resources within the Western hemisphere. China is an effective boogeyman to drive the development of deep-water drilling, hydrofracking, and tar sands. This study, however, is notable in its focus not on specific policy goals but in describing how the world’s most populous region is changing the rules for all of us.