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East-West Center
2014-07-23-EWCGarden4_web.jpgThe East-West Center is an independent, nonpartisan education, research and dialogue institution based in Honolulu Hawai‘i, with an office in Washington, D.C. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia and the Pacific by bringing people together to study issues, exchange views, build expertise and develop policy options.

EWC is a public nonprofit organization with funding from the U.S. government and additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations and governments in the region. The Center is overseen by a Board of Governors consisting of five members appointed by the U.S. secretary of state, five appointed by the governor of Hawai‘i, five from Asia or the Pacific Islands who are elected by the full board, and three ex-officio members who include the governor of Hawai‘i, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, and the president of the University of Hawai‘i.

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Entries by East-West Center

Cutting Through the Noisy TPP Debate

(8) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 9:45 PM

By Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer

Note: This commentary first appeared in The Honolulu Star Advertiser on April 12, 2015.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, negotiations are in their final phase and the policy debate is in full swing. Unfortunately, it's shaping up as a debate about trees,...

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Study: China's New Semiconductor Strategy Seeks to Exploit Tailwinds from Markets and Technology

(0) Comments | Posted November 9, 2014 | 9:08 PM

HONOLULU (Nov. 9, 2014) -- When it comes to U.S.-China trade, semiconductors are a big deal. The chips that power virtually all modern electronics are one of the United States' most valuable exports at $42 billion a year (second only to auto exports at $51 billion), and China's biggest import...

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Analysis: Bold Action Required on Renewal of the Information Technology Agreement During APEC Summit

(0) Comments | Posted November 8, 2014 | 2:58 PM

One of the most-watched issues at next week's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing will be whether China and the U.S. can overcome longstanding differences and strike a deal to update and extend the nearly two-decade-old Information Technology Agreement, a 78-economy pact that eliminates tariffs on such high-tech products...

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Fiji's Post-Election Democracy: How Robust?

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2014 | 8:47 PM

By Gerard A. Finin

It would be easy to look skeptically at Fiji's recent national election - the Pacific island nation's first since a military coup in 2006 - given the fact that the coup leader who had been running the country by decree since then, Commodore Voreqe "Frank" Bainimarama,...

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Global Study: Low Birth Rates Can Bring Surprising Economic Benefits

(0) Comments | Posted October 9, 2014 | 10:58 PM

While low fertility rates and aging populations can challenge government social safety nets, a new global study published in Science suggests that modest population decline can actually improve broader standards of living.

HONOLULU (Oct. 9, 2014) -- In many countries, couples are having fewer babies - or none at all...

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Kerry Reaffirms 'Ambitious Agenda' of U.S. Engagement in Asia and the Pacific

(2) Comments | Posted August 15, 2014 | 9:51 PM

Outlining what he termed the United States' "ambitious agenda" of long-term engagement in Asia and the Pacific, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday in a policy speech at the East-West Center in Honolulu that complex challenges such as climate change and maritime territorial disputes can be transformed into...

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Taking On the Entrepreneurial Gender Gap

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 4:04 PM

HONOLULU (July 23, 2014) - A group of women entrepreneurs and senior executives from 12 Asia Pacific countries are currently in Hawai'i to exchange ideas with local women leaders and students on leadership skills and the global gender gap in innovation and entrepreneurship.

The 13 participants in the East-West Center's...

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'Civic Creatives' Explore Likely Drivers of Ongoing Change in Myanmar

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 4:01 PM

HONOLULU (June 3, 2014) -- In a series of 15 workshops held recently around both urban and rural areas of Myanmar, more than 560 participants from diverse sectors including government, business, civil society, education, religious groups, media and the arts came together to identify drivers of change that they believe...

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Coral Loss, Water Supplies, Increased Temperatures Top Hawai'i and Pacific Region Concerns in 3rd U.S. National Climate Assessment

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 3:13 PM

HONOLULU (May 6th, 2014) - Among major climate change concerns and challenges already being felt in Hawai'i and the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands are damage to coral reefs, decreasing freshwater supplies, increasing temperatures and greater stresses on native marine and terrestrial ecosystems, according to the 3rd U.S. National Climate...

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VIDEO: Burmese Democracy Icon U Win Tin's Last Public Talk

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 9:32 PM

Burmese journalist, longtime political prisoner and National League for Democracy co-founder U Win Tin passed away on April 21 at age 85. Here's video of his last public appearance, on a panel of exceptionally courageous journalists at the East-West Center International Media Conference in Yangon this March:

Here's a report from the conference website on the panel session:

Journalists recount tales of overcoming imprisonment, abuse and intimidation for their reporting

YANGON (March 10, 2014) - In the crackdown that followed a widespread 1988 uprising against repressive military rule in Burma (aka Myanmar), journalist U Win Tin was arrested, tortured and imprisoned for nearly 20 years before being released in 2008 amid sweeping reforms in the country.

2014-04-24-UWinTinweb.jpgNow in his eighties, U Win Tin was among a panel of journalists, all of whom had endured imprisonment, beatings or threats for their reporting, who addressed some 400 participants gathered for a keynote dinner on March 10 as part of the East-West Center's International Media Conference in Yangon this week.

In a scene that would have been virtually unimaginable just a few years ago, he told the audience at a hotel ballroom that today, "we are trying for democratic change in this country, but the remnants of the military dictatorship remain in various forms."

Choosing to speak through an interpreter, he said that "we have to fight against the remaining followers of the dictators. Only after that we can have a chance to march towards democracy."

American reporter Roxana Saberi recounted the 101 days she spent in Iran's notorious Evin Prison after being accused of spying in a case that received international media attention. Initially held in solitary confinement and denied outside contact, she was unaware of the outcry over her plight until she was finally allowed to mix with other prisoners who had heard of it.

2014-04-24-RoxannaSaberi_web.jpgWhile she was not physically tortured as many other prisoners were, she said, she did experience something known as "white torture," which "doesn't leave a mark on your body but it can devastate your mind and your conscience through a combination of threats and isolation, and making you do and say things that are designed to rob you of your dignity."

Saberi said that during early days of her imprisonment she tried to think of inspirational prisoners of conscience like Mahatma Gandhi, "but then I thought, 'Well, Gandhi was never jailed in Iran, and he would have been afraid too."

In the end, she said, she drew courage from other women prisoners she met who were being punished for peacefully exercising their basic human rights. "One of the main lessons they taught me was to do what you think is right, to listen to your inner voice," she said. "Tell the truth, because even if you may suffer, in the end you will prevail."

"I realized that when we don't have a voice, we need other people to speak out for us," she said. "And when we do have a voice, we have this opportunity and responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless, and the media have a great power to do this."

2014-04-24-UmarCheemaCourageDinner_web.jpgUmar Cheema from Pakistan recounted how in 2010, after reporting frequently on government officials' misdeeds, he was abducted by intelligence agents, beaten with a wooden rod and leather strap, stripped naked and forced to pose in humiliating positions while his kidnappers took photographs and videos. "This is the consequences of writing against the government," one of them told him.

After about eight hours, he said, he was dumped far outside Islamabad with a warning: "If you speak to the media about this incident, you will be picked up again, never to return, and your pictures and video will be posted to YouTube." Even confronted with this threat, he decided to go public with his experience and continue his reporting, despite pleas from his family and friends to flee the country.

Cheema noted that his story is the story of many journalists in Pakistan. "It is a story of a country where you are free to speak, but at your own risk," he said. "It is a story of a country where journalists are not sent to jail, but instead sent to graves, and their killers operate with impunity."

Afghan journalist Najiba Ayubi, director of a nonprofit group of radio and magazine outlets based in Kabul, recounted how, after one of her radio stations reported on a gun battle in the city between the militias of two warlords-turned-members of parliament, she was called by a government minister who told her to stop the coverage, saying, "You are a woman - this is not good for you."

2014-04-24-NajibaAyubiCourageDinner_web.jpgAfter she refused to stop the reporting, she said, some men came to her home later that day and banged loudly on the door asking for her. Telling what she said was the first lie of her life, she escaped by pretending from behind the door to be her mother, but she and her family spent several days worrying that the men would return. "This is one of those experiences that I had a lot," she said. "Not one time, many times."

Ayubi said that the journalism environment in her country has improved markedly in the last 12 years, with a proliferation of news outlets and the best media law in the region. "But self-censorship is a big problem," she said. "Because of the lack of security and the powerful people (in control), there are many things we can't talk about."

"Being a woman journalist in Afghanistan is not easy," Ayubi added, but she feels hopeful that both a free press and women's rights will continue to increase in Afghanistan. "A lot of good changes have happened," she said.

2014-04-24-WinTinCam_web.jpgThe journalists on the panel all agreed that by refusing to be silenced, they hoped that each act of courage would mark a step closer to a freer press, and subsequently freer societies.

In a moving conclusion to the evening, the entire audience sang "Happy Birthday" to U Win Tin, who was just a few days away from turning 85. Wearing a shirt that was the same shade of blue as his former prison uniform - a color he's vowed to wear until every remaining political prisoner in Myanmar is freed - the still-active opposition organizer clasped his hands to his heart and beamed.

- Student journalist Jessica Anania of the Missouri School of Journalism contributed to this report. Photos by Ninh Pham, Missouri School of Journalism, for East-West...

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Report: Regional Economic Integration in Southeast Asia an Opportunity, Not a Threat, for Global Trade System

(1) Comments | Posted December 5, 2013 | 8:35 AM

At the World Trade Organization's biennial Ministerial Conference this week in Bali, Indonesia, one of the issues that trade officials will be grappling with is how to integrate the proliferation of regional trade agreements into the WTO's global trade framework.

Against this background, economists Peter Petri and Michael Plummer argue...

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