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  • Author: Raymond Yamamoto
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 is among the most ambitious global visions promoted by one country. The general goal of BRI is the provision of economic infrastructure worth at least $1 trillion to improve the land and sea routes between Asia, Africa, and Europe. In order to attract additional international investments to finance the initiative, China even created a multilateral bank – the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — in 2015. However, China’s ambitious BRI strategy has met considerable criticism from politicians and policy-makers, journalists, analysts, and scholars. These criticisms include accusations of pursuing debt-trap diplomacy to gain concessions from countries participating in BRI. The decision of Sri Lanka in 2018 to lease Hambantota port to China in order to reduce its BRI debt burden is often cited as a prime example. Together with growing Chinese military strength and assertiveness in the South and East China Seas, BRI is being framed as an instrument deployed by China to build up its global dominance.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Wang Feng
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In 1970, Chinese women were having an average of nearly six children each. Only nine years later, this gure had dropped to an average of 2.7 children per woman. This steep fertility decline was achieved before the Chinese government introduced the infamous one-child policy. Today, at 1.5 children per woman, the fertility rate in China is one of the lowest in the world. Such a low fertility level leads to extreme population aging— expansion of the proportion of the elderly in a population, with relatively few children to grow up and care for their aging parents and few workers to pay for social services or drive economic growth. China’s birth-control policies are now largely relaxed, but new programs are needed to provide healthcare and support for the growing elderly population and to encourage young people to have children. It will be increasingly di cult to fund such programs, however, as China’s unprecedented pace of economic growth inevitably slows down.
  • Topic: Population, Health Care Policy, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Saori N. Katada
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In 2015, two mega-initiatives took shape that will affect economic relations in the Asia-Pacific region: the US-promoted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Although they address different needs, both are expected to have profound effects on Asia's economic governance in the near future, and will shape economic norms in the Asia Pacific and beyond. Japan has joined the TPP but stayed out of the AIIB, decisions that might seem counterintuitive considering its history of resisting trade liberalization and of promoting infrastructure investment. Is Japan simply favoring its US ally over rival China? Or is it that Japan's position on the TPP and AIIB aligns with its own economic priorities, and enhances its geo-economic advantage? With a US-China competition over economic ideas and regional strategies, Japan occupies a unique position that may allow it to influence the direction of Asia-Pacific economic governance, which is now being battled out by the two "titans."
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Saul P. Limaye, Tsutomu Kikuchi
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Until recently, Southeast Asia had not been a region of sustained focus for the US-Japan relationship. But the situation is changing. The international relations of the Asia-Pacific is becoming more "multipolarized." This requires the US and Japan to think about the future of the region beyond the issue of US-China relations, which has preoccupied past discussions. A number of nations and institutions in the Asia-Pacific region will substantially affect the region's future. Southeast Asian nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are among them. A new era of more coordinated, sustained, and combined commercial and security involvement by the US and Japan in Southeast Asia may be at hand. In light of these changes, the East-West Center in Washington (EWCW), in collaboration with the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), and through the support of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), initiated a dialogue with Southeast Asians about their perspectives on how the US-Japan relationship and alliance could or should approach cooperation with the region.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Markets, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Dieter Ernst
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: This paper explores what we know about possible employment effects of the 10-year plan, issued by the State Council on May 19, 2015, entitled Made in China 2025. MIC2025 was designed to address China’s emerging labor shortage challenge. To achieve this goal, the plan seeks to boost labor productivity through an increased use of robots and through network-based upgrading of the entire industrial value chain and related services. How might the projected increase in labor productivity affect the creation and quality of jobs in China? Will China’s push into advanced manufacturing now move the country’s manufacturing employment closer to the pattern of “employment de-industrialization” observed in the US and other industrialized countries? How China will cope with the advanced manufacturing challenge for employment will have major implications not only for the US and other industrialized countries, but also for emerging economies and, most importantly for the majority of developing countries that are still struggling as latecomers to labor-intensive industrial manufacturing. The paper lays out objectives of the MIC 2025 plan and highlights a failure of Chinese policy makers to take into account employment effects and other labor market issues when they design their grand visions of industrial policy. The paper finds that until 2014, manufacturing has acted as an employment absorber in China. However new data on unemployment, labor force participation and income inequality signal that China may now be moving towards an “employment de-industrialization” pattern, unless enough knowledge-intensive service jobs will be created in China’s growing information economy. The paper concludes with implications for policy and further research.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: China
  • 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