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Center ScholarSpace community contains digital versions of just some of the several thousand books, periodicals, and unpublished papers generated by the Center over the past 50 years.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 161
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    Why North Korean nuclear blackmail is unlikely
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2023-11) Roy, Denny ; East-West Center
    Nuclear-armed North Korea is now expanding and diversifying its arsenal and delivery systems, including the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. This generates fears that Pyongyang intends to use nuclear coercion to force its political agenda upon South Korea while negating the “nuclear umbrella” provided by Seoul’s ally the United States. Even the expanded nuclear arsenal, however, is unlikely to embolden Pyongyang either to demand specific concessions from Seoul during peacetime on pain of a nuclear attack, or to employ conventional military attacks more aggressively under the cover provided by North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Absent an attempt by Seoul and Washington to topple the Kim regime through invasion, nuclear threats by Pyongyang lack credibility. From Pyongyang’s standpoint, North Korea’s nuclear weapons strategy is explainable as part of an essentially self-defensive posture. The US and South Korean governments should therefore avoid policies that might unnecessarily push Pyongyang toward more aggressive actions.
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    Community driven development, climate change, and resiliency : lessons from Solomon Islands
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2023-09) Anderson, Bobby ; East-West Center ; Chiang Mai University. School of Public Policy
    Between 2009 and 2022, the Rural Development Program (RDP) built 663 small scale infrastructure projects chosen by communities across Solomon Islands. As RDP closed, the author visited 68 projects to assess a) the utility of the Community Driven Development (CDD) methodology, and b) how CDD may have been used by communities to ameliorate climate and disaster impacts. He surprisingly found that communities used CDD to replace water sources damaged by logging. Overall, CDD proved robust and adaptable, and was used by communities to build needed climate- and disaster-resilient infrastructure. However, the ability for communities to respond to climate risk was limited due to the scale of sea level rise. This paper concludes with recommendations to make community-led interventions more resilient to climate and disaster risk.
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    China's 5G mobile technology in Asia : US security concerns and regional economic priorities
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2023-05) Harwit, Eric ; East-West Center
    Seeing Chinese fifth generation, or “5G,” mobile communications technology as a potential security threat, the US government has been discouraging other countries from using Chinese 5G equipment despite its global popularity. Understanding this issue requires an explanation of American security concerns related to Chinese 5G technology and a review of the steps the US government has taken to ban Chinese equipment from US communications networks.

    The responses of several Asian countries to American calls for a prohibition against Chinese 5G equipment are varied. While close US allies generally follow the American call to avoid incorporating Chinese communications equipment, some less developed Asian nations have put economic considerations above security concerns. As a consequence, US policy could create a communications schism between the US and some developing Asian nations. Despite the likelihood of this negative outcome, American policy makers may continue to urge against the use of Chinese equipment because they prioritize security over other considerations.
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    Valuing longer, healthier lives : assessing the productivity of health spending in South Korea
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2023-03) Eggleston, Karen ; POSCO Fellow, East-West Center ; Stanford University, Asia Health Policy Program
    This research studies the link between medical spending and health outcomes in South Korea, providing evidence on the productivity of medical spending over recent decades.

    The author advocates for the Korean government to develop a “satellite account for health” to complement national income and product accounts. Current measures do not account for changing quality nor give providers any incentive for cost-effective substitution between forms of treatment for a given condition. By leveraging existing strengths of Korea’s National Health Insurance and health outcome data, Korea can develop an accurate measure of medical productivity and a more accurate measure of overall economic productivity, while becoming a global pioneer of “health satellite accounts” for overall populations. Such a productivity metric built on condition-specific net value can help Korea increase the “bang for the buck” from medical spending, mitigate wasteful spending, and promote high-value innovations for longer, healthier lives.
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    Economic sanctions during humanitarian emergencies : the case of North Korea
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2023-01) Haggard, Stephan ; Noland, Marcus ; Korea-Pacific Studies, School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego ; Peterson Institute for International Economics ; East-West Center
    North Korea is experiencing yet another cycle of humanitarian distress. While sanctions are not the primary cause, they are a contributing factor. This essay examines the channels through which sanctions affect the North Korean economy and reaches four conclusions: First, sanctions have contributed to a deterioration of economic performance. Second, the UNSC's 1718 Sanctions Committee should consider a thorough review to identify goods that would warrant blanket humanitarian financial sanctions have raised the risk premium on all financial transactions with North Korea; the sanctioning authorities need to do a better job of clarifying transactions permissible under humanitarian exemptions. Finally, while the global community should reassess its policies, the government of North Korea bears responsibility as well. The benefits of sanctions relief will be diminished if North Korea refuses to engage constructively with the international community on a broader range of issues running from basic humanitarian relief to economic reform.
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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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