Asia Smiles for the Cameras

It wasn’t long ago that certain pundits were predicting war in Asia. Back in the spring, the conflict over the South China Sea was heating up as China sparred with Vietnam over an oil exploration rig and with the Philippines over disputed reefs. Japan and China, meanwhile, were butting heads over a string of uninhabited rocks in the ocean between them. South Korea and Japan, both U.S. allies,...
read more

The Dance of Superpowers

By now, the phrase “Pacific Pivot” gives off a whiff of nostalgia. The Obama administration’s announcement of its intention three years ago to reorient U.S. foreign policy toward Asia seems to belong to an entirely different era. It was a time when the United States had the luxury to think geopolitically: to craft long-term policies rather than simply respond to immediate crises. The United...
read more

Hong Kong: The Future of People Power?

In 2000, I organized a meeting in China that brought together independent trade unionists, campaigners for corporate codes of conduct, and human rights advocates. We had spirited conversations about strikes and labor organizing and how to deal with the Communist authorities in Beijing. We didn’t worry about the government monitoring or breaking up our meeting. True, we were in China, and the...
read more

East Asia: A Farewell to Arms

(written with Emanuel Pastreich) East Asia faces an enormous number of challenges. The countries of the region clash over territory, argue over history, compete for diminishing natural resources, and dispute the balance of power along the Pacific Rim. In response to all these challenges, the United States has offered a one-size-fits-all approach: free trade and more arms. Ratification of the free...
read more

Obama’s Half-Pivot to Asia

President Barack Obama’s recent tour of Asia was an opportunity to reenergise his foreign policy after a series of setbacks in the global arena. The four countries on the week-long tour — Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines – have all been eager to upgrade their relationships with the United States in light of their concerns over Chinese maritime ambitions and an uncertain...
read more

World Cuts Back Military Spending, But Not Asia

For the second year in a row, the world is spending a little less on the military. Asia, however, has failed to get the memo. The region is spending more at a time when many others are spending less. Last year, Asia saw a 3.6 percent increase in military spending, according to figures just released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The region — which includes East Asia,...
read more