Information Technology
Owen Raymond
News Type

Tech investors are increasingly turning their interest towards revolutionary emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, and experts are curious about what role these powerful technologies will play in the unfolding political and economic competition between the United States and China. Vinod Khosla, the co-founder of SUN Microsystems and founder of Khosla Ventures, sees more than competition. Rather, he warns of an escalation of international competition into a full-scale "tech war."

Mr. Khosla explained his view of such an upcoming “techno-economic war” between the world’s two superpowers at a recent discussion hosted by APARC’s China Program. Laura Stone, APARC's inaugural China Policy Fellow, joined Mr. Khosla for a fireside chat.

The event took place at a critical juncture in the U.S.-China tech competition, just weeks after U.S. members of a House panel united to emphasize their concerns over the popular app TikTok. TikTok's uncertain future in the U.S. has added strain on the U.S.-China relationship.

Mr. Khosla sees bipartisan criticism of TikTok as a validation of his concern about Chinese influence in the United States. He declared, "There's zero chance TikTok won't be controlled by the Communist Party. Zero chance," and went on to ask the audience, "Do we want that in this country?" 

Mr. Khosla believes that countries’ ability to harness critical emerging technologies like AI and fusion energy will determine who will become a dominant power in the technological landscape of the 21st century. He went on to describe how technological competition has become a proxy for the ideological struggle between Western values and the Chinese political system. In his view, the United States must take measures to secure dominance in the tech field if it is to remain competitive on the world stage.

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[The tech war] is a war for political philosophy: Western values and political philosophy versus Chinese political philosophy.
Vinod Khosla
Founder, SUN Microsystems

Above all, Mr. Khosla stressed that artificial intelligence technologies will radically redefine the world's economic systems and that as much as eighty percent of all economically valuable labor might be performed by AI in as short a timeframe as the coming twenty years. If this change comes to fruition, goods, especially professional expertise, will become much cheaper and more accessible, while at the same time income disparity grows drastically. In addition, he emphasized that AI will change the fields of national security and cybersecurity. With these coming foundational challenges to our current economic system and domestic security measures, he argued, the United States must take a more proactive stance towards promoting the development of technologies domestically and protecting them from foreign espionage.

However, Mr. Khosla believes that this "war" for technological supremacy reaches beyond the U.S.-China relationship. In his view, it is a "war for political philosophy: Western values and political philosophy versus Chinese political philosophy." In his eyes, this conflict of fundamental values stands at the center of the ongoing competition for technological development. 

Forecasting Change

Mr. Khosla pointed out that economic benefits brought about by advanced technologies will be in high demand in developing countries. Developed nations that can provide advanced technological solutions, especially AI solutions, to developing nations will therefore become even more influential, carving a primary avenue of soft power and influence for whichever nation succeeds. 

China's motivation is beyond national pride, "they believe they have a superior system," said Khosla. His primary anxiety is that a long-held assumption that the West will win this war for ideological supremacy may not be true, citing the rising trend of open-source technology as one factor that may tip the scales. Open-sourcing technology, he argued, allows foreign nations to take technology and benefit from it without adjusting their value systems or making a real contribution of their own. He warned that technology is not just an enabler of economic power, but also of political influence, and should be treated as such. Khosla warned, "It’s literally the dominant political philosophy of the planet that's at stake here.”

When asked to describe his views on the differing approaches to institutional regulation taken by Beijing and Washington, Khosla emphasized that the large technological innovations of the past century have rarely come from established institutions and businesses, referencing the examples of Uber, Airbnb, Tesla, and Amazon as innovative startups that could not have come from established large corporations. 

He went on to cite the work of Philip Tetlock, describing the failure of expert opinion to forecast change. "Experts are almost never right," he continued, "and this is very important for the China question." Khosla argues that rather than focusing on how each nation regulates its large institutions, experts and analysts should turn their attention toward innovators and smaller actors making changes in a broad range of industries.

The conversation then turned to Mr. Khosla's participation in the Hill and Valley Forum, a China-critical alliance of Washington lawmakers and Silicon Valley executives. Mr. Khosla said that the importance of the forum is its bipartisan nature and how it provides a platform for collaboration to evaluate U.S. competitiveness against China.

Overall, Mr. Khosla's critical analysis focused largely on the risk posed by an imbalance in technological advances between the United States and China, especially in the context of heated economic competition between the two world powers. Khosla concluded the discussion with a sharp criticism of diplomacy that relies too heavily on mutual trust and expressed skepticism towards aims for cooperation between the United States and China.

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Emergent technology such as artificial intelligence will shape the next several decades. APARC’s China Program spoke with Vinod Khosla, co-founder of SUN Microsystems, who believes that the rapid pace of technological advance is bringing us to the brink of a "tech war."

Gi-Wook Shin
News Type

This essay originally appeared in Korean on January 3 in Sindonga (New East Asia), Korea’s oldest monthly magazine (established 1931), as part of a monthly column, "Shin’s Reflections on Korea." Translated by Raymond Ha. A PDF version of this essay is also available to download


Kanwal Rekhi is regarded as a pioneer of the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley. After studying at IIT Bombay, Rekhi completed his graduate studies at Michigan Tech and moved to San Jose in 1982, where he co-founded Excelan. The company went public on Nasdaq in 1987. It was the first time that immigrants from India had created a company and succeeded in listing it on a U.S. stock exchange.[1]

Since having found success as an entrepreneur, Rekhi has sought to give back to the diaspora community and his home country. In 1992, he co-founded The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE), a non-profit that supports Indian entrepreneurs seeking to create startups. Rekhi explained to me that “there were many young Indians who wanted to start businesses, but they lacked the know-how and the networks.” TiE was intended to fill that gap. Rekhi also made a sizable donation to his alma mater, and he has advised the Indian government on policy issues. Moreover, he has supported the work of various universities in the United States, including Stanford.

The Story of India’s Diaspora

Rekhi belonged to the first generation of Indian immigrants to establish a foothold in Silicon Valley. Countless others, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, have since followed in his footsteps. Upon graduating from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), these individuals pursued further studies in the United States, where they successfully created startups or climbed the ladder to become C-level executives at major companies. They also maintain and cultivate close ties with their home country. Indian immigrants have been integral to Silicon Valley’s explosive growth, and they are now also contributing to India’s rise as a major economic power. India has now overtaken the United Kingdom, its former colonial ruler, with the fifth-largest GDP in the world.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Indian diaspora now has greater influence and impact in Silicon Valley than the Chinese diaspora.
Gi-Wook Shin

The Indian diaspora has made its presence felt beyond the economic sector. Numerous graduates of the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) practice medicine in the United States, and renowned scholars of Indian heritage serve on the faculty of elite American universities. For instance, Stanford selected Dr. Arun Majumdar to serve as the inaugural dean of the Doerr School of Sustainability, which opened its doors in the fall of 2022. Majumdar completed his undergraduate studies at IIT Bombay and obtained his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1989. His career has spanned the public and private sectors, and he now spearheads Stanford’s first new school in 70 years—an ambitious effort to “tackle urgent climate and sustainability challenges facing people and ecosystems worldwide.”[2] It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Indian diaspora now has greater influence and impact in Silicon Valley than the Chinese diaspora.

Moreover, India plays a central role in Washington’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, which has become the focal point of American foreign policy. New Delhi was the leader of the non-aligned movement during the Cold War, but it is now building closer ties with liberal democracies around the world. Unlike China, India is not locked in a strategic competition with the West. High English proficiency among Indians also facilitates relations and exchanges at all levels. It is also worth noting that there are now influential politicians of Indian heritage in major countries, including Kamala Harris in the United States and Rishi Sunak in the United Kingdom. India prides itself on being the most populous democracy in the world, and its stature in the international community is only likely to grow in the coming decades.

Despite these developments, Korean public sentiment toward India is largely negative. There is broad awareness of the legacy of historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi and cultural achievements such as the Taj Mahal. However, many Koreans still perceive India as a poor and chaotic country with rigid and obsolete customs, including the caste system. There are substantial cultural, social, and historical differences between Korea and India, but it is time for Korea to cast aside any prejudices and take a clear-eyed view of India. It is encouraging to see the Yoon Suk-Yeol administration stress in its recently announced Indo-Pacific Strategy that Korea “will advance [its] special strategic partnership with India, a leading regional partner with shared values.” The document also rightly notes the importance of “enhanced economic cooperation” between the two countries.[3]

[India’s] overseas diaspora also plays a unique role in catalyzing economic growth. Korea should learn from the successes of India’s diaspora and build closer ties with such networks.
Gi-Wook Shin

In this context, it is especially vital for Korea to pay attention to the rise of the Indian diaspora in the United States and beyond. They are a force to be reckoned with in the global market. Unlike the state-driven development models of East Asia, India has pursued a market-driven policy since liberalizing its economy in 1991. The country’s overseas diaspora also plays a unique role in catalyzing economic growth. Korea should learn from the successes of India’s diaspora and build closer ties with such networks.

The Rise of Japan, China, and India

Japan was the undisputed leader of the Asia-Pacific in the 1980s, and China has taken on this mantle since the dawn of the 21st century. As China closes its doors amidst its intensifying strategic competition with the United States, India is emerging as the new regional leader. A close examination of the rise of these three countries reveals crucial differences. The contributions of the overseas diaspora to economic development, as noted above, are a distinguishing factor.

Let us begin with Japan. Relying on a well-educated workforce and meticulous training within companies, Japan built upon proprietary technology from the West to achieve incremental innovation. Sony’s worldwide success in consumer electronics, for example, can be attributed to sophisticated engineering and attention to detail in product design, not to significant advancements in the underlying technologies. Furthermore, Japan took great advantage of short-term overseas training programs to learn and utilize advanced technologies to further its own economy. This strategy enabled Japan to increase its economic heft without suffering a “brain drain,” to the point of challenging U.S. dominance over the global economy in the 1980s. There were, however, disputes with the United States over intellectual property rights (IPR).

Throughout this process, Japan’s diaspora did not play a visible role. Many Japanese abroad had already assimilated into their countries of residence, and the few that contributed only provided low-skilled labor. Japanese Americans, for example, have largely assimilated into American society despite the traumatic experience of forced internment during World War II. Contact with their home country was fairly limited. Some Japanese immigrants who settled in South America later returned to Japan, but most of these returnees were low-skilled laborers. After experiencing hardships and discrimination, however, they went back to South America once again after the 2008 global financial crisis.

China took a different path. The Chinese diaspora has a long history centered on Southeast Asia, and its role in enabling China’s reform and opening by providing much-needed capital is well known. In the 1980s, China adopted an “open door” policy and enabled large numbers of students to study abroad. It also proactively pursued a policy of “brain circulation” by inviting these students to return to China and contribute their talents to the country’s development. No country has sent more students abroad than China. With rapid economic growth in the 2000s, over 80% of these students returned. These individuals are called haigui (sea turtles) in China.[4] In Beijing’s Zhongguancun, China’s Silicon Valley, there are a plethora of programs and facilities tailored to haigui. They have not only spearheaded China’s technological innovation, but also made important contributions to the economy, scientific research, and higher education.

China’s pursuit of “brain circulation” has seen some success, but it also created friction with the United States. After studying and gaining work experience in the United States, Chinese talent returned home and directed their know-how toward accelerating China’s rise. However, U.S. authorities began to suspect that China’s talent policy was being misused for industrial espionage, especially in advanced technologies. For example, the Pentagon stated in 2018 that China’s Thousand Talents Program was a “toolkit for foreign technology acquisition.” U.S. intelligence officials added that the program was “a key part of multi-pronged efforts to transfer, replicate and eventually overtake U.S. military and commercial technology.”[5]

India has taken yet another path, although it resembles China’s experience in some respects. Like China, India experienced an enormous brain drain. It is second only to China in the number of overseas students. In terms of highly skilled emigration, it has seen the largest outflow of any country. Unlike Chinese talent, Indian immigrants tended to settle down in host countries, where they have built successful careers. During the 1980s, over a third (37.5%) of IIT Bombay graduates went abroad, and 82% of these individuals stayed abroad.[6] Between 2004 and 2016, 30% of grantees in Optional Practical Training (OPT), a temporary employment visa for F-1 students in the United States, were students from India.[7] Many of these students arrived in America after receiving a rigorous education in STEM or medicine in India. Their native fluency in English is also an important asset. Since India itself is extremely diverse in terms of religion, ethnicity, and culture, prior experience with diverse settings also gives Indian students an advantage for studying and living in America.

Indian talent… abroad… create “brain linkages” through extensive interaction with their home country. They bring young talent from India to overseas universities and companies, support start-up entrepreneurs in India, and connect global companies to India's…high-quality workforce
Gi-Wook Shin

Even if Indian talent mostly stays abroad, they create “brain linkages” through extensive interaction with their home country. They bring young talent from India to overseas universities and companies, support start-up entrepreneurs in India, and connect global companies to India’s low-cost, high-quality workforce.

Immigrants from India make up the bulk of H-1B visa recipients in the United States. In fiscal year 2021, 74% consisted of Indian nationals.[8] Unicorn companies formed with diaspora support are appearing left and right in Bangalore, the hub for India’s high-tech industry. The total investment in Bangalore’s tech sector has jumped from $550 million in 2010 to $2 billion in 2017, spread across 6,000 start-ups.[9] This amount is projected to reach $30 billion by 2025.[10] Furthermore, unlike China, India is not currently engaged in disputes with the United States or other major economies over talent policy or IPR in advanced technologies.

Modi’s Visit to Silicon Valley

In 2015, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to a crowd of 20,000 at the Shark Tank in San Jose. Many in the diaspora community gathered for the occasion. Modi asserted that “what looks like brain drain is actually a brain deposit.”[11] He also met with leaders of the Indian diaspora during his visit, including Sundar Pichai (Google) and Satya Nadella (Microsoft), and secured support for the government’s “Digital India” initiative.[12] Naren Gupta, a member of India’s diaspora and the co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners, played an instrumental role in planning the visit. Modi’s tour of Silicon Valley encapsulated the power and influence of the Indian diaspora in America. It also revealed the strength of the brain linkages that the community had built with its home country.

The Indian diaspora is a force to be reckoned with in Silicon Valley. Of all engineering and tech start-ups formed in America by immigrants between 2006 and 2012, 33.2% were created by individuals of Indian origin.[13]This exceeds the total number of companies created by entrepreneurs from China, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Israel, Russia, and Korea combined. Indian immigrants are also filling executive-level positions in major American IT companies. Those of Indian origin make up “just about 1% of the U.S. population and 6% of Silicon Valley’s workforce.”[14] However, they have an outsized impact. Immigrants from India to the United States tend to be highly educated, with over 70% possessing at least a bachelor’s degree.[15] This is markedly higher than the corresponding proportion for the U.S. population, which reached 37.9% in 2021.[16] Various factors help explain the Indian diaspora’s success in the United States: high levels of technical competence, a robust professional network, and strong communication skills based on native English fluency and familiarity with Western culture.

Moreover, Indian immigrants are very much willing to acquire citizenship in their host countries. In recent years, the number of Indian nationals who acquired U.S. citizenship through naturalization has been almost twice the number of Chinese nationals who were naturalized.[17] Indians reportedly do not have qualms about renouncing their Indian citizenship. Modi’s 2015 speech in San Jose, referenced above, clearly reflects how those in India view the overseas diaspora. Regardless of one’s citizenship or place of residence, there is a prevailing mentality of “once an Indian, always an Indian.” Leaders in India’s modern history, including Nehru and Gandhi, were also members of the diaspora. The tightly knit diaspora community gives rise to robust and mutually supportive professional networks, which helps elevate the presence of Indian immigrants in host countries. This is certainly the case in the United States.

Unlike China, India does not have a government-led policy to attract talent. Nevertheless, members of the overseas diaspora can temporarily return to India and engage in various activities with relative ease. There are also institutions that facilitate such endeavors. One is the legal status of “non-resident Indians” that is given to Indians who reside overseas for over 183 days in a given year. This status accords short-term diaspora visitors with legal and economic rights similar to that of resident citizens.

Since 2003, the Indian government has also officially recognized Non-Resident Indian Day (Pravasi Bharatiya Divas) on January 9, which commemorates the day of Gandhi’s return from South Africa to Mumbai in 1915. To mark the occasion, the Indian government presents an award to individuals in the diaspora community who have made significant achievements in their respective fields. Past recipients include Satya Nadella and Kalpana Chawla, an Indian American astronaut who posthumously received the award as the first person of Indian origin to go to space. By taking such steps, the Indian government promotes and strengthens solidarity between India and its diaspora, no matter where its members reside.

The New Argonauts

Members of the Indian diaspora are actively building ties to their home country. In 2021, they sent $87 billion in remittances to India. China’s diaspora came second with $53 billion.[18] This includes money earned by Indian immigrants in the United States, China, and other countries. Overseas Indians in the business sector not only invest in start-ups and real estate in India, but also give policy recommendations to their home government and provide support for higher education. They also organized charity fundraisers to assist COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, responding to the devastation that the pandemic wreaked across the country. According to my own analysis, 42% of 97 major Indian diaspora organizations in the United States maintain close ties with India. As a whole, they are even more active than Chinese diaspora organizations.

The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE), founded in Silicon Valley, is one of the best examples. It was established in 1992 with the goal of facilitating networking between entrepreneurs from South Asia, providing mentoring for the next generation, and incubating and investing in start-ups. As of 2020, TiE had 61 branches across 14 countries, with 20 offices in the United States and 23 in India, and boasted a membership of 15,000. To date, it has supported around 10,000 start-ups founded by entrepreneurs of Indian origin. The total valuation of these start-ups is approximately $200 billion. With offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai, TiE has acted as a conduit for successful Indian businesspeople in Silicon Valley to interact with their home country. These individuals emphasized the importance of entrepreneurship to youth in India. They acted as role models, mentors, and investors at a time when there was little support to be found elsewhere. TiE continues to serve as a vital link between Silicon Valley and India.

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), founded in 1982, plays an essential role in creating brain linkages in the field of medicine. AAPI has 80,000 doctors and 40,000 students, residents, and fellows as members. It fosters closer ties between its members and pursues opportunities for cooperation with Indian medical schools. Since 2007, it has hosted an annual global healthcare summit in India. AAPI also operates 19 clinics across India and established a charitable foundation to provide medical relief. During the height of COVID-19, AAPI sent medical supplies and held various activities to help India overcome the pandemic. It is said that those in the diaspora community view such actions as a responsibility, not just as a charitable activity.

Furthermore, the Indian diaspora is heavily engaged in supporting higher education back home. Consider IIT Kharagpur, which opened its doors in 1951. Vinod Gupta graduated from this school, found success in the United States, and helped launch the Vinod Gupta School of Management at his alma mater in 1993. Arjun Malhotra, another IIT Kharagpur graduate, was involved in the creation of the G. S. Sanyal School of Telecommunications and the M. N. Faruqui Innovation Centre. In another example, leaders from the diaspora community joined forces in 2014 to establish Ashoka University, a private school modeled after American liberal arts colleges, a rarity in a higher education landscape dominated by public universities. Ashok Trivedi, one of the school’s founders, earned his bachelor’s and master’s at the University of Delhi before pursuing an MBA at Ohio University and subsequently co-founding IGATE, an IT services company. As these cases illustrate, leaders in the Indian diaspora community donate to their alma maters and even create new schools altogether. They also facilitate academic exchanges between prominent U.S. and Indian universities, including student exchange programs.

AnnaLee Saxenian, a professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, has referred to these immigrant entrepreneurs who maintain ties with their home country after building successful careers overseas as the “new argonauts.” Just like the Argonauts of Greek mythology who set sail across the Mediterranean in search of the Golden Fleece, these individuals have crossed oceans aboard their own Argo to seek success in the 21st century. Kanwal Rekhi emphasized to me that “the diaspora led India’s independence movement in the past, but now it is playing an important role for India’s economy.”

India lags far behind China in… national power, [but] has a much younger population and its rate of economic growth will likely exceed China’s for the foreseeable future. India is the only country [whose] supply of highly skilled labor in the tech sector exceeds domestic demand.
Gi-Wook Shin

Will India Surpass China?

In a previous essay in this series, I argued that “China will not surpass the United States in our time.”[19] We could ask, in a similar fashion, whether India could overtake China in the future. While there are significant challenges on the road ahead, India could become a formidable competitor for China if current trends continue. At present, India lags far behind China in terms of overall national power. India has a much younger population, however, and its rate of economic growth will likely exceed China’s for the foreseeable future. India is the only country where the supply of highly skilled labor in the technology sector exceeds domestic demand. In addition to IITs and AIIMS, there are excellent engineering and medical schools across all regions of India. These institutions are an important source of talent for the global economy.

China is gradually closing its doors as the Sino-U.S. competition intensifies. In terms of its economy and trade relations, it is at risk of falling into a quagmire similar to Japan’s “Two Lost Decades.” Beijing must also contend with strong anti-China sentiment, especially among developed countries, and it must overcome the challenges that come with diplomatic isolation. India does not face the same geopolitical risks. As one of the four corners of the Quad, New Delhi is pursuing a foreign policy that includes various forms of cooperation with countries across the Indo-Pacific region in both economic and security issues. At the same time, the power and influence of the Indian diaspora only continues to grow. In an October 2022 op-ed on the subject, Tyler Cowen notes that Rishi Sunak is only one example of a much wider phenomenon. “It is now impossible to deny what has been evident for some while,” he says. “Indian talent is revolutionizing the Western world far more than had been expected 10 or 15 years ago.”[20]

To be sure, India faces a complex set of challenges at home. Poverty remains widespread, along with ethnic and religious conflicts. The Modi government has taken an authoritarian turn in its pursuit of Hindu nationalism, and there are serious governance challenges associated with corruption in both government and the private sector. Ajantha Subramanian, a professor of anthropology at Harvard, has pointed out that successful members of the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley largely come from the upper castes. Some criticize these individuals for amplifying caste-based inequality overseas through their exclusive professional networks in ways that are no longer as prevalent in India. While accounting for such criticism and taking an honest look at India’s domestic issues, it would also be unwise for Korea to discount the importance of India and its diaspora in the coming decades.

To Become Asia’s Small Giant

A few years ago, I gave a lecture on Korea’s development at a leading university in New Delhi. I was deeply impressed by the passion and enthusiasm of the students who came to listen. There is growing interest in India about the story of Korea’s remarkable economic development, as well as K-pop and Korean dramas. Unfortunately, this has not always been reciprocated. In 2017, a bar in Itaewon, an area of Seoul famous for its multicultural atmosphere, drew controversy when it denied entry to a student from India.[21] In 2009, in another incident, an Indian research professor and a female Korean companion were harassed by a fellow bus passenger.[22] Such inexcusable acts of discrimination are ultimately rooted in prejudices and negative stereotypes about India in Korea.

Building closer ties with India is a foreign policy imperative under the Yoon administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, but high-level policies alone will not be enough. It is vital for civil society to enhance mutual understanding by strengthening… people-to-people ties.
Gi-Wook Shin

I once had the opportunity to speak to Indian engineers who work in Korea. They told me that while they enjoyed working for Korean companies such as Samsung or SK, prejudice among Koreans toward India often made life difficult.[23] Building closer ties with India is a foreign policy imperative under the Yoon administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, but high-level policies alone will not be enough. It is vital for civil society to enhance mutual understanding between Korea and India by expanding cultural exchanges and strengthening people-to-people ties. The private sector also has an important role to play, as they can augment efforts by government-run Korean cultural centers and public entities such as the Korea Foundation.[24]

Indian talent could play an important role in Korea’s economic future. Korea will soon face significant labor shortages due to “a crisis on three fronts: a plummeting birth rate, an aging population, and a serious brain drain.”[25]On the other hand, India has a relatively young population and a large, highly skilled workforce. According to one estimate, “India is projected to have a skilled-labour surplus of around 245.3 million workers by 2030.”[26] There is also a natural synergy between the two economies. India excels in software, whereas Korea’s strength lies in hardware. If China provided opportunities for Korean manufacturers to export intermediate goods, India could provide the talent that Korea’s economy will increasingly rely on in the coming years.

Cowen argues that “India is by far the world’s most significant source of undiscovered and undervalued talent.” Anyone who is concerned about “the future of their own nation” in today’s world, he adds, “really should be focusing on India.”[27] Korea would do well to heed his advice.

While seeking ways to strengthen cooperation with India, Korea should also strive to build closer ties with the Indian diaspora and its networks. East Asian countries, including Korea, adopted a state-centered model of economic development. India took a different path, and its overseas diaspora has played a unique role in driving India’s economic growth. The ever-increasing influence of India’s new argonauts extends beyond Silicon Valley. Australia and Germany have sought to attract Indian talents and draw on their professional networks. The same goes for countries in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates. Korea could form closer partnerships with the extensive global networks of India’s diaspora community as it seeks to attract Indian talent and pursue new economic opportunities.

During the Cold War, Korea looked east toward the United States and Japan. As the Iron Curtain fell in the 1980s, Korea pursued Nordpolitik by normalizing ties with Moscow and Beijing. It is now time for Korea to look south. Even as Southeast Asia grows in importance, Korea must keep its eyes fixed on India. If Korea aims to become Asia’s small giant in this turbulent era, it would be wise for Seoul to use prevailing geopolitical currents to its favor.

[1]This essay draws on ongoing research by the author, which will be published in an upcoming book tentatively titled Talent Giants in the Asia-Pacific Century: A Comparative Analysis of Japan, Australia, China, and India.

[2] Amy Adams and Anneke Cole, “Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, University’s First New School in 70 Years, Will Accelerate Solutions to Global Climate Crisis,” Stanford University, May 4, 2022,

[3] Republic of Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Strategy for a Free, Peaceful, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region, December 28, 2022, 17,

[4] The terms “sea turtle” () and “return from overseas” () are homophones for each other.

[5] Anthony Capaccio, “U.S. Faces ‘Unprecedented Threat’ from China on Tech Takeover,” Bloomberg, June 22, 2018,

[6] S. P. Sukhatme and I. Mahadevan, Pilot Study on Magnitude and Nature of the Brain-Drain of Graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (Bombay: Indian Institute of Technology, 1987).

[7] Neil G. Ruiz and Abby Budiman, “Number of Foreign College Students Staying and Working in U.S. After Graduation Surges,” Pew Research Center, May 10, 2018,

[8] Lubna Kably, “Indians Bagged 3.01 Lakh H-1B Visas During Fiscal 2021–74% of the Total,” Times of India, April 14, 2022,

[9] Indian Tech Start-Up Ecosystem: Approaching Escape Velocity (Noida: NASSCOM-Zinnov, 2018), 6; Manish Singh, “Indian Tech Startups Raised a Record$14.5B in 2019,” TechCrunch, December 30, 2019,

[10] “HNIs to Invest $30 Billion in Indian Tech Startups By 2025: Report,” Economic Times, June 17, 2021,

[11] “Narendra Modi’s Speech at the Shark Tank, Silicon Valley As It Happened,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2015,

[12] Chidanand Rajghatta, “Silicon Valley Stars Sign on to PM Modi’s ‘Digital India’ Vision,” Times of India, September 27, 2015,

[13] Vivek Wadhwa, AnnaLee Saxenian, and F. Daniel Siciliano, Then and Now: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part VII (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 2012), 3,

[14] Nikhil Inamdar and Aparna Alluri, “Parag Agrawal: Why Indian-born CEOs dominate Silicon Valley,” BBC News, December 4, 2021,

[15] Jens Manuel Krogstad and Jynnah Radford, “Education Levels of U.S. Immigrants Are on the Rise,” Pew Research Center, September 14, 2018,

[16] United States Census Bureau, “Census Bureau Releases New Education Attainment Data,” February 24, 2022,

[17] U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2020 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, 2022), 53–54,

[18] “With $87 Billion, India Top Remittance Recipient in 2021: UN Report,” Economic Times, July 20, 2022,

[19] Gi-Wook Shin, “Walking a Tightrope,” Shorenstein APARC, November 16, 2022,

[20] Tyler Cowen, “Rishi Sunak Shows the Growing Influence of Indian Talent in the West,” Bloomberg, October 28, 2022,

[21] Ock Hyun-ju, “Itaewon Bar Accused of Discriminating Against Indian,” Korean Herald, June 7, 2017,

[22] Park Si-soo, “Indian Accuses Korean of Racial Discrimination,” Korea Times, August 3, 2009,; Paul Kerry and Matthew Lamers, “Setting a Precedent on Racism,” Korea Herald, March 30, 2010,

[23] Gi-Wook Shin and Joon Nak Choi, Global Talent: Skilled Labor as Social Capital in Korea (Stanford University Press, 2015).

[24] For more information about the Korea Foundation, see the organization’s “About Us” page at

[25] Gi-Wook Shin, “Demographic Headwinds,” Shorenstein APARC, December 15, 2022,

[26] “India to Have Talent Surplus of 245 Million Workers by 2030: Study,” Economic Times, May 7, 2018,

[27] Cowen, “Rishi Sunak Shows the Growing Influence of Indian Talent in the West.”


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Two elderly male South Korean job seekers fill out job applications at an elderly persons' job fair in Seoul, South Korea.

Demographic Headwinds

Can Korea Avoid Japan’s Lost Decade?
Demographic Headwinds
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks on the government supplementary budget at the National Assembly on May 16, 2022 in Seoul.

Beyond Representation: How Diversity Can Unleash Korea’s Innovation

A social and corporate culture that values and enforces conformity surely cannot be a wellspring of creativity and innovation. Korean society must find a new source of vitality. Enhancing diversity to stimulate innovation and change could be the answer.
Beyond Representation: How Diversity Can Unleash Korea’s Innovation
World leaders gather at The Quad summit in Tokyo

India’s Strategic Balancing Act: The Quad as a Vehicle for Zone Balancing

In a new International Affairs article, APARC South Asia Research Scholar Arzan Tarapore introduces the concept of zone balancing, applies the theory to explain India’s embrace of the Quad, and identifies some of the minilateral partnership’s strategic limitations.
India’s Strategic Balancing Act: The Quad as a Vehicle for Zone Balancing
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Opportunities for Korea-India Relations

Event flyer with portrait of speaker Daniel Leese.

This event is co-sponsored by the German Historical Institute, Pacific Office Berkeley and the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius. 

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) faced a major predicament. Since the new leadership did not allow a free exchange of opinions, the problem was how to obtain reliable information and prevent the circulation of rumors and “fake news.” To deal with this “dictator’s dilemma,” the CCP developed a two-pronged approach. Besides public news items that catered to the mobilizational aspects of party policies, it established secret feedback channels, the so-called neican, or internal reference, bulletins. These were strictly tasked with separating facts from opinion to provide the leadership with an objective account of developments in China and abroad. Over time, a distinct system for the controlled circulation of intelligence, an “information order,” took shape. In this talk, Leese will outline some general features of this information order and comment on whether it was able to circumvent the problem of information bias in authoritarian systems.


Daniel Leese Headshot
Daniel Leese is professor of Chinese history and politics at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He is, among others, the author of Mao cult. Rhetoric and Ritual during China’s Cultural Revolution (CUP 2011) and Mao’s Long Shadow: How China dealt with its Past (in German), which won the ICAS Best Book Award and was shortlisted for the German Non-Fiction Award. He currently works on a new project that traces what the party leadership knew about domestic and international affairs through secret communication channels.

Andrew G. Walder

In-Person at Okimoto Room, Encina Hall 3rd Floor

Daniel Leese

This event is made possible by generous support from the Korea Foundation and other friends of the Korea Program.

Common sense states that foreign policy rarely becomes an issue in South Korea’s elections. However, given the unusually high anti-China sentiment among the South Korean public today, some view that it may become an “unspoken agenda” that every South Korean voter is cognizant about. As Seoul and Beijing mark their 30th diplomatic anniversary this year, their mutual attraction appears visibly moderated. Is it a temporary setback in the neighboring countries’ relationship? What choices will Kim Jong-un make under strategic competition between the U.S. and China? The panel will examine the factors that will shape and influence the future prospect of the Seoul-Beijing ties and the relationship between North Korea and China.   


portrait of Seong Hyon Lee

Seong-hyon Lee is a Senior Fellow at the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations and a visiting scholar at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. His research focuses on contemporary relations between China and South Korea. Lee received a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College, a master’s degree from Harvard University and a PhD from Tsinghua University.

portrait of Sheen Woo

Sheen Woo, Special Policy Advisor to the South Korean Ambassador in China, joined the Korea Program at Shorenstein APARC as a 2021-22 visiting scholar. He is a specialist in China-North Korea relations with expertise in Chinese aid and sanctions against North Korea. He has worked at and with a variety of organizations including NGOs, start-ups, art centers, and state-run think tanks in Korea and China. While at APARC, his research focus is on the development and changes of China's aid to North Korea. He holds a PhD in Management Science from Tsinghua University.

Gi-Wook Shin, director of APARC and the Korea Program, will moderate the discussion.

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Panel Discussions

This event is part of Shorenstein APARC's winter 2022 webinar series, New Frontiers: Technology, Politics, and Society in the Asia-Pacific.

While North Korea’s nuclear capabilities often make headlines, the DPRK increasingly poses a risk that is more difficult to see, in the form of sophisticated cyber attacks. Neighboring South Korea, one of the most digitized nations in the world, must closely monitor and defend against North Korea’s cyber threat, as attacks can disrupt economic, social, and defense infrastructures. This panel will discuss what kind of cyber threat North Korea poses to South Korea and beyond, how South Korea addresses the North Korean cyber attacks, and what other countries can learn from their response.


portrait of Jenny JunJenny Jun is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University and Nonresident Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative. Her current research explores the dynamics of coercion in cyberspace. Her broader interests include cyber conflict, North Korea, and security issues in East Asia. Jenny is a co-author of the 2015 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report North Korea’s Cyber Operations: Strategy and Responses, published by Rowman & Littlefield. She has presented her work on North Korea’s cyber operations at various panels and has provided multiple government briefings and media interviews on the topic. She received her MA and BS each from the Security Studies Program (SSP) and the School of Foreign Service (SFS) at Georgetown University.

portrait of So Jeong Kim

So Jeong Kim is a principal researcher at the National Security Research Institute where she joined in 2004. She currently leads the cybersecurity policy team and provides recommendations on cybersecurity policy and regulatory issues. She was involved in drafting South Korea’s National Cyber Security Strategy published in April 2019, in the 4thand 5th UN Group of Governmental Experts as an adviser, and in the MERIDIAN process as an advisor and organizer. Her main research area is in national cybersecurity policy, international norm-setting processes, confidence building measures, critical information infrastructure protection, law and regulations, and cybersecurity evaluation development. She received her PhD in Engineering from the Graduate School of Information Security at Korea University in 2005.

Gi-Wook Shin, director of APARC and the Korea Program at Stanford University, will moderate the discussion.

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Panel Discussions

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How well is India postured to become a world leader in high technology, especially information and communications technology? India – like the United States – is engaged in an increasingly intense strategic competition with China, and recognizes that mastery of key technologies is a key dimension of that competition. As it seeks to selectively decouple from and reduce its reliance on China, does it have the wherewithal to develop its own high-technology ecosystem, and emerge as a key technology partner to the U.S.? This webinar will examine the key factors that would posture the country for technology competition, including national policy settings, education and research infrastructure, and international partnerships.


Edlyn V. Levine is the Chief Technologist for the MITRE Accelerator. She is responsible for accelerating technologies in partnership with the private sector and for promoting technologies for the public good. Dr. Levine is a research associate in the Physics Department at Harvard, faculty for executive education at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a visiting research scientist at the University of Maryland. Dr. Levine's scientific accomplishments have been recognized by the AFCEA 40 under 40 Award, the NDSEG Fellowship, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Dr. Levine received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Harvard University.

Arogyaswami Paulraj is an Emeritus Professor at Stanford University. He is the inventor of MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), which is the core technology in all modern wireless systems including 5G, 4G and WiFi. His recognitions include the USPTO - National Inventors Hall of Fame, Marconi Prize, IEEE Alexander G Bell Medal, and National Awards from the Govt. of India and PR China.  He is a member of several national academies including the US National Academy of Engineering and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Paulraj founded three wireless tech companies that were later acquired by Intel, Broadcom, and Hewlett Packard Enterprises.

Trisha Ray
Trisha Ray is an Associate Fellow at the Center for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation in India. Her research focuses on geopolitical and security trends in relation to emerging technologies, including AI, 5G and critical minerals. Trisha is a member of UNESCO’s Information Accessibility Working Group, as well as a Pacific Forum Young Leader. Trisha completed her MA in Security Studies from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.


Arzan Tarapore is the South Asia research scholar at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, where he leads the newly-restarted South Asia research initiative. He is also a senior nonresident fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research. His research focuses on Indian military strategy and contemporary Indo-Pacific security issues. Prior to his scholarly career, he served as an analyst in the Australian Defence Department. Arzan holds a PhD in war studies from King’s College London. 


This event is co-sponsored by Center for South Asia

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Edlyn V. Levine Chief Technologist, MITRE Accelerator
Arogyaswami Paulraj Emeritus Professor, Stanford University
Trisha Ray Associate Fellow, Center for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation in India
Cover of book "Drivers of Innovation"

Innovation and entrepreneurship rank highly on the strategic agenda of most countries today. As global economic competition intensifies, many national policymakers now recognize the central importance of entrepreneurship education and the building of financial institutions to promote long-term innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. Drivers of Innovation brings together scholars from the United States and Asia to explore those education and finance policies that might be conducive to accelerating innovation and developing a more entrepreneurial workforce in East Asia. 

Some of the questions covered include: How do universities in China and Singapore experiment with new types of learning in their quest to promote innovation and entrepreneurship? Is there a need to transform the traditional university into an “entrepreneurial university”? What are the recent developments in and outstanding challenges to financing innovation in China and Japan? What is the government’s role in promoting innovative entrepreneurship under the shadow of big business in South Korea? What can we learn about the capacity of services to drive innovation-led growth in India? 

Drivers of Innovation will serve as a valuable reference for scholars and policymakers working to develop human capital for innovation in Asia.


  1. Educating Entrepreneurs and Financing Innovation in Asia 
    Fei Yan, Yong Suk Lee, Lin William Cong, Charles Eesley, and Charles Lee
  2. Fostering Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Education, Human Capital, and the Institutional Environment 
    Charles Eesley, Lijie Zhou, and You (Willow) Wu
  3. Entrepreneurial Scaling Strategy: Managerial and Policy Considerations 
    David H. Hsu
  4. Innovation Policy and Star Scientists in Japan 
    Tatsuo Sasaki, Hiromi S. Nagane, Yuta Fukudome, and Kanetaka Maki
  5. Financing Innovation in Japan: Challenges and Recent Progress 
    Takeo Hoshi and Kenji Kushida
  6. Promoting Entrepreneurship under the Shadow of Big Business in Korea: The Role of the Government 
    Hicheon Kim, Dohyeon Kim, and He Soung Ahn
  7. The Creativity and Labor Market Performance of Korean College Graduates: Implications for Human Capital Policy 
    Jin-Yeong Kim
  8. Financing Innovative Enterprises in China: A Public Policy Perspective 
    Lin William Cong, Charles M. C. Lee, Yuanyu Qu, and Tao She
  9. Forging Entrepreneurship in Asia: A Comparative Study of Tsinghua University and the National University of Singapore 
    Zhou Zhong, Fei Yan, and Chao Zhang
  10. Education and Human Capital for Innovation in India’s Service Sector 
    Rafiq Dossani
  11. In Need of a Big Bang: Toward a Merit-Based System for Government-Sponsored Research in India 
    Dinsha Mistree
  12. The Implications of AI for Business and Education, and Singapore’s Policy Response 
    Mohan Kankanhalli and Bernard Yeung



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Publication Type
Publication Date

Entrepreneurship, Education, and Finance in Asia

Yong Suk Lee
Fei Yan
Fei Yan
Book Publisher
Shorenstein APARC

Please note the event time has been changed to 10:30AM (PT) to 12:00PM (PT).


This is a virtual event. Please click here to register for the talk. 


This event is presented in partnership with Global:SF and the State of California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

U.S.-China economic relations have grown increasingly fraught and competitive.  Even amidst intensifying tensions, however, our two major economies remain intertwined.  While keeping alert to national security concerns, the economic strength of the United States will depend on brokering a productive competition with China, the world’s fastest growing economy.  Precipitous decoupling of trade, investment, and human talent flows between the two nations will inflict unnecessary harm to U.S. economic interests -- and those of California.  

Chinese trade and investments into California have grown exponentially over the last decade.  But they have come under increasing pressure following geopolitical and economic tensions between the two nations, particularly in the science and technology sectors.  This session will explore the role of Chinese economic activity in California in the context of the greater US-Chinese relationship. 


Portrait of Ambassador Craig AllenCraig Allen began his tenure in Washington, DC, as the sixth President of the United States-China Business Council, a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing over 200 American companies doing business with China. Ambassador Allen began his government career in 1985 at the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) where, from 1986 to 1988, he worked as an international economist in ITA’s China Office. In 1988, Allen transferred to the American Institute in Taiwan, where he served as Director of the American Trade Center in Taipei. He returned to the Department of Commerce for a three-year posting at the US Embassy in Beijing as Commercial Attaché in 1992. In 1995, Allen was assigned to the US Embassy in Tokyo where he was promoted to Deputy Senior Commercial Officer in 1998. Allen became a member of the Senior Foreign Service in 1999. Starting from 2000, he served a two-year tour at the National Center for APEC in Seattle where he worked on the APEC Summits in Brunei, China, and Mexico. In 2002, Allen first served as the Senior Commercial Officer in Beijing where he was later promoted to the Minister Counselor rank of the Senior Foreign Service. After a four-year tour in South Africa, Ambassador Allen became Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia at the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. He later became Deputy Assistant Secretary for China. Ambassador Allen was sworn in as the United States ambassador to Brunei Darussalam on December 19, 2014 where he served until he transitioned to take up his position as President of the US-China Business Council.

Portrait of David Cheng
David Cheng is the chair and managing partner of Nixon Peabody’s China and Asia-Pacific practice. He is qualified in both the United States and Hong Kong. He focuses on cross-border transactions, litigations and investigations, advising on issues ranging from acquisitions, capital financing (initial public offering), intellectual property protection and disputes to fraud, FCPA and SEC investigations. He has a client portfolio from all over the world, including the United States, Middle East, Europe, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, mainland China and Hong Kong.

james greenJames Green has worked for over two decades on U.S.-Asia relations. For five years, Green was the Minister Counselor for Trade Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing (2013-2018).  As the senior official in China from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Green was deeply involved in all aspects of trade negotiations, trade enforcement, and in reducing market access barriers for American entities.  In prior government service, Green worked on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and at the State Department’s China Desk on bilateral affairs. He also served as the China Director of the White House’s National Security Council.  In the private sector, Green was a senior vice president at the global strategy firm founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and was the founding government relations manager at the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, Asia’s largest AmCham.  Currently, Green is a Senior Research Fellow at Georgetown University's Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues and hosts a U.S.-China Dialogue Podcast.  He was most recently named as APARC's inaugural China Policy Fellow

Portrait of Anja Manuel
Anja Manuel is Co-Founder and Principal, along with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC, a strategic consulting firm that helps US companies navigate international markets. She currently serves on two corporate boards: Overseas Shipping Group, Inc., a NYSE listed energy transportation company, and Ripple Labs Inc., a leading blockchain payments company. Manuel also serves on several advisory boards, including Former Governor Brown’s California Export Council. From 2005-2007, she served as an official at the U.S. Department of State, responsible for South Asia Policy. She is a frequent commentator on foreign policy and technology policy, for TV and radio (NBC/MSNBC, Fox Business, BBC, Bloomberg, Charlie Rose, NPR, etc.) and writes for publications ranging from the New York Times, to the Financial Times, Fortune, The Atlantic, and Newsweek, among others. She is the author of the critically acclaimed This Brave New World: India, China and the United States, published by Simon and Schuster in 2016. A graduate of Harvard Law School and Stanford University, Manuel now also lectures and is a Research Affiliate at Stanford University. She is the Director of the Aspen Strategy Group and Aspen Security Forum -- the premier bipartisan forum on foreign policy in the U.S. -- and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.



This Session is part of a larger conference series titled “The New Economy Conference – California’s Place in the New Global Economy”.   The New Economy Conference will broadcast public programs from April 21-May 25 on a weekly basis, designed to inform and identify the impact of COVID-19 on the economic competitiveness and resilience of the State of California.  Topics addressed will include Challenges and Opportunities Post-COVID in California (4/21); the International Dimension (4/28), Investing in the New Economy and Keeping Businesses in California (5/5); Sustainability and Urbanism (5/12); Navigating Chinese Investment, Trade and Technology (5/19); and Where do We Go from Here? (6/09).


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Amb. Craig Allen <br><i>President of US-China Business Council</i><br><br>
David K. Cheng <br><i>Chair and Managing Partner of China & Asia Pacific Practice, Nixon Peabody LLP</i><br><br>
James Green <br><i>Senior Research Fellow, Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues, Georgetown University</i><br><br>
Anja Manuel <br><i>Co-Founder and Principal, Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC</i><br><br>

This is a virtual event. Please click here to register and generate a link to the talk. 
The link will be unique to you; please save it and do not share with others.

As US-China competition intensifies, experts debate the degree to which the current strategic environment resembles that of the Cold War. Those that argue against the analogy often highlight how China is deeply integrated into the US-led world order. They also point out that, while tense, US-China relations have not turned overtly adversarial. But there is another, less optimistic reason the comparison is unhelpful: deterring and defeating Chinese aggression is harder now than it was against the Soviet Union. In this talk, Dr. Mastro analyzes how technology, geography, relative resources and the alliance system complicate U.S. efforts to enhance the credibility of its deterrence posture and, in a crisis, form any sort of coalition.

Photo of Oriana MastroOriana Skylar Mastro is a Center Fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Within FSI, she works primarily in the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) and the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) as well. She is also a fellow in Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and an inaugural Wilson Center China Fellow.

Mastro is an international security expert with a focus on Chinese military and security policy issues, Asia-Pacific security issues, war termination, and coercive diplomacy. Her research addresses critical questions at the intersection of interstate conflict, great power relations, and the challenge of rising powers. She has published widely, including in Foreign Affairs, International Security, International Studies Review, Journal of Strategic Studies, The Washington Quarterly, The National Interest, Survival, and Asian Security, and is the author of The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime (Cornell University Press, 2019).

She also continues to serve in the United States Air Force Reserve, for which she works as a Strategic Planner at INDOPACOM. Prior to her appointment at Stanford in August 2020, Mastro was an assistant professor of security studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University.


American and Chinese flags
This event is part of the 2021 Winter/Spring Colloquia series, Biden’s America, Xi’s China: What’s Now & What’s Next?, sponsored by APARC's China Program.


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Oriana Skylar Mastro Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

In recent years, we have witnessed a worldwide trend of "democratic depression" in both young and established democracies, where the backsliding from democracy is facilitated by various forces such as populism, nationalism, partisan polarization, and post-truth. Korea is no exception. While the signs of democratic decline are subtle and disguised under the rule of law, they are producing piecemeal erosions of liberal democracy and pluralism in many corners of the Korean society. As a timely warning against the gradual decline of democratic norms and values, this 3-part conference seeks to examine the forces that endanger the Korean democracy and aims to offer some concrete policy prescriptions to remedy the existing and growing signs of democratic decline.

Topics Discussed:

Day 1: November 12, 2020 (4PM-7PM)

  • Political culture and polarization: Pitfall of political over-participation or “street-democracy"
  • Underdevelopment of party politics: Factionalism, weak institutionalization, and poor appreciation
  • Erosion in balance of power: Courts losing legitimacy and respect with politicization
  • Uses and misuses of nationalism in politics

Day 2: November 13, 2020 (4PM-6PM)

  • Two divergences in South Korea’s Economy: Regional and generational disparities
  • Challenges of post-truth: Politicization and polarization of the press, social media, disinformation
  • Education and its impact on civic value and generational gap

Day 3: November 19, 2020 (4PM-6:15PM)

  • Politicization of civil society: Losing function as watchdog of power, former democratic activists becoming new authoritarian leaders
  • How the rise of populist regime affects foreign policy
  • Korean democracy in comparative perspectives

The conference papers will be published as an edited volume.

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