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Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies

About Asia Experts Forum and International Journalism Lab

Thanks to a generous gift from Robert Y.C. Ho ’81, the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College launched an International Journalism Lab in the fall of 2015. The Asia Experts Forum is the web publication of the lab. The mission of this innovative project is to train student journalists in basic reporting and interviewing skills and provide a better understanding of important contemporary Asia-related geopolitical, economic, and cultural issues in depth through interviews with leading experts, practitioners, and scholars on Asia. Each year the lab recruits eight student journalists who take a course in international journalism and work with two faculty advisers in identifying newsworthy topics and potential interviewees, preparing for the interviews, and producing high-quality transcripts. The faculty director of the lab is Professor Minxin Pei. The associate faculty director is Professor Hilary Appel. The instructor of the international journalism course is Terril Jones, a graduate of Pomona College with more than three decades of professional experience with leading U.S. news organizations. Two previous student journalists participating in the lab later interned at the Wall Street Journal and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong in the summer of 2016.

Katharine Moon on President Park Geun-hye’s corruption scandal

Photograph of Professor MoonKatharine (Kathy) H.S. Moon is a professor of Political Science and the Wasserman Chair of Asian Studies at Wellesley College, where she has taught since 1993. She is also a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution Center for East Asia Policy and was the inaugural holder of the SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies (2014-2016). She received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Smith College and a doctorate from Princeton University, the Department of Politics. She was born in San Francisco.

Professor Moon’s research encompasses the U.S.-Korea alliance, East Asian politics, inter-Korean relations, democratization, nationalisms, women and gender politics, international migration, identity politics, and comparative social movements in East Asia. She is the author of Protesting America: Democracy and the U.S.-Korea Alliance, which discusses the impact of South Korean democracy on the U.S.-Korea alliance and the institutional and procedural changes needed to improve the management of the alliance. Kathy Moon also authored Sex Among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S.-Korea Relations, which explains how foreign policy decisions affect local communities hosting U.S. bases, particularly, women. Her current book project, New Koreans and the Future of Korea’s Democracy, analyzes the impact of demographic change (North Korean defectors and "multicultural" immigrants) in South Korea on Korean democracy and foreign policy. Her research awards include grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the U.S. Fulbright Program, the American Association of University Women, the National Bureau of Asian Research, and the Social Science Research Council. She spoke with Aaron Yang CMC '17 on January 27, 2017. 

Photo and biography courtesy of Professor Katharine Moon and Wellesley College

How would you briefly describe South Korea’s presidential scandal? Who is Choi Soon-sil? What did she do?

Yoichi Funabashi on the legacy of President Obama's East Asia policy

Photograph of Dr. Funabashi​Yoichi Funabashi is an award-winning Japanese journalist, columnist and author. He has written extensively on foreign affairs, the U.S.-Japan Alliance, economics and historical issues in the Asia Pacific. Dr. Funabashi is the Co-founder of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation which has published several influential reports on a broad range of key policy challenges facing Japan and the Asia-Pacific. Dr. Funabashi has served as a correspondent for the Asahi Shimbun in Beijing and Washington, and as a U.S. General Bureau Chief. Several of his books include The Peninsula Question, Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific, Alliance Tomorrow, Alliance Adrift, Asia-Pacific Fusion: Japan’s Role in APEC, and Managing the Dollar: From the Plaza to the Louvre. He received his B.A. from the University of Tokyo in 1968 and his Ph.D. from Keio University in 1992. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, a visiting Fellow at the Institute for International Economics, a Donald Keene Fellow at Columbia University, a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo Public Policy Institute and a distinguished guest professor at Keio University. He serves as an active member of several boards, advisory committees and communities. These include: former board member of the International Crisis Group, and a current member of the Trilateral Commission; the World Economic Forum; the Committee for Reforming TEPCO and Overcoming 1F Challenges; the expert committee to discuss the mid-long term direction for the Japan International Cooperation Agency; and the Cabinet Office’s Disaster Risk Reduction 4.0 Future Framework Project. Dr. Funabashi spoke with Michael Grouskay CMC ‘17 on February 2, 2017. 

Photograph and bio courtesy of Dr. Funabashi

What are some of the most important Asia policy initiatives taken by the Obama administration in the last eight years? Which ones were the greatest successes? What are the most significant disappointments or failures?

Stephen Haggard on North Korean refugees: the Chinese "underground railroad," integration into South Korea, and the future of U.S. policy

Headshot of Stephan HaggardStephan Haggard is the Lawrence and Sallye Krause Professor of Korea-Pacific Studies, director of the Korea-Pacific Program, and distinguished professor of political science at the School of Global Policy & Strategy. He is a go-to expert on current developments in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly the Korean peninsula, and on the politics of economic reform and globalization.

Haggard has written extensively on the political economy of North Korea with Marcus Noland, including “Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform” (2007) and “Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights into North Korea” (2011) and co-authors the “North Korea: Witness to Transformation” blog at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Haggard is the current editor of the Journal of East Asian Studies and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He spoke with Bryn Miller CMC '19 on January 26, 2017.

Photo and biography courtesy of Professor Stephan Haggard and the School of Global Policy & Strategy.

Could you briefly describe the outflow of refugees from North Korea in recent years in terms of their number, demographic characteristics, and eventual settlement? Are there any observable patterns to the outflow?

It’s hard to know exactly, but I would take the South Korean estimates from the Ministry of Unification regarding the number that have entered South Korea as a starting point. These probably account for about 90% of all the refugees. According to the Ministry, more that 26,000 refugees entered the South between 1999 and 2014. Of these refugees, 70% were female. The largest number came between 2007 and 2011, with well over 2,000 entering South Korea each year. Since 2011, the number has dropped to about 1,500 per year. 

The only concrete numbers we have are about those who get to South Korea, with a sprinkling that get asylum in Europe, the United States and elsewhere. There are about one to two hundred in the U.S. and maybe a thousand in Europe. However, there’s no data on the number of refugees that might still be in China and that number is significant, perhaps even larger than the total that have entered South Korea.

Syaru Shirley Lin on Taiwan’s China dilemma: contested identities and multiple interests in Taiwan’s cross-strait economic policy

Photograph of Shirley Lin

​Syaru Shirley Lin is a member of the founding faculty of the master’s program in global political economy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She currently teaches political science at the University of Virginia and offers courses on theories of international political economy and Cross-Strait relations. Lin’s current board service includes Goldman Sachs Asia Bank, Langham Hospitality Investments, and Mercuries Life Insurance. Appointed by the Hong Kong government, she is a member of the Hong Kong Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation. She also advises Crestview Partners, a private equity fund based in New York, and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, a Virginia-based foundation that supports the development of new therapeutic medical technology. Lin graduated cum laude from Harvard College and earned her masters and Ph.D. from the department of politics and public administration at the University of Hong Kong. Lin's most recent book, Taiwan’s China Dilemma: Contested Identities and Multiple Interests in Taiwan's Cross-Strait Economic Policy (Stanford University Press, 2016) explores how, as Taiwan has become increasingly dependent on mainland China economically, its policies toward China have fluctuated between liberalization and restriction. This study uses a framework that links national identity and economic interest to explain the ongoing debate over Taiwan’s Cross-Strait economic policy and the oscillations this debate has produced. On December 15, 2016, she spoke to Aaron Yang CMC ’17.

How would you briefly summarize Taiwan’s China dilemma? In light of the return to power of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) earlier this year, do you think the dilemma is now even more acute?

Gary Jefferson on the Chinese steel industry

Photograph of Gary JeffersonGary Jefferson writes about institutions, technology, economic growth, and China’s economic transformation. At Brandeis, Jefferson has joint appointments in the Department of Economics and the International Business School, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the economics of innovation, development economics, and China.

Jefferson’s publications include, Enterprise Reform in China: Ownership, Transition, and Performance, Oxford University Press, 2000, "Enterprise Reform in Chinese Industry,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 1994. “What is Driving China’s Decline in Energy Intensity?” Resource and Energy Economics, 2004. “R&D and Technology Transfer: Firm-Level Evidence from Chinese Industry,” Review of Economics and Statistics, 2005 “The Sources and Sustainability of China’s Economic Growth,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2006, “A Great Wall of Patents: What is Behind China’s Recent Patent Explosion?” Journal of Development Economics, 2009; and “The Future Trajectory of China’s Political Reform: A Property Rights Interpretation,” Unfinished Reforms in the Chinese Economy, 2014, edited by Jun Zhang, and “Restructuring China’s Research Institutes: Impact on China’s Research Orientation and Productivity,” Economics of Transition, 2015. Jefferson’s research has been supported by various agencies and foundations, including the World Bank, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy. 

A graduate of Dartmouth College (A.B.) and Yale University (Ph.D.), Jefferson has lived and taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Wuhan University, and Fudan University and frequently travels to China for his research and speaking engagements. His research has involved extended collaborations with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the National Bureau of Statistics, and the Ministry of Science and Technology. On October 5, 2016, he spoke with Yujia Yao CMC '19.

Photograph and bio courtesy of Professor Jefferson

Steel producers across the world accused China for severe over-production and dumping its steel to the international market. What have caused the steel overcapacity in the global market? Or is overcapacity in this industry a purely Chinese phenomenon? 

Andrew Jacobs on his experience being a reporter in China

Photograph of Andrew JacobsAndrew Jacobs has been a reporter for The New York Times since 1995. Over the years, he has covered a variety of beats, from the New York City Police Department and criminal courts, to the American South, Styles and New Jersey politics. He is currently based in New York City and covers a number of topics, including Brazil and China's relationship with the rest of the world.

Jacobs was part of a team of reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of the September 11 attacks in Manhattan, and in 2009 he was part of a team of reporters that won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting related to the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal. On October 18, 2016, Mr. Jacobs spoke with Caroline Willian CMC '17.

How did you become interested in China and what led you to become a reporter for the New York Times in China?

My interest in China started with my sister. She was one of the first exchange students from the U.S. to China. She went over in 1983, and spent a year there. That was a really interesting time — it came right after ten years of darkness when China was totally closed off. So, she would tell me her stories, and they got me interested. A few years later I went to NYU and I studied Mandarin. I then took my junior year off and traveled around Asia. I ended up in China for four months, traveling around. That was also a very interesting time. It was the first few years of their opening up to the outside world. So that got me even more into in China. When I graduated from NYU, I went back and taught English for a year in Wuhan, a city in central China. I left during the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989. I had to leave abruptly. I came back to New York, did a million different things, and finally became a journalist. The foreign editor at my paper was a China hand as well — he had been in China for the Wall Street Journal and then the New York Times. He asked me to go back for the Olympics because he knew I had this China connection. I ended up staying for seven and a half years.

Precarious progress: Mark Landler discusses the pivot to Asia and its future under Trump

Photograph of Mark LandlerMark Landler has covered American foreign policy for The New York Times since the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2008, first as diplomatic correspondent, and since 2011, as White House correspondent. In 24 years at the The Times, Landler has been the newspaper's bureau chief in Hong Kong and Frankfurt, European economic correspondent, and a business reporter in New York. Mr. Landler was interviewed on November 29, 2016 by Aleena Ali CMC '17.

Photograph and bio courtesy of Mr. Landler

To what degree did the pivot to Asia indicate the competing visions of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? 
The pivot to Asia was an issue where there was more congruence and less conflict, partly because it was less about the question of military intervention and whether the U.S. needed to intervene in a foreign conflict. It was more about where the long-term national priorities of the U.S. should be. Both Clinton and Obama agreed on this and were united on the idea that Asia was where the long-term future of the United States’ national priorities lay. However, there were differences of nuance between them. Clinton’s view of China was the product of her own and her husband’s experience with it, resulting in her viewing China in a classic great-power framework. Obama had a more personal view of China that was rooted in his experience of having spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. Consequently, he viewed China through the lens of Southeast Asia, where China is viewed with some suspicion because of its would-be-hegemonic role in the region. Although both of them recognized the centrality of China and were suspicious of it, they were suspicious on different grounds. Obama was more culturally suspicious and Clinton was more suspicious in a classic geopolitical way, and she viewed China as a rising power whose interests are bound at some point to collide with the interests of the U.S. However, to the extent that they both wanted to undertake the pivot, there was more agreement than disagreement between them.

Victor Cha on an emerging threat to the East: U.S. relations with the DPRK

Photograph of Victor ChaProfessor Victor D. Cha is the director of Asian Studies at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He also is a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and served as Director for Asian Affairs at the White House's National Security Council from 2004 to 2007. Cha was America's Deputy Head of Delegation for the Six-Party Talks in Beijing and has written five books focused on North Korea and American-Asian relations, one of which was selected by Foreign Affairs as a best book of 2012 on the Asia-Pacific region. On December 1, 2016, he spoke with Bryn Miller CMC '19.

This is a particularly tense period of U.S.-DPRK relations following America’s sanctions on Pyongyang this summer for human rights violations and condemnation of nuclear tests in January and last month. In what ways will the latest nuclear test further escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula?

Yesterday, the U.N. Security Council passed a new resolution that strengthens the sanctions on North Korea in response to the September nuclear test. This is a spiral – the reaction just goes higher and higher up on the international stage. It’s likely that there will be some sort of North Korean response to the Security Council resolution. In the broader picture, there is country that is driving to develop a nuclear weapons capability that can reach the United States with a ballistic missile; that is destabilizing. It creates incentives for preemption on the part of the United States and a “use or lose” approach on the part of North Korea. Moreover, it leads to coercive bargaining incentives from North Korea if it feels it can deter the United States by holding cities hostage with nuclear inter-continental ballistic missiles. On a number of different fronts, the most recent nuclear tests make things less stable.

What are the primary motives for the North Korean regime in accelerating its nuclear and missile programs? What notable progress has North Korea made recently in these programs? 

​Nirupama Rao on Indian diplomacy with the world’s largest economies

Photograph of Ambassador Rao​Nirupama Rao entered the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 and served as India's ambassador to the United States, China, and Sri Lanka, as well as India's Foreign Secretary from 2009 to 2011. She was the second female Foreign Secretary. Ambassador Rao currently is a Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs at Brown University. On November 17, 2016, she spoke with Bryn Miller CMC '19.

Photo source: Victor Alvarez, Brown University

This summer, you called the divide in India-China relations the “Great Himalayan Divide.” What are some of the most important moments in India-China relations that have led to this rift?

You have to look at the history of the relationship in the modern period, after 1950. In 1947, India became independent from British rule and China became the People’s Republic in 1949 when the civil war ended. Both countries entered their current phase of history then and were newly emergent countries in Asia with great dreams and aspirations. They had been through a period of foreign exploitation and domination, so they had great aspirations to regain their lost power and eminence. India chose the democratic path and is the world’s largest, most raucous democracy. China decided to go with communism and one-party rule. These were completely divergent political paths. 

In the 1950s, there was a concerted and sincere move to build good relations between the nations. Jawaharlal Nehru worked hard to ensure that China was not isolated on the global stage. However, there were differences over territorial claims. Ultimately, when the revolt in Tibet occurred and the Dalai Lama fled to India, there was a virtual collapse of the relationship that culminated in the brief conflict of 1962. That’s really where the Himalayan divide begins. 

The China-Pakistan relationship is another problem when looking at the long-term perspective of how this relationship will evolve, as well as the idea of competitive coexistence between India and China. Yet, we have much in common in terms of development goals. Both India and China are huge countries with over 1 billion citizens each, but we can’t really say that there is a friendship of two billion. 

Victor Shih on bad debt in the Chinese banking system

Photograph of Victor ShihVictor C. Shih is associate professor at the University of California at San Diego specializing in China. He is the author of a book published by the Cambridge University Press entitled Factions and Finance in China: Elite Conflict and Inflation. He is further the author of numerous articles appearing in academic and business journals, including The American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics, and The Wall Street Journal. He is currently working on a book manuscript on elite coalition strategies under Mao and Deng, as well as several papers using quantitative data to analyze the Chinese political elite. On October 7, 2016, he spoke with Yujia Yao CMC '19.

Could you briefly describe the growth of debt in the Chinese economy?

The biggest boost in bad debt started between 2008 and 2009. There was a global economic recession at the time, and growth rates in every country of the world slowed down dramatically, including China. The Chinese leadership, which was then under Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, did not want growth to fall too much, so they launched a stimulus program. The problem with the stimulus program is that it wasn’t just financed by fiscal deficit, which is what most countries would do with a fiscal stimulus. On top of the fiscal stimulus which used up probably two to three trillion Renminbi, the central government also authorized local governments to borrow a huge amount of money from banks to build infrastructure.


Keck Center for International & Strategic Studies

Claremont McKenna College
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Claremont, CA 91711

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