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  • Author: Dinshaw Mistry
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the early and mid-2000s, US policymakers anticipated India becoming one of America's top global partners. Have New Delhi's policies on key strategic issues actually aligned strongly with US objectives, as would be typical of close partners? An analysis of twelve prominent issues in US-India relations indicates that New Delhi's policies mostly converged moderately, rather than to a high extent, with US objectives. Specifically, the alignment between New Delhi's policies and US objectives was high or moderate-to-high on three issues—UN peacekeeping, nonproliferation export controls, and arms sales. It was moderate or low-to-moderate on six issues—China, Iran, Afghanistan, Indian Ocean security, Pakistan, and bilateral defense cooperation. And it was low or negligible on three issues—nuclear reactor contracts for US firms, nuclear arms control, and the war in Iraq. To be sure, despite the low or negligible convergence, New Delhi did not take an anti-US position on these issues. Four factors explain why New Delhi's policies aligned unevenly with US objectives across the issues: India's strategic interests (that diverged from US interests on some issues); domestic political and economic barriers (that prevented greater convergence between India's policies and US objectives); incentives and disincentives (that induced New Delhi to better align with US objectives); and certain case-specific factors. This analysis suggests that, rather than expecting India to become a close ally, US policymakers should consider it a friendly strategic partner whose policies would align, on the average, moderately with US strategic interests.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Political Economy, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Unconventional monetary policy (UMP) has had predictable effects. How exit plays out is scenario-dependent. Quantitative easing has had the predictable effect of encouraging currency depreciation and some partner countries may have attempted to offset these exchange rate effects. Korea presents a particularly interesting case: it is relatively small and relatively open and integrated, in both trade and financial terms, with the United States and Japan, two practitioners of UMP. Authorities have acted to limit the won's appreciation primarily against the currency of China, not the US or Japan. Nevertheless, Korea's policy is a source of tension with the US. Under legislation currently being considered, the currency manipulation issue could potentially interfere with Korean efforts to attract direct investment from the US and create an obstacle to Korea joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Monetary Policy, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Jon Dorsch
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: At the end of 2015 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will announce the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). In theory, this agreement should produce an association-wide economic integration. However, following the announcement, and for the foreseeable future, ASEAN member states will continue in significantly less than full regional economic integration. Why? Some observers believe that the AEC plans involve an "overly ambitious timeline and too many ill-thought-out initiatives." Others point to ASEAN's traditional aversion to legally binding agreements. While progress has been made in reducing or eliminating intra-ASEAN trade tariffs, substantial non-tariff barriers to trade persist. However, for most member states, the ASEAN market is relatively small while external markets, especially China, are growing rapidly. Given this outward-orientation for ASEAN trade, is the lack of an unhindered regional market really a problem?
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Peter A. Petri, Michael G. Plummer
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: ASEAN has become a focal point of the rapidly changing economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN members are increasingly stable and politically confident, and constitute an emerging economic powerhouse. The region is dynamic, with 600 million citizens and a gross domestic product (GDP) that exceeds $2 trillion and is expected to grow 6 percent annually for the next two decades. (The Appendix at the end of this paper reports detailed output and trade projections to 2025.) Through deeper internal integration via the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and external initiatives such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), ASEAN is becoming a driving force in regional cooperation and a much-courted economic partner. The AEC and the RCEP projects are globally significant: the AEC could generate powerful demonstration effects for other developing regions, and the RCEP could become an important building bloc of the multilateral trading system.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, East Asia, Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Luke Simon Jordan, Katerina Koinis
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Despite the region's economic growth over the last few decades, countries across Asia still face the complex challenge of structural transformation. Low-income economies must build formal industrial and service sectors from agricultural and informal bases; middle-income economies must move up the value chain; and high-income economies must continually generate new capabilities at the frontier of innovation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Economic engagement between South and North Korea is often justified as a means of encouraging economic and social evolution in North Korea, with the ultimate goal of national unification. The South has invested heavily in the North, and firms have employed more than 50,000 workers. Yet expectations of a transformational impact rest on unexamined assumptions. The North recognizes the Trojan horse nature of the engagement policy: results of an original survey of South Korean employers show that the North Korean government has largely circumscribed the exposure of its citizens to both South Koreans and market-oriented economic practices, in the process violating labor rights defined by covenants to which both countries belong. The problem seems intractable, given that South Korea's diplomatic commitment to engagement with North Korea trumps labor rights concerns and South Korean firms perceive that the North Korean status quo confers benefits. As the experience of labor rights movements elsewhere shows, conditions will likely improve only if an aroused citizenry—here, the South Koreans—demands change.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations, Reform
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Jefferson M. Fox, Jean-Christophe Castella, Alan D. Ziegler, Sidney b. Westley.
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For centuries, farmers in the mountainous region of mainland Southeast Asia have practiced shifting cultivation, with plots of land cultivated temporarily and then allowed to revert to secondary forest for a fallow period. Today, more than one million hectares have been converted to rubber plantation. By 2050, the area under rubber trees in the montane regions of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China's Yunnan Province is predicted to increase fourfold. Preliminary research suggests this massive land-use change could lead to drier conditions at the local level plus surface erosion, loss of soil quality, sedimentation and disruption of streams, and risk of landslides. And it appears that when primary or secondary forests are converted to rubber, carbon emissions are likely to increase. Despite environmental concerns, both local farmers and outside entrepreneurs are likely to continue expanding rubber plantations because of high economic returns. Production systems that provide the best balance between economic return and environmental sustainability are needed to improve the long-term outlook for the region.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Environment
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Charles E. Morrison
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the past quarter-century Asia has seen vast changes, including increased economic growth, integration, and liberalization. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) process, now marking its 25th anniversary, facilitated these changes through its institution of the first regular meetings of ministers and then leaders. But what role should APEC play in the future? With a continuing diffusion of power, what was once hailed as an imminent "Asian century" is much more likely to be a global one. This international system, however, will have a trans-Pacific core with much of the economic power and potential to provide global leadership for the further development of international norms, rules, and cooperation. Thus, we may be able to refer to an "Asia-Pacific century." Two questions arise: Is North America, with a relatively small share of global population and a declining share of global world product, still relevant? Will the nations on the two sides of the Pacific really be able to use their power effectively to assume global leadership? The answer to the first of these is "yes," and to the second, "it depends."
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Francis X. Hezel
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Pacific is receiving a fair share of attention today from many quarters. Even as the parade of economic consultants continues, others are coming to explore concerns that have more recently claimed the attention of western nations. These concerns cover a broad range, including food security, global warming, elimination of illegal drug traffic in the region, prevention of AIDS or even drug-resistant tuberculosis, protection from spouse abuse, and public-school improvement. These are legitimate interests, but none of them addresses the central concern that vexes each of the island nations of Micronesia, and perhaps the islands elsewhere in the Pacific: How will the country grow its economy to ensure its survival in the future?
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Asia, Australia, Island
  • Author: Tin Maung Maung Than
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: By-elections in electoral democracies usually elicit very little excitement beyond the affected constituencies. However, Burma/Myanmar's recent by-elections held most of Asia and the West in rapt attention, with droves of international observers, media representatives, and curious foreigners flocking to Myanmar on an unprecedented scale. As anticipated, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won 43 of the 44 seats that it contested, subsequently hailed as the “victory of the people.” The lead-up, campaigning, and the actual voting, along with the post-election euphoria, resembled a regime-changing national election rather than a series of by-elections that secured the NLD a very minor 6.4 percent of the overall seats in the parliamentary Union Assembly's Lower and Upper Houses. The current government of President U Thein Sein most likely regarded these by-elections as a means of legitimizing its mandate to govern and enhance its own reform credentials.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights, Politics, Regime Change, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Nick Bisley
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has just completed a lightning visit to Australia for formal discussions with newly installed Foreign Minister Bob Carr. In spite of the political turmoil that brought Carr to office, the Australia-US alliance is in the best shape of its 60-year history. Having begun as a Cold War convenience, about which the United States was not enthusiastic, it has become a key part of Washington's regional role and a cornerstone not only of Australia's defense and security policy, but of its broader engagement with the world. The arrival in early April of the US Marine Corps to begin six-month training rotations in Darwin is emblematic of the alliance's standing and its evolution.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Cold War, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Elina Noor
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks' former benchwarmer and now worldwide basketball sensation, is the new Cinderella Man or “Linderella” of basketball, and maybe even more. As the National Basketball Association's (NBA) first American-born player of Chinese-Taiwanese descent, Lin has notched impressive game statistics, sparked new “Lin-go” around his name, and enraptured fans from Queens to the Bay Area, Zhejiang to Taipei, and Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur.
  • Topic: Mass Media, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: United States, China, New York, East Asia, Asia, Australia/Pacific, Kuala Lumpur
  • Author: Paul Richardson
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For the first time in its history, Russia this year assumed the leadership of a major Asia- Pacific forum—APEC. In September the organization's annual summit will be held in Vladivostok and through this congress Russia hopes to demonstrate to the world, and its own citizens, that the country is once again a power in both Europe and Asia. It is a bold vision, which is bound to Russia's national development strategy and Great Power aspirations. As one Russian diplomat told this author, if Russia really becomes involved in Asia it could change the country and also the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, International Affairs, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As Sino-American competition for influence enters a new stage with the Obama administration's re-engagement with Asia, each power's legacies in the region add to economic, military and diplomatic factors determining which power will be more successful in the competition. How the United States and China deal with their respective histories in regional affairs and the role of their non-government relations with the Asia- Pacific represent important legacies that on balance favor the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, Asia
  • Author: Scott Thomas Bruce
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: With North Korea's tightly controlled and isolated population, the rise of information technology—specifically cell phones and an intranet—is an unprecedented development. In the last decade, a domestic intranet was launched and a cell phone network was created. Both of these form a closed, domestic system, which the regime hopes will allow for productivity gains from increased coordination and the sharing of state-approved information, while keeping out foreign influences. North Korea is now confronted with the challenge of how to reap the economic benefits of an IT system, while avoiding the social instability that may accompany it. The country has made a fundamental shift from a state that limits access to information technology to ensure the security of the regime, to one that is willing to use it as a tool, at least among a certain privileged class, to support the development of the nation. Although North Korea is stable for now, over the next decade, information technology has the potential to transform the state and it also creates a strong incentive to integrate North Korea into the dynamic economies of Northeast Asia.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Communications, Governance
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Rajnish Tiwari, Cornelius Herstatt, Mahipat Ranawat
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: India's automobile industry has witnessed an impressive run of sus - tained growth in the past two decades. The total number of vehicles produced in fiscal year 1990–91 was only 2.3 million, but by fiscal year 2009–10 this number had swelled to 14.1 million. Similarly, the value of automotive products exported by India was only US$198 million in 1990, but by 2009 the value had increased nearly twenty-five-fold to US$5 billion, representing an average annual growth rate of 26 percent and catapulting India into the league of the top fifteen exporters of automotive products worldwide
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: William Case
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In an influential study, Steven Fish and Matthew Kroenig argue that “overarching institutional designs” (i.e., presidential, parliamentary, and dual systems) tell us less about the prospects of a new democracy than does the particular strength of the legislature. Specifically, executive abuses are best checked where legislatures are powerful, generating horizontal accountability. Indeed, Fish and Kroenig suggest that with judiciaries and watchdog agencies weak in most new democracies, the legislature is the only institution by which accountability can be imposed. What is more, ordinary citizens are better informed by the robust party systems that strong legislatures support, fostering vertical accountability. In comparing Freedom House scores with their Parliamentary Powers Index (PPI), Fish and Kroenig show clear correlations, leading them to conclude that democracies are made strong by legislatures that are empowered.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Malaysia, Asia, Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Malcolm Cook, Thomas S. Wilkins
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The post-Cold War era in the Asia-Pacific has not witnessed the triumph of low over high politics. Rather, it has seen the simultaneous intensification of both economic integration and security cooperation and competition. This is true both at the level of the region, and for China and most other countries in the region.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Cold War, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Sourabh Gupta
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Civilizational, cultural, and geographic neighbors, India and Indonesia share striking commonalities in their modern historical trajectories. In both societies, European powers, the Dutch and the British, benefited from the decline of tired Islamic land empires to graft colonial modes of exploitation that progressed fitfully from coast to hinterland to interior. Following proto-nationalist revolt s, the Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and the Java War of 1825-30, both the Dutch and the British skillfully engineered a buffer of indigenous elite collaborators. This strategy succeeded to such an extent that their faraway possessions were governed by less than two hundred and a thousand expatriate administrators, respectively.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Post Colonialism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, India, Asia
  • Author: Endy Bayuni
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Blasphemy can be a deadly affair in Indonesia and Pakistan, two of Asia's largest Muslim-majority countries. Triggered by allegations of blasphemy, virulent mob attacks against those perceived to have offended Islam have rocked the two countries in recent months. While Indonesia and Pakistan have laws that specifically address issues of blasphemy, those unfortunate enough to be labeled blasphemers are rarely taken to court. Encouraged by, if not with tacit approval from, conservative Muslim leaders, Indonesian and Pakistani mobs have been taking the law into their own hands instead.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Indonesia, Asia