East-West Center Research in the News


13 September 2019—Tree-mendous: Community management and outmigration have helped Nepal double its forest area in 25 years, Nepali Times: Jefferson M. Fox

New analysis of historical satellite imagery indicates that Nepal’s forest area has nearly doubled, from 26% of land area in 1992 to 45% in 2016. Nepal has not been free from deforestation, but rather, on average, more new forests have grown up than have been cut down. Jefferson Fox, a geographer at the East-West Center in Honolulu who is the project’s principal investigator, thinks it is important to acknowledge Nepal’s forest successes, even if localised deforestation remains a problem in parts of the country.

4 September 2019—The gay Hong Kong Chinese men afraid to come out to their families, and why parents need educating to accept them, South China Morning Post: Tim Brown

Statistics show a solid majority of HIV diagnoses in Hong Kong have been in the group of men who have sex with men (MSM). Tim Brown, HIV epidemiologist from the East West Centre in Hawaii, once characterised HIV in Hong Kong as an epidemic within that group.

2 September 2019—The blackest hand in Hong Kong is Beijing's, The Japan Times: Denny Roy

China’s pressure to extend authoritarianism into Hong Kong, along with the crackdown on Uyghur nationalism in Xinjiang, help define the Xi Jinping era. Beijing is worried about a “color revolution,” will do anything necessary to pacify “Chinese” territory, and doesn’t care much what the rest of the world thinks.

20 August 2019—In Nepal, out-migration is helping fuel a forest resurgence, YaleEnvironment360: Jefferson M. Fox

Jefferson Fox, a geographer at the East-West Center at the University of Hawai'i who leads the NASA-funded team researching Nepal’s forest resurgence, says his data indicate that both community forestry and migration are associated with forest recovery, but that community forestry is the more important factor. He and his colleagues also found that variables often associated with remittance income — such as families with brick and concrete houses, indoor plumbing, and motorcycle ownership — positively correlate with forest resurgence. Fox hopes that his team’s detailed analysis of Landsat images will provide a more comprehensive picture of Nepal’s reforestation.

19 August 2019—'America’s military primacy in the Indo-Pacific is over,' Australian analysts worry, Washington Examiner: Denny Roy

“This report is part of a predictable wave of anxiety reaching the same conclusion—that U.S. strategic preeminence faces a serious challenge from China (and to a lesser degree Russia) and can no longer expect to prevail without correcting the bad habits built up during decades of comfortable dominance,” Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawai'i, told the Washington Examiner…. “It is important that, as this report correctly notes, U.S. defense planners are working with a sense of urgency to reshape U.S. military capabilities and posture to account for what China is doing,” Roy said. “The bottom line is we would rather have the United States’ strategic problems and capabilities than China’s strategic problems and capabilities.”

19 August 2019—Trump plans to ship a fleet of F-16s to Taiwan. China isn’t happy about it, Los Angeles Times: Denny Roy

“The administration on average has a tougher and more adversarial view of China than the Obama administration,” said Denny Roy, senior fellow at the East-West Center think tank in Honolulu. “That leads to a greater willingness to treat Taiwan more as a security partner, because Taiwan’s strategic value has increased and because there is less incentive to try not to antagonize China.”

5 August 2019—Chinese diplomats encourage harassment of pro-democracy students abroad as Hong Kong protests spread, Washington Examiner: Denny Roy

As students in Australia and New Zealand protest in sympathy with the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, Chinese diplomats are encouraging pro-Beijing counterprotesters. “In a sense this is the Chinese government’s domestic practice applied overseas,” Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii, told the Washington Examiner. “But obviously there is a potential contradiction in trying to maintain a good national image while at the same time doing something disrespectful, in this case Beijing organizing activity that foreign countries will see as an outrageous intervention in their sovereign political systems…. Chinese officials behave as if China, by virtue of being a big and important country, is entitled to special consideration and privileges in its relationships with foreign countries,” Roy concurred. “Beijing’s attitude seems to be that once a partner nation realizes China is a valuable economic partner, the next step is to leverage that relationship to advance other parts of China’s agenda, and the Chinese seem to expect the partner to play ball.”

14 July 2019—The US is not asking Singapore to side with America or against China: American diplomat, Yahoo News: Denny Roy

Dr Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center, told Yahoo News Singapore that he concurred with views expressed by Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, the top American diplomat in Singapore. “Countries such as Singapore should think of their response to the rivalry between the United States and China not as siding with the USA versus siding with China, but rather as supporting the international norms and institutions that provide regional states the best opportunities to achieve security and prosperity.”

Dr Roy added that he did not expect small and medium powers in the region to ever face “an absolute, all-or-nothing choice” between the two big powers. “Rather they will make a large number of small choices that will accumulate over time, some reflecting China's influence and some America's influence. Gradually each country might move closer to one of the big powers without completely breaking away from the other.”

20 June 2019—China's Xi, North Korea's Kim meet, both seeking leverage with the US, The Wall Street Journal: Denny Roy

Chinese President Xi Jinping kicked off a two-day summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang that could advance the two communist allies' stalled negotiations with the US. "The U.S. should never be comfortable with the idea of China as the mediator [in talks with North Korea]," said Denny Roy, a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center. "A lot of hopes on various issues about North Korea from 2018 have been dashed in 2019."

20 June 2019—Progress on the Kim-Trump talks or a new card for China to play?, South China Morning Post: Denny Roy

Denny Roy, Senior Fellow at the East-West Center, said this week's meeting between Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un is likely to emphasize North Korea’s willingness to negotiate on denuclearization, but differences with America would remain a stumbling block. “I think in Beijing’s view that means the Americans would accept a deal more favorable to Pyongyang, one where the North Koreans get a lot of sanctions relief for little or no substantial denuclearization,” he said. “That, of course, will be a complete non-starter in Washington.”

10 June 2019—This is no way to win a trade war with China, The National Interest: Denny Roy

There is little dispute that China engages in unfair and often predatory practices to protect and promote its domestic industries. Yet most observers believe that the US attempt to use unilateral tariffs to remedy the problem will fail to achieve its intended objectives and will harm the US economy as much as China’s. Furthermore, this episode may strengthen China’s confidence that it will prevail in future tests of will.

30 May 2019—A widening China-US perception gap, EE Times: Dieter Ernst

Much damage has already been done to America’s once seemingly invincible "soft power" image. Many in the Chinese IT industry are visibly hurt by the aggressive language used in the US policy announcements. This deep sense of disappointment is even more palpable among students at China's leading universities.

29 May 2019—Trump's trip to Japan reveals some mixed signals, The Washington Post: Kristi Govella

During President Trump's recent four-day visit to Japan, he and Prime Minister Abe pulled off a showy demonstration of the bonds between their two countries. Trump's visit also revealed persistent and troubling areas of divergence, however, on issues such as trade and North Korea. The United States and Japan will eventually have to tackle these disagreements, but with this visit, that day of reckoning seems to have been postponed.

25 May 2019—Technology and politics: Huawei has been cut off from American technology, The Economist: Dieter Ernst

The US Commerce Department recently added Huawei to a list of firms with which American companies cannot do business without official permission, which amounts to a prohibition on exports of American technology to Huawei. China has already committed billions of dollars to efforts to boost its domestic capabilities in chipmaking and technology, and America’s ban highlights the urgency of that policy.

22 May 2019—China's innovation policy and the quest for semiconductor autonomy—Q&A with Dieter Ernst, American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai Newsletter: Dieter Ernst

As the rise of economic nationalism in the US interacts with the recentralization of state control in China, it is now much more difficult to identify and mobilize stakeholders in both countries who would be willing to compromise and to find areas for selective cooperation. Intensifying trade, investment, and technology conflicts are likely to dominate US-China economic relations for quite some time.

21 May 2019—Tech warfare outbreak hits China's AI, EE Times: Dieter Ernst

The damage done by the recent U.S. declaration of open technology warfare with China is likely to be serious and long lasting. All participants in the global semiconductor industry will be affected, irrespective of their nationality.

18 May 2019—America still leads in technology, but China is catching up fast, The Economist: Dieter Ernst

It is a mistake to exaggerate China’s strengths in big-data analysis and AI, according to Dieter Ernst of the East-West Center. A near-total lack of privacy protection may help sweep up lots of data, but American firms are better at advanced algorithms that make AI less dependent on big data sets. Big Chinese applications are still mostly powered by American-designed chips, which remain world-beating.

7 May 2019—Younger Okinawans' view of U.S. bases isn't black and white, The Japan Times: Charles E. Morrison

An East-West Center study of young adult Okinawans showed a broad consensus that Okinawa hosts more than its fair share of foreign military bases and that Tokyo does not give due regard to Okinawan views. There was wide support for increased access to the U.S. bases, enhanced relations between U.S. service personnel and local communities, and more dialogue on Okinawa base-related issues. The study found very little support for Okinawan independence or even special autonomy, but a strong sense of local pride coupled with resentment that Okinawa is under-appreciated elsewhere in Japan.

21 April 2019—North Korea’s latest moves show how Kim Jong-un has turned the tables on the US, South China Morning Post: Denny Roy

Pyongyang has its nuclear missile capability despite Washington’s efforts, and with help from Beijing and Moscow and a US election next year, Kim is now asserting leverage over America.

21 April 2019—Younger Okinawans are more tolerant of U.S. military presence, study finds, Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Charles E. Morrison and Daniel Chinen

Opposition to the U.S. military base presence that is so often highlighted in Okinawa, Japan, may be less widespread among a younger generation of Okinawans.

12 March 2019—The Hanoi summit: We asked Denny Roy what happens next in US-North Korea relations, The National Interest: Denny Roy

The breakdown in Hanoi suggested that sanctions—not the “peace regime,” political recognition, or US-ROK military exercises—are Pyongyang’s overwhelming concern. If Pyongyang is not willing to offer more denuclearization for sanctions relief, the current stalemate will likely continue.

11 March 2019—Failed Hanoi summit helps US and North Korea leaders fake fresh look at situation, Eurasia Review: Denny Roy

“The US side wanted lots of de-nuclearization in exchange for little sanctions relief. The North Korean side wanted lots of sanctions relief in exchange for little de-nuclearization. They couldn’t reach a mutually agreeable middle ground. The real problem was the lack of preparatory work prior to the summit, which ordinarily would produce an agreement before the top leaders meet."

9 March 2019—Change is afoot, The Garden Island: Victoria Keener

Keener pointed out projected threats to freshwater supplies; to terrestrial ecosystems, ecosystem services and biodiversity; to coastal communities and systems; to fisheries, coral reefs and other marine resources; and to culture, indigenous communities and knowledge. She empahsized the cumulative impacts, such as social costs: "The impacts are here and now.”

8 March 2019—China eyes alternative sources for maritime expansion, Voice of America: Denny Roy

The People’s Liberation Army could delay or cut back endeavors elsewhere to “maintain the pace of strengthening China's position in the South China Sea,” said Denny Roy, Senior Fellow at the East-West Center.

6 March 2019—University of Hawaii among the universities hacked by Chinese, KHON2: Eric Harwit

"The kind of research that we're doing here at UH is really some of the cutting edge work that our own Navy uses, and of course the Chinese military forces would want to know exactly what we're doing," said Eric Harwit of the East-West Center."It's not that the Chinese necessarily want to pirate our technologies, but they just want to know what we're doing so that they can develop countermeasures against them." Professor Harwit adds that Chinese hackers have been doing this for a long time. So all universities should develop more robust systems to guard against cyber attacks.

3 March 2019—What are visions for the denuclearization after second no-deal summit?, VietnamNet: Denny Roy

According to Denny Roy, a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center, Washington has the opportunity to reorient the US-North Korean relations toward a different, longer-term strategic goal: enticing North Korea out of China’s sphere of influence. In fact, the North Koreans are wary of Chinese domination. They frequently express a desire to extract themselves from over-reliance on China. The new approach would focus on cultivating a constructive working relationship with Pyongyang. This would require the US government to make early symbolic concessions to the North Koreans while accepting slow and incremental North Korean steps toward denuclearization. The US government could also agree to adjustments in US military presence on the peninsula that address North Korean complaints without substantially jeopardizing South Korea’s security. 

28 February 2019—North Korea and America’s second summit: no deal, no worries, KITV: Denny Roy

Political analyst Dr. Denny Roy, an East-West Center Senior Fellow specializing in Northeast Asian affairs, assured an Oahu resident that "The danger of North Korea attacking Hawaii, with a missile or otherwise, was never great in my opinion, and is certainly now dormant." Dr. Roy says he was relieved Trump walked away from Thursday's talks. "There was a lot of worry that Trump might be suckered into making a deal that would be poor for the US but good for North Korea, because [Trump] wanted a quick win for whatever reason. But that didn't happen."  The opposite happened," said Dr. Roy." While he said the US seems safe for now, he also said this is when you might want to worry: "If the North Koreans start to test again, either nuclear explosions or long range missiles, then we might get back to 2017 when things were more dicey."

9 February 2019—What's so scary about Huawei?, The Inquiry, BBC World Service: Eric Harwit

"Motorola, Lucent Technologies, those companies that were leaders just 20 years ago are pretty much out of the market because Huawei has taken over. You have companies like Cisco Systems that now have revenue that is half the size of Huawei's. They've developed chips that are more efficient, that have more function, that work better, at a price lower than Apple's, so it's not just the networking equipment. By next year, they may be the largest smartphone maker in the world. It's the economic threat that we have to worry about. That the Chinese companies are going to put some of our companies out of business, and in a way they're going to be eating our lunch."

6 February 2019—North Korea and America's second summit: Here's what Denny Roy thinks will happen, The National Interest: Denny Roy

There is little chance of a return to the high tensions of 2017 under the new conditions of 2019. For instance, China has relaxed its commitment to enforcing economic sanctions against North Korea, Seoul is enthusiastically moving to deepen North-South economic integration, and Pyongyang has stopped testing missiles and nuclear bombs. We are moving toward a new normal: North Korea as a de facto permanent nuclear weapons state, reduced tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and the chance to accelerate the Kim regime’s demise through increased exposure to South Korea’s subversive soft power.

29 Januaray 2019—Nuclear threat grows as US prepared to withdraw from INF treaty, TruthOut: Denny Roy

At a recent international gathering of visiting nuclear arms researchers, academics, and reporters hosted by the East-West Center, Denny Roy noted increased competition between the US and China in the areas of security and economics. “We’ve even seen this competition intensify to the point where the gloves seem to be off,” he said, pointing to a shift under the Trump administration by characterizing China not as a partner-competitor, but as an unambiguous adversary. He also pointed to a bolder stance by Chinese President Xi Jinping in calling for an end to US strategic pre-eminence in global governance. Roy said the US shouldn’t take for granted what he called China’s “minimal deterrent posture” but should avoid policy steps that would “provoke China into trying to compete as vigorously in the area of numbers of nuclear weapons as China competes with the United States in lots of other areas.”

22 January 2019—Nepal should hedge, My Republica: Denny Roy

At a time when relations between great power nations are uncertain and changing, Denny Roy, Senior Fellow at the East-West Center, suggests that a small country such as Nepal might initiate military cooperation with one super power to increase assurances of cooperation (particularly economic) with a rival power. 

18 January 2019—Vietnam gains bargaining power over China in conduct at sea talks, Voice of America: Denny Roy

Vietnam’s tough stance against China over sovereignty of the South China Sea will put Beijing on the defensive during regional talks on easing the regional maritime dispute. “Vietnam is in a difficult position as perhaps the country that is pushing back most vociferously against the gradual expansion of Chinese control over the South China Sea,” said Denny Roy, Senior Fellow at the East-West Center.“Hanoi must draw attention for playing the role of standing up to China,” Roy said. “Otherwise China will meet less resistance from ASEAN. In that sense Vietnamese pushback might make a difference.”

18 January 2019—Pentagon report hints at coming US-China escalation, ThinkProgress: Denny Roy

Denny Roy, Senior Fellow at the East-West Center, said there’s nothing new in how China views Taiwan. The United States, China, and Taiwan all know how to avoid direct conflict, so long as Taiwan doesn’t “make a clear move toward independence,” which the current government is unlikely to do. “The inexperience on all sides with the idea of using cyber attacks as part of a military campaign injects a wildcard, however,” Roy added.

9 January 2019—Kim Jong Un's visit to China preludes second Trump-Kim summit: China's role crucial, Straits Times: Denny Roy

Dr Denny Roy, a Senior Fellow at the East West Center in Honolulu, was pessimistic about a positive outcome from a second Trump-Kim summit. The most likely result would be "each government again claiming a victorious breakthrough, with little if any substantive change in the factors that created the crisis except Trump dropping the threat to take preventive military action against North Korea", he told the Straits Times.

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