Research on the East-West Wire

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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 researchers, visitors, and colleagues from the University of Hawaii and other research organizations. Produced by the Center's Research Program, the Wires are two-page summaries that cover a wide range of topics. Many recent Wires are based on presentations made in the Research Program's Noon Seminar Series.

The East-West Wire is a news, commentary, and analysis service provided by the East-West Center in Honolulu. Any part or all of the Wire content may be used by media with attribution to the East-West Center or the person quoted. Access to the full list of East-West Wire articles is available in the News section of the East-West Center website at East-West Wire.

Titles in this series

Is There a Future for Economic Integration in East and Southeast Asia?
By Choong Yong Ahn
10 October 2018

The rapid growth of many East and Southeast Asian economies has been fueled primarily by exports to the United States and other economies outside the region, but the financial crises of 1997 and 2008 ushered in a broader concept of regional economic cooperation. Several moves toward economic integration led to two free-trade initiatives—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). After the US exit from the TPP, however, progress on both trade deals appears to have slowed down. Any long-term outlook for East and Southeast Asian economic integration will be greatly affected by the bilateral relationship between the United States and China.

Rubber Has Replaced Natural Forests in Southeast Asia
By Kaspar Hurni and Jefferson Fox
21 September 2018

A study of data derived from satellite images tracked land use in Southeast Asia from 2003 to 2014. The study focused on an area more than twice the size of France where land-use change has been most dramatic—all of Cambodia and Laos, most of Vietnam, northeast Thailand, Shan State in Myanmar, and Xishuangbanna Prefecture in southern Yunnan, China. During the 11-year period, the area planted with rubber more than quadrupled, so that by 2014, rubber accounted for 8 percent of total land cover in the region. Most of this expansion came at the expense of the region's native forests.

As Rubber Plantations Expand in the Highlands of Southeast Asia, What Happens to Local Farmers?
By Jefferson Fox, Jean Christophe Castella, and Kaspar Hurni
15 August 2018

What happens to local farmers in the highlands of Southeast Asia as the land they cultivated for centuries is transformed into rubber plantations? In China, Thailand, and Vietnam, many have been able to grow rubber, and some have become wealthy. In Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, by contrast, traditional farmers are being squeezed out by large companies. Government policies and programs appear to make all the difference in who benefits from expanded rubber production and who does not.

Opium, Rubber, and a Land Grab on Myanmar's Border with China
By Kevin Woods
8 August 2018

Northern Myanmar's Kachin State, which borders China, has been splintered for decades by fighting between ethnic-based armed rebel groups and the national military. Over the past 10 years, the government has increased control over the region by allocating large tracts of land to private businesses—often with ties to the military or to favored local armed groups—ostensibly to grow rubber. These "land grabs" have often been financed in part by the Chinese government under the guise of a program to reduce the production of opium poppies.

China's push into artificial intelligence—how should the United States respond?
By Dieter Ernst
1 May 2018

Cooperation between artificial intelligence (AI) sectors in China and the United States would yield substantial benefits, not only for both economies but worldwide. In the absence of constructive government leadership, it is up to global AI communities—in research institutions and companies—to establish alternative channels for international AI governance and other forms of cooperation.

North Pacific Scientists, Policymakers Focus on the Arctic
By Charles E. Morrison
12 April 2018

Among nations of the North Pacific, three important developments have spurred growing interest in the Arctic. The first is global warming, opening up the prospect of shorter shipping routes between Asia and Europe but also exacerbating concerns about the effects of climate change on fragile Arctic environments. The second is rapid economic growth, triggering a huge increase in energy needs that might be met by Arctic resources. The third is new technologies in ship design and in exploration, drilling, and mining equipment, stoking hopes to unlock Arctic sea routes and exploit the region’s untapped energy resources.

A "Golden Era" for Mining in the Pacific Ocean? Perhaps Not Just Yet
By Allen L. Clark
6 April 2018

Deep-sea exploration projects have identified valuable deposits of gold, silver, copper, nickel, and cobalt across the Pacific—both in the open ocean under international jurisdiction and in the territorial waters of Pacific Island nations. Several nations have entered into exploration contracts with international companies, and in 2011, Papua New Guinea granted Nautilus Minerals a lease to begin mining copper and gold from a seabed vent in the Bismark Sea. Environmental risks are poorly understood, however, and a fierce public outcry has put the project on hold.

Government Programs Have Begun to Reduce Maternal Deaths in Lao PDR: Now What Comes Next?
By Jonna P. Estudillo
30 March 2018

Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) has the highest maternal mortality ratio in Southeast Asia, with 197 women dying in 2015 from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth for every 100,000 live births. Most of these deaths could be prevented. Mortality is highest among women who are poor, who live in remote rural areas, who have little or no education, and who belong to ethnic minorities. To save women's lives, the Laotian government needs to increase funding to the health sector, train and employ more healthcare professionals, and provide more supplies and equipment to clinics and hospitals.

Follow that Fish: Assessing the Scope and Value of Nearshore Fishing in Hawai'i
By East-West Center
23 March 2018

Three-fourths of Hawai'i's reef fish species are seriously depleted. To preserve and build back these populations, government policymakers and community leaders need to know how many fish are actually harvested every year. Reported sales account for $3 million of the annual nearshore fish catch, but this research estimates that another $7-$13 million is undocumented. Interventions to preserve Hawai'i's fish should include better monitoring of catch and post-catch distribution and improved consumer education.

What Happens to the Natural Environment When a Rural Community Joins the Global Economy?
By Jefferson Fox,
16 March 2018

When young people leave the village, the immediate result is a labor shortage that affects both farming and the natural environment. In principle, remittances from migrants could be used to hire labor and purchase agricultural inputs, but scholars have generally found that remittances are seldom invested in the farming sector. Developments over 30 years in one village of Nepal's Middle Hills region illustrate the impact of out-migration on farming and the environment.

Jokowi and Duterte: Do Local Politics Apply?
By Ehito Kimura and Erik Martinez Kuhonta
12 February 2018

So far, performance of the two populist leaders in Indonesia and the Philippines suggests that local experience does not necessarily equal national success. Jokowi introduced national healthcare and infrastructure development but compromised his reformist ideals. Duterte conducted a killing spree that has not brought law and order.

Former US Special Envoy: Beneath the Rhetoric on North Korea, Humanitarian Aid and Rights Advocacy Are Still Important Tools
By East-West Center
29 November 2017

In today's dangerous climate, the United States ought to use every option available to engage North Korea in a positive way. While North Korea's nuclear tests and missile launches provoke threats, private charitable organizations in the United States provide a small stream of health, education, and humanitarian assistance to the North Korean people. In addition, American particpation in international pressure on human rights issues is one of the few ways the United States can foster change.

How Will China's Industrialization Modernization Affect Workers?
By Boy Luethje
17 October 2017

China has developed a master plan to transform its vast manufacturing base from low-cost export production to highly automated advanced manufacturing. Serious questions remain, however, about the future of China's large, low-wage labor force.

Will Population Aging Squeeze Government Budgets? A Look at Japan and the United States
By East-West Center
2 October 2017

To reduce the pressure on government budgets associated with population aging, Andrew Mason of the East-West Center and Ronald Lee of the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at the University of California at Berkeley recommend policies to: 1) encourage older workers who are in good health to delay retirement; 2) help working-age adults accumulate assets they can rely on in old age; and 3) improve the job prospects of young people by providing education, training, and capital investment.

It's Time to Hurry History on Women's Economic Equality
By Amanda Ellis
25 August 2017

An estimated 70 percent of women-owned small enterprises in developing countries lack access to the financing they need to expand their business, create jobs, and contribute to economic growth. And yet recent research demonstrates that a whopping $28 trillion could be added to the global economy by 2025 if all countries bridged the gender gap. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde agrees that “the focus on gender equality is an ‘economic no-brainer.’”

New Priorities, Challenges for America's Pacific Military Command
By East-West Center
15 August 2017

The United States Pacific Command, or PACOM, controls the strongest military force in the Asia Pacific region, making it perhaps the region’s most important organization. Based in Hawai‘i, PACOM describes its mission as defending US interests in a geographic area that encompasses more than half of the earth’s surface and population. PACOM needs to manage complex relationships with American allies and determine how best to stand up to China’s growing challenge to US dominance in the region.