East-West Center (Washington, D.C.). Policy Studies

Permanent URI for this collection

Policy Studies presents scholarly analysis of key contemporary domestic and international political, economic, and strategic issues affecting Asia in a policy relevant manner. Written for the policy community, academics, journalists, and the informed public, the peer-reviewed publications in this series provide new policy insights and perspectives based on extensive fieldwork and rigorous scholarship.

The East-West Center ScholarSpace community contains digital versions of just some of the several thousand books, periodicals, and unpublished papers generated by the Center over the past 50 years. Find a complete list of recent East-West Center publications and learn how to obtain them at EastWestCenter.org/publications . Search for recent and older works from 1960 - present using the Center's library catalog at EastWestCenter.org/riscatalog.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 69
  • Item
    Defending the maritime rules-based order : regional responses to the South China Sea disputes
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2020) Strating, Rebecca ; East-West Center
    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.
  • Item
    The impact of the Trump Administration's Indo-Pacific strategy on regional economic governance
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2019) Pitakdumrongkit, Kaewkamol Karen
    The Trump administration's Indo-Pacific regional economic governance strategy addresses trade, investment, and infrastructure development. Its reception by regional states varies by issue area, with infrastructure and investment being positively received, and trade being negatively received. To alleviate policy clashes and lessen the "noodle bowl" effect of overlapping rules and regulations, this paper suggests that American and Asian governments should: (1) immediately pursue collaboration in the areas of investment and infrastructure; (2) advance investment cooperation via capacity training and investment treaty consolidation; (3) enhance infrastructure collaboration via the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018 (or BUILD Act of 2018), joint ventures, public-private partnerships, and capacity training; (4) push forward trade cooperation via formal and Track 2 (informal networks) dialogue to facilitate a policymaking process; and (5) encourage more inter-bloc dialogue.
  • Item
    Chinese, Japanese, and Korean inroads into Central Asia comparative analysis of the economic cooperation roadmaps for Uzbekistan
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2019) Dadabaev, Timur
    China, Japan, and South Korea have regarded Central Asia as a new Asian frontier in their foreign policies since the collapse of the Soviet Union. With time, their policies evolved into regionbuilding initiatives exemplified by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Belt and Road Initiative, Central Asia plus Japan Dialogue Forum, and Korea-Central Asia Cooperation Forum. This paper raises the following research questions: What are the areas of interest for China, Japan, and Korea in their relations with Central Asian states and Uzbekistan in particular? What are the patterns of agenda setting in establishing intergovernmental cooperation? What are the particular projects that these states initiate? What are the objectives of projects initiated within these areas of interest? How competitive or complementary are these projects of China, Japan, and Korea? Throughout, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean "Silk Road" roadmaps with Uzbekistan are discussed to highlight their similarities and differences.
  • Item
    China and the United States as aid donors : past and future trajectories
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2017) Kilby, Patrick
    The United States and China have followed nearly parallel paths as providers of foreign aid over the past seven decades. Although both programs were ostensibly aimed at Third World economic development, both countries also leveraged the programs to further their own national interests, using very different strategies. The United States has largely provided foreign aid with the aim of stabilizing the world order, favoring a patron-client relationship with recipient countries, and using aid to promote economic and political liberalization. China, on the other hand, has used its foreign aid program primarily to strengthen its position as a leader of the Global South, favoring a hands-off political approach and emphasizing reciprocity and solidarity with aid recipients. The current US administration has proposed cutting foreign aid by one-third, in line with other countries' recent aid cuts. However, in an era of growing authoritarianism, the United States should carefully consider whether it will cede the "aid race" to its "apolitical" competitor.
  • Item
    Litigating the right to health : courts, politics, and justice in Indonesia
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2017) Rosser, Andrew
    Recent increases in health rights litigation in low- and middle-income countries triggered debates regarding the effects of such litigation on the equity and effectiveness of health systems. Proponents argued that such litigation promotes health rights by holding governments accountable. Critics claimed that, as such litigation is employed mostly by the middle-class, it leads to regressive health spending and access. A third group suggested that results depend on whether such litigation is individually or collectively focused--with individually focused litigation helping only individuals while collectively focused litigation potentially helps larger numbers. This study examines Indonesia's experience with health rights litigation and efforts promoting health rights in developing countries in general. The fall of Indonesia's New Order triggered changes in the 1945 constitution and new legislation strengthening the nation's right to health. This encouraged Indonesians to demand health-related entitlements in court. This study argues that such litigation promotes health rights by precipitating policy changes. This study points to broader preconditions for rights-friendly changes. It contends that collectively focused litigation drives progressive effects when there is some degree of elite responsiveness; when actors, resources, and alliances enabling legal mobilization exist; and when legal mobilization occurs in the context of wider political mobilizations.
  • Item
    Setting standards for industry : comparing the emerging Chinese standardization system and the current US system
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2017) Liu, Hui ; Cargill, Carl F.
    In every country, standardization is a reflection of that nation's level of industrialization. Creating consistent, widely adopted standards helps industries manufacture products in ways that are efficient, safe, repeatable, and of high quality. Standards are essential for translating new ideas, inventions, and discoveries into economic growth and prosperity. Whether standards originate from national governments, professional associations, private enterprises, or other standard-setting entities, they capture the interdependencies among the different sectors. On a broader level, they also embrace a nation's industrial, technical, and social policies. As nations change, standardization principles and practices change with them.

    Nowhere is this more true than in China today, where a historic revision of the Chinese standardization regime is taking place. New methods, new ideas, and new strategies for effective standardization are percolating within Chinese government and civil society. One of the new ideas is "association standards," which are set by nonprofit, nongovernmental "social organizations" such as trade and professional associations. Though widespread in the United States, association standards are in the developmental stages in China, with reform efforts now focused on increasing the decision-making autonomy of nongovernmental standard-setting organizations.

    This paper compares Chinese and American systems for setting industrial standards. Specifically, the paper compares the US system of voluntary standards, which relies on consensus among parties and market-driven initiatives, with current efforts to reform China's government-directed standardization system. The paper focuses on five aspects: the degree of development of these nonprofit associations, the abilities of the associations, government attitudes, market demand, and overseas experience. The paper culminates in a discussion of policy implications for China's reform efforts. An important argument is that the government should introduce pragmatic, feasible policy measures that address the needs and capabilities of standard-setting organizations. These policies can draw important lessons from the achievements of America's voluntary standard system. This would require a deep understanding of the advantages, disadvantages, and applicability of the US approach to voluntary standards.
  • Item
    Aligning unevenly : India and the United States
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2016) Mistry, Dinshaw
    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.
  • Item
    Papua's insecurity : state failure in the Indonesian periphery
    (Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2015) Anderson, Bobby
    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.
  • Item
    Reinventing Asian populism : Jokowi's rise, democracy, and political contestation in Indonesia
    (Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2015) Mietzner, Marcus
    Around the globe, populists have used the decline of established political parties and widespread societal fears of globalization to launch increasingly successful electoral campaigns. Indonesia is no exception. In the 2014 presidential elections, two populists even competed against each other--albeit with vastly different concepts of populism. Prabowo Subianto, the wealthy former son-in-law of ex-autocrat Suharto, offered a classic populist paradigm based on anti-foreign rhetoric, condemnation of the status quo, appeal to the poor, and neo-authoritarian reform plans. By contrast, his opponent, the down-to-earth former carpenter and Jakarta governor, Joko Widodo ("Jokowi"), advanced a new form of technocratic populism that was inclusive, nonconfrontational, and primarily focused on improving the quality of public service delivery. This study explores the dynamics of the electoral contest between Prabowo and Jokowi, and analyzes what they tell us about the conditions under which populist campaigns are launched and succeed or fail. It shows that Prabowo's campaign was ultimately defeated because Indonesia's post-Suharto democracy was not in a state of acute, life-threatening crisis. However, the issue also illuminates Jokowi's struggle to establish his populist rule after his inauguration as president, with oligarchic forces and other members of the old elite forcefully trying to intrude into his new government.
  • Item
    Contesting Buddhist narratives : democratization, nationalism, and communal violence in Myanmar
    (Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2014) Walton, Matthew J. ; Hayward, Susan
    Myanmar's transition to democracy has been marred by violence between Buddhists and Muslims. While the violence originally broke out between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, it subsequently emerged throughout the country, impacting Buddhists and Muslims of many ethnic backgrounds. This article offers background on these so-called "communal conflicts" and the rise and evolution of Buddhist nationalist groups led by monks that have spearheaded anti-Muslim campaigns. The authors describe how current monastic political mobilization can be understood as an extension of past monastic activism, and is rooted in traditional understandings of the monastic community's responsibility to defend the religion, respond to community needs, and guide political decision-makers. The authors propose a counter-argument rooted in Theravada Buddhism to address the underlying anxieties motivating Buddhist nationalists while directing them toward peaceful actions promoting coexistence. Additionally, given that these conflicts derive from wider political, economic, and social dilemmas, the authors offer a prescription of complementary policy initiatives.
Unless otherwise noted, all content © East-West Center. All rights reserved.