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Center ScholarSpace community contains digital versions of just some of the several thousand books, periodicals, and unpublished papers generated by the Center over the past 50 years.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


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Now showing 1 - 10 of 156
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    Asia’s push for monetary alternatives
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2022-12) Noland, Marcus ; Peterson Institute for International Economics ; East-West Center
    For the last quarter century, Asia has been seeking greater autonomy within the existing international monetary system. While the region has had the resources to go its own way, intraregional rivalries and a reluctance to damage ties to the US and the International Monetary Fund have put a damper on regional initiatives. Now the ascendency of China offers a path toward greater regional autonomy in monetary affairs. Asia, led by China, has been playing a two-track strategy pushing for greater influence within the existing global institutions, while developing its own parallel institutions such as the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Use of the Chinese renminbi will likely grow as a trade invoicing currency but expanded use of the renminbi as a reserve currency is more uncertain. It is possible that the dollar-centered international financial system could evolve into a multipolar system with multiple currencies playing key roles.
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    The Indian farmer makes her voice heard
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2022-12) Kandikuppa, Sandeep ; Gupta, Pallavi ; East-West Center ; University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
    In August 2020, thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh, gathered on the outskirts of India’s national capital, New Delhi, to protest the passage of three controversial “farm laws” perceived by these farmers as threats to their livelihoods and well-being. Though the farm laws would affect only a small percentage of India’s farmers, over the next 16 months the protests attracted participation from across the country, cutting across class, caste, gender, and religious identities. While the proximate driver seemed to be the farmers’ fear of losing legal protections against a collapse in the market price of their produce, broader economic, ecological, and social factors helped trigger the movement. The protestors employed several strategies that made their movement successful enough in pushing back against a hugely popular government to bring about a repeal of the laws the farmers objected to.
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    North Korean food insecurity : is famine on the horizon?
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2022-08) Noland, Marcus ; Peterson Institute for International Economics ; East-West Center
    North Korea is a complex humanitarian emergency with food insecurity at its core. Data on grain prices and quantities depict a deteriorating situation, made worse by the regime’s self-isolating response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The grain supply appears to have fallen below minimum human needs, but the situation is neither as dire as the 1990s famine nor as severe as conditions elsewhere in the world today.

    Food insecurity in North Korea is not only a humanitarian issue, but it is a strategic issue as well. From the perspective of donors, given the lack of regime accountability, at the present time aid is unlikely to be an effective lever in achieving other diplomatic goals, nor does North Korea appear to be the potential recipient of greatest need.
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    China's military advances make case for strategic stability talks
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2022-05) Saalman, Lora ; SIPRI ; East-West Center
    China has long sought to distinguish its nuclear posture and force structure from those of Russia and the United States. However, its recent military advances and shifts in arsenal size, mating posture, alert status, dual-capable systems, and machine learning and autonomy demonstrate an ever-growing degree of convergence with these two countries. While introducing the potential for arms races or crises, these developments also increase the impetus for strategic stability dialogues. Unlike arms control negotiations, which tend to concentrate on limits to weapons development and numbers, strategic stability dialogues are broader and focus on weapons employment and escalation. Though past efforts to engage in such talks have met with challenges, the appeal of strategic stability talks may be growing.
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    Tesla goes to China
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2022-04) Harwit, Eric ; University of Hawaii at Manoa ; East-West Center
    Over the past decade, Tesla has been one of the most successful American companies in the US’s electric vehicle (EV) industry. Not satisfied with dominating the US market, the company turned in 2014 to China to expand its vehicle sales. There, Tesla entered a market with a mix of privately owned companies, joint ventures, and state-owned manufacturers, all operating since 2009 with government support. Indeed, in China, as it did in the United States, Tesla has benefitted greatly from both central and local government subsidies to EV manufacturers and customers. In 2020, China was reported to be the fastest growing market for Tesla, whose new manufacturing base in Shanghai made its vehicles more cost competitive. With China’s government mandating that by 2030, 40 percent of all vehicle sales should be EVs, the future seems bright. But challenges include planned changes in government-supported incentives.
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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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