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  • Author: Denny Roy
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic threatened to damage China’s international reputation just as the Chinese government under Xi Jinping was peaking in its promotion of China as a model political system and superior international citizen. Beijing launched a massive diplomatic effort aimed at both foreign governments and foreign societies. The goal was to overcome initial negative publicity and to recast China as an efficient and heroic country in the eyes of international public opinion. The crisis created an opening for China to make gains in its international leadership credentials as the world saw the superpower United States falter. Ultimately, however, Chinese pandemic diplomacy contributed to a net decrease in China’s global prestige, largely because domestic political imperatives motivated behavior that generated international disapproval and distrust for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government. This paper summarizes the content of Chinese pandemic diplomacy through the key period of January through May 20201, identifies specific strengths and weaknesses of China’s effort, and briefly assesses its global impact.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Riaz A. Khokhar
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Within the Indo-Pacific region, the United States and Pakistan have sharply divergent strategic objectives. While American objectives have changed over time, focusing in recent years on rivalry with China, Pakistan’s strategic objective has remained constant—to maintain a balance of power with India. Yet Pakistan retains close strategic and economic ties with China, and the United States considers India an important strategic partner. Nevertheless, the two countries have worked together for nearly two decades toward two tactical goals—achieving a political settlement in Afghanistan and eliminating terrorism in South Asia. There is potential for them to cooperate more broadly, for example, increasing direct foreign investment to Pakistan and helping Islamabad balance its relations with the United States and China. Washington’s willingness to expand such cooperation will depend on Pakistan’s cooperation in fighting terrorism in the region.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Terrorism, Power Politics, Foreign Direct Investment, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, South Asia, India, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Rebecca Strating
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The seas are an increasingly important domain for understanding the balance-of-power dynamics between a rising People’s Republic of China and the United States. Specifically, disputes in the South China Sea have intensified over the past decade. Multifaceted disputes concern overlapping claims to territory and maritime jurisdiction, strategic control over maritime domain, and differences in legal interpretations of freedom of navigation. These disputes have become a highly visible microcosm of a broader contest between a maritime order underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and challenger conceptions of order that see a bigger role for rising powers in generating new rules and alternative interpretations of existing international law. This issue examines the responses of non-claimant regional states—India, Australia, South Korea, and Japan—to the South China Sea disputes.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Geopolitics, Maritime, Jurisdiction
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America, South China Sea
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The so-called “truce” in the trade war with the signing of the phase one U.S.-China trade agreement on January 15 comes amid indicators that the intense U.S. government consensus pushback against a wide range of perceived challenges posed by China may be subsiding.
  • Topic: Government, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Scott
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Traditionally, New Zealand’s strategic focus has been on Australia and the South Pacific. As recently as 18 October, 2018, Ben King, New Zealand’s Deputy Secretary for Americas and Asia said that “the term Indo‑Pacific may not resonate in New Zealand yet.” And this despite a July 2018 Strategic Defence Policy Statement that already pinpointed New Zealand’s “Indo-Pacific partners reinforcing the rules based order” as being Australia, India, Japan and the United States. It is worth noting that the Strategic Defence Policy Statement gave lengthy details on the threat posed by China; in its Maritime Silk Road push into the Indian Ocean, its militarization of the South China Sea, and its push into the Pacific islands. Events from August 2019 to February 2020 reinforce that New Zealand is seeking out “Indo-Pacific” cooperation with these four particular “partners” (Japan, United States, India, Australia) over shared concerns about China.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Huong Le Thu
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Dr. Huong Le Thu, Senior Analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, explains that “To many, shared concerns about China are the driving force for Vietnam‐U.S. relations.”
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Vietnam, North America, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Alicia Campi
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Dr Alicia Campi, President of the Mongolia Society, explains that “The [“Third Neighbor”] policy was reinterpreted in content and meaning to include cultural and economic partners as diverse as India, Brazil, Kuwait, Turkey, Vietnam, and Iran. With increased superpower rivalry in its region, Mongolia has expanded this basic policy.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Partnerships, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Turkey, India, Mongolia, Asia, Kuwait, Brazil, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Steven McGann
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The United States and Fiji continue to strengthen security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Ties between the regional partners endured throughout Fiji’s 2006 military takeover and resultant domestic political challenges. During this period Washington’s engagement with Suva included humanitarian assistance/disaster response, maritime security, law enforcement cooperation, counter-narcotics, and anti-trafficking of vulnerable populations.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Partnerships, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: United States of America, Fiji
  • Author: Bich T. Tran
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Under the Obama administration’s Rebalance to Asia, Vietnam gradually gained importance in U.S. foreign policy as the two countries formed a “comprehensive partnership” in 2013. Despite the Trump administration’s America First policy, the United States prioritizes its partnerships with Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries in its Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy. While a common concern about China’s behavior in the South China Sea has facilitated the growth of U.S.-Vietnam relations, the foundation of the relationship is cooperation on Vietnam War legacy issues. The two countries have made remarkable progress in advancing diplomatic, economic, and defense ties regardless of remaining challenges. The year 2020 would be ideal for the United States and Vietnam to upgrade the relationship to a “strategic partnership”: it marks the 25th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral relations, Hanoi’s ASEAN chairmanship, and the start of Vietnam’s term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Economy, Donald Trump, Barack Obama
  • Political Geography: Asia, Vietnam, United States of America
  • Author: Wenhong Chen
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and Cloud Computing (ABC) have generated unprecedented opportunities and challenges for economic competitiveness, national security, and law and order, as well as the future of work. ABC policies and practices have become contentious issues in U.S.-China bilateral relations. Pundits see a U.S.-China AI race and are already debating which country will win. Kaifu Lee, the CEO of Sinovation Ventures, believes that China will exceed the United States in AI in about five years. Others argue that China will never catch up. This essay focuses on two issues: the comparative ABC strengths of the United States and China in data and research and development (R&D); and the emerging ABC policies and practices in the two nations. Empirical analysis suggests that the United States and China lead in different areas. Compared to China’s top-down, whole-of-government, national- strategy approach, the U.S. ABC policy has been less articulated but is evolving.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Strategic Competition, Data, Cloud Computing
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Malcolm Cook
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Conventional narratives are either supported by facts or overcome them. Recent increased trade flows between the US and the ten economies of Southeast Asia suggest that the predominant narrative of the commercial displacement of the United States by China in Southeast Asia is incorrect. However, the United States’s growing trade deficits and shrinking surpluses with Southeast Asia do bolster an American mercantilist narrative that bilateral deficits are an economic loss for the US caused by Southeast Asian governments’ unfair trade policies.
  • Topic: Global Markets, Economy, Trade, Deficit
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Wallsgrove, Zena Grecni
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Freshwater resource managers in American Sāmoa are facing climate change issues. A projected increase in frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events, rising sea level, and rising air temperature are among these climate-related dynamics. This confirms the need for effective climate change adaptation strategies, particularly with respect to protecting water quality. The existing law, policy, and management framework for American Sāmoa's freshwater resources is somewhat fractured, consisting of overlaid US federal environmental laws and regulations, territorial laws and policies, utility management of groundwater, and village-based management of surface water. This framework presents both challenges and opportunities, but foundational adaptive needs--such as resource monitoring, awareness, and continuing climate research--are pressing. This work identifies nine opportunities to enhance adaptive capacity within American Sāmoa's existing law and policy framework.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, Water
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Jordan Howell
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • 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, Environment, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States of America