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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.

Jennifer deWinter on Nintendo and the Japanese video game industry

Photograph of Jennifer deWinterJennifer deWinter is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and director of the Interactive Media and Game Development program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  She writes about the global circulation of Japanese popular culture, video game development, and game production. She is the co-editor with Carly A. Kocurek of the Bloomsbury book series Influential Game Designers for which she wrote the book Shigeru Miyamoto. ​On October 24, 2016, she spoke with Yujia Yao CMC '19.

Photograph and bio courtesy of Professor deWinter

Japanese video game industry has suffered from general decline in world market shares since 2002. Many attribute the decline to the failure in producing culturally inclusive games that would succeed in western markets, would you agree with this view?  

It is actually way more complicated than just producing culturally inclusive games. When speaking of cultural inclusiveness, we often speak from a viewpoint of western culture and specifically North American and U.S. cultures. Oftentimes, U.S. Caucasian culture is easily distributed to worldwide markets so that there is nothing that smacks of another group’s culture — that is normalized culture. I think to say that Japanese game developers are not doing culturally inclusive games is a misnomer; the U.S. doesn’t do culturally inclusive games. However, we in the U.S. are very used to controlling international media and exporting our cultural goods without having to worry about it. 

Thomas Fingar on Chinese foreign policy

Photograph of Dr. FingarDr. Thomas Fingar is a Shorenstein Distinguished Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He was the inaugural Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow in 2010-2015 and the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford during January-December 2009. From May 2005 through December 2008, he served as the first Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and, concurrently, as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Dr. Fingar served previously as Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2004-2005), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (2001-2003), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Analysis (1994-2000), Director of the Office of Analysis for East Asia and the Pacific (1989-1994), and Chief of the China Division (1986-1989). Between 1975 and 1986 he held a number of positions at Stanford University, including Senior Research Associate in the Center for International Security and Arms Control. Dr. Fingar is a graduate of Cornell University (A.B. in Government and History, 1968), and Stanford University (M.A., 1969 and Ph.D., 1977 both in Political Science). His most recent books are Reducing Uncertainty: Intelligence Analysis and National Security (Stanford University Press, 2011), The New Great Game: China and South and Central Asia in the Era of Reform, editor (Stanford University Press, 2016); and Uneasy Partnerships: China and Japan, the Koreas, and Russia in the Era of Reform Stanford University Press, forthcoming). Dr. Fingar spoke with Aleena Ali CMC '17 on October 7th, 2016.

Photograph and bio courtesy of Dr. Fingar

Have domestic influences on China’s foreign policy become more salient in the last few years? How have they evolved in recent years? How are they likely to evolve?  

Adams Bodomo on African Immigrants in China

Photograph of Adams BodomoProf. Dr. Adams Bodomo, a native of the Ghana region of Africa, is Professor of African Studies (holding the chair of African Languages and Literatures) and Director of the Global African Diaspora Studies (GADS) Research Platform at the University of Vienna, Austria. He founded and directed the African Studies programme at the University of Hong Kong, where he served as Associate Professor of Linguistics and African Studies for 16 years between 1997 and 2013. Prior to that, he served as Lecturer at Stanford University in the U.S. He obtained his PhD from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, after Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at the University of Ghana. Prof. Bodomo is the author of 10 books, including the first book on Africans in China, and about 100 articles in Linguistics and in African and Asian Studies journals. On November 15, 2016, he spoke to Erica Rawles CMC '17. 

Photograph and bio courtesy of Dr. Bodomo

When did Africans start migrating to China? How many have now settled in China? Why do Africans choose to immigrate to China? What opportunities draw them to the country?

History will tell you that Africans have been to China since a long time ago. When talking about recent migration, Africans began to go to China in a critical mass around the turn of the millennium, when China began to open up. During the years 1997, 1998, and 1999, a lot of Africans began to immigrate to China. Many Africans were in Southeast Asia around the time of the financial crisis in 1998. Many of the currencies in Southeast Asia had fallen and China had remained relatively stable economically. So many Africans moved into the provinces neighboring South East Asia, Guangdong being one of them.

As for the number of African immigrants in China, it’s a very controversial issue. Many people, including me, often say that you have up to half a million Africans in China, not just in Guangzhou alone but distributed in greater China – places like Yiwu; Shanghai; Wuhan where a lot of African students are; Changqing; and also Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. 

Admiral William Owens on technology transfers and investment challenges in the U.S.-­China relationship

Photograph of Admiral William OwensAdmiral William Owens is the Executive Chairman of Red Bison Advisory Group, the Chairman of CenturyLink Telecom, and serves on the board of Wipro. He has previously served as the Chairman of AEA Investors Asia, Vice Chairman of the NYSE for Asia, and as a board member with more than 20 public companies including Daimler, British American Tobacco, Telstra, Nortel, and Polycom. In addition, Admiral Owens has served as the CEO of Nortel, Teledesic and the President of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Prior to joining the private sector, Admiral Owens was the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second-ranking United States military officer with responsibility for reorganizing and restructuring the armed forces in the post-Cold War era. Admiral Owens is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Oxford University with a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in politics, philosophy and economics, and George Washington University with a master’s degree in management. On September 26, 2016, he spoke with Michael Grouskay CMC '17.

Technology transfers from the U.S. to China have played a very important role in China’s rapid economic development. Do you think such transfers have now slowed? If technology transfers have in fact slowed, what are the reasons, especially political reasons, for this development?

There have been lots of technology transfers from the U.S. to China. One source comes from Chinese students who study in the United States, who are exposed to American academic, technological, and commercial environments. These students participate in research and development projects, gain extensive knowledge of American technology and business, and in many cases come back to the United States to work after graduating. On the other hand, many American companies have recognized China as a marketplace, and are interested in doing whatever they can to engage with China in profitable ways. Moreover, companies have manufactured all kinds of products in China for economic reasons, which results in a great deal of knowledge transfer and encourages business relationships on the Chinese side. 

Miemie Winn Byrd on Myanmar’s progress toward democracy: beyond media coverage

Photograph of Miemie Winn ByrdDr. Miemie Winn Byrd is a Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. She holds a Doctorate in Education from University of Southern California. She researches, publishes, and teaches in the areas of U.S.-Myanmar relations; the role of education, the role of private-public partnerships, and role of women in economic development; the linkage between economic development and security in the Asia-Pacific region; transformative adult learning/executive education; and organizational change and innovation. Dr. Byrd has served as the Deputy Economic Advisor at U.S. Pacific Command in her capacity as an Army Reserves officer. Dr. Byrd is a member of Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles and an adjunct fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. She is currently serving on the advisory boards of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College in California and the Socio-Lite Microfinance Foundation in Myanmar. On November 3, 2016, she spoke with Chuyi Sheng CMC '17.

Susan Shirk on the contemporary geopolitics of the U.S.-China relationship

Photograph of Professor Susan ShirkSusan Shirk is research professor and chair of the 21st Century China Center at the UC San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy. She previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state (1997-2000), responsible for U.S. policy toward China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia and she founded and continues to lead the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue, an unofficial forum for discussions of security issues. In addition, Shirk has served as the Director emeritus and advisory board chair of the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, the U.S. Defense Policy board, the board of governors for the East-West Center (Hawaii), the board of trustees of the U.S.-Japan Foundation and the board of directors of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. Professor Shirk spoke with Michael Grouskay '17 on October 7, 2016.

Photograph and bio courtesy of Professor Shirk

Professor Graham Allison from Harvard has written on the “Thucydides Trap” arguing that the geopolitical destabilization caused by China’s rise makes war between the United States and China “more likely than not.” Do you think Professor Allison is correct in this assessment?

No I don’t. He’s basically applying John Mearsheimer’s framework that rising capabilities of one country (China) sparks resistance and misperceptions of the incumbent power, and that military conflict is inevitable. I don’t think it’s inevitable. There are mitigating factors, and wise statesmanship and diplomacy can mitigate mechanical determinism. One factor is economic interdependence, which makes us more cautious of one another than countries like the United States and Soviet Union which were not economically interdependent during the Cold War. Additionally, there are domestic political factors, which can either aggravate or improve the relationship. I served in government, and I think that diplomacy matters. I don’t think we’re in a fatal situation, and I do think that U.S.-China relations can be managed diplomatically.

Andrew Walder on Mao's image under Xi

Photograph of Andrew WalderAndrew Walder is the Denise O'Leary and Kent Thiry Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and Senior Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. A political sociologist, Walder specializes on the sources of conflict, stability, and change in contemporary China. He received his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Michigan in 1981. Before coming to Stanford, he taught at Columbia, Harvard, and also headed the Division of Social Sciences at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. On October 7, 2016, he spoke with Caroline Willian CMC ’17.

Photograph and bio courtesy of Professor Walder.

Why do you think China’s current leadership appears to glorify Mao, in spite of his failures and the political and economic differences between Mao's regime and those of the current leadership?

Alan Romberg on Cross-Strait diplomacy

Photograph of Alan RombergAlan Romberg is a Distinguished Fellow and the Director of the East Asia program at Stimson. Before joining Stimson in September 2000, he enjoyed a distinguished career working on Asian issues including 27 years in the State Department, with over 20 years as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. Additionally, Romberg spent almost 10 years as the CV Starr Senior Fellow for Asian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and was special assistant to the secretary of the navy. Mr. Romberg was interviewed by Michael Grouskay '17 on September 22, 2016.

Photograph and biography courtesy of Mr. Romberg.


Almost four months into her presidency of Taiwan, how would you describe President Tsai’s overall policy toward the Chinese mainland?

The first word I would use is consistent. President Tsai has tried very hard to indicate that she is not going to go off on a radical tangent, but instead follow the basic guidelines that have been adopted over the past several years. However, she is not extremely likely to change her position regarding 1992 Consensus. She hasn’t adopted or endorsed it, and it would be inconsistent with her basic political principles as well as those of her party to do so. Nonetheless, she has changed a lot in terms of her approach to Cross-Strait policies since starting down the path towards her nomination and election. 

What prompted China to cut off official exchange with Taipei? How is Beijing’s action perceived by ordinary people in Taiwan? 

Beijing does not want to see what it calls “back-sliding” from the important principles that it established over the past eight years under former President Ma Ying-Jeou. Of course, the PRC’s long-term goal is unification, but its primary focus right now is the common acceptance of a “one China” to which both Taiwan and the mainland belong. Ma Ying-Jeou adopted the formula of “one China, respective interpretations” as his definition of the 1992 Consensus (of course, his “China” was the Republic of China), which, while not identical to the PRC position, met the mainland’s basic requirement for “official” relations. 

Andrew Nathan on important trends in China

Photograph of Andrew NathanAndrew J. Nathan is Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. His teaching and research interests include Chinese politics and foreign policy, the comparative study of political participation and political culture, and human rights. He is engaged in long-term research and writing on Chinese foreign policy and on sources of political legitimacy in Asia, the latter research based on data from the Asian Barometer Survey, a multi-national collaborative survey research project active in eighteen countries in Asia.

Nathan is chair of the steering committee of the Center for the Study of Human Rights and chair of the Morningside Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Columbia. He served as chair of the Department of Political Science, 2003-2006, chair of the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 2002-2003, and director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, 1991-1995. Off campus, he is co-chair of the board, Human Rights in China, a member of the board of Freedom House, and a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch, Asia, which he chaired, 1995-2000. He is the regular Asia book reviewer for Foreign Affairs magazine and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Contemporary China, China Information, and others. He is a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the Association for Asian Studies, and the American Political Science Association. He does frequent interviews for the print and electronic media, has advised on several film documentaries on China, and has consulted for business and government. 

Nathan received his education wholly from Harvard University: a BA in History, an MA in East Asian Regional Studies, and a PhD in Political Science. On October 7, 2016, he spoke with Chuyi Sheng CMC ’17.

Photograph and bio courtesy of Professor Andrew Nathan and Columbia University's Department of Political Science:

Andrew Small on China’s growing economic engagement with Pakistan

Headshot of Andrew SmallAndrew Small is a senior transatlantic fellow with the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which he established in 2006. He was based in GMF’s Brussels office for five years, and previously worked as the director of the Foreign Policy Centre's Beijing office; as a visiting fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; and was an ESU scholar in the office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He is the author of The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia's New Geopolitics (Hurst / OUP / Random House, 2015). On Sept. 20, 2016, he spoke with Aleena Ali CMC '17.

Photo and headshot courtesy of Mr. Small

How does the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) mark an evolution in China-Pakistan economic relations? 

Economic relations have been the weakest dimension of China and Pakistan’s relations. There have been a number of strategic economic projects in the past, such as the building of the Karakoram Highway and the nuclear power plants, and there have been examples of military industrial cooperation. But despite the close friendship that exists between the two countries in other respects, general economic cooperation has been weak. There have been previous efforts to privilege the economic relationship for the sake of strategic and political ties, and deals between the two sides have been fast-tracked where possible. Pakistan has been prioritized in a lot of areas. However, there has been substantial reluctance on the part of China over the last decade to commit to the sort of investments that Pakistan was seeking. As a result, the Pakistan People’s Party government, which was particularly solicitous of Chinese firms and government investment, was unable to secure significant investments. Between 2001 and 2011, a total of $66 billion were committed in investments, out of which 6 percent materialized. 


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