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  • Author: Dinshaw Mistry
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the early and mid-2000s, US policymakers anticipated India becoming one of America's top global partners. Have New Delhi's policies on key strategic issues actually aligned strongly with US objectives, as would be typical of close partners? An analysis of twelve prominent issues in US-India relations indicates that New Delhi's policies mostly converged moderately, rather than to a high extent, with US objectives. Specifically, the alignment between New Delhi's policies and US objectives was high or moderate-to-high on three issues—UN peacekeeping, nonproliferation export controls, and arms sales. It was moderate or low-to-moderate on six issues—China, Iran, Afghanistan, Indian Ocean security, Pakistan, and bilateral defense cooperation. And it was low or negligible on three issues—nuclear reactor contracts for US firms, nuclear arms control, and the war in Iraq. To be sure, despite the low or negligible convergence, New Delhi did not take an anti-US position on these issues. Four factors explain why New Delhi's policies aligned unevenly with US objectives across the issues: India's strategic interests (that diverged from US interests on some issues); domestic political and economic barriers (that prevented greater convergence between India's policies and US objectives); incentives and disincentives (that induced New Delhi to better align with US objectives); and certain case-specific factors. This analysis suggests that, rather than expecting India to become a close ally, US policymakers should consider it a friendly strategic partner whose policies would align, on the average, moderately with US strategic interests.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Political Economy, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Unconventional monetary policy (UMP) has had predictable effects. How exit plays out is scenario-dependent. Quantitative easing has had the predictable effect of encouraging currency depreciation and some partner countries may have attempted to offset these exchange rate effects. Korea presents a particularly interesting case: it is relatively small and relatively open and integrated, in both trade and financial terms, with the United States and Japan, two practitioners of UMP. Authorities have acted to limit the won's appreciation primarily against the currency of China, not the US or Japan. Nevertheless, Korea's policy is a source of tension with the US. Under legislation currently being considered, the currency manipulation issue could potentially interfere with Korean efforts to attract direct investment from the US and create an obstacle to Korea joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Monetary Policy, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Jon Dorsch
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: At the end of 2015 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will announce the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). In theory, this agreement should produce an association-wide economic integration. However, following the announcement, and for the foreseeable future, ASEAN member states will continue in significantly less than full regional economic integration. Why? Some observers believe that the AEC plans involve an "overly ambitious timeline and too many ill-thought-out initiatives." Others point to ASEAN's traditional aversion to legally binding agreements. While progress has been made in reducing or eliminating intra-ASEAN trade tariffs, substantial non-tariff barriers to trade persist. However, for most member states, the ASEAN market is relatively small while external markets, especially China, are growing rapidly. Given this outward-orientation for ASEAN trade, is the lack of an unhindered regional market really a problem?
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Peter A. Petri, Michael G. Plummer
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: ASEAN has become a focal point of the rapidly changing economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN members are increasingly stable and politically confident, and constitute an emerging economic powerhouse. The region is dynamic, with 600 million citizens and a gross domestic product (GDP) that exceeds $2 trillion and is expected to grow 6 percent annually for the next two decades. (The Appendix at the end of this paper reports detailed output and trade projections to 2025.) Through deeper internal integration via the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and external initiatives such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), ASEAN is becoming a driving force in regional cooperation and a much-courted economic partner. The AEC and the RCEP projects are globally significant: the AEC could generate powerful demonstration effects for other developing regions, and the RCEP could become an important building bloc of the multilateral trading system.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, East Asia, Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Luke Simon Jordan, Katerina Koinis
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Despite the region's economic growth over the last few decades, countries across Asia still face the complex challenge of structural transformation. Low-income economies must build formal industrial and service sectors from agricultural and informal bases; middle-income economies must move up the value chain; and high-income economies must continually generate new capabilities at the frontier of innovation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Economic engagement between South and North Korea is often justified as a means of encouraging economic and social evolution in North Korea, with the ultimate goal of national unification. The South has invested heavily in the North, and firms have employed more than 50,000 workers. Yet expectations of a transformational impact rest on unexamined assumptions. The North recognizes the Trojan horse nature of the engagement policy: results of an original survey of South Korean employers show that the North Korean government has largely circumscribed the exposure of its citizens to both South Koreans and market-oriented economic practices, in the process violating labor rights defined by covenants to which both countries belong. The problem seems intractable, given that South Korea's diplomatic commitment to engagement with North Korea trumps labor rights concerns and South Korean firms perceive that the North Korean status quo confers benefits. As the experience of labor rights movements elsewhere shows, conditions will likely improve only if an aroused citizenry—here, the South Koreans—demands change.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations, Reform
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Jefferson M. Fox, Jean-Christophe Castella, Alan D. Ziegler, Sidney b. Westley.
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For centuries, farmers in the mountainous region of mainland Southeast Asia have practiced shifting cultivation, with plots of land cultivated temporarily and then allowed to revert to secondary forest for a fallow period. Today, more than one million hectares have been converted to rubber plantation. By 2050, the area under rubber trees in the montane regions of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China's Yunnan Province is predicted to increase fourfold. Preliminary research suggests this massive land-use change could lead to drier conditions at the local level plus surface erosion, loss of soil quality, sedimentation and disruption of streams, and risk of landslides. And it appears that when primary or secondary forests are converted to rubber, carbon emissions are likely to increase. Despite environmental concerns, both local farmers and outside entrepreneurs are likely to continue expanding rubber plantations because of high economic returns. Production systems that provide the best balance between economic return and environmental sustainability are needed to improve the long-term outlook for the region.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Environment
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Charles E. Morrison
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the past quarter-century Asia has seen vast changes, including increased economic growth, integration, and liberalization. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) process, now marking its 25th anniversary, facilitated these changes through its institution of the first regular meetings of ministers and then leaders. But what role should APEC play in the future? With a continuing diffusion of power, what was once hailed as an imminent "Asian century" is much more likely to be a global one. This international system, however, will have a trans-Pacific core with much of the economic power and potential to provide global leadership for the further development of international norms, rules, and cooperation. Thus, we may be able to refer to an "Asia-Pacific century." Two questions arise: Is North America, with a relatively small share of global population and a declining share of global world product, still relevant? Will the nations on the two sides of the Pacific really be able to use their power effectively to assume global leadership? The answer to the first of these is "yes," and to the second, "it depends."
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Francis X. Hezel
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Pacific is receiving a fair share of attention today from many quarters. Even as the parade of economic consultants continues, others are coming to explore concerns that have more recently claimed the attention of western nations. These concerns cover a broad range, including food security, global warming, elimination of illegal drug traffic in the region, prevention of AIDS or even drug-resistant tuberculosis, protection from spouse abuse, and public-school improvement. These are legitimate interests, but none of them addresses the central concern that vexes each of the island nations of Micronesia, and perhaps the islands elsewhere in the Pacific: How will the country grow its economy to ensure its survival in the future?
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Asia, Australia, Island
  • Author: Tin Maung Maung Than
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: By-elections in electoral democracies usually elicit very little excitement beyond the affected constituencies. However, Burma/Myanmar's recent by-elections held most of Asia and the West in rapt attention, with droves of international observers, media representatives, and curious foreigners flocking to Myanmar on an unprecedented scale. As anticipated, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won 43 of the 44 seats that it contested, subsequently hailed as the “victory of the people.” The lead-up, campaigning, and the actual voting, along with the post-election euphoria, resembled a regime-changing national election rather than a series of by-elections that secured the NLD a very minor 6.4 percent of the overall seats in the parliamentary Union Assembly's Lower and Upper Houses. The current government of President U Thein Sein most likely regarded these by-elections as a means of legitimizing its mandate to govern and enhance its own reform credentials.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights, Politics, Regime Change, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Nick Bisley
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has just completed a lightning visit to Australia for formal discussions with newly installed Foreign Minister Bob Carr. In spite of the political turmoil that brought Carr to office, the Australia-US alliance is in the best shape of its 60-year history. Having begun as a Cold War convenience, about which the United States was not enthusiastic, it has become a key part of Washington's regional role and a cornerstone not only of Australia's defense and security policy, but of its broader engagement with the world. The arrival in early April of the US Marine Corps to begin six-month training rotations in Darwin is emblematic of the alliance's standing and its evolution.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Cold War, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Elina Noor
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks' former benchwarmer and now worldwide basketball sensation, is the new Cinderella Man or “Linderella” of basketball, and maybe even more. As the National Basketball Association's (NBA) first American-born player of Chinese-Taiwanese descent, Lin has notched impressive game statistics, sparked new “Lin-go” around his name, and enraptured fans from Queens to the Bay Area, Zhejiang to Taipei, and Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur.
  • Topic: Mass Media, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: United States, China, New York, East Asia, Asia, Australia/Pacific, Kuala Lumpur
  • Author: Paul Richardson
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For the first time in its history, Russia this year assumed the leadership of a major Asia- Pacific forum—APEC. In September the organization's annual summit will be held in Vladivostok and through this congress Russia hopes to demonstrate to the world, and its own citizens, that the country is once again a power in both Europe and Asia. It is a bold vision, which is bound to Russia's national development strategy and Great Power aspirations. As one Russian diplomat told this author, if Russia really becomes involved in Asia it could change the country and also the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, International Affairs, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As Sino-American competition for influence enters a new stage with the Obama administration's re-engagement with Asia, each power's legacies in the region add to economic, military and diplomatic factors determining which power will be more successful in the competition. How the United States and China deal with their respective histories in regional affairs and the role of their non-government relations with the Asia- Pacific represent important legacies that on balance favor the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, 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: Rajnish Tiwari, Cornelius Herstatt, Mahipat Ranawat
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: India's automobile industry has witnessed an impressive run of sus - tained growth in the past two decades. The total number of vehicles produced in fiscal year 1990–91 was only 2.3 million, but by fiscal year 2009–10 this number had swelled to 14.1 million. Similarly, the value of automotive products exported by India was only US$198 million in 1990, but by 2009 the value had increased nearly twenty-five-fold to US$5 billion, representing an average annual growth rate of 26 percent and catapulting India into the league of the top fifteen exporters of automotive products worldwide
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: William Case
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In an influential study, Steven Fish and Matthew Kroenig argue that “overarching institutional designs” (i.e., presidential, parliamentary, and dual systems) tell us less about the prospects of a new democracy than does the particular strength of the legislature. Specifically, executive abuses are best checked where legislatures are powerful, generating horizontal accountability. Indeed, Fish and Kroenig suggest that with judiciaries and watchdog agencies weak in most new democracies, the legislature is the only institution by which accountability can be imposed. What is more, ordinary citizens are better informed by the robust party systems that strong legislatures support, fostering vertical accountability. In comparing Freedom House scores with their Parliamentary Powers Index (PPI), Fish and Kroenig show clear correlations, leading them to conclude that democracies are made strong by legislatures that are empowered.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Malaysia, Asia, Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Malcolm Cook, Thomas S. Wilkins
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The post-Cold War era in the Asia-Pacific has not witnessed the triumph of low over high politics. Rather, it has seen the simultaneous intensification of both economic integration and security cooperation and competition. This is true both at the level of the region, and for China and most other countries in the region.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Cold War, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Sourabh Gupta
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Civilizational, cultural, and geographic neighbors, India and Indonesia share striking commonalities in their modern historical trajectories. In both societies, European powers, the Dutch and the British, benefited from the decline of tired Islamic land empires to graft colonial modes of exploitation that progressed fitfully from coast to hinterland to interior. Following proto-nationalist revolt s, the Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and the Java War of 1825-30, both the Dutch and the British skillfully engineered a buffer of indigenous elite collaborators. This strategy succeeded to such an extent that their faraway possessions were governed by less than two hundred and a thousand expatriate administrators, respectively.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Post Colonialism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, India, Asia
  • Author: Endy Bayuni
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Blasphemy can be a deadly affair in Indonesia and Pakistan, two of Asia's largest Muslim-majority countries. Triggered by allegations of blasphemy, virulent mob attacks against those perceived to have offended Islam have rocked the two countries in recent months. While Indonesia and Pakistan have laws that specifically address issues of blasphemy, those unfortunate enough to be labeled blasphemers are rarely taken to court. Encouraged by, if not with tacit approval from, conservative Muslim leaders, Indonesian and Pakistani mobs have been taking the law into their own hands instead.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Stephen Blank
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Neither the current US administration nor US academics recognize Russia as a major Asian power. Although Russia faces many obstacles to becoming a credible Asian actor, Moscow is making resolute diplomatic overtures to secure its Asian standing. Stephen Blank argues that these activities merit US attention because they enhance understanding of Asian international relations and offset the pronounced ethnocentrism of so much American writing on the subject.
  • Topic: International Relations, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Asia, Moscow
  • 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: Maria Wey-Shen Siow
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Many observers view China's overseas Confucius Institutes as the most visible symbols of China's growing soft power, and a tool for the country to expand its international influence and advance its public diplomacy agenda. The institutes were first established in 2004, with the first institute opening in Seoul. The primary goal of these institutions is to promote Mandarin Chinese language learning. Other functions include promoting Chinese culture and developing positive opinions of China within a global setting. Modeled along the lines of Germany's Goethe-Institut and France's Alliance Française, there are currently 320 Confucius Institutes in 96 countries with over 230,000 registered students. Apart from language classes, the institutes organize a wide variety of cultural activities ranging from music, calligraphy, cooking, and traditional Chinese medicine to hosting talks on China's economy, history, culture and society. China aims to open one thousand Confucius Institutes by 2020.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, France
  • 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: William Case
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In an influential study, Fish and Kroenig argue that "overarching institutional designs" (i.e., presidential, parliamentary, and dual systems) tell us less about the prospects of a new democracy than does the particular strength of the legislature. Specifically, executives are best checked where legislatures are powerful, generating horizontal accountability. In addition, ordinary citizens are better informed by the robust party systems that strong legislatures support, fostering vertical accountability. In comparing Freedom House scores with their Parliamentary Powers Index (PPI), Fish and Kroenig show clear correlations, leading them to conclude that democracies are made strong by legislatures that are empowered. In this monograph, this thesis is tested in five country cases in Southeast Asia: the Philippines and Indonesia, both new democracies, and Malaysia, Cambodia, and Singapore, cases of electoral authoritarianism. Analysis uncovers that in the new democracies, though their legislatures may be rated as powerful, members are geared less to checking the executive than to sharing in state patronage. In addition, although the legislature is evaluated as weak under electoral authoritarianism, it features an opposition that, with little access to patronage, remains committed to exposing executive abuses. What is more, when the executive operates a regime type that lacks the full legitimacy gained through general elections, he or she grows more receptive to at least mild legislative scrutiny. Contrary to Fish and Kroenig, then, this study concludes that the executive is held more accountable by legislatures under electoral authoritarianism than in new democracies. But rather than leading to a transition to democratic politics, this accountability strengthens authoritarian rule.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia, Cambodia, Singapore
  • Author: Sidney B. Westley, Robert D. Retherford, Minja Kim Choe
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Fifty years ago, women in Asia were having, on average, more than five children each, and there was widespread fear of a “population explosion” in the region. Then birth rates began to fall—in several countries more steeply than anyone had anticipated. This unexpected trend has now raised concerns about the social and economic impact of extremely low fertility. Today, four of Asia's most prosperous economies—Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan—have among the lowest birth rates in the world. With women having, on average, only one child each, these societies have expanding elderly populations and a shrinking workforce to pay for social services and drive economic growth. And in Japan, overall population numbers are already going down. Why are women choosing to have so few children? How are policy- makers responding to these trends? Government leaders have initiated a variety of policies and programs designed to encourage marriage and childbearing, but to what effect? Given current social and economic trends, it is unlikely that Asia' s steep fertility decline will be reversed, at least not in the for eseeable future.
  • Topic: Demographics, Health, Population
  • Political Geography: Japan, Taiwan, Asia, South Korea, Singapore
  • 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: Jefferson Fox
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Over the last half-century, public policy has affected land-use practices across the borders linking China, Thailand, and Laos. Political and economic reforms have facilitated labor mobility and a shift in agricultural practices away from staple grains and toward a diverse array of cash crops, rubber being one of the foremost. China has promoted the conversion of forests to rubber agroforestry in southern Yunnan--profitable for farmers, but a concern in terms of biodiversity and long-term viability. In Thailand, the response is at the other end of the spectrum as the government's concerns about land-use practices and watershed management have led to policies that dramatically constrain land-use practices and limit tenure rights. In Laos the future is not yet clear. Government policies provide weak support for both private land ownership and protected areas. In a global environment where national policy has such a dramatic effect on land use and land cover, the factors behind land-use change merit close examination.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Migration, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • 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: Michael G. Plummer
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The economic crisis of 2008–09 is the second major crisis in just over a decade that Asia has endured. Unlike the Asian crisis of 1997–98, however, the current crisis originated mainly in the West. Asia's excessive reliance on net exports as the principal driver of economic growth since the 1997–98 crisis rendered it especially vulnerable to external shocks, and most Asian countries have paid dearly. The more open the economy, the more vulnerable it is to such shocks. The newly industrialized Asian economies (Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan), which are among the most open and dynamic in the world, are expected to contract by about 6 percent in 2009.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Taiwan, Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong
  • Author: Dieter Ernst
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Political debates about globalization are focused on offshore outsourcing of manufacturing and services. But these debates neglect an important change in the geography of knowledge––the emergence of global innovation networks (GINs) that integrate dispersed engineering, product development, and research activities across geographic borders.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, Globalization, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Asia