Goldstein Program in Public Affairs: The Growing Importance of Asia for the United States


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In partnership with the Goldstein Program in Public Affairs at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.

When: Feb 18 2015 - 5:00pm until Feb 18 2015 - 6:30pm
Where: Hynson Lounge, Washington College, Maryland

Goldstein Program in Public Affairs: The Growing Importance of Asia for the United States

A co-sponsored event with Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland featuring:

Dr. Satu Limaye
Director, East-West Center in Washington

 Dr. Ellen Frost
Senior Adviser, East- West Center in Washington

Mr. Matthew Daley
Former President, US-ASEAN Business Council

It is not difficult to see the economic sway Asia holds over the rest of the world. Pick up almost anything you own, and the “Made In” label on it will boast the name of an Asian country. But how does Asia directly affect Maryland? On Wednesday, February 18, at 5:00 p.m., a panel of experts met at Washington College to answer that question and more during a program titled “The Growing Importance of Asia for the United States.”  It was jointly sponsored by Washington College’s Goldstein Program in Public Affairs and the East-West Center in Washington. 

From left to right: Dr. Andrew Oros, Dr. Satu Limaye, Dr. Ellen Frost, and Mr. Matthew Daley
From left to right: Washington College's Dr. Andrew Oros (moderator), Dr. Satu Limaye, Dr. Ellen Frost, and Mr. Matthew Daley


Dr. Satu Limaye, Director of the East-West Center in Washington (EWCW), kicked off the discussion by demonstrating the EWCW's flagship program: the Asia Matters for America/America Matters for Asia (AMA) website. Addressing Washington College students and board members, Dr.Limaye highlighted how AMA is a great tool for both Asia hands and those newly interesed in Asia to research how their state, town, district, etc. in the United States interacts with and is affected by Asia, and vice versa. In an incresaingly globalized world it is important to remember that something as random as Australian investment in California's olive oil production can have a huge impact not just on the global market of olive oil but the average Californian farmer seeking to increase his/her grove's productivity and profit. This anecdote, as well as data on the AMA website, demonstrates that contrary to popular belief most interactions between the United States and Asia occur at the private sector level rather than the government level. Dr. Limaye also stated his impressions of the Obama administration's "pivot/rebalance" to Asia policy. There appear to be 6 key elements involved in the pivot: maintaining/modernizing alliances, increasing partnerships with nontraditional allies and partners, increasing visability and participation in regional organizations, increasing trade and investment, modernizing US force posture, and continuing to promote democracy and human rights. 


Dr. Ellen Frost focused her remarks on the status of Asia's economies, particularly China's. Though it is currently growing slower than it has been previously, China's economy is nonetheless still a force to be reckoned with. in 2014 alone, China invested over $12 billion in the United States, more than double what it invested a decade ago. With this increasing economic, and with it policital, clout, there has been a growing sense of triumphalism in China. The lifting of millions of Chinese citizens out of poverty since the 1980s is an example that many point to with just how much good has come out of the Chinese government's fiscal policies. But China had been this economically powerful, if not more so, centuries ago in the 1800s. Then it was the largest economy in the world, representing over 30% of the world's GDP. However, not 40 years later it was militarily defeated by a host of Western nations and carved up into spheres of influence. Then came World War II (WWII) with its own horrors, capping off what the Chinese today still refer to as the "century of humiliation." Dr. Frost reminded the audience that all of China's actions today are "seasoned with history" in mind. Though China might be returning to its former power it is ever mindful of how quickly that power can be taken away. As such, this provides some clarity as to why China has become increasingly vocal regarding its displeasure with the post-WWII global order, which it believes has left China out of important positions of power. While China has not actively sought to overthrow the global order, it is striving to make the system more to its advantage. A recent example of this is the formation of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China's response to the Asian Development Bank which it sees as heavily influenced by the West. Combine this with what Dr. Frost described as the United States' "slow crisis of legitimacy" in Asia and you have an uncertainty as to whether the United States will continue to remain as dominant in the region as it has been since the end of WWII. 

Mr. Matthew Daley ended the discussion with observations regarding the Asian countries that make up ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He emphasized that the audience should not think about ASEAN as one uniform, concrete block. There are numerous cultural, political, social, etc. differences between the 10 nations and often can be found within the nations themselves. Similarly, interactions between the United States and ASEAN are similiarly complicated. Often there are hard choices to make in terms of interacting with a state and promoting US values and norms. Myanmar, also known as Burma, is an example of this. Currently, many US businesses are working to tap the Burmese market, which only began to open up following efforts by the Obama administration in 2011. However, the ongoing suppression of ethnic minorities in the country makes these types of interactions hard to swallow for many Americans. This does not mean, however, that the relationships between ASEAN and the United States are not beneficial. A native of Maryland himself, Mr. Daley stated that over 5,000 jobs in Maryland are supported by exports to Asia as a whole. What is more, 5% of exports from Maryland's 1st congressional district, home of Washington College, are exported to ASEAN. 

For more photographs of this event, please visit the East-West Center in Washington's Flickr page here. 

Dr. Satu Limaye is the Director of the East-West Center, which is headquartered in Washington, DC. Dr. Limaye, who earned his Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford, is also the creator/director of the “Asia Matters for America” program, and founding editor of the “Asia-Pacific Bulletin,” which analyzes and discusses various issues in U.S.-Asia relations.

Dr. Ellen Frost is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Technology and Economic Affairs, and Counselor to the U.S. Trade Representative. Dr. Frost is now an adjunct senior fellow at the East-West Center and a distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University. She is author of several books on international trade, most recently Asia’s New Regionalism (2008).

Mr. Matthew Daley is the former president of the U.S.-ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Business Council and past Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for Southeast Asian and Pacific Affairs. Mr. Daley’s career also has included work with the U.S. Foreign Service, Army, and Secret Service. He is now a Senior Consultant at New Century US.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Sarah Batiuk
Phone: 202-327-9755