The East-West Center Research Program works with research and policy communities in the US and the Asia Pacific to provide more complete knowledge and deeper understanding of environments, societies, economies, governments, and Cancelinternational relations in the region. Research is conducted in close collaboration with networks of individuals and institutions throughout Asia and the Pacific and is shared broadly with planners, policymakers, regional specialists, the media, and the general public.

New Book on Building Capacity for a Sustainable Arctic

The Arctic in World Affairs: A North Pacific Dialogue on Building Capacity for a Sustainable Arctic in a Changing Global Order addresses five major themes relating to the Arctic: the impacts of a changing global order; responsible economic development of the Arctic; sustainable Arctic communities; Arctic challenges and opportunities for global maritime industries; and opportunities for enhancing the dialogue between practitioners and analysts. Bringing together prominent experts from the three North Pacific Arctic coastal states (Canada, Russia, and the United States) and three leading North Pacific non-Arctic states (China, Japan, and Korea), the book identifies and evaluates the likely effectiveness of innovative measures designed to maintain the Arctic as a zone of peace and promote sustainable development in this region. This book is available as a free download from the East-West Center website.

Other Recent Activities

Japan's dramatic transformation from economic success story to prime example of economic stagnation offers important policy lessons to advanced countries everywhere. A new book, published by the Korean Development Institute and the East-West Center, assesses a wide range of policy approaches aimed at avoiding stagnation and economic decline, with lessons for the Republic of Korea. The book, Economic Stagnation in Japan, Exploring the Causes and Remedies of Japanization was edited by Dongchul Cho, Takatoshi Ito, and Andrew Mason and is available from the publisher, Edward Elgar.



In early December 2017, nearly 100 parliamentarians, directors of national statistics agencies, university-based researchers, and representatives from civil-society organizations came together in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to discuss how population change is affecting Asian economies. Some of the research findings presented at the gathering are summarized in NTA Bulletin 12, Sharing the demographic dividend: Findings from low- and middle-income countries in Asia.


East-West Center researchers recently launched a collaborative study on changes in rice farming in mainland Southeast Asia, supported by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Researchers will examine one of the most intriguing agricultural-development questions in the region—how have fewer, older farmers with fewer agricultural laborers and smaller farms managed to more than double total rice production over the past 20 years?


IN 2017, the East-West Wire, a long-standing media service provided by the East-West Center, increased coverage of findings and commentary from East-West Center and other researchers. Articles are available at Research on the East-West Wire.







The East-West Center’s Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program helps communities in Hawai'i and the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands anticipate and adapt to a changing climate. Recent activities in Hawai'i include an assessment of the effects of future climate change on freshwater resources on Maui and Oahu. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Pacific RISA is evaluating the impact of climate change on human migration. The Pacific RISA program is also leading the development of the Pacific Islands chapter of the fourth US National Climate Assessment.


Selected Publications by East-West Center Authors

Megaregionalism 2.0: Trade and innovation within global networks, edited by Dieter Ernst and Michael G. Plummer. 2018. World Scientific.

The US government has withdrawn from the Transpacific Partnership agreement (TPP), suggesting the need to highlight the critical role that international trade and investment play in fostering sustainable growth and prosperity. Equally important are economic policies to ensure that gains and losses from trade for innovation are shared by all.

Prospects for Taiwan maintaining its autonomy under Chinese pressure, by Denny Roy. 2017. Asian Survey. 57(6): 1135–58.

The widely believed notion that Taiwan will inevitably submit to rule by Beijing is not politically, economically, or strategically well grounded. Despite its economic influence and growing military might, China’s ability to compel involuntary unification is far from certain if Taiwan’s people are determined to maintain their autonomy.

Sharing the demographic dividend: Findings from low-and middle-income countries in Asia. 2017. NTA Bulletin No. 12. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Recent work by National Transfer Accounts (NTA) teams in Asia sheds light on how both the contributions and benefits associated with population change are shared-—among age groups, between genders, among income groups, and between urban and rural residents. Better insights into these distributional issues can potentially help policymakers maximize the potential of demographic change to stimulate economic growth and reduce the disparities among population groups.

Misunderstanding North Korea, by Denny Roy. 2017. AsiaPacific Issues No. 133. Honolulu: East-West Center.

It is important to dispense with four common misunderstandings about North Korea. First, characterizations of the regime as irrational are wrong. Second, Pyongyang is extremely unlikely to exchange its nuclear weapons for greater trade opportunities with democratic countries. Third, the option of using military action to stop North Korea's missile program is not "on the table." Finally, depending on China to solve the problem is fruitless because the Chinese fear a collapse of the regime more than they fear a nuclear-armed North Korea.

From poor peasants to entrepreneurial farmers: the transformation of rural life in Northeast Thailand, by A. Terry Rambo. 2017. AsiaPacific Issues No. 132. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Over the past 30 years, a transformation has occurred in the lives of the Isan people of Northeast Thailand. Agricultural advances allowed a shift from subsistence to entrepreneurial farming, and off-farm employment has become more common. The resulting changes have dramatically altered the social fabric, aspirations, and identify of the people of the region.

Cost of aging, by Ronald Lee and Andrew Mason. 2017. Finance & Development [quarterly publication of the International Monetary Fund]. 54(1). (March).

A graying population means more elderly people who may not support themselves entirely from their own assets or labor income. But it may also bring more capital per worker and rising productivity and wages. Whether population aging is good or bad for the economy will depend, in large part, on how well public policy adjusts to new demographic realities.

Does unplanned urbanization pose a disease risk in Asia? The case of avian influenza in Vietnam, by Sumeet Saksena, Nong Huu Duong, Melissa Finucane, James H. Spencer, Chinh C. Tran, and Jefferson Fox. 2017. AsiaPacific Issues No. 128. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Research into the possible link between unplanned urban expansion and disease outbreaks compared patterns of land-use change in Vietnam with outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI, subtype H5N1). The study found that "peri-urban" areas had a much larger risk of experiencing an H5N1 outbreak than did other parts of the country.

International criminal justice and Southeast Asia: Approaches to ending impunity for mass atrocities, by Emma Palmer and Christoph Sperfeldt. 2016. AsiaPacific Issues No. 126. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Only 3 of 11 states in Southeast Asia have ratified the UN Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, designed to end impunity for the worst mass atrocities. Various bodies are working to promote ratification of the Statute in the region. There is also scope to tackle the problem by building a regional consensus.

More Publications by East-West Center Authors…

EWC Research in the News

14 March 2018—PM Hasina calls on Myanmar to help repatriate Rohingya, Straits Times: Charles Morrison

In a recent visit to Singapore, Bangladesh Prime Minister asked for ASEAN support to convinve the Myanmar government to prepare for the safe return of the Rohingya refugees. Charles Morrison cautioned, however, that ASEAN would be unlikely to interfere in what would be considered an internal Myanmar problem.

9 March 2018—Trump, too, needs to be a smart cookie, Pacific Forum: Denny Roy

As the Trump administration plans a summit meeting with the leaders of North Korea, they need to have realistic expectations, be aware of Pyongyang's core objectives, and keep in mind the larger geopolitical context in the region.

4 March 2018—Why it hurts less now as China punishes South Korea with tourism cuts, Forbes: Charles Morrison

It will take six months before group tourism rebounds because of the time needed to organize and market tours, but individual tourism to South Korea from China is beginning to recover.

7 January 2018—Is a full oil embargo against North Korea even possible?, South China Morning Post: Denny Roy

Cutting off North Korea's oil imports, some have argued, could bring economic and military activity to a halt, inexorably forcing Kim Jong-un to put his nukes on the bargaining table. But most of North Korea’s oil is imported from China, and it is unlikely China will ever agree to a full, sustained oil embargo. This is because a total cutoff on exports to North Korea could lead to regime collapse in Pyongyang—something Beijing fears more than a nuclear-armed neighbor.

5 January 2018—Can China really take over Taiwan?, The Washington Post: Denny Roy

For years, most analysts in the United States generally accepted the idea that Taiwan's status as a de facto independent democracy was unsustainable as China's economy and military rose to dominate Asia. In recent years, however, U.S. analysts and officials have begun to doubt whether China has the capacity, or even the will, to take over Taiwan.

More East-West Center in the News…

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