AsiaPacific Issues

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Papers in the AsiaPacific Issues series address topics of broad interest and significant impact relevant to current and emerging policy debates. These eight-page, peer-reviewed papers are accessible to readers outside the author's discipline.

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Center ScholarSpace community contains digital versions of just some of the several thousand books, periodicals, and unpublished papers generated by the Center over the past 50 years.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 . Search for recent and older works from 1960 - present using the Center's library catalog at


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 151
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    China and COVID-19 : alienation and its discontents
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2022-01) Potter, Pitman B.
    China's responses to COVID-19 reveal an evolving dynamic of (a) containment and control; (b) limited disclosure; and (c) escalating resistance. These stand against a background of historical grievance against the West and alienation from the international health policy community exemplified by the United States and its European allies with whom China has ongoing disputes over trade, human rights, and security. China's COVID-19 response involves reaction to conflicting WHO themes of modernization and colonialization that both invite and inhibit participation by developing countries. Proclaiming support for modernization in medical training, equipment, and services, the PRC has also emphasized the role of Chinese Traditional Medicine, while resisting WHO calls for disclosure of raw data, lab records, and case files. China's posture will require a measure of accommodation in global efforts to contain the pandemic and prepare for future outbreaks, combined with renewed efforts to improve cooperation and transparency.
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    Economic diplomacy and genocide in Xinjiang
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2021-11) Hendrix, Cullen ; Noland, Marcus
    The government of China is engaged in a systematic campaign to eradicate culturally, if not physically, the Uyghur Muslim minority of Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The US State Department characterizes this policy as "genocide," documenting an extensive list of continuing abuses against Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups. Having made this assessment, the issue is how best to respond. How can economic diplomacy be brought to bear to ensure foreign consumers are not unwitting accomplices to these abuses, including the use of forced labor, and how can those same policy tools be used to name, shame, and try to change behavior of the world's largest exporter? A multifaceted response is required, combining targeted economic sanctions, coordinated responses to refugees fleeing Xinjiang, private industry-led initiatives, and more symbolic acts including a boycott of the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.
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    A changing climate and its implications for health and migration in the Pacific : examples from the Marshall Islands
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2021-09) Brewington, Laura ; Kokame, Kelli ; Lewis, Nancy D. ; East-West Center
    Climate change impacts--temperature and rainfall changes, extreme events, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification--are amplifying health risks in vulnerable populations throughout the Pacific Islands, and also influence their mobility. This nexus of climate change, health, and migration is evident in the experience of the Marshall Islands. The nation and its population are dispersed over almost two million square kilometers of ocean, with sizeable diasporas in the United States. Climate impacts in the Marshall Islands exacerbate ongoing health threats, such as limited drinking water supplies, inadequate nutrition, and poor infrastructure. The out-migration of Marshallese is largely motivated by health, economic, education, and environmental reasons; therefore, planning for migrant movements should include adaptation strategies that also reduce health risks. A better understanding of how health, mobility, and climate change interact will help shape policy responses and provide useable climate information for focused, timely interventions that maximize health and well-being among populations in motion.
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    Hun Sen's mistake? the domestic political ramifications of his Chinese shelter
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2021-04) Dunst, Charles
    Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's close relationship with the People's Republic of China (PRC) has led scholars and policymakers alike to suggest that Beijing's backing will keep him in power. While Hun Sen himself seems to believe this to be true, his reliance on China is actually enflaming Cambodian discontent to such an extent that his planned patrimonial succession is at risk. Given the fragility of regimes mid-succession, Hun Sen's Chinese shelter is augmenting the potential of his clan's fall. Yet as Hun Sen faces increased domestic opposition, he will only further deepen ties with China in hopes of remaining in power, thereby creating a vicious cycle from which escaping will prove difficult.
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    Legal identity and statelessness in Southeast Asia
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2021-01) Sperfeldt, Christoph
    Millions of people worldwide are stateless or do not have proof of their legal identity. As a result, they face daily obstacles from lack of access to a range of social, political, and economic rights. Around 40 percent of the identified stateless population live in the Asia Pacific region, with the majority of them residing in the countries of Southeast Asia. While some of these people are refugees or migrants, most belong to minorities living in the country where they were born. Their lack of proof of nationality or other forms of legal identity poses significant challenges to human rights, governance, and development. International conventions aim at improving their status, but have been poorly subscribed. Much of the work to solve the problems will have to be done at the national level, where interest is increasing. Since the forced mass exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar, many have reached the shores of Malaysia and Indonesia, driving home the implications of unresolved situations of statelessness.
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    Can ASEAN expand vocational training to help workers survive automation and AI?
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2020-12) Lloyd, William
    The countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have cumulatively vaulted from the world’s seventh-largest economy to the fifth, in 2019, in only three years. But several challenges threaten future economic growth. Chief among them is demographic change: populations across ASEAN are aging and birthrates are declining. One outcome will be labor shortages. The shrinking labor pool could serve as a strong driver for automation. But while automation may reduce input costs and boost growth, it could change the skills employers desire, resulting in the obsolescence of many low-skilled jobs, leaving current workers without the skills necessary to obtain work. Upskilling labor through vocational education and related programs is the obvious response. But ASEAN education systems have never included significant vocational opportunities. With technological change accelerating, ASEAN states will need help with the herculean task of rapidly remodeling their education systems.
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    Next steps for US-Japan collaboration on energy infrastructure
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2020-10) Weatherby, Courtney
    China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has re-centered discussion of geopolitical competition in Asia around infrastructure. Responding both to BRI and the region's well-known infrastructure gap, the United States has launched efforts to unlock US private investment for infrastructure. Japan's engagements in the region emphasize high-quality infrastructure and best practices (an implicit criticism of China's sometimes less rigorous standards). The foreign policy approaches of the United States and Japan dovetail nicely and have led to many new initiatives and institutional partnerships, as well as the quality-focused Blue Dot Network. But despite the two countries' intentions to work collaboratively, their efforts have been held back by differences in organizational practices, the lengthy overhaul of US financing, and a lack of immediate movement from US-Japan consortia. For now, a less ambitious approach of closely coordinating technical assistance and conditional funding on proposed projects may serve as a model for closer US-Japan collaboration as efforts mature.
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    China's pandemic diplomacy
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2020-09) Roy, Denny ; East-West Center
    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.
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    Cooperation between the United States and Pakistan : what is the future?
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2020-01) Khokhar, Riaz A.
    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.
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    Women, leadership, and Asian economic performance
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2020-01) Han, Soyoung ; Noland, Marcus
    In an era of slowing economic growth, Asian countries face an imperative to boost productivity. One possible source of economic revitalization would be to make better use of women in the labor force. Although female representation in corporate leadership has been rising gradually over time, as of 2017, women comprised only 16 percent of executive officers and 11 percent of board members in publicly listed firms in Asia. Research shows that Asian firms with female executive officers and board members perform better in terms of net profit margin and return on assets than firms that lack females in leadership positions. Public policy can improve this gender gap. For one thing, countries that produce large numbers of female college graduates in fields such as law, business, or economics tend to generate more female corporate executives.

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