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The article below reminded me of some of the comments that David Scott Lewis made in regard to India’s schizo relationship with China, despite the fact they have agreed to come together based on mutual economic benefit. THe article touches on the macro relationships India is forming with China and the rest of East and Southeast Asia. Lewis’ comments more reflect the reality of those connections on the ground inside of China.

South Asia

India’s ‘Look East’ policy pays off
By Sultan ShahinNEW DELHI – Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Southeast Asian tour this week to participate in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) summit in Bali, Indonesia marks the success of a decade-long shift in Indian foreign policy – known as the “Look East” strategy – initiated by former prime minister Narasimha Rao in the early 1990s.The political consensus that had then emerged, partly as a response to the end of Cold War, to liberalize the economy and participate in the new trend of globalization, is apparently continuing to win India new business partners and friends in its continuing war against militancy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.Two broad agreements, for comprehensive economic cooperation and combating terrorism, have been signed. India has also consented to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Vajpayee went a step further to offer a unilateral “open skies” policy to specified Southeast Asian airlines, which will be free to operate daily flights to the Indian metropolitan centers, outside any bilateral aviation pact.Laying stress on better connectivity between India and ASEAN, Vajpayee said, “We could see how close we can get with an open skies arrangement.” In this context he announced India’s unilateral decision to connect all 10 ASEAN capitals with four metropolises in India through daily flights without further bilateral discussions.Apart from laying emphasis on the need for road links between the geographically contiguous India and ASEAN countries, Vajpayee also suggested the holding of an India-ASEAN motor rally. The framework agreement spells out a program for free trade agreements in goods, services, investment, areas of economic cooperation and an early harvest program. Negotiations on free trade agreements in goods will take due account of the economic sensitivities of the less developed economies of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines.

And on Thursday, India and Thailand signed five agreements covering a wide range of issues, including a landmark free trade agreement following a one-to-one meeting between Vajpayee and Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra in Bangkok. The agreement will allow for free trade on all goods by 2010.

The two countries will also slash tariffs by 50 percent on 84 products under an early harvest scheme to go into effect March 1 of next year. In addition, ways to combat terrorism and intelligence sharing were also discussed, with India offering to sell defense equipment to Thailand.

Taken together, these steps promise considerable improvement in economic and political cooperation between India and its Southeast Asian neighbors – extending from Myanmar to the Philippines.

India is glad to have been present, thanks to its ASEAN associate membership, when the members agreed to create the eastern equivalent of the European Union in two decades. The Bali Concord II envisions a single Southeast Asian market, covering 500 million people and with annual trade that already touches US$720 billion. The concord calls for the creation of an ASEAN Economic Community modeled on the EU by 2020. If ASEAN evolves a free trade arrangement with China on similar terms – the abolition of all tariffs and trade barriers – the result will be the world’s largest free trade zone.

India has already been able to take a small step towards taking advantage of this historic development. The early harvest program New Delhi has signed with ASEAN lays out a timetable for mutual trade concessions up to 2007. Skeptical Indian observers are hoping that it will lead to an across-the-board lowering of trade barriers, despite India’s traditional reluctance in giving such concessions, and that the story of so-called free trade agreements with Sri Lanka and Singapore will not be repeated.
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August 21, 2007

As Japan and India Forge Economic Ties, a Counterweight to China Is Seen

NEW DELHI, Aug. 20 — When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan touches down in India this week, it will be the highest-level step yet in what analysts say is a long-term effort to balance, if not contain, China’s growing economic and political might.

As Beijing’s influence in Asia and around the world has grown, their common interests have forced Tokyo and New Delhi to begin warming their historically chilly relationship and to start forging closer economic ties. “The key issue facing the whole region is how to accommodate the rise of China,” said Suman Bery, the director general of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, a New Delhi research group. Indian economists estimate that Japanese investment in India will reach $5.5 billion by 2011, compared with just $515 million in the 2006 fiscal year.

Mr. Abe is on his first trip to India. He and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, are expected to unveil public-private partnerships and new business initiatives. Leading the agenda will be a $100 billion infrastructure project to create a high-tech manufacturing and freight corridor between New Delhi, India’s capital, and Mumbai, its port and financial center. It would be the most expensive development project in India, and a third of the bill would be paid by Japanese public and private money. Mr. Abe and Mr. Singh are expected to announce that the two governments have reached formal agreement on the deal.

Japanese business leaders traveling with Mr. Abe will disclose similar deals this week — on natural gas, transportation, currency swaps and Japanese investment in Indian educational projects, Indian officials said. Chief executives from Toyota, Mitsubishi, Canon, Hitachi and others have joined a new India-Japan business leader forum, which will meet for the first time on Wednesday in New Delhi.

Consultants are trying, so far in vain, to coin the catchphrase, like “the Samurai and the Swami,” that will sum up the nascent strategic economic relationship between the countries.

Courting India has come slowly for the Japanese, who were highly critical of India’s surprise nuclear weapons test in 1998. While Japan is a large lender to India, until now it has not been a major investor or business partner. Instead, Japan has virtually sat on the sidelines while countries from Switzerland to Brazil cemented business alliances in India, where economic growth is about 9 percent a year.

Japan’s trade with India was about $6.5 billion in 2006, according to the Indian government — about 4 percent of Japan’s trade with China. “Whatever doubts Japan had for so long, now India is smelling like roses,” said Jagdish N. Bhagwati, an economist and a professor at Columbia University and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “They want to get in before it is too late.”

For Japan, India is an attractive market, both for its growing consumer spending and cheap labor. Tokyo also has an interest in diversifying its Asian trading partners and reducing its dependence on China. As an increasingly confident China has flexed its muscle regionally and globally, anti-Chinese sentiment has been rising in Japan, as has anti-Japanese sentiment in China.

“India is a much safer bet, in business terms,” because it lacks the historical baggage, said Richard Tanter, professor of international relations at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.

Then there is the straightforward economics. Japanese and other automakers, for instance, view India as a potential manufacturing center that could offer lower labor costs than China. But India’s manufacturing and export potential are still crippled by an inability to move goods in and around the country.

The proposed New Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor could address that problem. The nearly 1,500-kilometer corridor would include a high-speed freight line and nine 200-square-kilometer investment regions dedicated to industries like chemicals and engineering, as well as three ports and six airports.

Infrastructure projects like the industrial corridor are “the kind of thing Japanese companies are particularly good at — roads and harbors and ways to get into developing countries,” Mr. Bhagwati said. Japanese companies were heavily involved in the construction of New Delhi’s clean, efficient subway system.

India, which desperately needs more power generation, could be a particularly fertile market for Toshiba, which bought the nuclear power plant manufacturer Westinghouse last year.

Any deals between India and Toshiba would be far in the future, though. India’s government is still deeply divided over a deal with the United States that allows India access to civilian nuclear technology, and Japan may not support the United States-India nuclear deal, given Tokyo’s aversion to nuclear proliferation.

Still, on Monday, Mr. Singh stressed India’s commitment to nuclear energy during the opening of a new research center in New Delhi, calling oil imports an “unbearable burden.”

The most successful India-Japan business partnership to date is a venture by the automakers Suzuki and Maruti, which has become one of India’s leading carmakers after a troubled start in the early 1980s. Sales of its reliable, zippy and cheap Marutis were up 17 percent in the quarter that ended in July from a year ago, to 1.6 million units.

Toyota’s India partnership, Toyota Kirloskar Motors, which dates back to 1999, makes about 60,000 units a year. But, last month Toyota executives said they expected the unit to produce 10 times its current capacity by 2015.

Culturally and economically, Japan and India remain far apart, a fact that government officials and economists said could complicate building a stronger relationship. Speaking Monday during a meeting in a New Delhi hotel to discuss the Japanese prime minister’s visit, Mr. Bery, the director of the New Delhi research group, said Japan’s manufacturing is “state of the art,” which has “not been our strong suit.”

Minutes later, the five-star hotel fell victim to one of New Delhi’s frequent power disruptions, the lights flickered out and the meeting carried on in the dark.

I saw this guy speak a few months ago at a NGO I can not remember, it was quite interesting. I still have not read his book, but it is free online here (Front Cover (PDF 3.81 mb)), published by the World Bank (where he is a senior economist). Many people are already in a state of geopolitical panic at China’s rise in FDI in Africa, as well as loans and trade, but the currently China’s trade is marginal when compared to America, the UK, and France.


Africa’s Silk Road: China and India’s New Economic Frontier
by Harry G. Broadman

Recently accelerating Asian trade and investment in Africa hold great promise for Africa’s economic growth and development—provided certain policy reforms on both continents are implemented. This is a central finding of a new book, Africa’s Silk Road: China and India’s New Economic Frontier .

The author of the book, World Bank Economic Adviser Harry Broadman, says that skyrocketing Asian trade and investment in Africa is part of a global trend towards rapidly growing South-South commerce among developing countries.

Africa’s Silk Road provides, for the first time, systematic empirical evidence on how the two emerging economic giants of Asia— China and India—now stand at the crossroads of the explosion of African-Asian trade and investment.

Broadman surveyed 450 firms, including Chinese and Indian companies, operating in four African countries—South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, and Senegal—and developed in-depth business case studies in the field of additional 16 Chinese and Indian firms in Africa. Africa’s Silk Road offers original firm-level data on the African continent of Chinese and Indian firms operating there.

Growing demand and greater investment

The book shows that exports from Africa to Asia tripled in the last five years, making Asia Africa’s third largest trading partner (27 percent) after the European Union (32 percent) and the United States (29 percent).

Indian and Chinese foreign direct investment in Africa also grew, with China’s amounting to $US1.18 billion by mid-2006.

China and India each have rapidly modernizing industries and burgeoning middle classes with rising incomes and purchasing power. These societies are demanding not only natural resource-extractive commodities, agricultural goods such as cotton, and other traditional African exports, but also diversified, nontraditional exports such as processed commodities, light manufactured products, household consumer goods, food, and tourism.

Because of its labor-intensive capacity, Africa has the potential to export these nontraditional goods and services competitively to the average Chinese and Indian consumer and firm.

“To be sure, if you take a snapshot of today, the overwhelming bulk of Africa’s exports to Asia is natural resources,” says Broadman. “But what’s new is there is far more than oil that is being invested in—and this is an important opportunity for Africa’s growth and reduction of poverty because Africa’s trade for many years has been concentrated in primary commodities and natural resources.”

Roadblocks along the way: asymmetries and the need for policy reforms

While growing Asian trade and investment is cause for optimism, the book cautions that there are major asymmetries in the economic relations between the two regions. While Asia accounts for one-quarter of Africa’s global exports, this trade represents only about 1.6 percent of the exports shipped to Asia from all sources worldwide. By the same token, FDI in Asia by African firms is extremely small, both in absolute and relative terms.

And, the rise of internationally competitive Chinese and Indian businesses cuts into both domestic sales and exports of African producers of, for example, textiles and apparels.

“It is imperative that both sides of this promising South-South economic relationship address asymmetries and obstacles to its continued expansion through reforms,” says Broadman.

The study details a series of reforms that should be undertaken by all the countries:

* “At-the-border” reforms, such as elimination of China and India’s escalating tariffs on Africa’s leading exports; and elimination of Africa’s tariffs on certain inputs that make its own exports uncompetitive.
* “Behind-the-border” reforms in Africa, to unleash competitive market forces, strengthen its basic market institutions, and improve governance.
* “Between-the-border” improvements in trade facilitation infrastructure and institutions to decrease transactions costs, such as customs administration, transport and communications.
* Reforms that leverage linkages between investment and trade to allow African businesses’ participation in modern global production-sharing networks generated by Chinese and Indian investments in Africa.

With this newest phase in the evolution of world trade and investment flows taking root—the increasing emergence of South-South international commerce—African businesses cannot afford to be left behind. Those reforms are critically important to allow Africa to be able to genuinely participate—and most importantly, benefit from—the new patters of international commerce.

Since I will be the father of half Asian (specifically Japanese) children I try to keep up with how biracial/multiracial people are viewed in Asia, especially Japan. This article is pretty old but came out about the time I lived in Japan. I think it is still relevant today.

I would say that, from my experience in Asia, that Amerasians/Eurasians/AfroAsians are more accepted in the media, it is typically in the entertainment industry. Mixed race people in other segments of society, such as business or politics are very hard to come by in Asia, unless they are business people working for Western based corporations.

I will also say that Eurasians are favored over Afro-Asians because light skin is prized, especially in women…however Japan, being more progressive than most Asian countries have two Afro-Asian singers (Crystal Kay) being one that are doing quite well in the charts. Crystal Kay has been popular since 2000 or so, before that she was on a Japanese kids TV show, the only ‘hafu’ girl on there.

I would also say it helps if your dad is Asian and not your mom, because it is often assumed (especially by older Asians) if your mom is Asian she was a whore…from what I have observed with Koreans and Japanese, it goes along way to have a Asian father, to look fairly Asian, and to act very much Asian (of whatever nationality) acceptance is more likely. Many of the people above have Asian mothers, and the article talks about this, things have liberalized somewhat but I still believe that since “blood” is tracted through the father in many of these cultures it helps for the foreign ancestory to be from the mother.

Maggie Q (Vietnamese/British), Hong Kong ActressI love her Exclamation

Sachio Kinugasa (Japanese mother/African American father), Japanese baseball player, retired.

Crystal Kay (Zainichi Korean/African American father), Japanese language singer

Willie McIntosh (Thai/Scot), Thai TV Star

Sirinya Winsiri (Thai/white), former Miss. Thailand

Asha Gill (Punjabi Indian/European), Malaysian TV Personality

Anna Umemiya (Japanese father/White American mother), Model and TV Personality

(guy on the left)Marc of Globe (Japanese father, French mother), member of defunct popular Japanese dance music group

Eiji Wentz (Japanese mother, American father), Japanese singer

Monday, Apr. 16, 2001
Eurasian Invasion

We all know that fusion is hot, sizzling, more caliente than a salsa beat. It’s that multiculti urge that propels us to douse a hamburger with teriyaki sauce or buy an Armani jacket with a Nehru collar. Such marriages of East and West are a harmless intermingling of cultures: a war never started by adding a dollop of wasabi to potato chips or a bindhi to Madonna’s forehead.

But blending people is more dangerous. The world generally prefers its citizens in their own neat categories: Chinese, Japanese, Siamese. They represent the sanctity of our nation-states, our flags, our soccer teams. After all, if you’re not one or the other, what are you? If you’re, say, half Asian and half Western, where do you belong? Are you a banana: yellow on the outside and white inside? Or an egg: white on the outside and yellow inside? Or are you, as proclaimed by that most swirled of celebrities Tiger Woods, a “Cablinasian”�a Caucasian-black-Indian-Asian smattering of everything, a global progeny of an increasingly global world? And what is that, anyway?

Once, not so long ago, no one wanted to be Tiger Woods. Especially Tiger, with his cafE-au-lait complexion and American serviceman father. Today, Eurasians are the flavor du jour, not only in the U.S., where mixed-race citizens personify the American melting pot, but even more so in Asia, where race-conscious policies are often encoded in law. In Indonesia, where until recently ethnic Chinese were barred from writing in their own script, the hottest celebrities are indos, or mixed-race folks like actors Karina Suwandi and Ari Wibowo. In Bangkok, where the local skin trade has spawned a multitude of luk kreung, or half-children, the once-despised offspring now control an estimated 60% of the entertainment industry. And in Hong Kong, where the local movie business is in a slump, the one great hope isn’t white at all, but a mix of white and yellow. Fetching young Eurasian actors like Maggie Q and Karen Mok crowd the screen, and through the wonders of global distribution (and video piracy) appear everywhere from the deserts of Tunisia to the shores of the Solomon Islands. “Who better to personify the diversification of Hong Kong movies than a Eurasian actor,” says Bey Logan, a local film executive. “It’s a face that everyone can identify with and accept.”

Fusion is in, not only as an abstract fashion concept, but in that most grounded of realities: mixed-blood people who walk, talk, and produce even more multiracial progeny. Most strange of all, these hybrids are finding themselves hailed as role models for vast masses in Asia with no mixed blood at all. “When I think of Asia, I don’t necessarily think of people who look like me,” says Declan Wong, a Chinese-Dutch-American actor and producer, “But somehow we’ve become the face that sells the new Asia.”

So maybe Asia’s Eurasian craze is driven by the theories of that whitest of white men, economist Adam Smith. As the world gets smaller, we look for a global marketing mien, a one-size-fits-all face that helps us sell Nokia cell phones and Palmolive shampoo across the world. “For any business, you can’t think locally anymore,” says Paul Lau, general manager at Elite Model Management in Hong Kong, who has built up a stable of Eurasians for his internationally minded clients. “At the very least, you need to think regionally. Ideally, you should think globally.” A global image helps sell products, even if no one but Filipinos would ever want to buy duck-fetus eggs or Thais the most pungent variety of shrimp paste. Yanto Zainal, president of Macs909, a boutique ad agency in Jakarta, used all indos for a campaign for the local Matahari department store chain. “The store wanted to promote a more cosmopolitan image,” he says. “Indos have an international look but can still be accepted as Indonesian.”

Channel V, the Asia-wide music television channel, was one of the first to broadcast the message of homogenized hybridism. “We needed a messenger that would fit in from Tokyo to the Middle East,” says Jennifer Seeto, regional sales marketing manager for the channel, which began beaming its border-busting images in 1994. Star veejay Asha Gill personifies the global look. When asked what her ethnic heritage is, Gill, a Malaysian citizen, simply shrugs. “Oh, who knows,” she says. “I’m half Punjabi, mixed with some English, a little French and dribs and drabs of God knows what else.” The 29-year-old speaks crisp British English, fluent Malay, and a smidgen of Punjabi. She grew up in a Kuala Lumpur neighborhood that was mostly Chinese, attended an English-speaking school and was pals with Malay and Indian kids. Gill’s Channel V show, broadcast in English, has a strong following in Malaysia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. “I’m Hitler’s worst nightmare,” she says. “My ethnicity and profession make me a global person who can’t be defined in just one category.”

Fashionistas love the new Eurasian world. Top Asian modeling agencies can’t stock enough mixed-blooded girls, and many have begun scouting for Eurasian models in Europe and the U.S. to bring back East. One of the top imports is 20-year-old Maggie Q, a Vietnamese-American who grew up in Hawaii. “When you look at Maggie, you see the whole world in her face,” says film executive Logan, who cast her in the hit flick Gen-Y Cops. “She sells because she appeals to everyone.” The publisher of Indonesia’s top-selling women’s magazine, Femina, says a cover with an indo on it sells two to three times more copies than one with a purely local model. “Indonesian women see these girls as exotic but not exactly threatening,” says Widarti Goenawan, publisher of the popular weekly. “It is an ideal to which they can aspire.” Certainly, an approachable exoticism fuels many Eurasian models’ careers. Devon Aoki, a half-Japanese and half-American concoction, has captivated London and New York catwalks with her woodblock-print features and long limbs. In Hong Kong, Ankie Lau, a half-German and half-Chinese model, wins clients because her Eastern features mix with a Western spontaneity. “The ability of Eurasian models to let go in front of the camera is very appealing to advertisers,” says Elite Model’s Paul Lau. “Asians tend to be more nervous expressing their emotions.”

Tata Young certainly knows how to let loose. Back in 1995, when she broke into Thailand’s entertainment industry at the age of 15, the pert half-Thai, half-American singer was on the forefront of the Eurasian trend. Today, the majority of top Thai entertainers are luk kreung. Now 20, Young is the first Thai to sign a contract with a major U.S. label, Warner Brothers Records (owned by AOL Time Warner, parent company of Time), which she hopes will elevate her into the Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera pantheon. Back at home, Young has to contend with a gaggle of luk kreung clones who mimic her brand of bubble-gum pop. The hottest act now is a septet called, less-than-imaginatively, Seven, and three out of seven are of mixed race.

The luk kreung crowd tend to hang tight, dining, drinking and dating together. “We understand each other,” says Nicole Terio, one of the group. “It comes from knowing what it means to grow up between two cultures.” But the luk kreung’s close-knit community and Western-stoked confidence sometimes elicits grumbles from other Thais, who also resent their stranglehold on the entertainment industry. The ultimate blow came a few years back when Thailand sent a blue-eyed woman to the Miss World competition. Sirinya Winsiri, also known as Cynthia Carmen Burbridge, beat out another half-Thai, half-American for the coveted Miss Thailand spot. “Luk kreung have made it very difficult for normal Thais to compete,” gripes a Bangkok music mogul. “We should put more emphasis on developing real Thai talent.” The Eurasians consider this unfair. “I was born in Bangkok,” says Young. “I speak fluent Thai and I sing in Thai. When I meet Westerners, they say I’m more Thai than American.” Channel V’s Asha Gill senses the frustration: “A lot of Asians despise us because we get all the jobs, but if I’ve bothered to learn several languages and understand several cultures, why shouldn’t I be employed for those skills?”

The jealous sniping angers many who suffered years of discrimination because of their mixed blood. Eurasian heritage once spoke not of a proud melding of two cultures but of a shameful confluence of colonizer and colonized, of marauding Western man and subjugated Eastern woman. Such was the case particularly in countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, where American G.I.s left thousands of unwelcome offspring. In Vietnam, these children were dubbed bui doi, or the dust of life. “Being a bui doi means you are the child of a Vietnamese bar girl and an American soldier,” says Henry Phan, an Amerasian tour guide in Ho Chi Minh City. “Here, in Vietnam, it is not a glamorous thing to be mixed.” As a child in Bangkok during the early 1990s, Nicole Terio fended off rumors that her mother was a prostitute, even though her parents had met at a university in California. “I constantly have to defend them,” she says, “and explain exactly where I come from.”

Ever since Europe sailed to Asia in the 16th century, Eurasians have populated entrepots like Malacca, Macau and Goa. The white men who came in search of souls and spices left a generation of mixed-race offspring that, at the high point of empire building, was more than one-million strong. Today, in Malaysia’s Strait of Malacca, 1,000 Eurasian fishermen, descendants of intrepid Portuguese traders, still speak an archaic dialect of Portuguese, practice the Catholic faith and carry surnames like De Silva and Da Costa. In Macau, 10,000 mixed-race Macanese serve as the backbone of the former colony’s civil service and are known for their spicy fusion cuisine.

Despite their long traditions, though, Eurasians did not make the transition into the modern age easily. As colonies became nations, mixed-race children were inconvenient reminders of a Western-dominated past. So too were the next generation of Eurasians, the offspring of American soldiers in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, luk kreung were not allowed to become citizens until the early 1990s. In Hong Kong, many Eurasians have two names and shift their personalities to fit the color of the crowd in which they’re mixing. Singer and actress Karen Mok, for example, grew up Karen Morris but used her Chinese name when she broke into the Canto-pop scene. “My Eurasian ancestors carried a lot of shame because they weren’t one or the other,” says Chinese-English performance artist Veronica Needa, whose play Face explores interracial issues. “Much of my legacy is that shame.” Still, there’s no question that Eurasians enjoy a higher profile today. “Every time I turn on the TV or look at an advertisement, there’s a Eurasian,” says Needa. “It’s a validating experience to see people like me being celebrated.”

But behind the billboards and the leading movie roles lurks a disturbing subtext. For Eurasians, acceptance is certainly welcome and long overdue. But what does it mean if Asia’s role models actually look more Western than Eastern? How can the Orient emerge confident if what it glorifies is, in part, the Occident? “If you only looked at the media you would think we all looked indo except for the drivers, maids and comedians,” says Dede Oetomo, an Indonesian sociologist at Airlangga University in Surabaya. “The media has created a new beauty standard.”

Conforming to this new paradigm takes a lot of work. Lek, a pure Thai bar girl, charms the men at the Rainbow Bar in the sleaze quarters of Bangkok. Since arriving in the big city, she has methodically eradicated all connections to her rural Asian past. The first to go was her flat, northeastern nose. For $240, a doctor raised the bridge to give her a Western profile. Then, Lek laid out $1,200 for plumper, silicone-filled breasts. Now, the 22-year-old is saving to have her eyes made rounder. By the time she has finished her plastic surgery, Lek will have lost all traces of the classical Thai beauty that propelled her from a poor village to the brothels of Bangkok. But she is confident her new appearance will attract more customers. “I look more like a luk kreung, and that’s more beautiful,” she says.

A few blocks away from Rainbow Bar, a local pharmacy peddles eight brands of whitening cream, including Luk Kreung Snow White Skin. In Tokyo, where the Eurasian trend first kicked off more than three decades ago, loosening medical regulations have meant a proliferation of quick-fix surgery, like caucasian-style double eyelids and more pronounced noses. On Channel V and mtv, a whole host of veejays look ethnically mixed only because they’ve gone under the knife. “There’s a real pressure here to look mixed,” says one Asian veejay in Singapore. “Even though we’re Asians broadcasting in Asia, we somehow still think that Western is better.” That sentiment worries Asians and Eurasians. “More than anything, I’m proud to be Thai,” says Willy McIntosh, a 30-year-old Thai-Scottish TV personality, who spent six months as a monk contemplating his role in society. “When I hear that people are dyeing their hair or putting in contacts to look like me, it scares me. The Thai tradition that I’m most proud of is disappearing.”

In many Asian countries�Japan, Malaysia, Thailand�the Eurasian craze coincides with a resurgent nationalism. Those two seemingly contradictory trends are getting along just fine. “Face it, the West is never going to stop influencing Asia,” says performance artist Needa. “But at the same time, the East will never cease to influence the West, either.” In the 2000 U.S. census, nearly 7 million people identified themselves as multiracial, and 15% of births in California are of mixed heritage. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Oscar-winning kung fu flick, was more popular in Middle America than it was in the Middle Kingdom. In Hollywood, where Eurasian actors once were relegated to buck-toothed Oriental roles, the likes of Keanu Reeves, Dean Cain and Phoebe Cates play leading men and women, not just the token Asian. East and West have met, and the simple boxes we use for human compartmentalization are overflowing, mixing, blending. Not all of us can win four consecutive major golf titles, but we are, indeed, more like Tiger Woods with every passing generation.

With reporting by Simon Elegant/Kuala Lumpur, Robert Horn/Bangkok, Toko Sekiguchi/Tokyo and Jason Tedjasukmana/Jakarta

Re-Envisioning Asia

January 6, 2005

From the January/February 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs.

Francis Fukuyama is a Professor of International Political
Economy at the Nitze School of Advanced International
Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the author of
State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st


A key task facing the second Bush administration is
devising the proper security architecture for eastern Asia.
The United States is confronting several immediate
problems, including the North Korean nuclear standoff,
tension between China and Taiwan, and Islamist terrorism in
Southeast Asia. But a forward-looking foreign policy does
not simply manage crises; it shapes the context for future
policy choices through the creation of international
institutions. Eastern Asia has inherited a series of
alliances from the early days of the Cold War. These
partnerships remain important as a means of providing
predictability and deterrence. But a decade and a half
after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is increasingly
evident that they do not fit the configuration of politics
now taking shape.

The White House has an opportunity to create a visionary
institutional framework for the region. In the short term,
it can do so by turning the six-party talks on North Korea
into a permanent five-power organization that would meet
regularly to discuss various security issues in the region,
beyond the North Korean nuclear threat. In the long term,
Washington will need to consider ways of linking this
security dialogue to the various multilateral economic
forums now in existence or under consideration, such as the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); the
ASEAN-plus-three group, which was formed in the wake of the
Asian economic crisis and includes China, Japan, and South
Korea; and the developing free-trade areas. Asian
multilateralism will be critical not just for coordinating
the region’s booming economies, but also for damping down
the nationalist passions lurking beneath the surface of
every Asian country.


Unlike Europe, Asia lacks strong multilateral political
institutions. Europe has the EU and NATO, as well as groups
such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (osce) and the Council of Europe. Asia’s only
counterparts are ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum on
security matters, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
forum (APEC)–all of which are far weaker organizations.
ASEAN does not include China or the other major players in
Northeast Asia, and APEC is no more than a consultative
body. Asian security is ensured not by multilateral
treaties, but by a series of bilateral relationships
centering on Washington, in particular the U.S.-Japan
Security Treaty and the U.S.-South Korean relationship.

The reasons for this difference between Europe and Asia lie
in history: European countries are linked by similar
cultural origins and their shared experience in the
twentieth century, to the point that they have been
relinquishing important elements of national sovereignty to
the EU. By contrast, there is a much higher degree of
distrust among the major players in Asia. This suspicion is
driven partly by a changing power balance, as Japan is
eclipsed by China, but primarily by memories of the Pacific
war. After 1945, both Germany and Japan needed to convince
their neighbors that they were no longer threats. The new
West Germany did so by ceding sovereignty to a series of
multilateral organizations; Japan did so by ceding
sovereignty in security affairs to the United States.
Security ties thus took on a hub-and-spoke structure in
Asia, with Washington playing a central mediating and
balancing role.

These bilateral ties remain crucial, particularly the
U.S.-Japanese relationship. The U.S. nuclear guarantee and
U.S. forces stationed in Japan reassure the rest of Asia
that Japan will not rearm in a major way. But this Cold War
system of security checks and balances is eroding as new
generations take power and face changing environments.

The first problem concerns the United States’ relationship
with South Korea. With the ascendancy of left-wing
Presidents Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun over the past
decade, a new generation of Koreans has grown up seeking
reconciliation rather than confrontation with North Korea.
Many young South Koreans today regard the United States as
a greater threat to their security than the regime of Kim
Jong Il. This bizarre perception is based on extraordinary
illusions. The North Korean dictatorship is one of the most
inhumane and dangerous that has ever existed, but the Bush
administration misplayed its hand at the beginning of its
first term by undercutting President Kim Dae Jung’s
“sunshine” policy of Korean reconciliation–triggering a
generational revolt among younger South Koreans against
Cold War verities. The reflexive gratitude that South
Koreans who lived through the war against the North feel
toward the United States is simply absent among the younger
generation, which, like its German counterpart, grew up in
peace and prosperity.

On the surface, the U.S.-South Korean alliance still looks
strong: the current Roh Moo Hyun government has sought to
demonstrate its commitment to the relationship by sending
military forces to Iraq. But misunderstanding could easily
emerge and then spiral as Koreans blame the United States
for excessive belligerence toward Pyongyang and the United
States reacts to what it perceives as South Korean
ingratitude. Preoccupied with terrorism and the Middle
East, Washington has already repositioned its forces away
from the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas and is
planning to draw down its forces in the region.

The United States’ relationship with Japan is also changing
in ways that are extremely unsettling to the rest of Asia.
Prompted by the nuclear threat from Pyongyang, Tokyo is
reconsidering the need for more robust defensive forces.
Japan’s dispatch of peacekeepers to Iraq and its recent
confrontations with the North Korean navy demonstrate a
willingness to behave like what opposition leader Ichiro
Ozawa has called a “normal country.” There is a growing
consensus in Japan that Article 9 of its postwar
constitution–which dictates that it cannot wage war and
cannot maintain armed forces–should be revised, even if
the process stretches out over a number of years. Although
political ties between Washington and Tokyo are stronger
today than they have been in many years, the Cold War
father-child dependency will inevitably be replaced by
something resembling an alliance of equals.

Japan’s new posture is to be welcomed. In fact, the United
States has been pushing Tokyo to embrace such a new role
since the last decade of the Cold War. It is perverse that
a country with the world’s third-largest economy remains
militarily and psychologically dependent on Washington. But
the rest of Asia–particularly China and the two Koreas,
which were heavily victimized by Japan throughout the first
half of the twentieth century–prefers that Japan stay
militarily weak. These countries will not welcome the
emergence of a stronger and more independent neighbor.
Although a Japan with a revised Article 9 should not
threaten the rest of Asia, its former victims may not trust
in that fact. Japanese rearmament must therefore progress
slowly and be managed delicately, with plenty of open
communication between Tokyo and other Asian governments.

And then there is China. The world’s fastest-growing
economy (and one of its largest) has thus far remained
largely outside any security pact or alliance, excepting
its membership in global institutions such as the UN and
the World Trade Organization (WTO). But this relative
isolation also is likely to change. In recent years, the
Chinese have proposed a blizzard of new Asian multilateral
economic arrangements, which could ultimately serve
security purposes as well. Beijing’s plans have included
two agreements with ASEAN (ASEAN plus one and ASEAN plus
three, with Japan and North Korea), as well as China-ASEAN
and East Asian free-trade areas. Clearly, the Chinese are
exerting leadership to ensure that their status in the
international political arena matches their growing
economic power. Sensing a geoeconomic threat, the Japanese
have responded with their own trade pacts, such as the
Japan-Singapore free-trade area negotiated by Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

China has always presented a great conundrum for the United
States. It is the kind of power Washington deals with the
least well: a nation that is neither clearly friend nor
clearly foe, simultaneously a strategic threat and a
critical trade and investment partner. The result has been
an inconsistent relationship of pragmatic cooperation
punctuated by periodic crises, such as the U.S. bombing of
the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 and the Chinese
downing of a U.S. spy plane in 2001. The future of this
relationship depends on how Chinese politics evolve:
whether China provokes a showdown with Taiwan and uses its
economic might to achieve Asian hegemony, or develops into
an increasingly pluralistic society in which economic
interests dictate continuing good relations with its

In the meantime, the United States can adopt one of two
approaches: either it can seek to isolate China and
mobilize the rest of Asia into a coalition to contain
growing Chinese power, or it can try to incorporate China
into a series of international institutions designed to
channel Chinese ambitions and elicit cooperation.

Despite its appeal among U.S. conservatives, isolating
Beijing is a nonstarter. Even if the United States somehow
knew that China were a long-term strategic threat on a par
with the former Soviet Union, no U.S. ally would enlist in
an anti-Chinese coalition any time in the near future.
Japan, South Korea, Australia, and ASEAN members all have
complex relationships with China that involve varying
degrees of cooperation and conflict; absent overt Chinese
aggression, none is going to be willing to jeopardize those

Incorporating China into existing global institutions has
already proved very effective. In 2001, when the question
of Chinese membership in the WTO came up, some argued that
China would only subvert the WTO by breaking its rules. As
it is, being a part of the WTO has promoted the rule of law
by giving Chinese reformers an excuse to make systemic
domestic changes. These modifications–which were in
China’s self-interest anyway–include replacing the
traditional system of corrupt, nepotistic business dealings
with more transparent and open rules. As Evan Medeiros and
Taylor Fravel have pointed out, over the past decade China
has shifted its posture from that of an aggrieved victim of
Western imperialism to that of an increasingly responsible
member of the international community.


Asia needs to develop a new
set of multilateral organizations in parallel with the
existing bilateral organizations. Over time, a new set of
institutions can take over many of the functions performed
by bilateral agreements. But this new multilateralism
cannot come into being without the strong support of the
United States, which is why a creative re-evaluation of
Asia must be a top priority for George W. Bush in his
second term.

Washington clearly derives some benefits from the present
system of U.S.-centric bilateral alliances. The United
States gains unique sanction for its military and political
presence in the region and is in a strong position to
prevent the emergence of hostile coalitions. Washington
also often serves as the conduit for messages and security
plans sent from one Asian capital to another, giving it

Balanced against these considerations is a simple but
strong reason for promoting a multilateral system. With the
end of the Cold War and the continuing economic development
of eastern Asia, power relationships are changing in ways
that have unlocked nationalist passions and rivalries. The
potential for misunderstanding and conflict among South
Korea, Japan, and China will be significant in the coming
years–but it can be mitigated if multiple avenues of
discussion exist between the states.

Several recent incidents have brought latent tensions to
the surface. Despite burgeoning trade between China and
South Korea, relations recently became strained when
government-sponsored Chinese researchers asserted that the
ancient kingdom of Koguryo, which 2,000 years ago stretched
along the current China-North Korea border, was once under
Chinese control. The ensuing fight had to be papered over
with a five-point accord negotiated by the countries’
foreign ministries. Beijing’s motives for allowing
publication of the article are unclear, but they may have
been related to rising nationalism in China and loose talk
in Seoul about founding a “greater Korea” that would
include not just the North and the South but also the more
than 2 million ethnic Koreans currently living in

Meanwhile, the growing economic interdependence of China
and Japan has not mitigated nationalist passions, but
exacerbated them. At an Asian Cup soccer game in August
2004 in Beijing, Chinese fans screamed, “Kill! Kill! Kill!”
at the winning Japanese team, forcing it to flee China.
This event followed on the heels of several other ugly and
apparently spontaneous displays of anti-Japanese feeling
and outrage over the use of hired female “companions” in
southern China by 300 Japanese businessmen.

Heightening security concerns threaten the Japanese-South
Korean relationship and could spark an arms race. Ten years
ago, while doing research in Tokyo, I was told by a number
of officers in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces that in the
event of Korean unification, the combined military of North
and South Korea would be close to ten times the size of
Japan’s. If Korean troop strength did not fall dramatically
at that point, they said, Japan would have to take
appropriate defensive measures. Not only does this risk
remain, but today there is the added factor of North
Korea’s nuclear weapons–and what a potentially united
Korea would do with them. In a recent Tokyo Shimbun poll,
83 of 724 members of the Japanese Diet said publicly that
Japan should consider becoming a nuclear power in light of
the North Korean threat, an assertion that would have been
unthinkable just a few years ago.

Asia is not about to descend into a downward spiral of
nationalist fervor, but the potential for dangerous
miscommunication clearly exists. Establishing a
multilateral structure would help greatly by giving
Northeast Asia’s major powers a forum for talking directly
to one another. Nato, with its regular schedule of
ministerial meetings, has performed this service in Europe
for several decades. Defense ministers lay out their
spending plans and force structures, and foreign ministers
explain their respective nation’s political actions. If the
Chinese and Korean governments are worried about the
meaning of Japanese rearmament, or if the Japanese and
Chinese leaderships are concerned about Korea’s
postunification intentions, a multilateral forum would give
them an opportunity to defuse anxieties and articulate


The U.S. stance on multilateralism in Asia has been erratic
and contradictory. The United States sponsored
organizations such as the Southeast Asian Treaty
Organization and APEC. But when Malaysian Prime Minister
Mahathir bin Mohamad sought to counter APEC in 1989 with a
proposal for an East Asian Economic Caucus that would
exclude the United States, it was firmly rejected by
Washington as a scheme to keep “white” powers out of the
Asian club. During the early 1990s, the Clinton
administration promoted an informal Northeast Asia
Cooperation Dialogue between the countries that are now
participating in the six-party talks. This process
continues today, but it has never been elevated to a formal

Many of the more recent proposals for eastern Asian
multilateral institutions have focused on economic issues
stemming from the 1997-98 financial crisis. In the view of
many eastern Asian countries, the United States and
U.S.-influenced international institutions such as the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank
exploited the crisis to push a pro-market agenda on Asia.
When Japan proposed an Asian IMF in 1999, Washington
summarily rejected the idea but offered nothing in its
place to act as an institutional coordinating mechanism
capable of mitigating a future crisis. As a result, nations
in the region have been building new multilateral
organizations on their own. These include the Chiang Mai
Initiative, which allows the central banks from 13
countries to swap reserves in the event of a speculative
attack, and the ASEAN-plus-three forum. So far, the United
States has either ignored or been indifferent to these

In an ironic twist, however, Washington has stumbled into a
new Asian multilateral framework: the ongoing six-party
talks on Korean security and nuclear weapons involving the
United States, North and South Korea, Japan, China, and
Russia. Washington embraced this arrangement after
Pyongyang, in the wake of the collapse of the 1994 Agreed
Framework, insisted on talking directly to the Americans
about the future of its nuclear programs. U.S. policymakers
correctly saw this as an effort to divide the United States
from its South Korean ally and insisted on multilateral
talks instead. Over time, another important motive emerged:
only China had the economic leverage to bring North Korea
to the bargaining table. Indeed, Beijing strong-armed
Pyongyang into accepting the six-party format by briefly
cutting off its energy supplies.

The multilateral security framework that has unexpectedly
emerged in Northeast Asia provides an excellent opportunity
for institutional innovation. If and when the immediate
crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program passes, a
permanent five-power organization could serve as a direct
channel for communication between China, Japan, South
Korea, Russia, and the United States. The new group would
not be a NATO-like military alliance, but would instead
resemble the OSCE–with 55 member states, the world’s
largest regional security organization–and deal with
second-order security issues.


A five-power forum would be particularly useful in dealing
with several foreseeable problems. The first is a sudden
collapse of the North Korean regime. In the short run, such
an implosion would cause huge difficulties: coordinating
relief efforts, dealing with refugees, paying for
reconstruction, and containing any violence that might
ensue. Over the long run, the political deck in Northeast
Asia would be reshuffled: the rationale for the U.S.-South
Korean alliance would disappear, and tensions between a
unified Korea and Japan and China could rise for reasons
already indicated–all of which would be easier to tackle
in a pre-existing multilateral setting.

Another issue is Japanese rearmament. Japan will not revise
Article 9 this year or the next, but the handwriting is on
the wall. Although rearmament should not threaten China and
Korea, they will have many incentives to hype a new
Japanese threat; China, in particular, has used
anti-Japanese sentiment to bolster the communist regime’s
nationalist credentials. Germany, which rearmed and has
been moving down a similar path toward “normalcy,”
moderated the threat by encasing its sovereignty in several
international institutions, including NATO, the EU, and the
UN. A Japanese return to normality will seem much less
threatening if done within a regional security organization
as well as a continuing bilateral relationship with the
United States. But the new group’s relevance wouldn’t stop
there. A fully nuclear North Korea, a possible Asian arms
race, the implications of Chinese military
modernization–these are just a few of the potential
problems a five-power body could tackle.

At the same time, such a permanent forum would not be an
appropriate venue for other important matters. It would not
help deter a Chinese threat to Taiwan, though it could
conceivably provide a forum for resolving a crisis in the
Taiwan Strait. Nor would the five-power organization be
able to directly influence security problems in Southeast
Asia. Whether it may one day do so by admitting more
members is a question for the future.

There will be substantial practical obstacles to
transforming the current six-party talks into a permanent
organization. To start, hard-liners in the United States
will immediately object that the six-party format has
already proved ineffective: after three rounds of meetings
in August 2003, February 2004, and June 2004, the
negotiations seem to be going nowhere. In fact, the North
Koreans used the first meeting to announce their intention
to test a nuclear weapon, and they have generally thumbed
their noses at U.S. efforts to constrain their nuclear
program. Washington hoped to use the multilateral approach
to isolate Pyongyang; instead, the North Koreans have
turned the tables on the Americans and lined up support
from China and South Korea for a more accommodating line.
Given this track record, and Chinese ambivalence toward the
North Korean threat, why make this particular format

The answer is that the United States needs allies–the same
reason the six-party talks came into existence in the first
place. Those who are hawkish on North Korea seem to think
that once the diplomatic track has played itself out,
Washington can use the threat of force to pressure
Pyongyang to back down. Although military options at this
point seem off the table even for the hawks, hope remains
that the United States can somehow bring about North Korean
regime change by means other than war; unilaterally impose
a tough embargo that will keep nuclear materials bottled up
and increase pressure on the North; or frighten the Chinese
and the South Koreans into cooperating on a more
confrontational policy.

By itself, however, the United States does not have
sufficient leverage to implement any of these strategies.
Alone, Washington cannot force the North to back away from
its nuclear program or cajole Beijing and Seoul into an
anti-North Korea alliance, given their domestic policy
preferences. The current multilateral negotiations, for all
their limitations, remain the best U.S. option. The Bush
administration hard-liners began talks with the assumption
that no negotiated solution could work, given the failure
of the 1994 Agreed Framework, and therefore have never
sought to define a realistic new deal. Perhaps if the White
House does this during Bush’s second term, Pyongyang,
rather than Washington, will become the isolated power.

The second major obstacle to creating a permanent
five-power organization is North Korea itself, which does
not belong in any responsible community of nations, given
its human rights and security record. Pressing ahead too
rapidly to convert narrowly focused six-party negotiations
into a permanent five-power organization could undermine
the current talks and lead to North Korean obstructionism
on all fronts. The trick will be to isolate Pyongyang
within the six-party format while making the other five
powers comfortable with the prospect of working together
over the long term. North Korea’s current refusal to return
to the talks may even present an occasion for a five-power
meeting without Pyongyang. The larger goal aside, this
strategy is something Washington should work toward to
increase the pressure on Pyongyang. Eventually, the United
States may be able to put new issues on the table for the
five powers to discuss.

If the transition to a permanent five-power structure can
somehow be made, other issues will have to be addressed as
well. Should other countries in the region, such as India,
New Zealand, Australia, or any of the ASEAN members, be
added? Should there be an official link between the new
group and the ASEAN Regional Forum, or should individual
ASEAN states be considered for membership?

Finally, there is the question of how a security forum of
five powers or more would relate to the Asian multilateral
economic groups already taking shape or being proposed,
such as the Chiang Mai Initiative or ASEAN plus three.
Should the United States support regional economic
integration even if it does not have a seat at the table,
as it has supported the EU? Or should Washington regard
economic multilateralism as a threat and weaken these
initiatives in favor of global organizations such as the
Bretton Woods institutions or the WTO?

Whether the United States likes it or not, the countries of
eastern Asia have a strong incentive to increase their
formal multilateral economic cooperation: global
institutions such as the IMF are distrusted as overly
dominated by the United States and unresponsive to Asian
concerns. Washington would better serve its interests by
supporting and shaping the evolution of these institutions
from the outside, rather than by playing an obstructionist
role. The United States can cement its formal role in
eastern Asia by maintaining its network of bilateral
alliances and by working toward a new multilateral security
organization. Ultimately, Washington’s relationship with
Asian multilateral organizations would mirror the
relationships it has with the EU and NATO–dealing with one
from the outside and the other from the inside. Whatever
multilateral institutions take shape in Asia will never
achieve the strength and cohesion of their European
counterparts, but the United States should regard them as
hedges against the possible unraveling of the existing
bilateral security system.


The final and perhaps most urgent reason for the Bush
administration to re-envision its approach to Asian
diplomacy has as much to do with the United States’ status
in the world as with its standing in eastern Asia. The Iraq
war has isolated Washington in unprecedented ways and
convinced a large part of the world that the United
States–not Islamist terrorism–is the biggest threat to
global security.

To climb out of this hole, the White House needs to start
thinking creatively about legitimacy and international
organizations. Considering that it has already snubbed the
UN and refused to participate in the International Criminal
Court or the Kyoto Protocol, Washington must now consider
alternatives to international cooperation that better suit
its interests. The United States will be better served by
endorsing a series of overlapping and occasionally
competitive multilateral organizations than by putting all
its eggs in a single basket such as the UN. A permanent
five-power organization in eastern Asia would help provide
the foundation for the new order in that region–a small
building block in a larger multi-multilateral edifice.

The idea of permanently institutionalizing the six-party
talks has been discussed with increasing frequency in
Washington policy circles in recent months. Such an
organization will not come about, however, unless President
George W. Bush decides to take the initiative to make it
happen. The advent of a new term for Bush and his
administration provides a fortuitous opportunity to
reconceive the United States’ long-term political
architectures. Being the sole superpower bestows a certain
responsibility for the global public good. It means not
just exercising hard military power against rogue states,
but also shaping the international environment in
anticipation of new political demands. The United States
stepped up to this challenge after 1945; it should do so
again in the post-September 11 world.