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  • Author: James Leibold
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Balancing ethnocultural diversity and dignity with national integration and interethnic cohesion has been a constant challenge for Chinese policymakers. With a sizeable ethnic minority population, China has long been engaged in this delicate balancing act. Despite episodic conflict, it could be argued that the Communist Party of China (CPC) has, especially since the 1976 death of Mao Zedong, done a relatively competent job of containing ethnic tensions.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Governance
  • Political Geography: China, Israel
  • Author: Francis X. Hezel
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Is out-migration an admission of a Pacific Island nation's failure to fulfill its economic promise and provide the jobs that its citizens seek in a modernized society? Or is it a legitimate alternative strategy for development, through the export of surplus labor, in lieu of the more conventional methods recommended by donor nations and international financial institutions? In this paper, Francis X. Hezel, SJ, reviews the 30-year history of migration from one Pacific Island nation, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and examines the current status of its migrants with an eye to shedding light on this question.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Migration, Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: David P. Aldrich
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Over the past fifty years, Japan has developed one of the most advanced commercial nuclear power programs in the world. This is largely due to the government's broad repertoire of policy instruments that have helped further its nuclear power goals. These top-down directives have resulted in the construction of 54 plants and at least the appearance of widespread support for nuclear power. By the 1990s, however, this carefully cultivated public support was beginning to break apart. And following the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 and resulting nuclear crisis in the Fukushima nuclear complex, the political and social landscape for energy in Japan has been dramatically altered. The crisis has raised and reinforced environmental concerns and health fears, as well as skepticism about information from government and corporate sources. A civil society that for decades has appeared weak and nonpartcipatory has awakened and citizens are carrying out bottom-up responses to the accident, effecting change with grassroots science and activism.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, Health, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: Aurel Croissant, David Kuehn, Philip Lorenz
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In recent decades, several East Asian nations have undergone democratic transitions accompanied by changes in the balance of power between civilian elites and military leaders. These developments have not followed a single pattern: In Thailand, failure to institutionalize civilian control has contributed to the breakdown of democracy; civil-military relations and democracy in the Philippines are in prolonged crisis; and civilian control in Indonesia is yet to be institutionalized. At the same time, South Korea and Taiwan have established civilian supremacy and made great advances in consolidating democracy. These differences can be explained by the interplay of structural environment and civilian political entrepreneurship. In Taiwan, Korea, and Indonesia, strategic action, prioritization, and careful timing helped civilians make the best of their structural opportunities to overcome legacies of military involvement in politics. In Thailand, civilians overestimated their ability to control the military and provoked military intervention. In the Philippines, civilian governments forged a symbiotic relationship with military elites that allowed civilians to survive in office but also protected the military's institutional interests. These differences in the development of civil-military relations had serious repercussions on national security, political stability, and democratic consolidation, helping to explain why South Korea, Taiwan, and, to a lesser degree, Indonesia have experienced successful democratic transformation, while Thailand and the Philippines have failed to establish stable democratic systems.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Scott Thomas Bruce
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: With North Korea's tightly controlled and isolated population, the rise of information technology—specifically cell phones and an intranet—is an unprecedented development. In the last decade, a domestic intranet was launched and a cell phone network was created. Both of these form a closed, domestic system, which the regime hopes will allow for productivity gains from increased coordination and the sharing of state-approved information, while keeping out foreign influences. North Korea is now confronted with the challenge of how to reap the economic benefits of an IT system, while avoiding the social instability that may accompany it. The country has made a fundamental shift from a state that limits access to information technology to ensure the security of the regime, to one that is willing to use it as a tool, at least among a certain privileged class, to support the development of the nation. Although North Korea is stable for now, over the next decade, information technology has the potential to transform the state and it also creates a strong incentive to integrate North Korea into the dynamic economies of Northeast Asia.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Communications, Governance
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Jeffrey Hornung
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: When the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) kicked the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) out of power in 2009, there was some sense of hope amongst the Japanese that things would change. If nothing else, the Japanese hoped that the DPJ would bring new ideas to tackle some of the country's ongoing problems. Reality soon proved otherwise. Not only has the DPJ quietly abandoned many of its campaign pledges, it has proved just as incapable at resolving ongoing problems. Seventeen months into a DPJ-led Japan, Prime Minister Naoto Kan faces a number of domestic problems that threaten his government's survival. The unfortunate result is another expected turn of the revolving door that is the Japanese premiership.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel, Asia, Tokyo
  • Author: Elizabeth Hervey Stephen
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The South Korean military currently is the sixth-largest in the world. But years of low birth rates have resulted in declining numbers of young men available for military service, and the country now faces the pressing question of how to ensure national security in the face of inevitable troop reductions. Some options for offsetting this shrinking recruit pool (such as increasing fertility, increasing immigration, and increasing the number of women in the military) might seem obvious, but the complex economic, social, and cultural reality of South Korea make them unlikely to be embraced. The best focus for immediate action is to stabilize or increase service terms and to encourage development and implementation of high-tech security systems. While the recruit pool appears nearly adequate at present, South Korea must act quickly to develop the leaner, more diverse, and more technologically based military necessary for the country to maintain a viable military force.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Melissa L. Finucane
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Pacific Islands are extraordinarily vulnerable to the effects of climate change. And although policymakers are turning to science to answer questions of how communities should deal with climate challenges, scientific knowledge is only one element of an effective risk-management process. The people of the Pacific Islands hold diverse beliefs about climate change and these beliefs inform their decisions. In addition, a dynamic social context influences the extent to which people are able to respond meaningfully to climate impacts. To solve the climate crisis, policymakers need to set a risk-management agenda that integrates sound science with an understanding of how that science is interpreted and translated into action in society. They will need to work not only with scientists, but also with cultural leaders, theologians, philosophers, and community groups. Lessons learned in the Pacific region, along with broader knowledge about factors affecting human decisionmaking, illustrate how policymakers can bridge the gap between climate science and society to facilitate adaptation.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Michelle Staggs Kelsall
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In late 2008 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) committed to creating a human rights body, which emerged as the Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (ICHR), the terms of reference (TOR) for which have since been adopted. Although the TOR for the commission currently outlines a primarily advisory rather than an enforcement role, the very existence of the ICHR has the potential to act as a trigger to further discussion on human rights issues in member states and open avenues for further action. To take maximum advantage of this opportunity to further the human rights agenda in ASEAN member states, it is essential that critical early decisions are made carefully so as to leave the most latitude for future action. While some observers are concerned that the ICHR lacks teeth, the fact that all ten ASEAN governments have agreed to implement a human rights commission is remarkable and is an essential first step toward ASEAN's stated goal of respecting and protecting human rights.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Human Welfare, International Organization, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Peter A. Petri
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: East Asian trade agreements are often described as a complicated "noodle bowl," which shows links in the region as a snarled, overlapping and intertwined mass. But this is a misleading representation--Asia's regional agreements may in fact be creating an order of a different sort, building the foundations for a stronger regional trading system. Asian trade arrangements can be more constructively seen in terms of a trade agreements matrix, in which multiple negotiations produce an orderly progression of agreements to liberalize all potential bilateral relationships and move the region toward a coherent system of freer trade. The various approaches to deeper economic integration--regional arrangements, trans-Pacific agreements, and global engagement--are complementary paths that should eventually lead to an open global trading system. East Asia is of growing importance in the global marketplace, and adopting an aggressive multitrack strategy--as the region appears to be doing--may be the fastest route toward a new global framework.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia
  • Author: Charles Morrison, Peter Petri
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The rise of China, India, and other Asian nations is creating a new “core” of the world economy centered on the Pacific. It is essential for the United States to remain vigorously engaged in this region, yet the climate of our relations with Asian partners is cooling. The United States and Asia have yet to find a way to cooperate effectively on any significant global issue. This dilemma, we argue, requires urgent attention on both sides of the Pacific, and specifically a U.S. strategy that features innovative civil diplomacy alongside official initiatives.
  • Topic: International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: David Cohen
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: From 2000 to 2005 a UN-sponsored tribunal in East Timor sought to achieve accountability for violence associated with the 1999 vote for independence from Indonesia. Despite criticism of the tribunal's performance the UN has maintained that it was a success. In fact the East Timor tribunal represents a virtual textbook case of how not to create, manage, and administer a hybrid justice process. It was handicapped from the beginning by a debilitating lack of resources, an unclear mandate, inadequate recruitment, ineffective management by a peacekeeping mission that had other priorities, and above all a lack of political will both at UN headquarters and at the mission level. Trial practices and jurisprudence were too often deeply flawed, in important respects did not meet international standards, and, in a significant number of cases, undermined the rights of the accused to a fair trial. Because the UN risks repeating some of the same mistakes in Cambodia it is particularly important now to assess the failings of the East Timor trials.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Crime, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Israel, United Nations
  • Author: Jennifer Amyx
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Regional financial cooperation in East Asia is proceeding with unprecedented intensity. Latest developments include two Asian Bond Funds, created by the regional central bankers group, and an Asian Bond Markets Initiative launched by the finance ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations member states plus China, Japan, and South Korea (or ASEAN+3). Some observers continue to attribute such cooperation to sharpened antagonism between East Asia and the West since the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98. But this view overlooks a key internal driver: ChinaÂ's shift to a more proactive stance toward regional cooperation. Far from demonstrating an antagonism toward market-based financial systems, ASEAN+3 members are embracing more liberal rules for economic interaction in their creation of regional bond funds and markets. Financial cooperation in East Asia is today motivated by factors that differ considerably from those observed in the immediate aftermath of the Asian financial crisis—and the implications extend beyond East Asia.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Ilan Noy
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The banking crises that swept through East Asia in 1997– 1998 set off dramatic recessions in the affected countries and imposed heavy costs on the domestic taxpayers. Fear of further crises prompted searches causes and early warning signs. It soon became apparent that liberalization the domestic financial sectors of the countries in crises contributed to genesis of these crises, but policymakers, regulators, and economists disagree about the reason for this. Initial scrutiny fell on unregulated international capital flows, but a comprehensive study suggests that liberalization can to financial instability either because of insufficient regulation of the financial sector or because of erosion of previously granted monopolies of existing banks. These possibilities suggest varying policy implications for the current state domestic financial systems in East Asia, including the challenges inherent opening up ChinaÂ's banking system to foreign competition as mandated in China–World Trade Organization accession agreement.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia
  • Author: Choong Nam Kim
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For half a century the United States and South Korea have been united in an alliance that has simultaneously contained North Korea and projected American power into Northeast Asia. Now that alliance is being questioned by many South Koreans, whose country has developed from a poor, authoritarian state into the world's 11th largest economy and a vital democracy. Along the way South Koreans' views of themselves and of other nations have changed. Improved relations with China and Russia, and a policy of engagement with North Korea, have reduced the country's dependence on the United States and South Koreans' tolerance for what they view as American arrogance and unilateralism. Indeed, Koreans today view their Cold War allies (the United States and Japan) more negatively than their Cold War enemies (North Korea and China), a situation that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. The poorly coordinated North Korea policy of Seoul and Washington appears to be a direct cause of anti-Americanism, which will grow unless the two countries develop a more equal, mutually acceptable relationship.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Israel, South Korea, North Korea