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You searched for: Content Type Special Report Remove constraint Content Type: Special Report Publishing Institution East-West Center Remove constraint Publishing Institution: East-West Center Publication Year within 25 Years Remove constraint Publication Year: within 25 Years Publication Year within 1 Year Remove constraint Publication Year: within 1 Year Publication Year within 3 Years Remove constraint Publication Year: within 3 Years Topic COVID-19 Remove constraint Topic: COVID-19
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  • Author: Hannah Foreman
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Timor-Leste is a small democratic country in an increasingly strategic region. Since gaining independence in 2002, Timor-Leste has made remarkable progress as Asia’s youngest democracy, but it has a long way to go in improving its economic and political situation. ASEAN membership for the Timorese is viewed as a way to reconcile economic, security, and geopolitical interests, while carving out a regional identity. Timor-Leste’s push for ASEAN membership started in 2011 and intensified during the latter half of 2019 when Foreign Minister Dionisio Babo Soares visited all ten ASEAN capitals in the summer followed by ASEAN fact finding missions in Dili in the fall. While Timor-Leste’s response to COVID-19 is impressive, the economic toll continues to be severe. Therefore, ASEAN membership is a comparatively lower priority this year, but is still under consideration by members, based on Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s speech during the recent ASEAN Summit.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Democracy, Geopolitics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Timor-Leste, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Peter Valente, Matthew Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Last year’s MS Westerdam cruise ship fiasco - in which 1,455 passengers and 802 crew were turned away from five different ports before being welcomed by Cambodia - raised many questions regarding how governments and the international community can improve their responses to global health crises. It also offers a window into the Cambodian government’s response to a global health crisis in the context of an important bilateral relationship — U.S.-Cambodia relations. Shortly after 700 new passengers boarded the Westerdam in Hong Kong on February 1 the cruise ship found itself stranded in the Indian and Pacific oceans ping-ponging between Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and Thailand until February 13, when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen allowed the Westerdam to dock in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The incident serves as an interesting window into how domestic regime security considerations combined with mixed motives in international relations influenced Cambodian decision making. One of the more bizarre facets of the Westerdam’s story was the in-person, relatively unprotected meet-and-greet between the Westerdam’s passengers and the Cambodian prime minister immediately after docking and amidst a global health crisis over the highly contagious COVID-19 virus. There has been much speculation by the media on the motivations of Cambodia’s decision and the prime minister’s personal welcome. Some of the various theories appearing in Western media include: diplomatic motives toward home countries of the passengers and crew (particularly the United States), Chinese political influence causing Cambodia to play down the dangers of COVID, or some combination of domestic and international politics.
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Cambodia, North America, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Sabyasashi Dutta
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Bay of Bengal, the world’s largest Bay, is strategically located in the Indian Ocean. On its western rim, lies the coastline of the Indian Peninsula and to its south, the island nation of Sri Lanka. To the east the bay connects key parts of Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand as well as the Andaman Sea and the Malacca straits. At its very northern cusp lies Bangladesh, which is also the delta of the great rivers of Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. These rivers connect the Bay in a unique “mountain to sea” ecosystem with natural connectivity to the Bay for the landlocked states of North Eastern India and the Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan. In turn, the monsoon currents which regulate the climate of the Bay of Bengal gather moisture from the bay and dictate precipitation patterns in the mountains and plains in the hinterland. The hills of Meghalaya in North Eastern India record the highest rainfall in the world as they are first hit by the monsoon clouds that gather moisture from the Bay. An interlace of snow and rain fed rivers, their basins, and their estuaries at the Bay nurture a large diversity of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife flora and fauna (e.g., the Sunderban mangroves spanning parts of Myanmar, India and Bangladesh) and offer a great diversity of agricultural produce. The Bay and the countries along and connected by its littoral are a compact maritime sub region connected at the level of economy and ecology, having an enormous impact on the hundreds of its inhabitant who live on its coasts and in its hinterlands.
  • Topic: Economy, Maritime, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Indian Ocean, Indo-Pacific, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Prabir De
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the health and economies of countries in the Bay of Bengal. India, Bangladesh, and Nepal are the region’s most affected countries in terms of COVID-19 cases and deaths, followed by Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It seems that Bhutan and Thailand, the least affected countries in the region, have successfully escaped the brunt of the pandemic. All these countries implemented strict lockdowns as early as March 2020, and the region’s recovery rates have been relatively high. However, the devastation from the pandemic did not reach its peak until after the lifting of lockdowns. The economic costs of the pandemic have soared and are still climbing. Today, most Bay of Bengal countries are facing a second or third wave of COVID-19 infections. India has been badly hit by a huge second Coronavirus wave, registered daily cases over 400,000 since Aril 2021. The damage being done by these additional waves is more intense than their predecessors. The Bay of Bengal countries are now looking for COVID-19 vaccines. India serves as the region’s primary producer of immunizations. Two Indian pharmaceutical companies have launched vaccines, with five more firms in the race to launch their own treatments. When vaccines are developed in India, they are easier to distribute across the region. In terms of availability, accessibility, and affordability, India’s vaccines are better suited to the needs of the region. In recent months, India has successfully supplied over 18 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to many Bay of Bengal countries, with Thailand being a notable exception. India has also ensured more supply of the vaccines in the neighborhood.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, India, Nepal, Thailand, Bhutan, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Dushni Weekaroon, Kithmina Hewage
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Bay of Bengal – home to one of the world’s pre-eminent historic trading networks – is once again at the nexus of rising regional and global rivalries. A multiplicity of port developments along the Bay of Bengal littoral underscore the tussle for control of maritime connectivity and trade—as well as diplomatic and defense advantage. Against the backdrop of a weakened post COVID-19 global economy, and as countries seek every possible advantage, the probability of competing tensions spilling over into outright confrontations and tit-for-tat retaliatory measures is high. Unless carefully assessed and managed, small but strategically positioned countries like Sri Lanka can get swept up and carried away in power rivalries being played out on their shores. Indeed, a common narrative has been to assert that Sri Lanka was forced to cede an important port to China after being lured into a ‘debt trap’ by easy Chinese loans. There is no gainsaying that over the last decade, China got a head start in investing in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure push, drawing the country firmly into the orbit of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Aside from China’s famed involvement in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port, its long-term footprint is also assured through investments in a large-scale land reclamation project – the Colombo Port City – that is a vital link in its BRI chain of connectivity.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Infrastructure, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Trade, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Arzan Tarapore
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For decades, an international order delivered security and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific. The order was based on U.S. military hegemony and alliances that preserved the strategic status quo and multilateral cooperation that enabled economic development and growth. That order is now under strain. The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging the order’s founding principles, prompting some regional states to limit their interdependency in certain sensitive sectors under the guise of supply chain resilience. The pandemic was not the first challenge to test the order; serious threats began to emerge over a decade ago, with the global financial crisis of 2008, and were sharply exacerbated by China’s economic rise and strategic revisionism, which threatens U.S. military and economic primacy and the territorial status quo. The United States, India, and like-minded middle-power partners from the Indo-Pacific and Europe have struggled to respond effectively. The other contributions in this series on navigating U.S.-China competition in the Indo-Pacific show how these states have sought to recover from the pandemic while also answering structural threats of revisionism and economic headwinds from decoupling, protectionism and changing integration patterns. Cutting across those specific policy issues are three overarching dilemmas that each state will be forced to resolve when making policy. How policymakers navigate these dilemmas will define the policy settings of their regional strategy.
  • Topic: Security, Economic Growth, Multilateralism, Regional Integration, Economic Development , Strategic Competition, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, South Asia, India, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Rani Mullen
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Understanding India’s soft power in the Indo-Pacific and the possible impact of its recent decline is essential to a well-informed American strategy in the region. As the world’s second-most populous country and largest democracy, India is an important power and American partner, as highlighted in President Biden’s March 2021 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which also identified the Indo-Pacific as vital to American national interests. The Great Power competition in the Indo-Pacific and India’s hard power has been analyzed in other articles in this series. As Joseph Nye pointed out in the 1980s, successful states require both hard and soft power–the wherewithal to coerce as well as the ability to entice and influence the behavior of other countries without force. America’s partnership with India is based not only on the mutual strategic interest of countering China but also on the soft power element of shared democratic values. At the same time, India’s ability to persuade regional countries to partner with it, despite it not having China’s deep pockets or hard power, is key to keeping the Indo-Pacific free and open.
  • Topic: Soft Power, COVID-19, Strategic Interests , Regional Power
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Jivantli Schottli
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: India struggled with an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. At its height, more than 400,000 new coronavirus cases were being reported daily. In many countries, the second wave was more virulent than the first, mirroring what happened in the fall of 1918, the second and deadliest phase of the Spanish influenza pandemic. Foreign aid poured into India, but the main challenge is to enable and fast-track partnerships and to ramp up vaccine production. Facing an acute situation at home, the Government of India suspended vaccine exports in late March. This was a major blow to countries who had either received doses as part of India’s vaccine diplomacy, or had placed orders with India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine producer. In total, India shipped 64 million doses of vaccines to 85 countries. China has stepped in to fill the gap, further cementing its status as the world’s largest vaccine exporter. Since the pandemic began last year, India reported more than 23 million cases and more than 250,000 deaths. In the first seven days of May, India recorded 2.7 million cases and over 25,700 deaths. Earlier in March, cases began to skyrocket in India’s richest state Maharashtra, home to the country’s financial capital Mumbai, a city with an estimated population of 12.5 million. During March, Maharashtra accounted for nearly 70% of the national caseload. Throughout April, a more potent variant of the virus accelerated infection rates and spread across the country. At the time of writing, not only Delhi but states to the north, west, and south experienced shocking, heart-wrenching scenes of suffering spurred on by a lack of oxygen supplies, intensive care units, and hospital beds. Although authorities did not announce a national lockdown, restrictions ranging from complete lockdowns to partial curfews were put in place across the country’s 28 states and eight union territories.
  • Topic: Partnerships, Vaccine, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Indo-Pacific