This presentation offers a current assessment of China’s relations with North Korea and Myanmar. Both dyads are in flux: Beijing-Pyongyang because of dynastic succession and provocative nuclear/missile tests by North Korea; Beijing-Naypyidaw owing to Myanmar’s political reforms and economic opening. Much news coverage highlights but oversimplifies strains in diplomatic ties. Two recent publications* offer a normative framework for understanding China’s relations with North Korea and Myanmar. Beijing’s calibrated toughness with Pyongyang can be explained by North Korean violations of Chinese (as opposed to international) norms. Beijing’s difficulties adjusting to Naypyidaw’s ongoing transition stem from rising expectations in Myanmar that bilateral relations should abide by international rather than Chinese norms. How leaders in Beijing respond to changes in these two strategic neighbors will provide important indicators of China’s foreign policy trajectory.
About the Speaker:
Leif-Eric EASLEY (레이프에릭이슬리 / レイフ-エリックイーザリ/ 李雷夫) is Assistant Professor in the Division of International Studies at Ewha University and a Research Fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, Korea. At Ewha, Professor Easley teaches international security and political economics. His research interests include contested national identities and changing levels of trust in the bilateral security relationships of Northeast Asia. Dr. Easley was the Northeast Asian History Fellow at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) at Stanford University. He was also a visiting scholar at Yonsei University, the University of Southern California’s Korean Studies Institute, the Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA) in Tokyo, and the East West Center in Honolulu. Professor Easley regularly speaks at international conferences and is actively involved in high-level U.S.-Asia exchanges (Track II diplomacy) with the Asan Institute and the Pacific Forum-Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). His research appears in a variety of academic journals and volumes, supplemented by commentaries in major newspapers. He completed his B.A. in political science with a minor in mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Department of Government.
*Leif-Eric Easley and InYoung Park, “China’s Norms in its Near Abroad: Understanding Beijing’s North Korea Policy,” Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 25, No. 101 (forthcoming September 2016), http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10670564.2016.1160497; Jonathan T. Chow and Leif-Eric Easley, “Upgrading Myanmar-China Relations to International Standards,” Asan Issue Brief, Vol. 4, No. 21 (December 2015), http://en.asaninst.org/contents/upgrading-myanmar-china-relations-to-international-standards.