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  • Author: Sean P. Connell
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Korean government's "creative economy" agenda reflects growing consensus that Korea's future growth and prosperity depends on its ability to become a global leader in developing and commercializing innovative new products, services, and business models. To succeed, the Korean government must address regulatory, structural, educational, and cultural obstacles that have constrained Korea's ability to fully utilize its innovative capacities. This new emphasis on innovation brings Korea into closer alignment with the United States, which has long focused on innovation in its growth strategies. Moreover, it comes during the early stages of implementation of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), which intersects with important areas of Korea's innovation framework policies. Policymakers, businesses, and researchers in both countries should examine potential new opportunities to increase cooperation around initiatives aimed at fostering innovation and growth, both within the bilateral context and at a global level.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Jeong Yeon Lee
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Multi-factor productivity (MFP) compares the growth of gross domestic product with the growth of combined capital and labor inputs. The growth rate of MFP assumes theoretical significance because it represents the slope of the steady-state growth path, and hence is a major determinant of the long-term growth trend. This paper offers the balanced panel of the estimated growth rates of MFP for 24 OECD countries over 1986-2011. Based on the estimates of MFP growth, a number of notable trends in productivity growth are identified for the entire OECD area as well as three major economies – the United States, the Eurozone and Japan – within the OECD.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Europe
  • 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: Philip Shetler-Jones
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: During his recent visit to Japan, British Prime Minister David Cameron signed a landmark defense cooperation agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda making the United Kingdom Japan's only defense technology partner after the United States. The agreement comes just months after Japan relaxed its post-World War II restrictions on its participation in international research, development and trade in defense equipment. There are few publicly-available specifics on the deal, but official statements from Tokyo suggest the plan is to start small and slowly increase cooperation. Artillery and tank technology has been mentioned; along with helicopters, mine detection and chemical protection suits.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Science and Technology, Treaties and Agreements, War, Biosecurity, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Tokyo
  • Author: Jane Nakano
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The United States, Japan, and the European Union—the three key consumers of Chinese rare earth materials—formally complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in March about Chinese restrictions on its rare earth exports. Several weeks later, China announced the establishment of a 150-plus member association with the official aim of promoting sustainable development within this sector. Some analysts wonder if this is part of a Chinese plan to circumvent international complaints by instituting an oligopolistic arrangement to control its rare earth exports. Others ask if this could be another step in an escalating dispute with China over the global supply of rare earth materials.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe
  • Author: Yogesh Joshi
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: US President Barack Obama used his 2012 State of the Union speech to explain that evolving geopolitical realities continue to make the United States indispensable in global politics. In the Asia-Pacific this indispensability emanates, in part, from the waves caused by the rise of China. Consequently, demands for an increased US presence echo around the region. In response, the United States has renewed its commitments to Japan, South Korea and Australia, stepped up its relations with Southeast Asia, and reasserted itself as an important player in multilateral institutions including the East Asia Summit, APEC, and ASEAN. Clearly, in the 21st century, US strategic focus has shifted from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, International Security, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, India, South Korea, Australia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Masako Ikegami
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As North Korea's latest rocket-missile launch approaches, there is speculation whether Beijing can halt Pyongyang's missile ambitions. In my view, Beijing will turn a blind eye towards North Korea's latest provocation, while simultaneously calling for restraint by all parties. Recently, the China-North Korea “blood alliance,” a concept of allies that originated during the Korean War, has been renewed, and it is in China's interests that North Korea consolidates its “absolute deterrence” capability to deter US forces in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, North Korea
  • 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: Michael McConnell
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: ASEAN countries have long been an important international market for US agricultural exports. The United States, in 2011, exported almost $9.6 billion of agricultural products to ASEAN, making it the sixth-largest export destination for US farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses—behind Japan ($14 billion) and just behind the European Union ($9.6 billion), but well ahead of South Korea ($7 billion). Moreover, the value of agricultural trade between the United States and ASEAN almost doubled between 2007 and 2011, with the top four ASEAN markets in 2011 for the United States being Indonesia ($2.8 billion), the Philippines ($2.1 billion), Vietnam ($1.7 billion), and Thailand ($1.3 billion). With a population of 614 million and strong economic growth, it is expected that ASEAN will continue to be an important market for US agricultural products. However, the United States is likely to face increasing competition, particularly from China, Australia, and New Zealand, all of which have free trade agreements (FTAs) with ASEAN.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Demographics, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Food
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, East Asia, South Korea, Australia, Southeast Asia, New Zealand
  • 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: Peter Crail, Xiaodon Liang
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Following a decade-long impasse, the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) is finally on a path to being endorsed by the world's five recognized nuclear-weapon states—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Agreement by these nuclear powers to respect the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia and to provide legal assurances that they will not use such weapons against zone members helps to strengthen the commitment by regional states not to pursue nuclear weapons, and contributes more broadly to global nonproliferation and disarmament efforts,
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, United Kingdom, France, Southeast Asia
  • 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: Denny Roy
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Taiwan's elections on January 14, which for the first time combined polls for the presidency and the legislature, displayed further positive evolution in Taiwan's now well-established democracy. The results also precluded an immediate disruption in relations between Taiwan and the PRC, which is good news in Washington. In Beijing's view, however, the goal is not stability across the Taiwan Strait, but unification. Chinese impatience might weigh more heavily on President Ma Ying-jeou, and by extension on the United States, during Ma's second term.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Taiwan, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Marvin C. Ott
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Southeast Asia, long quiescent in a turbulent international environment, has suddenly become the focal point of what promises to be the signature strategic contest of the 21st century—between the United States and China. But the evolving dynamic is far more complex than a simple binary face-off between an established superpower and an emerging rival. The overarching backdrop is the profound and ongoing economic transformation of Asia. Three centuries of global economic, political and military domination by the industrialized West has given way to a fundamentally new configuration. Economic modernization that began with Japan has spread to the Sinicized populations of the region and beyond, including Southeast Asia. The global center of economic gravity has shifted westward across the Pacific—and economics is the foundation of power. The world has entered the oft-touted “Asia-Pacific Century.”
  • Topic: Cold War, Communism, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, Southeast Asia
  • Author: David Capie, Robert Ayson
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The most visible sign of the new warmth in the United States-New Zealand bilateral relationship was US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to New Zealand in November 2010, which culminated with the signing of the "Wellington Declaration." The 400-word document announced a US-NZ "strategic partnership" built on "practical cooperation" in the South Pacific, and enhanced dialogue including regular foreign minister level and political-military meetings. It also noted a joint commitment to tackle pressing challenges including climate change, nuclear proliferation, and extremism. In addition, there was a commitment to an expansion of US-NZ "commercial and trade relations." Robert Ayson and David Capie discuss the possible future direction of the developing US-NZ relationship.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Australia/Pacific, New Zealand
  • Author: Huma Yusuf
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The nine-week standoff between the United States and Pakistan over the fate of Raymond Davis, an American arrested in Pakistan after shooting two men at a traffic stop, ended on March 16 with his sudden release from jail. Davis was freed under Islamic law, which allows a murderer to receive pardon from the family of his victims on payment of compensation, or “blood money” Religious parties protested the decision, stating that the law had been applied incorrectly to satisfy US demands for Davis' release. Still, media and analysts inside and outside Pakistan have termed the development a “win” for the country.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States
  • Author: Iskander Rehman
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In March 1996, the waters of the Taiwan Strait were roiled by Chinese live missile firings and massive military exercises. Washington answered Beijing's blunt demonstration of coercive military diplomacy by promptly dispatching two aircraft carriers to the scene.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Taiwan
  • 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: Donald Jameson
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Cambodia in late 2010, she told senior Cambodian government officials "this does not look like the country I have been reading about in the press." Most first-time visitors to Phnom Penh would likely react similarly. The city hosts a vibrant society, with traffic-clogged streets, a proliferation of stylish restaurants and boutiques, and buildings under construction everywhere, many of them high-rise apartments and office blocks. If the visitor were to venture outside the capital, large-scale investment in infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, with construction underway on additional projects are what greet the eye. In addition, there are extensive land clearing projects underway for new plantations to grow rubber, palm oil, cashews and other tropical products, as well as new industrial sites springing up along main transportation arteries. In short, Cambodia is clearly a country on the move economically.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Aid, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States, Cambodia, Southeast 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: Raymond Burghardt
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Vietnamese and Americans joined together in Hanoi last December for a happy celebration, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the entrance into force of the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement signed in December, 2001. The gathering of current and former trade negotiators, diplomats, and business leaders exchanged witty anecdotes about who had been the toughest negotiator. However, the main focus for both American and Vietnamese participants was on the positive prospects for future US-Vietnam relations across the spectrum of trade and strategic common interests.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Vietnam, Southeast 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: Richard C. K. Burdekin
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Over the past five years, U.S. exports to China have been dwarfed by imports from that country, with the resulting trade deficit igniting a bout of China bashing reminiscent of the Japan bashing of the 1980s. A major culprit in the trade imbalance, according to many U.S. analysts and policymakers, is China's currency: the renminbi, they say, is too cheap relative to the dollar. Some are calling for high tariffs on Chinese goods or for further exchange-rate adjustment that would revalue the renminbi significantly upward, making Chinese goods less competitive. But with just 10.4 percent of total U.S. trade attributed to China in the first half of 2005, it is unrealistic that any renminbi exchange-rate adjustment could rein in the burgeoning U.S. trade deficit. And if the adjustment were drastic the United States could be the big loser: driving China out of the market for U.S. treasuries would most likely have calamitous consequences, not only for the dollar but for U.S. credit markets and for the U.S. economy in general.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, North America
  • 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
  • Author: Wali M. Osman
  • Publication Date: 09-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: To further its strategic interests and national security, the United States has intervened in Afghanistan twice in less than two decades, first in the fight against the Soviets and then the Taliban. Now, as Afghans attempt to rebuild, American interests are at stake again. Before the Soviet takeover, Afghanistan had been moving slowly toward modernity, its development impeded by ethnic and tribal divisions kept in check by the monarchy's patronage system. Today, the country needs not only a new physical infrastructure but also institutions that will enable it to function as a modern economy, while politically accommodating its diverse and divided population. Democratization and economic development offer the best hope for stability, and specific steps can be taken to achieve these outcomes, but the country cannot move forward without increased security. Warlords contest the authority of the transitional government, which is itself critically divided. Beyond the issue of security, there is the urgent need for a more active commitment of U.S. resources and influence to the political and economic aspects of the reconstruction effort.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, South Asia, Taliban
  • Author: Kang Wu, Fereidun Fesharaki
  • Publication Date: 06-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Middle East is Asia Pacific's largest energy supplier, satisfying a demand for oil that must keep pace with the region's continued economic growth. This dependence on the Middle East has caused Asia Pacific to join the United States and other Western nations in the hunt for alternative suppliers. Central Asia, located between the Middle East and Asia Pacific and already an oil and gas exporter, is an attractive possibility. With energy production projected to rise rapidly over the next decade, Central Asia is poised to become a major player in the world energy market. But the land-locked region's options for transporting oil and gas to Asia Pacific markets are limited and problematic. Passage via pipeline east through China presents construction challenges; south through Iran, or through India and Pakistan via Afghanistan, is fraught with political difficulties. Not until geopolitics become more favorable to the south-bound options, or technologies make the China route possible, will Asia Pacific be able to tap the energy resources of Central Asia.
  • Topic: Security, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Sheila A. Smith
  • Publication Date: 09-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. and Japanese policy-makers have successfully reaffirmed the U.S.-Japan security alliance. Yet, even as they have done so, a series of events has revealed a deeper ambivalence in Japan about the terms of the alliance. These events began with the 1995 rape of a school girl in Okinawa by U.S. servicemen, focusing attention on the social costs to residents of hosting U.S. forces. In 1999 came North Korea's launch of a missile over Japan, raising doubts among many Japanese about their alliance partner's ability to protect them. Most recently, the outcome of the 2001 sinking of the Ehime Maru training ship by a U.S. nuclear sub seemed to many to sacrifice Japanese citizens' interests to those of the U.S. military. Taken independently, these developments may seem temporary set-backs to policymakers, but together they suggest that there is increasing impatience among Japan's citizens with the way the alliance is managed. This disconnect between the public and policymakers could, if untended, have serious implications for the U.S.-Japan alliance.
  • Topic: Security, Cold War, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Ji Guoxing
  • Publication Date: 08-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the wake of a collision between a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese jet fighter off the coast of Hainan in April 2001, verbal skirmishing between the United States and China revealed sharply different conceptions of jurisdictional and navigational principles. These differences persist and will likely be the cause of future conflicts; they have already caused strife among countries ringing the South China Sea. Central to these conflicts are the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) that extend 200 nm into the sea from coastal nations' baselines. Created by the UN Law of the Sea Convention, these zones attempt to accommodate coastal states' interest in controlling offshore resources and maritime powers' interests in maintaining freedom of navigation. But ambiguities in the Convention's language combined with coastal states' proliferating EEZ claims have created a tinderbox. The situation will remain volatile as long as the focus remains on jurisdictional disputes. But confidence-building efforts aimed more narrowly on practical navigation issues and managing “incidents at sea” offer a starting point for first bilateral and then multilateral agreements. In the wake of a collision between a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese jet fighter off the coast of Hainan in April 2001, verbal skirmishing between the United States and China revealed sharply different conceptions of jurisdictional and navigational principles. These differences persist and will likely be the cause of future conflicts; they have already caused strife among countries ringing the South China Sea. Central to these conflicts are the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) that extend 200 nm into the sea from coastal nations' baselines. Created by the UN Law of the Sea Convention, these zones attempt to accommodate coastal states' interest in controlling offshore resources and maritime powers' interests in maintaining freedom of navigation. But ambiguities in the Convention's language combined with coastal states' proliferating EEZ claims have created a tinderbox. The situation will remain volatile as long as the focus remains on jurisdictional disputes. But confidence-building efforts aimed more narrowly on practical navigation issues and managing “incidents at sea” offer a starting point for first bilateral and then multilateral agreements.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, International Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China