In Honor of Gaston Sigur’s Legacy

It is no secret that the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) is one of The George Washington University’s most prestigious schools, and the Sigur Center is proud to have been its helm for Asian studies since 1991. Today, the Sigur Center coordinates the largest Asian Studies program in metro DC area, and has long established their reputation for exceptional education, academic and policy research both at home and abroad. But what does the “Sigur” in Sigur Center stand for, and who is the man who started it all?

Gaston Sigur was born in Louisiana in 1924. At the age of 19, Sigur joined the US Army, where he was pulled from the ranks to study Japanese, irreversibly launching his career in East Asian studies. After World War II, Sigur returned to the US and received his Ph.D. in Japanese History from the University of Michigan in 1957. He was then employed for many years by the Asia Foundation, with postings across the globe including Afghanistan, Japan, and Washington, D.C. It was not until 1972 that Sigur arrived at George Washington University to teach and direct the Institute for Sino-Soviet Studies. While serving in this position, Sigur wrote several major works on U.S. foreign policy in Asia and was a regular contributor to Orbis, a leading journal of world affairs.

On January 24, 1986, Sigur was nominated by President Reagan as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. In this position, Sigur is widely credited for having negotiated advantageous economic deals for the United States with Japan — even as he strengthened the overall US-Japan alliance — and for promoting the democratization of the Republic of Korea via his personal and forceful interaction with South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan. After the 1988 election, Sigur went on to serve as Assistant Secretary under President George H.W. Bush and continued to act as an informal adviser for him despite officially stepping down from his position one year later.

In 1989, Sigur retired from public service and promptly returned to George Washington University. Although Sigur wished to resume his active involvement with the Institute of Sino-Soviet Studies, in light of the new geopolitical environment after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the George Washington University began to restructure its teaching and programming on Asia and Russia, eventually forming two separate institutes for the study of these regions.

Recognizing Sigur’s contributions to Asian studies, the George Washington University, and public service, the university administration decided to name the new Center for East Asian Studies, established in September 1991, in his honor. Sigur was appointed Senior Counsellor of the Sigur Center, while Professor Young C. Kim was appointed founding director. William R. Johnson, professor of Chinese history, was made Associate Director.

On October 3, 1991, President George H.W. Bush wrote to Sigur to offer his congratulations, stating that “the Center is fitting recognition of your success in promoting stronger ties between the peoples of the United States and East Asia” and that he was “pleased to be counted among your many admirers.” University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg also commented that “we see the Center as a primary place in the Nation’s capital to educate a new generation of students, scholars, policymakers, and analysts prepared to cope with the expanding role of East Asia.”

After several years of actively promoting the Sigur Center, Sigur passed away in April 1995. His death was intimately felt across the university and within the Center, which noted that “while cognizant that no person can fully replace the leadership, wisdom and contributions of Dr. Sigur, we are now even more determined than ever to continue to strengthen this Center and its role in the academic and policy community of this country as a living testimony in his honor.”

What “Sigur” stands for to the Sigur Center is the continuous dedication to Dr. Gaston Sigur’s legacy of promoting education, academic and policy research, and public service in Asian affairs. It is forever a reminder of our mission and a constant challenge for us to further it. In 2018, together with the GW Institute for Korean Studies (GWIKS), the Sigur Center received the prestigious designation of National Resource Center (NRC) for East Asian Studies from the U.S. Department of Education. Sigur Center for Asian Studies has also evolved from focusing solely on East Asia to covering the entire region of Asia.

This year, we honored our namesake, Dr. Gaston Sigur, with the 24th Annual Gaston Sigur Memorial Lecture, which featured Dr. Sunil Amrith as the distinguished speaker discussing the topic of “Water and the Making of Modern India.” Check out the audio recordings here and join us as we pay tribute to the legacy of Dr. Sigur. 

2/4/2019: Professor Sean Roberts Quoted in SCMP on Ilham Tohti Issue

Professor Sean Roberts, affiliated faculty member at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, was quoted in the South China Morning Post article, “US lawmakers nominate jailed Uygur Ilham Tohti for Nobel Peace Prize, seeking global pressure on China” by Jodi Xu Klein. The article takes a look at U.S. lawmakers nominating Uygur academic Ilham Tohti for the 2019 Novel Peace Prize. 

Read the full article here.

1/30/2019: Professor David Shambaugh Reflects on the Past and Future of U.S.-China Relations

David Shambaugh, Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science & International Affairs at George Washington University, gave a speech at the Carter Center and Emory University Symposium on “The United States & China at 40: Seeking a New Framework to Manage Bilateral Relations.” In it, he discusses what the 40th anniversary of U.S.-China Relations means for him personally, as well as how the two countries can forge a constructive path forward during a time of increased divisiveness. The symposium in Atlanta, Georgia was held from January 16 – 19, 2019. Read the full speech here!

The views expressed are solely those of the speaker and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty. However, the views expressed within articles and highlights are those of the faculty member and not of the Sigur Center. 

1/10/2019: Trump’s Bullshit-Savant Moment on Afghanistan

Benjamin Hopkins is the Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and an Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at the George Washington University. Dr. Hopkins is a specialist in modern South Asian history, in particular that of Afghanistan, as well as British imperialism. His first book, The Making of Modern Afghanistan, examined the efforts of the British East India Company to construct an Afghan state in the early part of the nineteenth century and provides a corrective to the history of the so-called ‘Great Game.’ His second book, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, co-authored with anthropologist Magnus Marsden, pairs a complex historical narrative with rich ethnographic detail to conceptualize the Afghan frontier as a collection of discrete fragments which create continually evolving collage of meaning. He has additionally co-edited Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier with Magnus Marsden.

 

Trump’s Bullshit-Savant Moment on Afghanistan

By: Professor Benjamin Hopkins

This article was originally published on the History News Network (January 10, 2019). Please click here to access the original article.

 

Once again, the President put his factually-challenged relationship with the past on public display. In a January 3rd Cabinet meeting, Trump offered a tour de force with a fanciful alternative history of Afghanistan. According to him, the Soviets invaded in late 1979 because of cross-border terror attacks. The subsequent decade-long war, the President insisted, bankrupted the USSR and led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Trump clearly had no idea what he was talking about. If the past is a foreign country, then in Trump’s parlance, he is an illegal immigrant trespassing upon it. 

To briefly correct the President’s (mis)understanding of Afghan history: The Soviet Union invaded the country on December 26, 1979, ostensibly to support a friendly communist government under threat from a domestic insurgency provoked by unpopular reforms and the violent suppression of political dissent. Fearing the collapse of an allied regime on its southern border, the Soviets replaced the Afghan communist leadership with a more moderate and pliable cadre. Though initially planning for a swift withdrawal, Soviet forces soon found themselves sucked into a quagmire which proved impossible to escape. Over the next decade, they deployed roughly 100,000 troops, losing 15,000 of them, in a bloody counter-insurgency against the so-called mujahideen– American supported ‘freedom fighters’. The war forced over 7 million to flee as refugees, created an unknown number of internally displaced persons, and killed, maimed and wounded an untold number of Afghans. The Soviet war ended with the Geneva Accords in 1988, allowing the USSR to feign ‘peace with honor’ which covered an ignominious retreat. 

The United States and its allies immediately denounced the Soviet invasion, which made Afghanistan a battleground in the increasingly hot Cold War. American policy-makers saw the potential of turning Afghanistan into the Soviet Vietnam. Beginning with the Carter administration, and significantly ramped up under Reagan, the US secretly funneled $3 billion to the Afghan mujahideen. By bleeding the soft underbelly of the beast, American Cold Warriors hoped to strike a mortal wound to the evil empire. Following the end of the Cold War, some conservative commentators characterized the Soviet defeat as a consequence of Reagan’s tough stance which forced them to spend an incessant, and unsustainable amount on defense. These analysts contend that the Afghan war, along with the cost of Soviet military aid to Central America and the US deployment of Pershing missiles in Europe, bankrupted the Soviet Union and led to its collapse. 

It was this interpretation of history which Trump’s stream of consciousness soliloquy rather clumsily tipped his hat to. Nevertheless, the President’s alternative history almost immediately earned him a scathing rebuke from a no-less august stalwart of the right than the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. The Journal’s willingness to take him to task for a position loosely held by many on the American right over the years is notable. Doubly so for a publication which has repeatedly proven reticent to fact-check the man. 

Yet the Journal’s response is a non-sequitur. What has been lost in the consternation provoked by the President’s remarks is the fundamental question which remains unanswered – namely, what the hell is the US doing in Afghanistan? Though he got his facts wrong – Trump does not seem to care about them anyway, and is thus the bullshitter-in-chief in the Harry Frankfurt sense – the essence of his question is correct. The US has lacked a clear policy on and purpose in Afghanistan since the early 2000s, making the President’s rambling, historically uninformed remarks something of a bullshit-savant moment. 

Now entering its eighteenth year and one of the costliest wars in American historythe President has reportedly grown frustrated with a continuing conflict which he seemingly does not understand. While his ignorance provides fodder for detractors and evokes the concern of the national security establishment, it also allows him to ask basic questions regarding the purpose of that war which have long been considered settled within Washington circles of power. The President’s ignorance of Afghanistan, though extreme, is far from unique amongst the American policy establishment. Such ignorance is the consequence of a larger failing of American policy in the country – the lack of a clear publicly pronounced purpose and end-goal for the continued American presence in Afghanistan. 

Despite nearly two decades of war in the country, American policy is largely driven by a noxious combination of inertia and sunk costs. A large part of the problem is that America’s civilian political leadership long ago abdicated its war-fighting responsibilities regarding Afghanistan. It is the role of civilian elected officials to formulate, articulate and communicate the fundamental purpose of an armed conflict and to direct the military and security apparatus of the government to execute that vision. But this has not been the case with Afghanistan. Since the quick victory over the Taliban in 2001, America’s political attentions quickly wandered elsewhere, most importantly Iraq. This meant that the Afghan war has largely been farmed out to the generals to fight a war whose aims and purpose they have not been instructed in. The military has thus continued to do what the military knows best – fight a war. It is no wonder then this conflict goes on, with no end in sight. 

What the hell is the US doing in Afghanistan? The President clearly does not know. But this is the central question. The one the President himself, along with the other elected officials of the US Government, needs to answer. It is neither the responsibility nor the place of the US military leadership to do so. In his bullshit-savant moment, Trump has set himself a challenge. Sadly, it is one he has demonstrated little interest in or ability to rise to. 

Please note that any views expressed in highlighted articles, interviews, or such posts are solely those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty.

1/11/2019: Director Hopkins Publishes Article on Trump’s Afghanistan Comments

Benjamin Hopkins, Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, published an article titled “Trump’s Bullshit-Savant Moment on Afghanistan” on History News Network. In it, he addresses recent comments made by U.S. President Trump regarding the history of Soviet and U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. Read the full article here!

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. In the spirit of open academic debate and dialogue, the Sigur Center shares and highlights the works of its affiliated faculty. However, the views expressed within articles are those of the author and not of the Sigur Center. 

1/28/2019: Race and the Epistemologies of Otherness

Monday, January 28, 2019 5:30 PM – 6:40 PM

National Churchill Library & Center
Gelman Library, 1st Floor
2130 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20052

 

  

About the Event:

A light dinner reception will be from 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM, with food available on a first come, first serve basis. This event is open to the public. If you are not a GWorld cardholder, please bring a form of photo ID and contact gsigur@gwu.edu to secure your registration.

Who produces knowledge about race? In what context? Race as a concept intersects with other social factors such as class, gender, and cultural citizenship to form narratives that contribute to how we think about otherness. Drawing on her latest book, this presentation examines narratives that reflect the impact of epistemologies of otherness upon our understanding of race. Please access the link below for a full description of the book.

Race (Routledge New Critical Idiom series) by Martin Orkin and Alexa Alice Joubin (London: Routledge, 2019).
Book link: https://www.routledge.com/Race/Orkin-Joubin/p/book/9781138904699

 

About the Speaker:

Alexa Alice Joubin is Professor of English, East Asian Languages and Literatures, and International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she is founding co-director of the Digital Humanities Institute. She holds the Middlebury College John M. Kirk, Jr. Chair in Medieval and Renaissance Literature at the Bread Loaf School of English, and was appointed Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Global Shakespeare studies at Queen Mary University of London. As research affiliate in literature at MIT, Alexa is founding co-editor of the open-access digital performance archive Global Shakespeares. Her latest book is Race, which is co-authored with Martin Orkin and is part of the Routledge Critical Idiom series.

1/10/2019: Director Hopkins Quoted About Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

Benjamin Hopkins, Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, was quoted in an article on Politifact titled “Trump Gets Facts Wrong on Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.” In it, he discusses how Afghanistan was viewed by the United States as an area of competition with the Soviet Union, and how rivalry for Afghanistan’s support developed between the two powers. Read the full article here!

1/4/2019: Associate Director Ollapally Published Article on India’s Near Region

Deepa Ollapally, Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Research Professor of International Affairs, published an article on East Asia Forum titled “India Needs to Keep its Friends Close and Its Rivals Closer.” In it, she discusses India’s diplomatic setbacks in its near region, and how a new approach with China could shore up India’s own influence. Read the full article here!

12/30/2018: Professor Mochizuki Quoted in The Japan Times on Assessing the CPTPP

Mike Mochizuki, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and co-Director of the Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific research and policy project of the Sigur Center, was quoted by The Japan Times on the subject of Japan’s role in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and how Japan can be a regional “gyroscope” amidst US-China rivalry and competition. Read the full article here!

12/11/2018: Professor Shambaugh Discusses the Cycles of Chinese Politics in Podcast Interview

David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of the China Policy Program at GW, discussed the cycles of Chinese politics and analyzed current as well as potential future trends of Chinese domestic politics and foreign policy. Professor Shambaugh was interviewed by University of Virginia Professor Brad Carson on “Jaw-Jaw,” the newest addition to the War on the Rocks family of podcasts. Listen to the full interview here!

12/13/18: Professor Sutter Quoted in The National Interest Article

Robert Sutter, Professor of International Affairs and Director of GW’s B.A. Program in International Affairs, was quoted in an article by The National Interest titled “What Does Growing U.S.-China Rivalry Mean for America’s Allies in Asia?” In the article, Professor Sutter discusses the evolving view U.S. policymakers have toward China in historical context. Read the full article here!

12/16/2018: Sigur Center Fulbright Visiting Scholar Discusses Cross-Border Tunnels on Think Tank Central

Current Sigur Center Fulbright Visiting Scholar Aqab Malik was interviewed as a discussant on Think Tank Central, a segment of i24NEWS, to analyze cross-border tunnel issues. In it, he discusses Pakistan’s experiences in recent decades. Watch the full interview here!

11/1/2018: Former Sigur Center Visiting Scholar Publishes Research on Global Diaspora Engagement

Former Sigur Center Visiting Scholar Catherine Craven recently released a free publication in the SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research. The article, titled “Critical Realism, Assemblages and Practices Beyond the State: A New Framework for Analysing Global Diaspora Engagement,” proposes a unique perspective on global diaspora engagement and explores how this view can provide insight into the political struggles within.

Read the article here!

 

10/30/2018: “Education About Asia” Issue Mentions AAS Workshop Hosted by Sigur Center!

In their latest issue of Education About Asia, the Association for Asian Studies included an article stemming from its workshop held in March 2018 at the Elliott School of International Affairs and supported by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies! The article, titled “Leaving North Korea: My Story,” is about the experiences of a North Korean defector whom spoke at the workshop, and has requested anonymity.

Read the article here!

 

10/29/2018: Scholar Michael Yahuda in Panel Discussion on China-Japan Relations

Dr. Michael Yahuda, current non-resident scholar with the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Professor Emeritus of International Relations from The London School of Economics and Political Science, participated in a panel discussion about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Beijing and the current status of China-Japan relations. This discussion aired on CGTN America’s The Heat, hosted by Mike Walter on October 26, 2018.

Watch the discussion here!

 

11/1/18 Possibilities for Peace in the Long Postwar: Evolving Directions for WWII Memory in China, Singapore, and Japan

Thursday, November 1, 2018 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM

Chung-wen Shih Conference Room, Suite 503
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

RSVP HERE!

The Sigur Center for Asian Studies  invite you to a discussion with Ms. Julia Lau – former lecturer at Georgetown University, The Catholic University of America, and McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. – to discuss her research into war memory in Southeast Asia and China

Light refreshments will be available. This event is public, but off the record and not for attribution to allow for candid discussion of Ms. Lau’s research.

About the Event:

This lecture examines questions and themes on war memory pertaining to Japanese Imperial Army actions in World War II on the Pacific front, including the Nanjing Massacre and the Occupation of Singapore. Building on book research and the speaker’s personal and field visits to war memorials and sites, museums, and other commemorative locations in China and Singapore, as well as the examination of a small selection of history textbooks for school children of both countries, the lecture focuses on the primary puzzle of why war memory differs in its tenor and expression in China and Singapore, despite similarities in the deprivations and suffering of their civilians during the war. A secondary question is how this affects Sino-Japanese relations and Singapore’s bilateral ties with Tokyo today. Some new directions might be emerging with regard to how younger citizens of China (including the Chinese diaspora) and Singapore who have no direct or received experience of the war or Occupation are finding ways to reconcile their views on Japanese actions in WWII, while juggling conflicting tensions between nationalism and pacifist globalism or regionalism.

Specific sites of war memory discussed include the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Wanping, China; the Japanese Cemetery in Singapore; Yasukuni Shrine and the Yushukan War Museum in Tokyo, and various other war-related sites and memorials. This lecture also draws upon working papers that the speaker has presented at past conferences, including the annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies and its regional conferences.

About the Speaker:

Julia M. Lau is now an independent scholar and writer based in Phoenix, AZ. A native of Singapore, she attended the National University of Singapore and Georgetown University, and has graduate degrees in law, security studies, and government. She has taught as a lecturer at Georgetown University, The Catholic University of America, and McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. Her current research interests include war memory in Southeast Asia and China, and gender politics. She is also a member of the American Political Science Association’s status committee on Contingent Faculty,
advocating for better working conditions and understanding of contingent and adjunct faculty in the political science profession.

About the Speaker:

Julia M. Lau is now an independent scholar and writer based in Phoenix, AZ. A native of Singapore, she attended the National University of Singapore and Georgetown University, and has graduate degrees in law, security studies, and government. She has taught as a lecturer at Georgetown University, The Catholic University of America, and McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. Her current research interests include war memory in Southeast Asia and China, and gender politics. She is also a member of the American Political Science Association’s status committee on Contingent Faculty,
advocating for better working conditions and understanding of contingent and adjunct faculty in the political science profession.

About the Moderator:

Professor Ronald Spector received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins and his MA and Ph.D. from Yale. He has served in various government positions and on active duty in the Marine Corps from 1967-1969 and 1983-1984, and was the first civilian to become Director of Naval History and the head of the Naval Historical Center. He has served on the faculties of LSU, Alabama and Princeton and has been a senior Fulbright lecturer in India and Israel. In 1995-1996 he was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Strategy at the National War College and was the Distinguished Guest Professor at Keio University, Tokyo in 2000. At the Elliott School, Spector offers undergraduate and graduate courses on US-East Asia Relations, World War II, and the Vietnam War as well as a graduate seminar on Naval history and one on strategy.

Image above: The Civilian War Memorial, Singapore, by moonlight. Original photo found here

11/7/18 US Post-war Settlement with Japan: The Korean Perspective

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM

Room 505
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

RSVP HERE!

The Sigur Center for Asian Studies  and the GW Institute for Korean Studies invite you to a discussion with Dr. Woondo Choi – currently a Visiting Scholar with the Sigur Center – to discuss Korean strategic and historical perspectives regarding the US-Japan post-war settlement.

Light refreshments will be available. This event is public and open to the media.

About the Event:

In several aspects, the Korea-Japan friendship is constrained by the mutual lack of confidence whose root originates from the history. This relationship breeds negative impacts on the tri-lateral cooperation among the US, Korea and Japan. Understanding the beginning of the US-Japan relationship would make current Japanese foreign policy more transparent, deepen the historical reconciliation between Japan and Korea, and provide clues for the US role in improving the relationship between the two allied partners. For that purpose, we will look into the three frequently-mentioned factors in the US Post-war settlement with Japan: 1) strategic interests, 2) decision-making participants’ view on Japan and 3) safety assurances vis-a-vis Japan’s military resurgence. This research will deal with the period starting with the attack on Pearl Harbor until the end of the Occupation and San Francisco Peace Treaty.

About the Speaker:

Woondo Choi is a research fellow at the Institute of Korea-Japan Relations at Northeast Asian History Foundation, Seoul, Korea, at which he has been working since 2008. He received his B.A. from Yonsei University in 1987 and Ph.D. from University of Colorado, Boulder in 1997. For 1 year between 2011 and 2012, he stayed in Japan as a Visiting Professor, at Nagasaki University, Japan, and in 2018, at the Sigur Center of the George Washington University as a Visiting Scholar. He has published more than 50 articles and book chapters on Japanese foreign policy, US-Japan security relations, territorial disputes, and historical reconciliation. His recent works include “East Asian Community, the Japanese Policy Suggestion: Tracking the Changes in Japan’s Regional Perception.” (2012), “Japan’s Right for Self-Defense: Concept, Interpretation, and Constitutional Revision” (2013) “Abe’s Visit to Yasukuni Shrine and the Impact on East Asian Regional Security” (2014.), “Korean Independence and 70 Years Thereafter: Japanese Colonial Rule and Post-War Settlement” (2015).

Moderated by:

Benjamin D. Hopkins – Director, Sigur Center for Asian Studies; Associate Professor of History and International Affairs

 

 

10/11/2018: David Shambaugh Quoted in South China Morning Post

Professor David Shambaugh, Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science & International Affairs and the Director of the China Policy Program, was quoted in an article by the South China Morning Post about the Trump Administration being the first American administration explicitly labeling China as a “strategic competitor” in national security documentation. He also noted that the areas of competition between the United States and China “now far outweigh the areas of cooperation,” but that the United States would cooperate when it can on select issues. His comments were included in the article originally published on October 10th, titled “FBI chief tells US Congress that China poses bigger security threat than Russia.”

Read the article here!

10/25/2018: Sigur Center Summer Language Fellow Roundtable

Thursday, October 25, 2018
12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
Chung-wen Shih Conference Room
Suite 503
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

 

The Sigur Center for Asian Studies would like to invite you to a roundtable discussion with the 2018 Sigur Center summer language fellows to talk about their study abroad experiences in Asia! This event is open to the public and media.

Topics for Discussion:

Language Study in Taiwan

Language Study in Indonesia

The audio recordings for this event can now be found below:

Speakers:

Alexander Bierman is a M.A. candidate in Security Policy Studies focusing on East Asian security and cyber security. His interests include U.S. policy towards East Asia, Cross-Strait policy, and Chinese politics.

 

 

Amoz JY Hor is a PhD student in Political Science at the George Washington University. His research explores how emotions affect the way the subaltern is understood in practices of humanitarianism.

 

 

 

Chloe King is a rising senior in the Elliot School, majoring in international affairs with minors in sustainability and geographic information systems. She spent seven months in Indonesia in 2017 as a Boren Scholar, researching NGO conservation initiatives in marine ecotourism destinations around the country. A PADI Divemaster, her passion for protecting the ocean keeps pulling her back to Indonesia and some of the most diverse—and threatened—marine ecosystems in the world.

 

Alexandra Wong was a Sigur Center 2018 Asian Language Fellow who studied Mandarin in Taipei, Taiwan at National Taiwan Normal University’s Mandarin Training Center. Lexi is currently a second-year graduate student at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs where she is studying International Affairs with a regional concentration on Asia.

10/8/2018: Mike Mochizuki Quoted in South China Morning Post

Professor Mike Mochizuki, Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the Elliott School of International Affairs, was quoted in an article by the South China Morning Post about the possible implications that the latest Okinawan gubernatorial race may have on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration. His comments were included in the article published on October 1, titled “Why the Okinawa election outcome may weaken PM Abe’s grip on power.”

Read the article here!

10/11/18: The Past in Asia’s Present: Rethinking Inner and East Asian International Relations

Thursday, October 11, 2018

12:30 PM – 1:45 PM

Chung-wen Shih Conference Room, Suite 503
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW Washington, DC 20052

RSVP HERE!

About the Event:

The Research Initiative on Multination States and the Sigur Center for Asian Studies would like to invite you to a discussion with Professor Michael van Walt van Praag about the topic, “The Past in Asia’s Present: Rethinking Inner and East Asian International Relations.”

This event is free and open to the public.

About the Speaker:

Michael van Walt is a mediator and advisor in intrastate peace processes, an advocate for rights of peoples and minorities and a professor of international law and international relations. He has made his passion for the need to alleviate suffering caused by injustice, violent conflict and oppression his life-long career.

 

Michael has facilitated peace processes and advised parties engaged in such processes in Africa, Asia, the South Pacific and the Caucasus. He is an international lawyer by training and served as UN Senior Legal Advisor to the Foreign Minister of East Timor, Dr. Jose Ramos Horta, during the country’s transition to independence as part of UNTAET. He was appointed Visiting Professor of Modern International Relations and International Law at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he served on the faculty of the School for Historical Studies from 2011-2015. From 1991 to 1998 Michael served as General Secretary of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, headquartered in The Hague. Previously he practiced law, including public international law, with the law offices of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington D.C. and London (now known as Wilmer-Hale) and of Pettit & Martin in San Francisco.

Michael graduated in law from the University of Utrecht, where he also obtained his doctoral degree in Public International Law, and he has held visiting teaching and research positions at Stanford, UCLA, Indiana, Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Golden Gate University School of Law, and the Università di Roma Sapienza. He has authored and edited books and articles on a variety of topics related to intrastate conflict and to relations of peoples and minorities with states, including Mobilizing Knowledge for Post-Conflict Development at the Local Level (The Hague: RAWOO 2000); The Implementation of the Right to Self-Determination as a Contribution to Conflict Prevention (Barcelona: UNESCO Division of Human Rights, Democracy and Peace/UNESCO Centre of Catalonia 1999); ‘The Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People: an explanatory introduction to the Tibetan proposal’ in Multinational Integration, Cultural Identity and Regional Self-Government: Comparative Experiences for Tibet (R. Toniatti and J. Woelk eds., London: Routledge 2014).

A Lockheed Martin F35-b Lightning 2 Joint Strike fighter jet lands on the USS Wasp

10/4/18: Here’s America’s New Plan to Stop China’s Island-Building

A Lockheed martin F-35B Lightning 2 Joint Strike fighter jet lands on the USS Wasp

Here’s America’s New Plan to Stop China’s Island-Building

By Zachary Haver, a research assistant at George Washington University focused on China. Zachary is a recipient of the GW Undergraduate Research Award.

This was originally published in The National Interest on October 1, 2018. Please find the original publication here

The latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allocates defense spending for the fiscal year 2019, sets the stage for a stronger U.S. response to China’s assertive behavior in the South China Sea. Passed by Congress on August 1 and signed by President Trump on August 13, the NDAA contains several promising measures , including authorization for greater transparency from the Pentagon on China’s coercive activities.

Following “any significant [land] reclamation, assertion of an excessive territorial claim, or militarization activity by the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea,” Section 1262 of the NDAA calls for the Secretary of Defense to “immediately” submit a report to Congress and the public.

Up until this point, a persistent lack of transparency has plagued the South China Sea, forcing the public, researchers, and the media to rely on commercial satellite technology for information on these disputes. Advocates for greater transparency such as Ely Ratner have argued , “the dearth of public information about China’s activities in the South China Sea has hampered regional coordination and abetted China’s ability to take incremental steps to consolidate control.”

Considering the concurrent evolution of China’s assertive behavior in, U.S. policy toward, and the American conversation on the South China Sea, the reports mandated by the NDAA would be game changers if effectively implemented. Seizing control of the narrative would help Washington to reinvigorate public interest in the disputes, unite regional partners, and pressure China.

Creeping Coercion

The South China Sea territorial disputes began in the mid-twentieth century,periodically heating up between the 1970s and 1990s. After a period of relative stability in the early 2000s, tensions steadily increased from 2009 onward thanks to Beijing. Notably, China wrested control of Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012, and a sparked a two-month-long standoff with Vietnam by deploying an oil rig in contested waters in 2014.

The next phase of escalation began when China’s land reclamation projects took off in 2014. Evidence of China’s island-building in the Spratly Islands first hit the news in May 2014. Researchers report that China actually began its land reclamation in late 2013. China’s island-building projects grew rapidly, in total reclaiming over 3,200 acres of land.

Since 2014, China has installed radar facilities , airstrips structures intended to house missiles, and military jamming equipment on its artificial islands. Though China is not the first country to construct such facilities in the South China Sea, the scope of its activities far surpasses that of any other claimant.

On May 2, 2018, a bombshell CNBC report revealed that China deployed YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles and HQ-9B surface-to-air missiles on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef. Though China installed missiles in the Paracel Islands in 2016, this incident marked the first time that China placed missiles in the Spratly Islands—an unambiguous escalation of its militarization program. Later that May, China landed long-range bombers in the Spratly Islands for the first time.

In reaction to these developments, the United States disinvited China from the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC). The Department of Defense described this disinvitation as an “initial response.” Now, with the fiscal year 2019 NDAA passed, we are about to see the follow-up from Congress.

Increasing Involvement

In recent years, growing instability has pushed the United States to intervene more directly in the South China Sea. At a meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in July 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States was now prepared to play a direct mediating role in the disputes—a significant policy shift. In the years following Clinton’s announcement, the United States upgraded its defense partnership with the Philippines, lifted its lethal weapons embargo on Vietnam, and deepened its ties with ASEAN—among other measures.

Since October 2015, the U.S. Navy has conducted several Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea to challenge the legitimacy China’s land reclamation projects. However, as the past few years demonstrate, FONOPs cannot halt China’s steady military buildup, nor are they designed to do so.

The American Conversation

Washington’s reactions to turmoil in the South China Sea receive the lion’s share of attention, but rising tensions have also drawn the interest of broader American audiences. According to ProQuest’s U.S. Newsstream database, coverage of the South China Sea in American newspapers increased from 239 articles tagged as “news” in 2009 to a peak of 4061 articles in 2016.

While the media started devoting greater attention to the disputes, so too did American politicians. Candidates from both major U.S. political parties debated the South China Sea for the first time during the 2016 presidential election cycle—further evidence of the issue’s increased saliency in the American public sphere.

However, interest in the South China Sea seems to have slipped since 2016. Only 2245 news articles mentioned the South China Sea in 2017, reflecting a “ false calm ” narrative that emerged in the wake of the 2016 Hague ruling and the absence of any significant incidents. This downward trend appears to have continued so far in 2018, with potential for China’s recent provocations reinvigorating American interest.

Seizing the Narrative

Section 1262 of the NDAA will be crucial in reversing this worrying trend. Washington will need the American public’s support if it hopes to counter China’s “ maritime insurgency ” in the South China Sea. If evidence of China’s coercion remains shrouded behind layers of classification, Americans will have little reason to support tougher and possibly riskier measures. The White House, Congress and the Pentagon all must take their case to the people.

Moreover, Washington needs the support of regional partners and their publics, especially the Philippines. Since coming into power, the Duterte administration has frequently downplayed the significance of the disputes and yielded to China. If the people of the Philippines had greater access to information about China’s coercion, Duterte might face pressure to stand up to China.

Additionally, the NDAA offers Washington an opportunity to counter Beijing’s disingenuous narrative. For example, Beijing often responds to criticism by accusing the United States of militarization and pretending that other claimants engage in similarly assertive behavior. Regular public reports on China’s coercion and militarization would go a long way in challenging Beijing’s disinformation campaign.

Information Is King

The potential benefits of greater transparency become even more obvious when considering the efficacy of previous transparency efforts. The availability of public information about the South China Sea expanded from 2014 onward, facilitating an explosion of interest that lasted through 2016.

Most notably, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) launched the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) in late 2014. CSIS launched AMTI with the explicit purpose of increasing Americans’ access to information about the South China Sea—as well as other Asian maritime issues. By 2015 media outlets heavily circulated AMTI’s satellite imagery of China’s land reclamation projects.

Actors in the U.S. government also appear to have initiated a campaign to raise the profile of the South China Sea. For one matter, starting around the first U.S. FONOP, “unnamed [defense] officials” began leaking information about the South China Sea to the Reuters on a regular basis. Given the consistency of these “leaks,” there is a good chance that somebody authorized them.

Furthermore, the Pentagon allowed CNN reporters on board a P-8A Poseidon for the first time, allowing them to capture and publish attention-grabbing footage of the Chinese navy warning off the American plane over the South China Sea. The U.S. Navy itself also published surveillance footage from the flight and the audio of the incident on its YouTube page.

The information provided by AMTI and U.S. government actors allowed interested parties across the world to grasp the extent of China’s maritime coercion, generating much interest in the disputes. However, these measures themselves were implemented by several different parties, each faced with their own limitations. Section 1262 of the NDAA promises a coordinated transparency effort, synthesizing government resources to provide Congress and the public with timely intelligence.

On April 17, 2018, the new head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Adm. Philip Davidson informed Congress, “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.” While greater transparency alone cannot counter China’s coercion, seizing control of the South China Sea narrative is a necessary step in the right direction.

Zachary Haver is a research assistant for George Washington University focused on China. Parts of this article are adapted from his working paper, “Constructing a Revisionist China: American Narratives of the South China Sea Territorial Disputes, 2009-2016.” Find him on Twitter at @zacharyhaver.

Image: A Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike fighter jet touches down on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, marking the first time the aircraft has deployed aboard a U.S. Navy ship and with a Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Indo-Asian-Pacific region in East China Sea, March 5, 2018. Picture taken March 5, 2018. Michael Molina/U.S. Navy/Handout

Satellite view of Australia

10/1/18: A Viewpoint on the Great Australian China Debate

Satellite View of Australia

A Viewpoint on the Great Australian China Debate

By Yehna Bendul, Research Staff Assistant, Sigur Center for Asian Studies

 

Earlier this year, Australia passed legislation that would combat and criminalize malicious foreign interference. While the laws were not targeted at a single country, Australia’s recent banning of high-profile Chinese companies from developing its 5G network suggests that Australia’s most immediate concern is China. On September 10th, 2018, the Sigur Center hosted Professor Rory Medcalf for a presentation titled “The Great Australian China Debate: Issues and Implications for the United States and the World.” Professor Medcalf is the Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University in Canberra and has had a career in diplomacy, intelligence analysis, and journalism. With this unique perspective, Professor Medcalf aimed to answer the question of how to manage rising Chinese power and assertiveness in a way that neither leads to conflict nor contradicts Australia’s national interests and values.

According to Professor Medcalf, Australia’s relationship with China has been long and only recently complicated. Australia is home to around 1.2 million residents of Chinese heritage that include both recent immigrants and well established communities that go back to the 1850s. Medcalf explained that this deep societal connection and China’s role as Australia’s largest trading partner created the perception of a good relationship. However, tension in the relationship became most evident in the last three or four years after what Medcalf calls a “reality check.”

This “reality check” included the recognition that China was not going to liberalize under Xi Jinping, that China has been taking advantage of Australia’s open democracy through its dominance of Chinese language media and its infiltration of Australian community organizations, and that resisting Chinese interference would only get more disruptive and difficult the longer Australia waited to act. These insights were first brought to the Australian public discourse by persistent journalists and intelligence agencies. Political parties and members of the business community were slower to pay attention to the issue due to dependencies on Chinese political donations and financial investments respectively.

Medcalf cited four reasons as to why China chooses to engage in disruptive activities in Australia. First, Australia is a key ally to the United States, so any disruption of Australia would also be a disruption to China’s main rival. Second, Australia has important technology and intelligence secrets. Third, Australia has a reputation of being outspoken and resistant against China. Lastly, China is interested in ensuring that the large populations of Chinese peoples in Australia are either supportive of the Communist Party of China or otherwise silent and passive.

As mentioned previously, Australia has taken steps to resist Chinese interference through a number of new laws that criminalize foreign attempts to disrupt Australian society, politics, and economy. However, the passage of these laws led to a period of intense heat and tension within the country due to worries that the broad definitions of criminal activity violate civil liberties and would promote racist tendencies. Medcalf outlined and responded to seven myths about Australia’s relationship with China that arose from these debates.

The first myth is that Australia faces a crude choice between committing to China or the United States. Medcalf called this a “characatured notion” of Australia’s interests and foreign relations that ignores the many levels at which foreign relationships function. The second myth is that Australia only pushed back against China as a proxy of the United States. Medcalf’s response was that Australia passed the new legislation for its own sovereign reasons and that,  if anything, the United States has been the one to follow Australia’s resistance to China. The third myth is that national security institutions have taken over Australian policy making. Medcalf countered that the recent actions are new methods of solidarity and transparency and that caution towards China is a multilayered effort by the economic establishment, defense institutions, and domestic policy makers. The fourth myth is that everything will go back to how it was before the “reality check”. Medcalf pointed to “full bipartisan support” for the new laws as reason to believe change is permanent.

The fifth myth Professor Medcalf addressed was the idea that Australia will be more accommodating to Chinese preferences because of its economic dependency on Chinese businesses. Medcalf argued that Australia’s greater vulnerability is political and not economic, as Chinese economic leverage is limited by its equal dependency on Australian resources. The sixth myth is that resistance against China is influenced by racism and will unleash racist sentiments. Medcalf argued that careful outreach and public engagement can ensure that national interests will be protected in an inclusive way. The last myth is that Australia did not need new laws as they would be too prohibitive to civil society. Medcalf responded that bipartisan revisions to the law have eliminated these critiques.

Professor Medcalf ended his presentation with the actions he thinks Australia must take in the future to protect its national interests. He argued that the primary concern of Australia should be to distinguish between criminal interfereence and mere influence and diplomacy (with foreign interference being covert, coercive, or corruptive behavior). He then explained that the spirit of the China debate moving forward must be focused on finding a new equilibrium, not on rejecting China outright. Moreover, there must be consistent transparency and outreach to all parties involved including the Chinese-Australian communities, business communities, and other countries about Australia’s actions. Lastly, Medcalf stressed that Australia must be clear that it is acting in accordance with its own national interest and not as a pawn of U.S.-Chinese competition.

While Professor Medcalf briefly addressed the concerns of those opposed to Australia’s new laws, his responses seemed to downplay the gravity of dissent and did not engage with the core arguments of the opposition. This may just have been a function of time constraints on the presentation; however, it is still important to fully understand the hesitancy behind supporting Australia’s new laws given that Medcalf correctly suggested that many other liberal democracies may follow in Australia’s footsteps.

Australia’s new legislation created 38 new crimes and broadened the definition of multiple existing crimes like espionage. Those opposing these laws are concerned that the legislation can be implemented in ways that infringe upon civil liberties. The New York Times article “How Australia’s Espionage Laws Could Silence Whistleblowers and Activists” outlines several scenarios in which this would occur. Professor Medcalf mentioned that revisions to the laws have limited the potential for these negative repercussions; however, the amendments to which he referred to only narrowed secrecy offenses and allowed for a “public interest” defense for journalists. Political scientist Joseph Nye has not directly addressed Australia’s new legislation but would most likely join the opposition, as he posits that a democracy’s openness remains its best defense. In his article “How Sharp Power Threatens Soft Power,” Nye argues that democracies “have to be careful not to overreact [to Chinese and Russian sharp power], so as not to undercut their own soft power by following the advice of those who advocate competing with sharp power on the authoritarian model.”

Medcalf stated he was confident that the new legislation would act mostly as deterrence and thus would not lead to any prosecutions. However, the potential for Australia’s quality of democracy to be degraded warrants continued monitoring. Furthermore, Medcalf’s faith in the Australian parliamentary system and resilience of Australia’s civil society may not apply to other liberal democracies, so following this model may have even more dangerous consequences in the United States and elsewhere.

It is interesting to see this debate play out in public discourse, but it is also surprisingly intriguing to see it seep into popular culture. In 2016, Netflix released a show titled Secret City, which focused on an Australian journalist as she uncovers conspiracies involving Chinese attempts to interfere in Australian politics. The show ended on ominous notes, but hopefully reality will prove to be more positive.

 

Yehna Bendul is a sophomore in the Elliott School studying Philosophy and International Affairs with a concentration in international politics. She is currently studying Spanish but is also interested in U.S. relations with East Asia. In her position as Research Assistant with the Sigur Center, Yehna hopes to learn more about other regions of Asia and develop a more holistic understanding of the continent.

 

9/21/2018: Sigur Center & GWIKS Receive Prestigious Title VI Grant

The Sigur Center and Institute of Korean Studies together received the highly regarded designation of National Resource Center (NRC) for Asian Studies. The designation – the first time these two centers have received NRC status – enhances the institutes’ ability to engage the broader public community, including students, K-12 educators, HBCUs, policymakers, military veterans, journalists and the general public on regional and global issues of importance. With this award, GW joins a handful of other world-leading universities, including Stanford, Columbia and the University of Chicago, which have likewise been recognized with this honor.

“The recognition of our programmatic excellence significantly enhances our reputation and funding resources. It demonstrates the scholarly excellence and will increase public outreach which have long been hallmarks of the Center’s collective intellectual life,” Sigur Center Director Ben Hopkins said.

Additionally, the Sigur Center and GWIKS have been awarded funding for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships which support undergraduate and graduate students studying modern foreign languages and related area or international studies.

Please click here to read the full press release!

About the Title VI:

Title VI is a provision of the 1965 Higher Education Act, funding centers for area studies that serve as vital national resources for world regional knowledge and foreign language training. National Resource Centers teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels and conduct research focused on specific world regions, international studies, and the teaching of less commonly taught languages. The FLAS fellowship program complements the NRC program, providing opportunities for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students to engage in area studies and world language training.

 

 

10/4/18: U.S. Politics and Government: The View From Asia

Thursday, October 4, 2018
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Lindner Family Commons – Room 602 (6th Floor)
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

The Sigur Center for Asian Studies will host a panel of news journalists based in Washington, DC reporting from a variety of Asia-based news outlets to discuss how audiences in Asia view contemporary U.S. politics and government.

Light refreshments will be available. This event is free to the public, but is off the record and not for attribution.

Speakers:

Ms. Seema Sirohi is a graduate of Delhi University in India. She has a Master’s degree in journalism from Jawarahal Nehru University in Delhi and an M.A. In sociology from the University of Kansas in the USA. She has worked as a reporter for the Associated Press and as a correspondent and feature writer for the Telegraph. She has also served as a writer and editor for a number of internationally prominent newspapers and magazines. Since 2011, she has been a correspondent and columnist for the Economic Times , India’s largest daily business newspaper.

 

Mr. Prashanth Parameswaran has lived in Malaysia, Singapore and the Phillipines. He is currently a Ph.D candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He has previously worked on Asian affairs at several think tanks in the U.S., including the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. And he is currently senior editor of The Diplomat Magazine which covers Asian affairs and has its headquarters in D.C.

 

Mr. Takeshi Kurihara is a graduate of the University of Tokyo where he earned a B.A. in journalism. He began his career as a reporter for NHK (Japan public television), working in western Japan and then eventually was transferred to Tokyo where he worked as a political reporter. Takeshi first came to the United States as a visiting scholar at Stanford University in 2015. In June 2018, he was transferred to the Washington bureau of NHK where he specializes in covering news related to U.S. government policies.

 

 

Moderator: Professor Andrew Krieger, senior adjunct professor at Montgomery College in Rockville, MD; teaches courses in international relations, sociology, and American government.

9/24/18: GTI Taiwan Cinema Night: “Kano”

The Global Taiwan Institute, the Organization of Asian Studies, and the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at George Washington University are pleased to present the film “Kano” in GTI’s ongoing series of social and cultural programs in Washington, DC.

Doors open at 5:00 pm and the film will begin at 5:30 pm. Light snacks will be provided. Please contact GTI Program Assistant Jonathan Lin if you have questions or concerns. Kindly RSVP by September 23.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Doors Open at 5pm; Film Starts at 5:30pm
Lindner Family Commons – Room 602
Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052

RSVP HERE!

THE FILM 

We will be showing the film “Kano”, directed by Taiwanese director Umin Boya (馬志翔). “Kano” tells the true story of a multicultural high school baseball team from southern Taiwan as it competed for the prestigious Japanese High School Baseball Championship in 1931. This ragtag band of Taiwanese indigenous, Han Chinese, and Japanese teamates must overcome language and cultural barriers to not only survive, but to succeed. The film examines Taiwan’s long colonial past, as well as explores themes of personal and national identity through the lens of baseball, Taiwan’s national sport.

GUEST SPEAKER

We will be joined by guest speaker director Wei Te-Sheng (魏德聖), who is also the producer of “Kano.” Born in Tainan, director Wei graduated with a degree in electrical engineering, and only started his entertainment career after he completed the mandatory military service in Taiwan. His first directed movie “Cape No. 7” not only was a hit, but successfully brought life back to the Taiwan film industry. Director Wei will join us at the event and answer questions in the Q&A session after the film.

 

9/26/18: Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila (1945)

The Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Asia Policy Point cordially invite to a book launch discussion with author James M. Scott (Target Tokyo; The War Below; and The Attack on the Liberty) to talk about his most recent publication, Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila (1945).

This event is free and open to the public. Light lunch will be available.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Chung-wen Shih Conference Room
Suite 503
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

Rampage Audio (1)

Rampage Audio (2)

Rampage Audio (3)

Rampage Audio (4)

Before World War II, Manila was a slice of America in Asia, populated with elegant neoclassical buildings, spacious parks, and home to thousands of U.S. servicemen and business executives who enjoyed the relaxed pace of the tropics. The outbreak of the war, however, brought an end to the good life. General Douglas MacArthur, hoping to protect the Pearl of the Orient, declared the Philippine capital an open city and evacuated his forces. The Japanese seized Manila on January 2, 1942, rounding up and interning thousands of Americans.

MacArthur, who escaped soon after to Australia, famously vowed to return. For nearly three years, he clawed his way north, obsessed with redeeming his promise and turning his earlier defeat into victory. By early 1945, he prepared to liberate Manila, a city whose residents by then faced widespread starvation. Convinced the Japanese would abandon the city as he did, MacArthur planned a victory parade down Dewey Boulevard. But the enemy had other plans. Determined to fight to the death, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

The twenty-nine-day battle to liberate Manila resulted in the catastrophic destruction of the city and a rampage by Japanese forces that brutalized the civilian population. Landmarks were demolished, houses were torched, suspected resistance fighters were tortured and killed, countless women were raped, and their husbands and children were murdered. American troops had no choice but to battle the enemy, floor by floor and even room by room, through schools, hospitals, and even sports stadiums. In the end, an estimated 100,000 civilians lost their lives in a massacre as heinous as the Rape of Nanking.

Based on extensive research in the United States and the Philippines, including war-crimes testimony, after-action reports, and survivor interviews, Rampage recounts one of the most heartbreaking chapters of Pacific war history.

 

About the Speaker:

A former Nieman Fellow at Harvard, James M. Scott is the author of Target Tokyo, which was a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist and was named one of the best books of the year by Kirkus, The Christian Science Monitor and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. His other works include The War Below and The Attack on the Liberty, which won the Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Award. His fourth book, Rampage, will be released on October 2, 2018. Scott lives with his wife and two children in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

 

 

Commentator: Dr. Richard Frank, Pacific War History, Inc., author of Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire

9/7/2018: Benjamin D. Hopkins Offers Thoughts on the U.S. War in Afghanistan in Business Insider Article

Professor Benjamin D. Hopkins – Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies – was recently quoted in a Business Insider article, “’We are losing’: Trump and his top advisors aren’t publicly admitting how bad things are in Afghanistan,” by John Haltiwanger. In the article, Dr. Brazinsky commented on comparisons between current U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and past involvement in Vietnam, and how the war is downplayed by U.S. government officials.

Click here to read what Professor Hopkins said!

 

8/29/2018: ESIA Highlighted for Hosting Taiwan Art Exhibition

On August 29, 2018, Taipei Times published an article about an art exhibition – titled Taiwan, A Beautiful Landscape – that the Elliott School of International Affairs hosted from July 26, 2018 through August 3, 2018. On July 26, 2018, the Elliott School of International Affairs, in collaboration with the Global Taiwan InstituteSigur Center for Asian Studies, and the GW Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures, held an opening ceremony for the art exhibition titled Taiwan, A Beautiful Landscape, by Taiwanese artist Ku Chin Yi (also known by his aboriginal name Temi Minu), and held a guided tour of his exhibition.

Please click here to read the full article!

About the Exhibition:

Taiwan, a Beautiful Landscape depicts landscapes throughout various parts of Taiwan, with a focus including but not limited to the island’s diversity, architecture, culture, ecology, and humanities. Taiwan is about the size of the state of Maryland and Delaware, and has a diverse geological features ranging from mountains to plateaus to basins. Taiwanese artist Ku Chin Yi (Temi Minu) based his works on the element of ink wash painting, an East Asian type of black and white brush painting, combined with the addition of colors, perspectives and techniques of Western paintings. His style of Taiwanese modern color ink wash painting was developed in the early 1980s in Taiwan and has become a modern artistic style among contemporary artists. The opening reception on July 26 will include a guided tour of the paintings by the artist.

 

 

8/30/2018: Robert Sutter Article Published on PacNet

 

The 115th Congress Aligns with the Trump Administration in Targeting China

By: Professor Robert Sutter 

This article was originally published in PacNet, 62 (August 30, 2018). Please click here to access the original article.

 

After a slow start in 2017, reflecting preoccupations with health care and tax reform, the 115th Congress has demonstrated remarkable activism on China policy in 2018. This Congress has broken the mold of past practice where the US Congress more often than not since the normalization of US relations with China four decades ago has served as a brake and obstacle impeding US initiatives in dealing with China. That pattern saw repeated congressional resistance to administration efforts to advance US engagement with China at the expense of other US interests that Congress valued such as relations with Taiwan and Tibet, and human rights.

Today’s congressional-executive cooperation rests on the Trump administration’s overall hardening of US policy toward China. Congress is responding with widespread support and asking for more. Notably, Congress strongly backs the Trump administration’s push for greater military, intelligence, and domestic security strength to protect US interests abroad and to defend against Chinese espionage and overt and covert infiltration to influence the United States. It opposes perceived predatory lending of President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative and Chinese expansion in the South China Sea. It seeks greater protection against Chinese efforts to acquire advanced US technology companies in pursuit of economic leadership in these fields. And it presses for greater US support for Taiwan.

Like the Trump administration, Congress remains divided on how to deal with trade issues. Members often object to adverse impacts punitive tariffs have on their constituencies. They also voice opposition to imposing tariffs on allies at the same time tariffs are imposed on China. Congressional efforts to check President Trump’s personal proclivity to seek compromise after raising tensions came in the sharply negative congressional response to Trump’s decision in May to ease the harsh sanctions against the prominent Chinese high technology firm ZTE, in response to a personal plea from the Chinese president. Nevertheless, Trump’s dominance in the Republican Party and repeated vindictiveness against opponents mean that few in the Republican ranks controlling Congress are willing to stand against him.

Congress in action

In 2018, Congress has turned attention to China policy through:

  • extensive hearings on how China is challenging the United States,
  • many bills on specific issues, with some incorporated into the annual National Defense Authorization bill, and
  • letters to the administration warning of and urging a firm response to China challenges.

Congressional moves against China prominently display conservative Republicans like Senator Marco Rubio and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, but also feature leading liberal Democrats. Though past congressional hearings on China regularly had witnesses favoring accommodation and constructive engagement with China, it is common in 2018 to find no such witnesses, with those testifying stressing the need to defend against Chinese malign actions. FBI Director Christopher Wray warned the Senate Intelligence Committee in February of China’s espionage and influence campaigns in the United States, including wide use of Chinese students researching sensitive technologies. The US National Intelligence Council in June informed the House Armed Services Committee about China’s acquisition, including by illicit and clandestine means, of US military and commercial technology Beijing seeks to use in challenging US leadership.

A bipartisan group of 27 of the most senior senators, headed by Cornyn and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, sent a letter to the administration in May, urging a firm stand against recent Chinese technology theft and ambitions. In June, 12 Senators, including Elizabeth Warren, urged defense against Chinese influence operations. In August, opposition to perceived predatory lending practices in China’s Belt and Road Initiative showed in a letter signed by 16 senators, including Patrick Leahy, a leading liberal with long experience with US foreign assistance and international finance. Meanwhile, a variety of bills with bipartisan support have proposed various ways to strengthen Taiwan.

National Defense Authorization Act FY-2019

The capstone of congressional hardening toward China in 2018 came with the numerous provisions of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that impact China policy. Widely seen as one of the very few foreign and defense policy bills that must be passed and approved each year, the Act passed the Congress and was signed by the president in August. The language on China is harsh, accusing Beijing of using an “all-of-nation long-term strategy” involving military modernization, influence operations, espionage, and predatory economic policy to undermine the United States and its interests abroad. In response, the law directs a whole-of-government US strategy with provisions on the South China Sea, the Indo-Pacific region, and China’s “malign activities” including information and influence operations, as well as predatory economic and lending practices. The Act’s provisions on Taiwan seek to enhance US arms sales, higher level US defense and related personnel exchanges, training and exercises with Taiwan. The Act contains a separate set of provisions to modernize, strengthen, and broaden the scope of the interagency body, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), to more effectively guard against the risk to US national security seen posed by Chinese and other predatory foreign investment. It also includes key reforms in US export controls designed to better protect emerging technology and intellectual property from Beijing and other potential adversaries.

Outlook for future congressional-administration cooperation on China

Trump administration strategy documents undergird a substantial strengthening of the US measures at home and abroad to defend against perceived Chinese inroads. Such steps enjoy strong congressional backing. The documents are grim in portraying an array of serious challenges and dangers posed by China. Crafting and implementing effective US countermeasures will require years of expensive and effectively managed US whole-of-government efforts. Congressional activism on China policy in 2018 demonstrates strong support for such countermeasures, establishing bipartisan executive-congressional hardening in a broad-based US policy targeting China.

Sustaining US resolve against China will be costly and potentially risky, especially given that internal differences continue on punitive tariffs and implications of a trade war with China. For now, it appears that barring major concessions from Beijing to meet US demands, an abrupt change in course by the avowedly unpredictable President Trump, or an unexpected crisis or war, the executive and legislative branches of the US government seem likely to remain remarkably united on a path of intense rivalry with a perceived powerful and predatory China.

Robert Sutter is Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the George Washington University. PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged. Click here to request a PacNet subscription.

 

9/13/18: Japan’s Foreign Policy during an Era of Global Turbulence: Perspectives of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan

Mr. Yukio Edano’s Remarks (in Japanese)

 

 

Mr. Yukio Edano’s Remarks (in English)

Thursday, September 13, 2018
12:45 PM – 2:00 PM
State Room – 7th Floor
1957 E St. NW
Washington DC 20052

This event is free and open to the public and media.

RSVP Here

Since its sudden and energetic entrance in Japanese politics beginning with the October 2017 snap election in Japan’s House of Representatives, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) has become the largest opposition party in Japan. CDP leader Yukio Edano – former Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan among other official positions – formed the party along the principles of progressive economics, civil rights, and pacifism, especially opposition to proposals to revise Article 9 of Japan’s postwar Constitution. As the CDP continues to make an impact in contemporary Japanese politics, what are the implications of its foreign policy perspectives for Japan, the region, and the world?

Light refreshments will be available.

There is limited space for this event, so please RSVP as soon as possible. Please email gsigur@gwu.edu if you have to cancel an RSVP for whatever reason. Thank you for your understanding.

About the Speaker:

Mr. Yukio Edano is currently Leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP), the largest opposition political party in Japan. He has been a member of the House of Representatives since 1993. Mr. Edano has served in numerous cabinet-level positions in the Japanese government: Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (2011-2012), Minister for Nuclear Incident Economic Countermeasures (2011-2012), Chief Cabinet Secretary (2011), Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs (2011), and Minister of State for Government Revitalization (2010-2011). Other positions held include Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ, later the Democratic Party, DP) (2010), Chairman of the Party’s Research Commission on the Constitution (2004 & 2013), Chair of the Party’s Research Commission on the Constitution (2010), and Head of Working Groups for Review of Government Programs, Government Revitalization Unit (2009). He graduated from the School of Law of Tohoku University, and registered as an Attorney in 1991.

Moderator: Professor Mike Mochizuki holds the Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Dr. Mochizuki was director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies from 2001 to 2005. He co-directs the “Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific” research and policy project of the Sigur Center. Previously, he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was also Co-Director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Policy at RAND and has taught at the University of Southern California and Yale University.

9/10/18: The Great Australian China Debate: Issues and Implications for the United States and the World

Check out Prof. Rory Medcalf’s article on “Australia And China: understanding the reality check” in the link below!!

Recordings Now Available!!

The Great Australian China Debate Part 1

The Great Australian China Debate Part 2

The Great Australian China Debate Part 3

Monday, September 10, 2018
12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
Room 505
1957 E St. NW
Washington DC 20052

This event is free and open to the public and media.

RSVP Here

As China increasingly exerts its power around the world, one country has become an unlikely front line in the contest for influence: Australia. This country recently introduced tough laws against foreign interference and espionage, followed by a decision effectively to ban Chinese corporates from its 5G network. These actions have defined Australia’s position at the leading edge of a global trend to push back against the ‘sharp power’ of China’s Communist Party in influencing the internal affairs of other states.

In this public lecture, prominent Australian strategic analyst Rory Medcalf will examine this vital US ally’s new assertion of its interests and independence. He will position Australia’s China debate in the broader dynamic of strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific region and consider wider implications for the United States, allies and partners in managing Chinese power while avoiding both capitulation and conflict.

Light refreshments will be available.

About the Speaker:

Professor Rory Medcalf is Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University in Canberra. He has led the College’s expansion to leverage its academic and training programs as a key think tank for futures analysis and policy contestability in Australia’s national security community. His career spans diplomacy, intelligence analysis, think tanks, academia and journalism. He was founding director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute and an adviser on Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper. Professor Medcalf is known internationally as an early proponent of the increasingly influential Indo-Pacific concept of the Asian strategic environment. He is a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution.

 

Moderator: Benjamin D. Hopkins is a specialist in modern South Asian history, in particular that of Afghanistan, as well as British imperialism. His research focuses on the role of the colonial state in creating the modern states inhabiting the region. His first book, The Making of Modern Afghanistan, examined the efforts of the British East India Company to construct an Afghan state in the early part of the nineteenth century and provides a corrective to the history of the so-called ‘Great Game.’ His second book, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, co-authored with anthropologist Magnus Marsden, pairs a complex historical narrative with rich ethnographic detail to conceptualize the Afghan frontier as a collection of discrete fragments which create continually evolving collage of meaning.

8/31/18: Book Launch: Memory, Identity, and Commemorations of World War II – Anniversary Politics in Asia Pacific

Recordings Now Available!!

Book Launch Part 1: Introduction and the PRC

Book Launch Part 2: Japan and Taiwan

Book Launch Part III: South Korea and Germany

Book Launch Part IV: Q&A

 

Friday, August 31, 2018
12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
Lindner Commons – Room 602
1957 E St. NW
Washington DC 20052

This event is free and open to the public and media.

RSVP Here

Why do some governments and societies attach great significance to a particular anniversary year whereas others seem less inclined to do so? What motivates the orchestration of elaborate commemorative activities in some countries? What are they supposed to accomplish, for both domestic and international audience? In what ways do commemorations in Asia Pacific fit into the global memory culture of war commemoration? In what ways are these commemorations intertwined with current international politics?

This book presents the first large-scale analysis of how countries in the Asia Pacific and beyond commemorated the seventieth anniversaries of the end of World War II. Consisting of in-depth case studies of China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, United States, Russia, and Germany, this unique collective effort demonstrates how memories of the past as reflected in public commemorations and contemporary politics—both internal and international—profoundly affect each other.

Light refreshments will be available.

About the Speakers:

Dr. Mike Mochizuki holds the Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Dr. Mochizuki was director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies from 2001 to 2005. He co-directs the “Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific” research and policy project of the Sigur Center. Previously, he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was also Co-Director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Policy at RAND and has taught at the University of Southern California and Yale University.

 

Dr. Daqing Yang graduated from Nanjing University and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He specialized in the history of modern Japan. His research interests include the Japanese empire, technological developments in modern Japan, and the legacies of World War II in East Asia. In 2004, Dr. Yang was appointed a Historical Consultant to The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group at the U.S. National Archives. Professor Yang is a founding co-director of the “Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia Pacific” program based in the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, and is currently working on a new project on postwar China-Japan reconciliation. He is the author of Technology of Empire: Telecommunications and Japanese Expansion in Asia, 1883-1945. He co-edited the following books: Historical Understanding that Transcend National Boundaries, which was published simultaneously in China and Japan; Rethinking Historical Injustice and Reconciliation in Northeast Asia; and Communications Under the Seas: The Evolving Cable Network and Its Implications.

Dr. Robert Sutter is Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the Elliott School of George Washington University beginning in 2011. He also serves as the school’s Director, Program of Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs. A Ph.D. graduate in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University, he has published 21 books, over 200 articles and several hundred government reports dealing with contemporary East Asian and Pacific countries and their relations with the United States. His most recent books are: Foreign Relations of the PRC: The Legacies and Constraints of China’s International Politics since 1949 (Rowman & Littlefield 2018); US-China Relations: Perilous Past, Uncertain Present (Rowman & Littlefield 2018); Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy Since the Cold War (Rowman & Littlefield 2016); The United States and Asia: Regional Dynamics and 21st Century Relations (Rowman & Littlefield 2015). Professor Sutter’s government career (1968-2001) focused on Asian and Pacific affairs and US foreign policy.

Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman is currently the Harry & Helen Gray Senior Fellow at AICGS at Johns Hopkins University. She also directs the Institute’s Society, Culture & Politics Program. She has a PhD in Political Science from MIT. Dr. Gardner Feldman has published widely in the U.S. and Europe on German foreign policy, German-Jewish relations, international reconciliation, non-state entities as foreign policy players, and the EU as an international actor. Her latest publications are: Germany’s Foreign Policy of Reconciliation: From Enmity to Amity, 2014; “Die Bedeutung zivilgesellschaftlicher und staatlicher Institutionen: Zur Vielfalt und Komplexität von Versöhnung,” in Corine Defrance and Ulrich Pfeil, eds., Verständigung und Versöhnung, 2016; and “The Limits and Opportunities of Reconciliation with West Germany During the Cold War: A Comparative Analysis of France, Israel, Poland and Czechoslovakia” in Hideki Kan, ed., The Transformation of the Cold War and the History Problem, 2017 (in Japanese). Her work on Germany’s foreign policy of reconciliation has led to lecture tours in Japan and South Korea.

Dr. Christine Kim is Associate Professor of Teaching in the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University. An historian by training, she teaches courses on modern Korea and East Asia at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; topics include comparative colonialisms, twentieth century conflicts, political symbolism, and film. Her research and writing focus on national identity, material culture, and political movements. The King Is Dead (forthcoming) explores the ways that colonization and modernization influenced Korean polity and identity during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is also engaged in a study examining cultural heritage and arts management in Korea in the twentieth century. Kim is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including ones from the Department of Education (Fulbright-Hays), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Korea Foundation, the Academy of Korean Studies, and the East-West Center.

8/29/18: Migration, Surveillance, and Inter-Imperial Spaces: Taraknath Das in North America, 1908–1925

Recordings now available!!

Neilesh Bose Talk Part 1

Neilesh Bose Talk Part 2

Neilesh Bose Talk Part 3

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
Chung-wen Shih Conference Room
1957 E St. NW, Suite 503
Washington DC 20052

This event is free and open to the public and media.

Tara

“The Tyee: the Book of the Class of 
1912″ Vol. X11, 1911 p.33

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This discussion will consider the impact and significance of South Asians in U.S. and Canada borderlands in the early twentieth century, a period of rising global white supremacy and the “global color line,” through the experience of Taraknath Das, an itinerant nationalist and political activist. By considering the itinerary of Das in the first two decades of the twentieth century – from study in the Norwich military academy to service in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1907-08, work with the Ghadar movement, arrest and conviction in the Hindu-German Conspiracy Trial of 1917-18, imprisonment in Leavenworth prison through 1919, and subsequent education and writings – this discussion will explore the nationalism of “expatriate patriots” as seen within the context of settler colonialism and the frontiers of expanding settler states. Finally, Dr. Bose will briefly comment on how a study of this topic advances discussions about the role of Asians in settler contexts, referencing recent debates in North America as well as the significance of Das, and his contemporaries, for a study of Indian nationalism.

Light refreshments will be available. This event is on the record and open to the media.

About the Speaker:

Neilesh Bose is Assistant Professor of History and Canada Research Chair of Global and Comparative History at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC, CANADA. Dr. Bose is an historian of modern South Asia with interests in colonialism and decolonization, settler colonialisms, migration, nationalism, literary history, and intellectual history. Published work includes the book Recasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Colonial Bengal (Oxford, 2014) as well as journal articles and review essays in Modern Asian Studies, the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, and Modern Intellectual History, among others. Current work features a biography of Taraknath Das, the itinerant nationalist and activist (1884-1958) as well as a special edition of South Asian History and Culture about decolonization across East and West Bengal.

 

Image Source: http://www.lib.washington.edu/specialcollections/collections/exhibits/southasianstudents/das 

7/17/18: Benjamin D. Hopkins Participates in Borderlands Studies World Conference in Vienna and Budapest

Dr. Benjamin D. Hopkins, Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, participated in the Association for Borderlands Studies’ 2nd World Conference 2018, the world’s largest convention on borders and border-related issues. The organizing theme was Border-Making and its Consequences: Interpreting Evidence from the “post-Colonial” and “post-Imperial” 20th Century. Dr. Hopkins served as a chair and discussant in multiple panels on topics such as “Statelessness and the Consolidation of National Territoriality” and “Rebordering the current world – Case studies from around the world.”

Click here for the conference website and here to read the final program!

7/26/18: Taiwan Art Exhibition Opening Reception

Art Exhibition Opening Reception:

Taiwan, A Beautiful Landscape

Thursday, July 26, 2018
4:30 PM – 6:30 PM
2nd Floor, Elliott School of International Affairs

1957 E St. NW, Washington, DC 20052

This event is co-sponsored with the Global Taiwan Institute, the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, the GW Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures, and the Elliott School of International Affairs. This event is free and open to the public and media.

RSVP Here

Event Description:

The Global Taiwan Institute, the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, the GW Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, and the Elliott School of International Affairs are pleased to present Taiwan, a Beautiful Landscape by Taiwanese artist Ku Chin Yi (Temi Minu) at the Elliott School of International Affairs. The art exhibit is part of GTI’s ongoing series of cultural programs, which are supported in part by Spotlight Taiwan, a project of Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture.

Doors for the opening reception will open at 4:30 pm and a tour of the exhibition by the artist will begin at 5:00 pm. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. Please contact GTI Program Assistant Jonathan Lin (jlin@globaltaiwan.org) if you have questions or concerns. Kindly RSVP by July 23.

The Exhibition:

Taiwan, a Beautiful Landscape depicts landscapes throughout various parts of Taiwan, with a focus including but not limited to the island’s diversity, architecture, culture, ecology, and humanities. Taiwan is about the size of the state of Maryland and Delaware, and has a diverse geological features ranging from mountains to plateaus to basins. Taiwanese artist Ku Chin Yi (Temi Minu) based his works on the element of ink wash painting, an East Asian type of black and white brush painting, combined with the addition of colors, perspectives and techniques of Western paintings. His style of Taiwanese modern color ink wash painting was developed in the early 1980s in Taiwan and has become a modern artistic style among contemporary artists. The opening reception on July 26 will include a guided tour of the paintings by the artist.

About the Artist:

Ku Chin Yi (Temi Minu) graduated with a MA in Fine Arts from National Taiwan Normal University in 2003, and has held several exhibitions in Taiwan including Kenting Impressions in 2010, Epitome of Kinmen in 2011, and the Current-Trend of Water-Ink Paintings in Taiwan in 2016. He is the principal of Bo Ai Elementary School in Taichung, Taiwan, and currently the Chairman of Taichung Creative Ink Wash Painting Association.

 

7/24/18: Taiwan’s Energy Future

Event Recording Here!

 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Lindner Family Commons – Room 602 (6th Floor)

Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E St. NW, Washington, DC 20052

This event is co-sponsored with the Global Taiwan Institute. This event is free and open to the public and media.

Wind Turbines in Taichung, Taiwan, June 19, 2016. Image Credit: EPA/Ritchie B. Tongo

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Event Description:

Climate change is as much an environmental issue as it is a national security concern for Taiwan. While Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, its energy policies are guided by the Paris Climate Accord. Although Taiwan was not even among the top 10 countries for offshore wind in 2017, it is now leading the way in Asia through partnerships with several European companies, which see Taiwan as an entry to the Asian offshore wind power market.

Taiwan’s recent push towards renewable energy follows the 2011 Fukushima Disaster in Japan. In the aftermath of that disaster, public opinion in Taiwan shifted dramatically against the use of nuclear power due to its potential danger. President Tsai Ing-wen was elected into office in 2016 on a promise that Taiwan will become “nuclear-free” by 2025. Yet in 2017, the island experienced significant power outages that raised some doubts about the viability of the government’s ambitious plan for Taiwan’s energy future.

Please join the Global Taiwan Institute and co-sponsor, The Sigur Center for Asian Studies at George Washington University, on July 24th to explore the future of Taiwan’s energy. This event is the third installment of the Civil Society and Democracy Series, which is partially funded by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. The panelists will discuss Taiwan’s policy and opportunities in sustainable energy, how it will impact the Asia-Pacific region, and what it means for US interests.

Doors will open at 12:00 PM. A light refreshment and snack will be served, and the event will begin at 12:30 PM. Kindly RSVP by July 10.

Please direct questions or concerns to Global Taiwan Institute Program Associate Marzia Borsoi-Kelly.

** Media that would like to bring additional crew members or equipment, please contact Ms. Borsoi-Kelly directly.

Panelists

 

Wen-Yu Weng is a low-carbon energy and sustainability consultant. Currently based at the Carbon Trust in the UK, she delivers and designs low-carbon strategy and implementation projects in Southeast Asia, East Asia, the UK, and other European countries, working closely with local partners, governments, the private sector, and international organizations. She has particular interests in solar and wind energy, storage and grid issues, energy policy, circular economy, green finance, and the application of IT innovations for a low-carbon future. Outside her environmental consultancy and research work, Wen-Yu co-founded the Emerging Leaders Program at the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security in Switzerland, and is also the Co-founder of the non-profit Taiwan Debate Union. She received her M.Sc. in Environmental Policy from the University of Oxford, as well as a M.Sc. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Clara Gillispie is the Senior Director of Trade, Economic, and Energy Affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). Her subject-matter expertise focuses on shaping program and research agendas on energy security, trade and innovation policies, public health and the environment, and geopolitical trends in the Asia-Pacific. Prior to joining NBR in 2011, Ms. Gillispie served as a consultant for Detica Federal Inc. (now a part of BAE Systems), where she conducted program assessments and policy reviews for US government clients. She has also worked both at the US House Committee on Science, Technology, and Space and the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China. Ms. Gillispie graduated from the London School of Economics and Peking University with a dual M.Sc. in International Affairs. Prior to her graduate studies, Ms. Gillispie received a B.S. from Georgetown University and attended Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, for language training.

Lotta Danielsson is the Vice President of the US-Taiwan Business Council. Lotta’s duties include membership retention and development, research on current Taiwan policy issues, and research to identify the needs of U.S. businesses in Taiwan. She oversees all member products and services, and manages the development of new value-added membership services. She also oversees all events and conferences, and she has planned the annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference – which serves as an important platform for bilateral dialogue on Taiwan’s national security and defense needs – since its inception in 2002. As a student in the three-year International MBA program (Chinese Track) at the University of South Carolina, Lotta spent 19 months studying Mandarin Chinese in Taipei, Taiwan and in Beijing, China. Lotta also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Georgia State University.

9/21/18: Historical Cartography in East Asia

Friday, September 21, 2018
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Gelman Library

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Room, 702 (7th floor)
2130 H St NW, Washington, DC 20052

This event is co-sponsored with the GW Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures. This event is free and open to the public and media.

Complete Map of the Everlasting Unified Qing Empire (c. Da qing wannian yitong dili quantu), China, Qing Dynasty, Jiaqing period (1796-1820), ca. 1811, Eight-panel folding screen, wood block printed paper, blue on white, 112 x 249 cm., MacLean Collection[/caption]

Cartography Audio (1)

Cartography Audio (2)

Cartography Audio (3)

Cartography Audio (4)

Powerpoint Presentation

Maps are rich cultural objects presenting and transmitting information about time and place of production. This lecture will provide some of the particular practices and relationships between text and image in East Asian map making that are unique in world cartography. It will present, through comparison, certain similarities and distinctive differences in the representations of space, both real and imagined, in early modern cartographic traditions of China, Korea and Japan and will also examine the introduction and some unique integrations of European map making techniques into these traditions.

Speaker:

Dr. Richard A. Pegg (BA ’83 and MA ’90 in Chinese and Japanese language and literature, GW) is currently Director and Curator of Asian Art for the MacLean Collection, outside Chicago, and author of the book Cartographic Traditions in East Asian Maps (University of Hawai’I Press, 2017).

Satellite view of the Korean Peninsula

7/5/18: Viewpoint on Security and North Korea’s Nuclear Program

Satellite view of the Korean Peninsula

Visiting Scholar’s Viewpoint on Security and North Korea’s Nuclear Program

By Tanvi Banerjee, Research Assistant, Rising Powers Initiative and Major Joon-hyouck Choi, ROK Army

 

On June 12, 2018, North Korea and the United States held a historic summit in Singapore. The Trump – Kim summit provoked mixed reactions from observers all around the world, including South Korea. Major Joon-hyouck Choi from the Republic of Korea Army – and a recent visiting scholar at the George Washington University’s Sigur Center for Asian Studies – remains skeptical of the summit’s outcomes. Furthermore, he cautions the United States and South Korea against eschewing preparations for the worst-case scenario given the highly volatile situation on the Korean Peninsula, and the international community’s inability to deter North Korea’s nuclear program in the past.

Major Choi argues that even though North Korea has found a way to the the dialogue table to negotiate about its nuclear program, the program is still very important to the North Korean regime. The North Korean leadership believes that with a sophisticated nuclear and missile program, North Korea will be able to: first, deter an American military intervention on the peninsula; second, attack the American mainland and U.S. allies during times of war; and third, ensure the survival of not only the state but also the current regime. According to Major Choi, the North Korean leadership’s strong commitment to its nuclear program is one of the biggest factors that has made the resolution of the nuclear issue very difficult.

International efforts at denuclearizing North Korea have also been relatively ineffective. Pointing to the example of international sanctions against North Korea, Major Choi explained that although sanctions did cause substantial economic damage to North Korea, the efficacy of the santions was reduced by several factors. These factors include mistaken perceptions about North Korea’s threat and its durability, and domestic and foreign policy options. According to Major Choi, North Korea’s neighboring countries also had a role in undermining the efficiency of international sanctions. China, in particular, has often bypassed U.S.-led sanctions efforts on Pyongyang.

However, Major Choi believes that sanctions alone cannot bring stability to the Korean Peninsula. Thus, South Korea cannot solely rely on relaxed perceptions about the threat posed by North Korea. Major Choi observed that South Korea’s previous policies towards North Korea underestimated the North’s motives, and its willingness to develop nuclear weapons. As such, Major Choi recommends that in order to address the North Korean nuclear threat, South Korea needs to move away from conventional countermeasures and create a more realistic response strategy.

Major Choi proposed that South Korea and the United States should instead reinforce their response strategy by adopting an offset strategy. An offset strategy refers to retaining a competitive advantage over adversaries to deter them while maintaining peace when possible. By adopting and enhancing their offset strategies against North Korea, the United States and South Korea, who have superior technical and military capabilities, will be able to leverage their asymmetric power against the North and create unacceptable costs for the North Korean state and its leadership in times of war.

According to Major Choi, lessons learned from the United States’ first and second offset strategy can be valuable in developing adequate response strategies against the North. The first American offset strategy included President Eisenhower’s New Look strategy, which intended to deter the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact by developing a formidable American nuclear arsenal in the 1950s. The second American offset strategy aimed to offset Soviet Union’s conventional military superiority in the 1970s. This strategy led to the enhancement of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, and the development of precision-guided munitions and technology such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). The United States was thus able to deter the Soviet Union without having to rely extensively on its nuclear arsenal.

Major Choi believes that conflict and cooperation are mutually coupled like two sides of a coin and that the situation on the Korean Peninsula can flip at any time. Additionally, North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have become more sophisticated despite international efforts to stop the North’s nuclear program. According to Major Choi, to counter the North Korean challenge, the United States and South Korea need to strengthen the capabilities of the US-ROK Alliance. They need to enhance their respective conventional military capabilities and maintain an asymmetric advantage over North Korea.

 

Tanvi Banerjee is a senior in the Elliott School of International Affairs, majoring in International Affairs, with a double concentration in Asia and International Development. She is currently working as the International Affairs Research Assistant for the Rising Powers Initiative.

 


MAJ(P) Joon-hyouck Choi was a Visiting Scholar at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies from January 2018 through June 2018. During his term at the Sigur Center, his research topic focused on history and applications of military strategy, and evaluating U.S.-ROK military posture vis-a-vis North Korea. 

 

7/11/18: Taiwan’s Role in Countering CCP Political Warfare

Event Gallery

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
Elliott School of International Affairs
**B12**
1957 E St. NW, Washington, DC 20052

This event is co-sponsored with the Global Taiwan Institute. This event is free and open to the public and media.

RSVP Here

Event Description:

The Trump administration’s 2017 National Security Strategy warned that adversaries “are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies.” Indeed, there is a growing consensus that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is currently engaged in a comprehensive coercive campaign that utilizes political warfare to influence and undermine democracies through coercive, corrupt, and covert means. The impact of China’s authoritarian influence is being felt throughout the world, but most visibly in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Czech Republic, United States, and Taiwan. To be clear, the government in Taiwan has the longest experience contending with CCP political warfare than any other governments. Consequently, Taipei’s counter-measures to this emerging challenge deserves careful study. Please join GTI and the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at the George Washington University on July 11 for a timely discussion with a panel of experts: Toshi Yoshihara (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments), Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian (The Daily Beast), and Shanthi Kalathil (National Endowment for Democracy).

Doors will open at 1:00. A light refreshment and snack will be served, and the event will begin at 1:30. Kindly RSVP by July 10.

Please direct questions or concerns to Global Taiwan Institute Program Associate Marzia Borsoi-Kelly.

** Media that would like to bring additional crew members or equipment, please contact Ms. Borsoi-Kelly directly.

Panelists

Toshi Yoshihara is a Senior Fellow at CSBA. Previously he held the John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies at the U.S. Naval War College where he taught strategy for over a decade. He was also an affiliate member of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the War College. Dr. Yoshihara has been a visiting professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University since 2012. He has also taught as a visiting professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego and as a visiting professor in the Strategy Department at the U.S. Air War College. He has served as a research analyst at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, RAND, and the American Enterprise Institute. Dr. Yoshihara has testified before the Defense Policy Board, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He is the recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in recognition of his scholarship on maritime and strategic affairs at the Naval War College.

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian is a Security Reporter at The Daily Beast and previously a contributing reporter at Foreign Policy. She was previously an assistant editor at Foreign Policy’s China channel Tea Leaf Nation. Bethany has appeared on CNN, C-SPAN, BBC, Al Jazeera, PRI, and Deutsche Welle, among other outlets, and her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. She covered the 2017 German federal elections as a correspondent in Berlin and has also reported from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Austria, China, Japan, and Taiwan. She was a 2017 Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Berlin, a 2016 Jefferson Fellow at the East-West Center, and a 2015 fellow with the International Reporting Project. Before joining Foreign Policy, she lived and worked in China for more than four years. She holds an M.A. in East Asian studies from Yale University and a graduate certificate from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies. Bethany speaks and reads Chinese.

Shanthi Kalathil is Director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies. Her work has focused primarily on issues pertaining to democratization, development, and the impact of information and communication technology, with a particular emphasis on Asia. Previously in her career, she served as a senior Democracy Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development, an associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a non-resident associate with the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, and as a consultant for the World Bank, the Aspen Institute, and other international affairs organizations. Kalathil has appeared on media including NPR, BBC, VOA, RFA, C-SPAN, and others, and has authored or edited numerous policy and scholarly publications, including Diplomacy, Development and Security in the Information Age (Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, 2013), Developing Independent Media as an Institution of Accountable Governance (The World Bank, 2008), and (with Taylor C. Boas) Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003). A former Hong Kong-based staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal Asia, Kalathil lectures on international relations in the information age at Georgetown University. She holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

 

Photo: Night view of Presidential Palace in Taiwan. Credit: https://eng.taiwan.net.tw/m1.aspx?sNo=0002090&id=137

5/8/18: Reset and Realism in India-China Relations

Reset and Realism in India-China Relations

By Deepa M. Ollapally

Originally published by China-India Brief #115, Centre on Asia and Globalisation, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, on April 25, 2018 – May 8, 2018. Access original publication here

Following a season of diplomatic tensions and a military face-off in Doklam, China and India seem to have embarked on a different path in Wuhan. Many observers have called the surprise informal summit in April 2018 between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in the Chinese city a “reset” in India-China relations. With this, the American practice of the “reset” idea with Russia and China has now arrived in South Asia. It has been met with both criticism and praise, with international relations analysts of the realist ilk most critical of India. Why is the concept of “reset” so highly popularized, and conversely, how well does the realist critique hold up in the case of India-China relations?

Reset and Great Power Relations

It is hardly surprising that the idea of a reset in great power relations captures the popular imagination. A deteriorating trend in relations between major rival states is unsettling. When it happens between large and important territorial foes, it is even more so. When contentious behaviour begins to lead to a clear downward spiral, the biggest challenge for state leaders is how to change course; a reset seems to have become a choice diplomatic tool in recent years. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even gave her Russian counterpart an actual red reset button in 2009 after a particularly fraught year.

But for those whose thinking is shaped by the realist theory of international relations (especially as postulated by John Mearsheimer), showing any sign of weakness is even more dangerous than correcting course. In the case of India and China, they argue that the competition between the adversaries is structural in nature, something that a simple reset cannot fix. Further, realists assert that the benefits of a reset right now will only go in favour of China—five times richer and three times more militarily powerful than India. They criticize the Indian government for not holding out for real moves by Beijing to settle their disputed border and even more importantly, taking into account India’s huge discomfiture with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) section of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Most of all, they lament the reset as an indication of India caving in or appeasing China despite having shown signs of willingness to finally “stand up” to its rival in 2017—militarily in Doklam and diplomatically by boycotting the BRI Summit.

While the realist argument has a certain intuitive persuasiveness, on closer inspection it has several shortcomings that need to be kept in mind when looking at the India-China “reset.” First of all, realism takes away leadership agency and suggests that structural factors have to be determining at all costs. Secondly, it downplays the balance of interests between India and China that may dominate balance of power considerations at this particular conjuncture. And thirdly, it does not sufficiently take into account the global uncertainty unleashed by President Donald Trump and its impact on Indian strategic options.

Realism and its Shortcomings on the Reset

The underlying pessimism of conventional realist theory is rooted in the importance given to international power structure and, by extension, the lack of capacity on the part of individual leaders to determine outcomes. President Richard Nixon’s historic reset with China in 1972 most graphically calls into question this assertion. Not only that, Nixon managed to effectively confer great power status on a country that was not much different from other developing countries in Asia, with high rates of poverty and resource scarcity and no global economic position to speak of. Constructivists would suggest that the meaning of particular structures can be shaped or interpreted by leaders in different ways . In other words, leaders are not doomed to be prisoners of structure or pessimistic realist thinking for that matter. Xi is in an especially powerful position to make major policy changes after consolidating his position with the lifting of term limits. Given the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s image as being tough on foreign policy, Modi may be in the unique position of being able to engineer closer ties to China even after Doklam and CPEC. And when Xi gives “strategic guidance” to the military to maintain peace on the Himalayan border where China has some advantage, and Modi agrees to a joint economic project in Afghanistan where India has great credibility, it could portend real change.

Realism’s emphasis on balance of power variables invariably overlooks the possibility that balance of interests on other issues can be as important or even more important. For both countries, reaching developed country status in a comprehensive manner is an enduring objective. This is especially important for India, and under both Congress and BJP governments since 1991, the strategic edge of India’s engagement with Southeast and East Asia has remained economic. The widening trade deficit with China has dampened Indian enthusiasm on the economic front. Realists will point out that growing economic ties have not translated into more cooperative strategic behavior by China and that the logic of military competition is more compelling. At the same time, it could be countered that the only viable way to address this is through dialogue, not stand offs as the hard realists would have it. A downward spiraling military competition is certainly not going to solve the economic imbalances, and it could very well derail India’s development priority.

Finally, the role of the United States in Asia’s regional security environment is highly uncertain under President Donald Trump. The so-called structural factors that realists like to see as fixed, with inevitable US-China geopolitical competition and a resulting US-India security partnership, could experience flux along the way. The latest US National Security Strategy has termed China “revisionist,” but it is certainly not beyond Trump to do his own reset of US-China relations in the future. A certain extent of de-coupling of the India-US and India-China relations may be in order to keep India’s strategic options open. At the global multilateral level, India and China have their own strong reasons for cooperation, from climate change to trading regimes to non-interventionism.

Ultimately, realists do not have an attractive strategy for India if it wants to stop the downward slide in relations with its next-door neighbor. The option of a dangerous spiral is apparently not acceptable to the leaders of the two states, whatever risks the realists are willing to take. With a reset, Xi and Modi might just have created an opportunity to change the terms of engagement between their two countries, even if Modi cannot change India’s structural power gap with China any time soon.

photo: Deepa Ollapally

Deepa M. Ollapally is Research Professor of International Affairs and Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, George Washington University, Washington DC.

The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy or the National University of Singapore.

6/15/18: Shawn McHale Receives Prestigious Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowship

Dr. Shawn McHale has been announced as a recipient of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowship in Buddhist Studies 2018 – a prestigious award affiliated with the American Council of Learned Societies. His research project with the fellowship – titled “Crossing the Mahayana-Theravada Frontier: Vietnamese-Khmer Relations and the Vietnamese Search for ‘Original’ Theravada Buddhism in Cambodia, 1930-1989” – will investigate one of the most important developments in modern Vietnamese Buddhism, the search for “Phat giao nguyen thuy” – “original” or Theravada Buddhism.

Click here to read more on his research project!

6/19/18: NBR-Sigur Center Roundtable: Implications of DPRK Diplomacy for Taiwan

RECORDINGS NOW AVAILABLE!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

The Elliott School of International Affairs
State Room – 7th Floor
1957 E St., NW Washington, DC 20052

This event is co-sponsored by The National Bureau of Asian Research and the Sigur Center for Asian Studies

RSVP at  go.gwu.edu/DPRKDiplomacyImplicationsforTaiwan

Roundtable Part I

Roundtable Part 2

Roundtable Part 3

The National Bureau of Asian Research and the Sigur Center for Asian Studies cordially invite you to a panel discussion with experts examining the implications of recent North Korean diplomatic developments for Taiwan, cross-Strait relations, and U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Light lunch will be available.

Agenda:

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM: Registration and Lunch
12:30 PM – 12:45 PM: Welcome Remarks and Introduction
12:45 PM – 2:00 PM: Panel Discussion and Q&A

Panelists:

Patrick Cronin, Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security

Robert Sutter, Professor of Practice of International Affairs; Director, B.A. Program in International Affairs, The George Washington University

Followed by discussant remarks by Tiffany Ma, Senior Director, BowerGroup Asia and Nonresident Fellow, The National Bureau of Asian Research

ModeratorAlison Szalwinski, Director for Political and Security Affairs, The National Bureau of Asian Research

**Final speaker list to be confirmed**

About the Panelists:

Patrick M. Cronin is a Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, he was the Senior Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University, where he simultaneously oversaw the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs. Prior to leading INSS, Dr. Cronin served as the Director of Studies at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).  At the IISS, he also served as Editor of the Adelphi Papers and as the Executive Director of the Armed Conflict Database. Before joining IISS, Dr. Cronin was Senior Vice President and Director of Research at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Tiffany Ma is a senior director at BowerGroupAsia, where she manages BGA’s client relationships and engagements. She directs analysis and activities designed to advise Fortune 500 companies on public policy issues, regional geopolitics and stakeholder management. Prior to joining BGA, Tiffany was the senior director for political and security affairs at NBR in Washington, D.C., where she led major initiatives on geopolitical and international security affairs in the Asia-Pacific that regularly convened senior government officials and specialists from across the region. She began her career as a research associate at the Project 2049 Institute, an Asia security think tank based in Arlington, Virginia, and has also worked at the International Crisis Group in Beijing, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

Robert Sutter is Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the Elliott School of George Washington University beginning in 2011. He also serves as the school’s Director, Program of Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs. A Ph.D. graduate in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University, he has published 20 books, over 200 articles and several hundred government reports dealing with contemporary East Asian and Pacific countries and their relations with the United States. Sutter’s government career (1968-2001) involved work on Asian and Pacific affairs and US foreign policy for the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of State, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Additional information forthcoming. We look forward to seeing you at the discussion!

6/6/18: Robert Sutter Meets President Tsai Ing-wen during 2018 Formosa Forum

Robert Sutter joined other international experts and scholars in attending the Formosa Forum: 2018 Maritime Security Dialogue in Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen met with the group of international experts on the morning of May 31st. President Tsai commented on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Asia-Pacific, voiced support for continued dialogue on maritime security, and noted Taiwan’s contributions to regional maritime security.

Click here to read a transcript of President Tsai’s remarks and here for the video of her remarks.

Photo caption: Robert Sutter (left) meets President Tsai Ing-wen (right) during 2018 Formosa Forum.

5/25/2018: VIDEO: Dr. Shambaugh Gives Talk at East-West Center on China and the United States in Southeast Asia

David Shambaugh presented his findings on the relative balance of power and influence between the United States and China in Southeast Asia at the East-West Center Distinguished Lecture in Honolulu, Hawaii. His lecture was based on extensive travel and research in the region in 2017, and an acclaimed article recently published in International Security (Spring 2018). He argued that China’s role in the region is currently overestimated and America’s role is underappreciated. How each big power plays its hand, and how the ASEAN states manage their ties with each, will define the regional balance in the years to come.

Click here to watch the full lecture!

5/22/2018: David Shambaugh – Can America meet the China challenge in Southeast Asia?

Can America meet the China challenge in Southeast Asia?

By David Shambaugh

Originally published in East Asia Forum on May 22, 2018. Access the original article here. Article is below:

The strategic sands are shifting in Southeast Asia, as China makes multiple moves while the United States seems on its back foot. This is the predominant perception throughout the region. Seen from Beijing, countries in the region are making practical choices to build their economies and China is there to assist.From Washington’s perspective, as captured in the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy, ‘China seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favour’.

Clearly, over the past two years, a subtle but noticeable gravitation towards China has been apparent across the region. The principal question is whether this is a temporary and tactical or a more long-lasting and secular trend. Further, are all ASEAN states gravitating equally towards China? What does the apparent ‘bandwagoning’ with Beijing suggest about Southeast Asians’ vaunted hedging strategies to avoid dependence on external powers? If Beijing is pulling these countries into its strategic orbit, what is pushing them? Might China overreach and overplay its hand? Can Washington compete effectively in the game of strategic competition? What strengths and weaknesses does each major power bring to the competition?

The United States possesses broad and durable security ties, diplomatic interactions and commercial presence across the region. Its military assistance programs and security cooperation are second to none, and Beijing cannot compete in this sphere. US cultural exchanges are also robust, and the appeal of American soft power is strong — whereas China’s remains weak. US–ASEAN trade totalled US$234 billion in 2015, while US companies invested US$32.3 billion in ASEAN countries in 2012–2014 alone — more than three times that of China. The total stock of US foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region is US$226 billion — more than that of China, Japan and the European Union combined. Washington also contributes a variety of regional aid programs such as the Lower Mekong Initiative, and its US$4 billion in aid (as of 2015) outstrips that from Beijing three to one.

For its part, China’s strengths are primarily its geographic proximity and vast sums of money. Beijing’s lack of criticism concerning human rights and governance is also appreciated by Southeast Asian countries. China benefits from a more regular diplomatic presence, much greater trade, rapidly growing FDI and close geographic proximity. China’s economic footprint is huge and growing fast in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative. China’s trade with ASEAN reached US$345.7 billion in 2015. The trade relationship received a big boost in 2010 when the China–ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) came into effect.

Chinese investment into ASEAN has also been spiking upward, reaching US$8.2 billion in 2015, with a total cumulative stock of US$123 billion by the end of 2014. China is already the largest foreign investor in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar, and the second largest in Singapore and Vietnam. China is also beginning to increase its military assistance programs and public diplomacy outreach in the region.

On the other hand, China’s weaknesses include (ironically) its geographical proximity (too near and overbearing), its South China Sea claims and militarisation and its occasional diplomatic manipulation of ASEAN. China has no real ability to provide security or defence for the region, and there remain historical suspicions that Beijing uses ethnic Chinese communities as ‘fifth columns’ in several Southeast Asian societies.

Thus, on balance, when comparing China’s regional involvement to that of the United States, I come to the counterintuitive conclusion that the United States possesses comprehensive comparative strengths vis-a-vis China in Southeast Asia. The United States is truly a multidimensional actor, while China remains primarily a single-dimensional power.

Recognising this, the United States needs to capitalise on its strengths and develop a comprehensive plan to effectively compete with China in the region and undertake a major public diplomacy effort to educate Southeast Asians about what the United States has to offer.

One major challenge is to correct the pervasive perception that the United States has repeatedly proven itself to be episodically engaged and not dependable. Washington should substantially raise Southeast Asia as a strategic priority in its Asian and global foreign policy — it is too important a region to cede to China. Many Southeast Asian states look to the United States as an offshore balancer, a role that the United States can and should play. This role should not be confined only to the security sphere, but should be comprehensive in scope — including the full range of diplomatic, cultural, public diplomacy and economic instruments.

When China overreaches and becomes too assertive in the region, which is quite likely (and there are already indications), then the United States needs to be physically present and be perceived to be a reliable partner for Southeast Asia.

David Shambaugh is the Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science & International Affairs and Director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Parts of this essay are adapted from his article ‘US–China Rivalry in Southeast Asia: Power Shift or Competitive Coexistence?’ (2018).

5/8/2018: Deepa Ollapally – How Does India’s Look East Policy Look after 25 Years?

 

How Does India’s Look East Policy Look after 25 Years?

By Deepa M. Ollapally

Originally published as part of a roundtable discussion titled “Frédéric Grare’s India Turns East: International Engagement and U.S.-China Rivalry” by the National Bureau for Asian Research (NBR) in its Asia Policy (13.2, April 2018 edition) publication. Access the full roundtable discussion of the topic here.

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