East-West Center Research in the News


20 May 2020—One pandemic, two Koreas: Coronavirus and the Korean peninsula standdoff, Korea Press Foundation: Marcus Noland

"North Korea's political culture inhibits the communication of bad news, and it is notable that the government claims that there are no COVID-19 cases, despite a variety of indicators that would suggest otherwise," according to East-West Center Non-Resident Senior Fellow Marcus Noland. "If a decision is made to openly seek outside assistance, Pyonyang will exhibit a predilection for material aid such as medical equipment, which can be portrayed internally as a kind of political tribute to the Kim regime," Noland added.

19 May 2020—Hawaii antibody tests suggest community's level of exposure low, Hawaii Public Radio: Tim Brown

"The level of COVID-19 exposure in the community is still comparatively low," says Tim Brown, an infectious disease expert at the East-West Center. "In some ways, that's good news, but it's bad news if you're hoping that herd immunity in the community is going to protect people," he said. Brown said herd immunity alone would probably not work in a place as large as the United States because the death toll would be far too large. That’s why he predicts that while we wait for a vaccine, a more likely scenario will be that doctors will find better treatments for COVID-19. Although there may not be much COVID-19 circulating in Hawaii, Brown says we shouldn’t let our guard down. He said with some less contagious diseases, it’s enough to get the infection down to a very low number. But with the coronavirus as transmissible as it is, one person’s cough can infect many people. 

19 May 2020—报告揭露中国AI产业现况的神秘面纱![The report reveals the mystery of the current state of China's AI industry!: In Chinese], EE Times: Dieter Ernst

19 May 2020—북 지도자 관련 급변사태에도 북 체제 크게 바뀌지 않을 것 [The North Korean regime will not change significantly in the event of a sudden change in relations with North Korean leaders: In Korean], RFA: Marcus Noland

12 May 2020—No fire and fury: 2020 may be a quiet year for US-North Korea relations, National Interest: Denny  Roy

For several reasons, this year will likely be a hiatus in serious US-DPRK  diplomacy. The re-election of President Donald Trump in November 2020 is far from certain. Pyongyang therefore has little incentive to engage in hard bargaining to reach an agreement that might be overturned by a new US president in January 2021. If the usual false hope of a breakthrough in US-DPRK relations is off the table for 2020, it still appears available in Pyongyang's relations with South Korea, where President Moon Jae-in's government remains ready to talk economic benefits now and denuclearization later.

11 May 2020—Using vinegar to fight coronavirus: Cheap, simple symptom checks can help economies reopen, Hawaii Public Radio: Tim Brown

Tim Brown, an expert in infectious diseases and epidemic behavior at the East-West Center, says that the main benefit of symptom screening, such as fever checks, is that they’re quick and easy. “They’re non-invasive, they take only seconds, they can be done at the door,” Brown said. "Of course, there is one obvious weakness to the smell test," says Brown. “It’s relying on self-reporting and if people know ‘I’m supposed to say I smell something,’ then they may just say that they smell something. Additionally, not all those infected will experience a fever or loss of smell." Still, says Brown, in “any place where you’re likely to have significant crowding, in places like a healthcare setting, where workers are motivated to protect themselves and their co-workers, I think it could be very valuable there. Schools, military bases, and prisons are all good candidates for increased symptom checks regimens.

8 May 2020—COVID-19 antibody tests available on Big Island, Big Island Now: Tim Brown

“The antibody tests that are out there now, which are the ones that are most amenable to becoming take-home tests, are bad—for a lack of any other word,” Dr. Tim Brown, Senior Fellow at UNAIDS Collaborating Center at the East-West Center, said in late April. Brown added that the antibody tests cross-react with common cold coronaviruses, which means someone may test positive for a cold they had a month ago.

7 May 2020—How China is slow conquering the South China Sea, National Interest: Denny Roy

Changing the trajectory of the trend in the South China Sea would require more of the region to decide that the long-term risk of de facto Chinese ownership of this important waterway outweighs the short-term risk—both miliary and economic—of taking a stronger stand against Chinese encorachment.

6 May 2020—Health experts say it’s too soon to reopen, Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Tim Brown

“Opening malls is brain-dead. That’s just inviting crowds. That’s just foolish. One thing we know about the virus is it loves crowds. The last thing we want to do is bring people together,” said Dr. Tim Brown, an infectious-disease modeler and senior fellow at the East-West Center. “Right now the number is basically down because most people are sheltering in place, but once we open up, the number of (cases and) close contacts is going to rise very rapidly. The streets are a lot more crowded; people are already effectively starting to lift the lockdown even though they’re technically supposed to be in lockdown.”

1 May 2020—China’s eight arguments against Western ‘hubris’ and why they fail, Pacific Forum: Denny Roy

The poor performance of Western Europe and the United States during the pandemic has revived Western declinism. A recent example is an essay by Zhou Bo of the Center of China-American Defense Relations, Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Zhou’s assertions are important, but also mainly wrong, and therefore call for a critique.

29 April 2020—Antibody tests now available statewide, Big Island Now: Tim Brown

The antibody tests that are out there now, which are the ones that are most amenable to becoming take-home tests, are bad—for a lack of any other word,” said Dr. Tim Brown, Senior Fellow at UNAIDS Collaborating Center at the East-West Center. Brown added the antibody tests cross-react with common cold coronaviruses, which means someone may test positive for a cold they had a month ago. “The FDA is basically approving tests that have extremely high false-positive rates, so they are overestimating the prevalence… and badly overestimating it,” he continued. “They give a lot of people the impression that they’re not infective when they are, and vice versa, that they are infective when they’re not.” That could cause serious health risks for those who believe they were exposed based on a bad test and head out into the community with a false sense of security due to a phantom immunity that doesn’t actually exist, Brown said.

29 April 2020—Corona virus effect on US China trade [audio], The Conversation (Hawaii Public Radio): Christopher McNally

Chris McNally, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the East-West Center and Political Economy Professor at Chaminade University, says overall trade with China is down, but trade in medical equipment is up through the roof. Some new Chinese companies that are producing medical equipment were not well qualified, resulting in the export of shoddy goods, but the Chinese government is now putting better rules in place. Broader trade issues are currently on hold, but Dr. McNally hopes that cooler heads will prevail because neither side can win a trade war.

26 April 2020—If Kim Jong-un dies North Korea could survive (with Kim Yo-jong taking over), The National Interest: Denny Roy

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) regime could survive the death of Kim Jong-un. The established pattern of hereditary succession suggests Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, would most likely replace him.… The death of Kim Jong-un would lead to uncertainty in US-DPRK relations. The personal relationship between the two national leaders would be gone. A period of introversion by North Korea might follow, in effect a hiatus in bilateral relations. But eqully likely is an increase in tensions on the Peninsula.

24 April 2020—Q&A: No winners in America-first/China-first AI war, EE Times: Dieter Ernst

There is no doubt that the US government should fight against unfair practices in intellectual pproperty rights, trade secrets, and government procurement, wherever they occur, including in China. But most important, both the US government and the private sector need to join forces and develop and implement a national strategy to upgrade the country’s innovation system in order to cope with the challenge of China’s innovation policy from a position of strength. China in turn needs to reconsider the notion that the country can only progress in AI if it pursues a zero-sum competition policy in its relationship with the United States and other advanced countries. China should provide safeguards to foreign companies against forced technology transfer through policies such as compulsory licensing, cyber security standards and certification, and restrictive government procurement policies.In short, technology warfare based on crude techno-nationalism is threatening to destroy AI’s global knowledge-sharing culture.

22 April 2020—Debunking the myth of China's AI superiority, EE Times: Dieter Ernst

It is time to accept that the US, the most powerful country in the world, can no longer single-handedly dictate the pace of innovation in AI and in IT at large. It is in the interest of US industry that the US government returns to a policy that promotes rather than disrupts the rule of law in international trade, in order to regain stability, predictability, and a more equitable distribution of gains from trade. It will take quite some time to repair the tremendous damage done by current US policies.

16 April 2020—Reasons for Taiwan to be hopeful, Taipei Times: Denny Roy

Four longer-term trends have positive implications for Taiwan. First, Taiwan is on track to remain prosperous after the pandemic blows over. Second, the pandemic has increased world respect and sympathy for Taiwan, which will pay long-term dividends. A third positive trend is increased US support for Taiwan. The fourth positive trend is the routinization of Taiwan’s autonomy from China. Taiwan is not only a de facto independent country, it is a successful and internationally respected one.

15 April 2020—Hawaii lags behind other states in release of COVID-19 data, Honolulu Civil Beat: Tim Brown

“When you put out 26 when the number is really 56, you’re downplaying the problem and giving the public the wrong impression,” said Tim Brown, a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center who specializes in infectious disease epidemiology and modeling. “I’m a firm believer that in public health you give the public the truth and let them make their own choices.” In particular, Brown would like to see the Department of Health provide more information about contact tracing and the clusters of positive coronavirus cases that are popping up in the community so that individuals can use that information to change their habits. He said this will be especially important as officials consider allowing businesses to reopen and life begins to get back to some semblance of normalcy. The number of hospitalizations are important, too, he said, because those figures highlight just how serious contracting COVID-19 can be. “It’s valuable for people to see that this thing is not a gentle virus,” Brown said.

15 April 2020—Two plans to reopen Hawaii's economy, The Conversation (Hawaii Public Radio): Tim Brown

Tim Brown, infectious disease specialist at the East-West Center, stresses that testing for COVID-19 is "critically important from a public health perspective in terms of giving us the entry point for contact tracing."

14 April 2020—Korea's economic policy to overcome the corona virus: Concentration and speed [in Korean], U. Korea News: Joonkyung Ha

14 April 2020—VIDEO: Conditions to lifting Hawaii shutdown debated, Big Island Video News: Tim Brown

According to a presentation by Tim Brown, a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center, lifting the shutdown all hinges on “having the capacity to rapidly test suspected cases, trace their close contacts, and quarantine them to stem the growth of the epidemic.” “In addition, we must have data to inform triggers for reimposing lockdown should the epidemic resurge,” Brown said. “The worry I do have is that because the social isolation measures have been so effective, only a small fraction of the population has contracted the COVID-19 virus so far,” Brown said. “Based on experiences with other coronaviruses, these people are likely to have some measure of at least temporary immunity to reinfection. However, the rest of the population—the other 99.9% percent of us—are still as vulnerable to infection as ever. This virus spreads remarkably easily and quickly in the absence of controls. Each person infected transmits the virus to 2 or 3 others, usually within a period of several days, and sometimes before they even develop symptoms. If we were to lift the shutdown measures now and go back to our previous way of life, we could easily find ourselves in a New York type situation within a month or two.”

“Thus, as we lift the restrictions,” Brown continued, “unless we are prepared to see this epidemic take off again we will need to identify new infections promptly, trace their close contacts, and get those people into isolation as quickly as we can.” “This creates preconditions for lifting the shutdown,” Brown stated. “We must have a solid testing and contact tracing program in place, and we must have the ability to ensure isolation of close contacts of coronavirus cases from the community. If we reopen without these programs in place, we’re wearing blinders .”

14 April 2020—Hawaii appears to be flattening the COVID-19 curve—for now, Honolulu Civil Beat: Tim Brown

Any model of COVID-19 in Hawaii is hampered by limited data, however, says Tim Brown, an infectious disease modeler and Senior Fellow at the East-West Center. “The data here is sparse enough that any model is not likely to be particularly solid or realistic here,” says Brown, who specializes in HIV/AIDS and has been observing the progress of the coronavirus in Hawaii. But Brown agrees that the epidemic on Oahu appears to be slowing down, noting that cases in Maui County appear to be trending upward. “Whether that will hold up we will see,” he says.

14 April 2020—Hawaii experts disagree over importance of testing in reopening economy, Hawaii Public Radio: Tim Brown

Tim Brown, an infectious disease specialist at the East-West Center, co-wrote a plan with economist Sumner LaCroix of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. Their plan emphasized the importance of testing for the novel coronavirus. At Monday’s briefing to lawmakers, Brown reaffirmed the importance of testing. “Where it's critically important from a public health perspective is really in terms of giving us the entry point for contact tracing,” he said.

14 April 2020—Hawaii has the lowest coronavirus infection rate in U.S.—so far, Government Technology [also appered in Honolulu Star-Advertiser]: Tim Brown

Tim Brown, a senior fellow at the East-West Center with expertise in infectious disease and behavioral epidemiology, said the stay-home order and social distancing, for the most part, are “having the desired effect.” There has been relatively slow growth in hospitalizations and deaths, and “because this virus usually manifests in symptoms in less than two weeks, if the virus were widespread in the community, these numbers would be growing more rapidly,” Brown told the House select committee Monday.

But before the state can lift the statewide lockdown, it must have the capacity to more rapidly test suspected cases, quickly trace their contacts and quarantine people as needed, he said. The state also needs “data to inform triggers for reimposing lockdown should the epidemic surge,” Brown said. Hawaii health officials will need that extra lab capacity and other resources to cope with the new coronavirus for the next one to two years until a vaccine is developed, he said. “If we were to lift the shutdown measures now and go back to our previous way of life, we could easily find ourselves in a New York type of situation within a month or two,” he said. He cited the example of Singapore, which has traced clusters of infections around workplaces, preschools, gyms, shipyards, private functions, and dormitories.

14 April 2020—House select committee’s fourth meeting looks at COVID-19 testing, business support, and leadership moving forward, State of Reform: Tim Brown

Tim Brown, Senior Fellow of the East-West Center, started a discussion on testing people for the virus, saying rapid turnaround of results along with a thorough contact tracing system are needed to get a better picture of who has virus and how it is spreading.

14 April 2020—Reopening Hawaii’s economy will likely be slow and painful, Honolulu Civil Beat: Tim Brown

One thing all seem to agree on is that it’s important to have a robust system to trace people who have been in contact with people who test positive. The challenge is that conducting fast and extensive contact tracing isn’t easy, said Tim Brown, an economist with the East-West Center who co-authored the UHERO paper with University of Hawaii economist Sumner La Croix. The COVID-19 contact tracing criteria involve tracking down anyone who came into contact—meaning within 2 meters for at least 15 minutes—with an infected person, Brown said. This typically can mean some 30 to 40 people, he said. “The staffing needs should not be understated,” Brown said. That’s where apps can come in. He pointed specifically to Safe Paths, an open source technology being developed by MIT. As MIT describes it, the technology allows people to “match the personal diary of location data on their smartphones with anonymized, redacted, and blurred location history of infected patients.”

13 April 2020—Date to reopen Hawai‘i economy a distant, moving target, Big Island Now: Tim Brown

Experts agree that a host of upgrades to testing capacity and efficiency, as well as data provided by technology the state does not yet possess, will be necessary before a date to reopen the economy can be set. Tim Brown, East-West Center Senior Fellow, said the state is a long way from obtaining either. “[Hawai‘i] must have a solid testing and contact tracing system in place and the ability to ensure isolation of close contacts from the community,” Brown said. “If we open without this in place, we’re wearing blinders and entering a leaky boat.” Contact tracing will provide a real-time picture of what the virus is doing. Currently, with a COVID-19 viral incubation period of up to two weeks and test turnaround times that stretch on for days instead of hours, the picture officials have is wildly out-of-date. Rapid turnaround tests are needed, Brown said, and the state must be able to process tests on its own without shipping them to the mainland.

13 April 2020—Hawaii must boost COVID-19 testing, contact tracing before reopening the economy, KITV-4: Tim Brown

Widespread testing and contact tracing data are needed before the economy can be reopened. “We must have a solid testing and contact tracing program in place and we must have the ability to ensure isolation of close contacts of coronavirus cases from the community," said Tim Brown, infectious disease expert and Senior Fellow at the East-West Center. "If we reopen without these programs in place, we're wearing blinders and piloting a leaky boat as we fight a deadly virus.”

13 April 2020—University's report weighs next steps for economy, tourism, Travel Weekly: Tim Brown

In a report published by the University of Hawaii on April 3, two researchers take a stab at charting Hawaii's next steps after the pandemic shutdown, including what needs to happen for tourism to flourish once again. The authors, University of Hawaii economics professor emeritus Sumner LaCroix and East-West Center Senior Fellow Tim Brown, suggest it could be a year or longer before Hawaii is fully open for business again but allow that the economy could bounce back sooner if certain criteria are realized. For one thing, more resources may need to be dedicated to monitoring those subject to quarantine, including electronic ankle bracelets or location-monitoring apps, and for contact tracing. Next, to further containment and inch closer to restarting shuttered businesses, the state must establish facilities where exposed people can be cared for in isolation, with potential candidates including hotels in tourist districts and neighborhoods or vacant military housing. Once the state has a handle on the pandemic, which means a sustained reduction in the number of new cases for at least 14 days, a drop in demand on hospital services and emergency services, and more robust testing and monitoring systems, then the restrictions can be lifted.

12 April 2020—Editorial: Trace for coronavirus containment, then carefully restart Hawaii businesses, Honolulu Star Advertiser: Tim Brown

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) has drafted a plan titled “How to Control Hawaii’s Coronavirus Epidemic and Bring Back the Economy: The Next Steps,” authored by Sumner La Croix and Tim Brown, that presents a well-founded and rational strategy. One idea in the UHERO draft that could provide some immediate direction is the proposal that government workers who have been sidelined by the stay-at-home order could be drafted to help with “contact tracing.” That’s the critical function of identifying those whom a COVID-19-infected person had contacted, potentially passing on the virus.

9 April 2020—China may forge ahead of the US in the AI chip race, but at what cost to both?, South China Morning Post: Dieter Ernst

Competing in artificial intelligence chips: China’s challenge amid technology war, a special report by East-West Center Adjunct Senior Fellow Dieter Ernst assesses the challenges that China faces in developing its artificial intelligence (AI) industry due to unprecedented US technology export restrictions. A central proposition is that China's achievements in AI lack a robust foundation in leading-edge AI chips, and thus the country is vulnerable to externally imposed supply disruptions. From a US perspective, it is ironic that US restrictions on technology exports may actually strengthen China's resolve to accelerate the development of its domestic semiconductor industry.

8 April 2020—Hawaii has more steps to take to restart local, tourism economies, Pacific Business News: Tim Brown

The scenarios laid out by UHERO include restarting the local economy, which accounts for 77 percent of Hawaii’s gross domestic product, with businesses reorganizing operations to adapt to social distancing in the workplace. The tourism economy would follow.

8 April 2020—UHERO brief: Containing COVID-19, restoring the economy, University of Hawaii News: Tim Brown

Sumner La Croix, University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO) research fellow and professor emeritus of economics, and Tim Brown, East-West Center Senior Fellow, examined the state’s efforts to control the coronavirus, studied the plan for testing, contact tracing and isolating, and looked at ways to reduce government-imposed restrictions and gradually reopen the economy. La Croix and Brown acknowledged the state has taken two major steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 through restricting travel and quarantining all arriving passengers for 14 days, and government orders for all residents and visitors to remain at home and to practice social distancing. The third step, which the authors said is the most challenging, is to expand testing, trace the contacts of those infected, enforce isolation and arrange care for ill and exposed people. The final step is for the state to gradually relax stay-at-home orders to allow for some economic activities to resume. However, this must be done with a strong monitoring system in place to avoid a COVID-19 resurgence.

7 April 2020—Researchers offer draft plan for coronavirus recovery, Honolulu Star Advertiser: Tim Brown

Police detectives, teachers, and government workers who have been idled by the pandemic might need to be drafted into service to work on a more aggressive coronavirus contact tracing program in Hawaii, according to the authors of a new paper published by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. UH researcher Researcher Sumner La Croix and East-West Center researcher Tim Brown also make a case for more extensive use of tracking technology to help enforce the quarantines of people who continue to fly to Hawaii or who have been exposed to the coronavirus. The authors also propose that a testing protocol must be established before mass tourism can restart to ensure that visitors coming to Hawaii are not infected.

6 April 2020—Ige, UH economists agree: COVID-19 testing may be key to restoring tourism, Honolulu Civil Beat: Tim Brown

Hawaii’s tourism industry may take as long as 12 to 18 months to begin opening for business again but could restart sooner if certain conditions are met, according to a new study titled How to control Hawaii’s coronavirus epidemic and bring back the economy: The next steps by Sumner LaCroix, UH Professor Emeritus of Economics, and Tim Brown, Senior Fellow with the East-West Center. Commenting on the study, Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO), told the Hawaii House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness, “Tourism can resume very quickly if Hawaii is perceived as a safe place.… Hawaii could be the premier destination for U.S. travelers over the next year.”

6 April 2020—Echoes of Spanish flu pandemic in Hawaii a century ago heard in coronavirus outbreak, Honolulu Star Advertiser: Eleanor C. Nordyke

Largely forgotten today, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was the fourth most fatal epidemic in the historical record of Hawaii, according to a 1999 paper in the Hawaiian Journal of History. Written by former state Statistician Robert C. Schmitt and Eleanor C. Nordyke, a population expert formerly at the East-West Center, the paper recounts the health crisis that gripped the then-U.S. territory during World War I and through the first half of 1920. From the Spanish flu, health officials learned that social distancing and shutting down events and gathering places are effective measures to battle a dangerous respiratory virus.

5 April 2020—Survey: Most of us are staying home during virus outbreak, Honolulu Civil Beat: Tim Brown

About 2% of respondents to a new Hawaii survey say they are living in households where someone has COVID-19 or its symptoms. And 3% said they kept attending social gatherings even after Hawaii’s March 25 stay-at-home order. Those are just a couple of the findings in an ongoing study that seeks to learn more about how people are getting the coronavirus and how it spreads. The survey by Pacific Urban Resilience Lab at the University of Hawaii includes 11,000 responses gathered during the last week of March. Tim Brown, a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center who specializes in infectious disease and behavioral epidemiology, cautions against inferring too much from these initial results. “You certainly don’t want to over-interpret it and assume that it’s representative of what’s going on in the community,” he said. Still, given the dearth of data about COVID-19 in Hawaii right now, “Any information is useful at this point,” he said.

5 April 2020—Why relaunching tourism can only be the last step after bringing back the economy, ETurbo News: Global Travel Industry News: Tim Brown

This comprehensive article spells out in detail how increased testing, comprehensive contact tracing, and isolation of exposed and infected individuals can lead to a rapid reduction in new infections and hospitalizations in Hawaii. Once this system has been put in place and has operated successfully for several weeks, Hawaii may begin to approach several measurable targets—number of new infections, number of new hospitalizations, capacity of the health care system to treat newly infected or exposed individuals—that would enable Governor Ige to gradually relax his stay-at-home order and for individuals to gradually relax some social distancing restrictions. The tourism economy will take longer to restart than the non-tourism economy. This is because tourism from overseas will only resume when either: (1) a vaccine is developed; (2) the coronavirus epidemic is brought completely under control in areas sending tourists to Hawaii; or (3) rapid, same-day antigen tests become available to pre-screen potential visitors.

4 April 2020—The imprecise science of predicting the spread of COVID-19, Honolulu Civil Beat: Tim Brown

Hawaii has confirmed more than 300 COVID-19 infections and three deaths. Compared with national estimates, mapping the trajectory of the virus in Hawaii is particularly tough because of limited data, says Tim Brown, a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center who specializes in infectious disease and behavioral epidemiology. “Right now any models that are being done are relatively ad hoc,” he said. “We’d probably need a more complete picture of what the situation is in the community which we don’t really have right now because the testing is all with symptomatic people. It will take another two to three weeks of data collection and more information about community transmission before the numbers will be significant enough to show a trend," Brown says.

4 April 2020—Rural-to-urban transition may explain viral outbreaks: Vietnam study, Voice of America: James H. Spencer, Sumeet Saksena, and Jefferson Fox

In a study of Vietnam’s response to an avian flu outbreak in 2003, East-West Center scholars and colleagues in Vietnam found that infection rates were highest in areas that were in the process of urbanization and thus had a mix of conditions, such as different rates of toilet access and diverse bird populations near national highways. “On a practical level, information on the link between urban development and disease outbreaks can help government agencies identify which locations are most likely to experience an outbreak of avian influenza so that prevention efforts can be less costly, more targeted, and more effective,” they wrote. They added, “The concepts and methodology that were developed for this study could easily be adapted to many other disease threats, ranging from SARS, Ebola, and dengue fever to the current pandemic of COVID-19.”

3 April 2020—Links between urbanization and viral disease: Lessons for COVID-19, Daily News (Colombo, Sri Lanka): James H. Spencer, Sumeet Saksena, and Jefferson Fox

The current COVID-19 pandemic, which started in Wuhan, China, underscores what the public health community has warned about for more than two decades—the risk of viral diseases capable of spreading from animal to human hosts. The first outbreaks of “bird flu” (highly pathogenic avian influenza—HPAI, subtype H5N1)—raised similar concerns 20 years ago, concerns that have persisted with the outbreak of SARS in 2002–2004 and COVID-19 today.

2 April 2020—"Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy" Fails to Impress—or Reassure, The Diplomat: Denny Roy

Although "Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy" is an exercise in public relations by Beijing intended to win over the international community, a close reading still provides plenty of cause for the rest of the world to be concerned about China’s growing global influence and impact. History should make us skeptical of Beijing’s claim, repeated in Xi Thought, that China will break the pattern of great powers using their relative strength and influence to exploit other states.

30 March 2020—An economic hurricane is hurtling towards the South Pacific, The Sydney Morning Herald: Karena Lyons

"Our best chance collectively is to isolate ourselves and break the chain of community transmission," says Karena Lyons, Director of Research at the East-West Center in Honolulu. "I know it was a big deal for my family in Samoa and New Zealand to refrain from going to church—but they did it and they started three weeks ago," says Lyons. "Thank goodness – it took a village to convince my mother."

28 March 2020—Pandemic won’t break the North Korea stalemate, The National Interest: Denny Roy

In Northeast Asia, the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic meets the intractable North Korea problem. Pyongyang is enduring the same wave of illness as its neighbors, but with a weaker economy and healthcare system. Nevertheless, the basic situation on the Korean Peninsula—a tense standoff between nuclear-armed and authoritarian Pyongyang and its US-backed democratic rival South Korea—will persist after the pandemic subsides. It is exceedingly unlikely that the COVID-19 crisis will force Pyongyang to change the direction of its security policy. On the other hand, it is highly likely the pandemic could push Pyongyang toward temporary tactical adjustments, possibly to include another peace offensive.

25 March 2020—China's coronavirus aid seeking to shift narrative away from Beijing's cover-up, experts say, ABC News [Australian Broadcasting Corporation]: Denny Roy

Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the Hawaii-based East-West Center, said China could be seeking to bolster its reputation as "a responsible country", at a time when other nations appeared to be scrambling."This is why China has so strenuously pushed the notions that the disease is contained in China, that China did the rest of the world a favour by acting quickly and effectively, and that China is now a major international benefactor by giving medical suppliers to other virus-hit countries," he said.

25 March 2020—CCP actively aids foreign countries to increase influence [in Chinese], Epoch Times: Denny Roy

25 March 2020—China's frequent actions to fight the epidemic are cold-headed: Motivation is not altruistic [in Chinese], Central News Agency: Denny Roy

25 March 2020—International Relations Task Force addresses common issues, States News Service: Richard Vuylsteke and Denny Roy

The East-West Center's president, Richard Vuylsteke, provided a broad-based outlook on America's regional relations. Leveraging his experience with the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Taipei, Vuylsteke reflected on the region's movement towards an economic and political inflection point. With respect to Hong Kong and Taiwan, institutional principles of openness and transparency are coming under greater scrutiny vis a vis China's posture towards market openness, rule of law, and local governance. Vuylsteke was followed by Denny Roy, Senior Fellow and Northeast Asia security specialist at EWC, who drilled down into observations about the U.S. Free and Open Indo-Pacific Policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, and Chinese foreign policy.

19 March 2020—China won’t achieve regional hegemony, The Washington Quarterly: Denny Roy

Whether it seeks regional hegemony or not, China’s potential to dominate is restrained by a combination of domestic and international factors including, but not limited to, US commitments and regional resistance to a change in leadership. The region’s future will be more bipolar than unipolar. 

6 March 2019—COVID-19 crisis reveals the CCP's true colors, The Japan Times: Denny Roy

The COVID-19 outbreak highlights what some would say is a strength of the Chinese political system: the ability to make quick and bold policy adjustments, such as shutting down travel between large Chinese cities and enforcing restrictions on banned public activity. But the health crisis also reminds us of an unpleasant truth about the Chinese Communist Party: For all the talk from Chinese officials and state-approved commentators about how the rise of China is good for the world, the overwhelming and driving objective of the CCP is its own survival.

4 March 2020—Four coronavirus-driven Chinese consumer trends that will last even after the epidemic has subsided, South China Morning Post: Sumeet Saksena

The outbreak has hastened the transition to e-commerce and accelerated the use of artificial intelligence and robotics. People are also flocking to local stores and pickup points instead of patronising centralised shopping areas and are showing more interest in food safety and health.

2 March 2020—Why a South Korean church was the perfect petri dish for coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal: Tim Brown

When infections occur, institutions and individuals must quickly share information to locate the virus’s source and prevent further spread. “Failure to do so creates distrust, and distrust disrupts transparency,” said Tim Brown, an infectious-disease researcher at the East-West Center who has consulted with the WHO, “making containment even more challenging, if not impossible.”

18 February 2020—Investments In shared surveillance systems, urban infrastructure integral To managing risks from emerging infectious diseases, experts say, Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report: James H. Spencer, Catherine L. Ross and Sumeet Saksena

Even more so than shared surveillance systems, compatible social and urban infrastructure are needed to manage emerging infectious disease risks effectively.

17 February 2020—Opinion: Smart cities can help fight against infectious diseases, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: James H. Spencer, Catherine L. Ross and Sumeet Saksena

Rapid urban transitions have led to the rise of emerging infectious diseases such as Coronavirus, Avian Flu, MERS, SARS and Ebola. Research has shown that the "spillover" of infectious zoonotic pathogens from domesticated animals to humans happens most frequently where unplanned and rapid urbanization has combined with agricultural intensification and the conversion of natural habitats.

11 February 2020—Impact of coronavirus on global economy, The Conversation [Hawaii Public Radio]: Chris McNally

The Chinese economy has really changed. It is more service oriented, and sectors such as entertainment, retail, and tourism are being hit hard by the coronavirus. Many very large cities lack protective gear and testing kits. Factories that make masks, testing kits, and pharmaceuticals are ramping up production, but others will be closed longer, which also has an impact on South Korea and Japan.

11 February 2020—Republic of the Marshall Islands holds first national climate change and health dialog, Reliefweb: Laura Brewington and John Marra

On January 30-31, 2020, Pacific RISA and NOAA International Research and Applications Project Principal Investigator Laura Brewington of the East-West Center led the first national Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Climate Change and Health Dialog in Majuro. NOAA’s Regional Climate Services Director, John Marra, facilitated the Dialog. According to RMI Secretary of Health Jack Niedenthal, climate impacts on health are not merely something the country needs to prepare for in the future—they are happening right now.

12 January 2020—Beijing’s new ‘landing ship’ could be used to help invade Taiwan, Chinese media suggests, CNBC: Denny Roy

China has developed a new amphibious warship that could be used in future wars involving islands, according to a Beijing-controlled tabloid. “I think they are looking realistically to get Taiwan back in the near future,” Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu told CNBC Thursday. The think tank’s defense expert said Beijing’s strategy may be to effectively “frighten Taiwan into submitting without a fight.” According to Roy, Beijing is believed to have the capability today with its existing ships to send about 20,000 troops to Taiwan.

10 January 2020—Closer ties with China? Taiwan’s voters look likely to say, "No thanks," The Christian Science MonitorDenny Roy

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was poised to win another four-year term, her campaign buoyed by a shored up political base and improved economic growth. She also received a boost from the backfiring of China’s pressure tactics toward Taiwan and also toward nearby Hong Kong. “On the part of the Beijing leadership, it’s ... not catastrophic but certainly an extremely unfavorable development if Tsai Ing-wen gets reelected,” says Denny Roy, senior fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. “It will generally increase the weight in the debate of those who argue that Taiwan is slipping away and we, China, need to be doing something different to staunch that trend. That is the real danger,” he says.Still, some analysts downplay the significance of the dwindling of such formal ties. “What should really be important” to Taiwan is “very strong unofficial relations with important countries like the United States and Japan,” Mr. Roy says.


East-West Center Research in the News: 2019

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