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  • Author: Bobby Anderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: West Papua is the most violent area of Indonesia. Indonesian security forces battle the country's last active separatist insurgency there. The majority of Indonesia's political prisoners are Papuans, and support for independence is widespread. But military repression and indigenous resistance are only one part of a complex topography of insecurity in Papua: vigilantism, clan conflict, and other forms of horizontal violence produce more casualties than the vertical conflict that is often the exclusive focus of international accounts of contemporary Papua. Similarly, Papua's coerced incorporation into Indonesia in 1969 is not unique; it mirrors a pattern of long-term annexation found in other remote and highland areas of South and Southeast Asia. What distinguishes Papua is the near-total absence of the state in indigenous areas. This is the consequence of a morass of policy dysfunction over time that compounds the insecurity that ordinary Papuans face. The author illuminates the diverse and local sources of insecurity that indicate too little state as opposed to too much, challenges common perceptions of insecurity in Papua, and offers a prescription of policy initiatives. These include the reform of a violent and unaccountable security sector as a part of a broader reconciliation process and the urgent need for a comprehensive indigenous-centered development policy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia
  • 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: Wei Wang, Gemma Estrada, Jurgen Conrad, Sang-Hyop Lee, Donghyun Park
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As demand from global markets declines, slowing exports of manufactured goods from the People's Republic of China means the country must increasingly rely on domestic markets for growth. Unlike manufactured goods, services—those "intangible" products that include everything from transportation to scientific research to real estate services—are geared more toward domestic markets. Services, then, will be key to the rebalancing process. However, while the service sector has grown rapidly in the PRC, it continues to lag behind other countries at similar stages of development. In addition, the sector is dominated by traditional low-end types of services, rather than knowledge-intensive services. Heavy regulatory burdens, barriers to trade in services, and an unfavorable policy environment have been major obstacles to upgrading the sector and improving its competitiveness. Policy reform should focus on strengthening competition to raise productivity, with the goal of increasing not only the number of jobs and contribution to GDP, but also of positioning the service sector to compete internationally and spur export growth.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Markets, Political Economy, Reform, GDP
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Vinod K. Aggarwal
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The rise of a multiplicity of diverse bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) has led countries to pursue mega-FTAs to manage the growing complexity of global trade arrangements. The US and China are promoting rival accords: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would encompass 800 million people and almost 40 percent of global GDP, is a centerpiece of the Obama Asia Pacific strategy. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would account for 30 percent of global GDP, with a population of over three billion people, creating the largest FTA in the world. TPP advocates assert that it will strengthen the US’ strategic role in the region, in part by countering China’s membership in the RCEP. These claims, made in response to growing skepticism in the United States about the value of liberalized trade, overemphasize the TPP’s strategic value. At the same time, projecting the economic impact of the TPP is thorny, given the deal’s scope and the diversity of countries involved.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Wei Wang, Gemma Estrada, Jurgen Conrad, Sang-Hyo Lee, Donghyun Park
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As demand from global markets declines, slowing exports of manufactured goods from the People's Republic of China means the country must increasingly rely on domestic markets for growth. Unlike manufactured goods, services—those "intangible" products that include everything from transportation to scientific research to real estate services—are geared more toward domestic markets. Services, then, will be key to the rebalancing process. However, while the service sector has grown rapidly in the PRC, it continues to lag behind other countries at similar stages of development. In addition, the sector is dominated by traditional low-end types of services, rather than knowledge-intensive services. Heavy regulatory burdens, barriers to trade in services, and an unfavorable policy environment have been major obstacles to upgrading the sector and improving its competitiveness. Policy reform should focus on strengthening competition to raise productivity, with the goal of increasing not only the number of jobs and contribution to GDP, but also of positioning the service sector to compete internationally and spur export growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Reform, GDP
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Marcus Mietzner
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the last two decades, populists around the world have celebrated a renaissance. As the role of political parties declines, and globalization creates socioeconomic uncertainties that unsettle anxious electorates, anti-establishment figures or movements have found it easy to attract support. Whether Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand, Narendra Modi in India, or Alexis Tsipras in Greece, populists have been able to mobilize voters by attacking a supposedly collective enemy (mostly, domestic or foreign forces accused of exploiting the country's economic resources) and by appealing to the poor as their main constituency. In some cases, populists have been so successful at the ballot box that established political forces resorted to violence to try removing them—as evidenced by the failed coup against Chavez in 2002, and the military overthrows of Thaksin in 2006 and of his sister, Yingluck, in 2014.
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, India, Greece, Venezuela, Thailand
  • 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: Jordan P. Howell
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: With limited space and ever-growing trash, the islands of the Pacific share unique challenges managing their solid wastes. The traditional approach has been to collect waste in open dumps and landfills. But overwhelmed sites and unsanitary conditions are driving governments to seek alternative solutions. Hawai'i has implemented "resource recovery" systems in past decades to deal with waste, including an innovative energy-from-waste project on O'ahu, and a recycling/composting program on Maui that focuses on diverting material from landfills. While both have been successful in reducing waste and generating products, the programs have also endured unexpected delays and problems. Despite differences in scale and capacity, the Hawai'i experience offers insights for other Pacific islands into how to tackle their own solid waste management issues, and create systems and policies that deliver the greatest ecological and economic benefits.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy, Governance, Climate Finance
  • Political Geography: Hawaii, United States of America
  • Author: Boy Lüthje, Christopher A. McNally
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The global financial crisis of 2008-09 led to a policy consensus in China that its socioeconomic development model needed rebalancing. China's rapid development has been based on extensive growth reliant on exports, low wages, environmental exploitation, and the manufacturing of cheap products. China's current plans identify paths to economic rebalancing through intensive growth driven by rising investment in new technologies and manufacturing processes, improved wages and skills, and improved worker and environmental protections. Two industries, automotive and information technology, demonstrate the experience of and opportunities for rebalancing. Both offer improved employment conditions with better wages, but continue to incorporate large swaths of low-wage employment with little protection for workers' health and the environment. Economic rebalancing in China, therefore, has so far only appeared in pockets. Institutional safeguards for wages and labor standards remain constrained by powerful alliances among multinational corporations, Chinese state-owned/private enterprises, and the Chinese state.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Bobby Anderson
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: West Papua is the most violent area of Indonesia. Indonesian security forces battle the country's last active separatist insurgency there. The majority of Indonesia's political prisoners are Papuans, and support for independence is widespread. But military repression and indigenous resistance are only one part of a complex topography of insecurity in Papua: vigilantism, clan conflict, and other forms of horizontal violence produce more casualties than the vertical conflict that is often the exclusive focus of international accounts of contemporary Papua. Similarly, Papua's coerced incorporation into Indonesia in 1969 is not unique; it mirrors a pattern of long-term annexation found in other remote and highland areas of South and Southeast Asia. What distinguishes Papua is the near-total absence of the state in indigenous areas. This is the consequence of a morass of policy dysfunction over time that compounds the insecurity that ordinary Papuans face. The author illuminates the diverse and local sources of insecurity that indicate too little state as opposed to too much, challenges common perceptions of insecurity in Papua, and offers a prescription of policy initiatives. These include the reform of a violent and unaccountable security sector as a part of a broader reconciliation process and the urgent need for a comprehensive indigenous-centered development policy.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Insurgency, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Indonesia
  • Author: Stephen Haggard, Jon R. Lindsay
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The North Korean cyber attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment in connection with the planned release of The Interview raised important questions about the feasibility of deterrence in cyberspace, the protection of First Amendment values, and the responsibility of the US government to safeguard private networks. It also resulted in the unprecedented attribution of responsibility for a cyber attack to a nation state by a US president, despite public controversy over the evidence. North Korea has long engaged in provocative behavior on the Korean peninsula, recently including cyber attacks, but the probability of general war with South Korea remains quite low. Strategists describe this problem as the stability-instability paradox. North Korean coercion targeting a corporation on US soil in effect extends this dynamic into global cyberspace. It is impossible to deter all forms of cyber harassment, but policymakers can manipulate the threshold of ambiguity that makes limited aggression more or less attractive.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Law, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • 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: Victoria Keener, H. Annamalai, Matthew J. Widlansky, Jan Hafner
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: A drought is moving through the Pacific Islands, brought by one of the strongest El Niño events since record keeping began 60 years ago. It started in the southwest Pacific, where it has brought famine to Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. It is expected to reach the South Pacific, tropical West Pacific, and Hawaiian Islands between December 2015 and May 2016, potentially affecting 4.7 million people. While the effect of El Niño in the Pacific Islands receives little global attention, it has already proved severe, particularly among vulnerable island populations. Prolonged drought can compromise not only freshwater supplies and food security, but can also have cascading impacts on public health, economies, food distribution, and even trigger civil unrest. Past experiences with regional drought, current actions being taken, and the most current predictions for El Niño’s anticipated effects on the Pacific Islands, suggest strategies that governments and aid groups can take to prepare for this powerful climate event.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Disaster Relief, Human Welfare, Natural Disasters
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific
  • 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: Stephen McCarthy
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: While signs of democratization in a country may raise hopes of better natural resource governance, especially of forests, evidence from the Asia Pacific region in countries such as Indonesia and Cambodia demonstrates no significant relationship between a country's transition toward democracy and better forestry governance. Myanmar's transition to democracy is unlikely to counter this trend. Deeply vested interests operate within democratizing countries that outweigh the support inside governments or civil society for improving forestry conservation. Incumbents also stand to benefit directly from initiatives that promote free trade and further investment in the forestry sector at the expense of the environment and the most vulnerable in society. International organizations returning to Myanmar must fine-tune their policies to accommodate the local political economy of deforestation and should engage with elements on the periphery, dissenting voices inside the government, and a broad range of local civil society organizations. Failure to do so may exacerbate current trends and lead to future conflicts in the already volatile cease-fire areas.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Civil Society, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Dieter Ernst
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: India faces a fundamental puzzle. The country is a leading exporter of information-technology services, including knowledge-intensive chip design. Yet electronics manufacturing in India is struggling despite a huge and growing domestic market and pockets of world-class capabilities. To examine this puzzle the World Bank commissioned this study in May 2013 on behalf of the Chief Economic Advisor, Government of India, Raghuram Rajan (now the governor of the Reserve Bank of India). Drawing on extensive survey questionnaires and interviews with key industry players (both domestic and foreign) and relevant government agencies, this study identifies major challenges India-based companies face in engaging in electronics manufacturing. The analysis culminates in detailed policy suggestions for regulatory reform and support policies needed to unblock barriers to investment in this industry and to fast-track its upgrading through innovation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • 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: 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: Matthew J. Walton, Susan Hayward.
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For the past few years, Myanmar's political transition has been hampered by violence between Buddhists and Muslims. A nation with an ethnically Burman and religiously Buddhist majority, the population also comprises a large minority of Muslims and members of other religions, and includes many different ethnic groups. As such, Myanmar society is complex and innately plural.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Religion, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Burma, Myanmar
  • 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: 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: 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: 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: Justina Chen
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Since Malaysia Day last September, the administration of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has undertaken a whirlwind of legislative and policy reforms—making Najib arguably the most reformist Malaysian prime minister ever. Political pundits remark that the rushed reforms which were undertaken without consultation with key stakeholders are a sign that a general election is imminent, perhaps to be held in less than two months. Over the course of the last six months there have been a record number of legislative forms including: repeal of the infamous Internal Security Act; amendments to the University and University Colleges Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act; announcement of a minimum wage policy as well as the passing of the Security Offenses Bill and Peaceful Assembly Act.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Governance, Law
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Southeast Asia
  • 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: 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: John Lee
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In a recent online article in Foreignpolicy.com, regular columnist and head of the Economic Strategy Institute, Clyde Prestowitz, argued that the next president of the World Bank should be Zhou Xiaochuan, Chairman of the People's Bank of China. For Prestowitz, it was not just Zhou's excellent credentials that made him ideal for the position, but also the fact that he is Chinese. China is accurately accused of “gaming” the global economic liberal order through its currency policies, restricted market access for outside firms and governments, and internal intervention in the economy to the detriment of foreign firms. But Prestowitz believes that such an appointment would significantly encourage China to behave as a “responsible stakeholder.” Behind this thinking is the argument that the more power, prestige, and authority China accumulates within the existing order, the more liberal Chinese economic policies will become.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Sharon Squassoni
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: A few days before Seoul hosted the official Nuclear Security Summit in late March, experts met to discuss progress on nuclear security. The keynote speaker, Dr. Graham Allison from Harvard University, suggested a strategy of three “No's” to reduce future nuclear risks: no loose nuclear weapons or materials; no new national enrichment or reprocessing facilities; and no new nuclear weapon states. This strategy links traditional “nuclear security”—physical protection of nuclear material—with nuclear nonproliferation and fuel cycle management. Yet at the summit a few days later, the 52 heads of state, along with leaders of four international organizations on nuclear terrorism, focused on doing exactly the opposite: separating out nuclear security from nonproliferation, and putting as much distance between the growth of nuclear power and nuclear risks as possible. The result: underwhelming progress and no surprises.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: South Korea
  • 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: David I. Steinberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The drumbeat against the process and the potential results of the Burma/Myanmar by-elections of April 1, 2012 for 45 seats (37, or 11 percent in the Lower House of the bicameral legislature; 6, or 4 percent in the Upper House, and 2 in regional bodies) started before the polling began and the votes were counted. Human Rights Watch said they were a step forward, but not real reform. Campaign Burma UK wrote that it was impossible for them to be free and fair. And Aung San Suu Kyi, running for a seat, said they would be neither free nor fair. The plan to undercut their significance before they took place was evident.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • 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: Yun Sun
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: China's joint veto along with Russia of the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) on Syria has provoked fierce international criticism. Labeled as “responsible for Syria's genocide,” Beijing's international image has struck a new low. China's decision to cast the unpopular vote was apparently well thought-out, as evidenced by its consistent diplomatic rhetoric and actions, both before and after the veto. However, in analyzing China's motivation, many analysts seemed to have missed an important point. That is, China's experience concerning Libya in 2011 had a direct impact on its actions regarding Syria this time around.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Insurgency, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Arabia, United Nations, Syria
  • Author: Sasiwan Chingchit
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Burma's ongoing democratic and economic transition has created an unprecedented opportunity for India and Thailand to cooperate and strengthen economic links between South and Southeast Asia. It was therefore no coincidence that the Indian government invited Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's prime minister, to be the chief guest at the country's annual Republic Day parade on January 26. Even more symbolic was that the Thai premier's visit to New Delhi overlapped with that of Burma's foreign minister, Mr. Wanna Maung Lwin, who came to discuss progress on economic and security relations and extended an invitation to India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit his country.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, New Delhi, Burma, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • 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: Peter Mattis
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The recently ended standoff between the villagers of Wukan in Guangdong province and local government officials has refocused attention on China's future stability. The more than 100,000 officially reported incidents of unrest each year gives observers the false impression that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing barely holds the country together. Pressure may be building, but China's stability is like a champagne bottle. Until the cork pops, the bottle and its contents are stable. The question is how much pressure is building and how much wine is spilt when the cork flies out.
  • Topic: Communism, Democratization, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: China
  • 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: Melissa Crouch
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: One of the major challenges for any government is how to manage religious diversity, and how to provide for religious minorities in particular. In Indonesia there are six officially recognized religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. In addition, a wide range of other indigenous religions and beliefs exist outside of these groups. Melissa Crouch, Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne Law School writes that "While Indonesia's transition to democracy in 1998 brought about greater freedoms for all religious groups, there has also been a dramatic increase in convictions of 'deviant' groups for blasphemy."
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia
  • 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: 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