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In a workshop hosted jointly by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law and the Southeast Asia Program of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center on March 9, 2023, scholars discussed the setbacks and prospects for democracy in Southeast Asia. The workshop included Stanford affiliates, visiting scholars at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and political scientists from several universities and research institutions in Japan, whose visit to Stanford was funded by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.

Democracies in Southeast Asia face challenges found among other democracies around the globe, including pervasive corruption, political polarization, and the spread of disinformation on social media.


These issues were prominent in the workshop presentations and discussions. At one point, APARC visiting scholar Gita Wirwajan used the opportunity to urge Stanford, being in Silicon Valley, to speak louder against the information-degrading effects of social media.

Scholars also discussed the other distinctive and challenging conditions in which democracy, development, and the rule of law must take root in Southeast Asia, including monarchial traditions, religious diversity, and proximity to China. Such topics ranged widely, from Islamic Law in the Indonesian province of Aceh through China-funded infrastructure in Myanmar to the Mindanao conflict in the Philippines.

Waseda University Associate Professor and CDDRL Visiting Scholar Marisa Kellam co-chaired the workshop’s panels and roundtables with APARC’s Southeast Asia Program Director and CDDRL Affiliated Faculty Donald Emmerson. On the panels, Kana Inata (Tokyo Metropolitan University) and Ruosui Zhang (Waseda University) presented papers for discussion by Michael Bennon and Francis Fukuyama (both Stanford). The roundtables featured papers or remarks by Lisandro Claudio (UC Berkeley), Reza Idria (Ar-Raniry State Islamic University), Yuko Kasuya (Keio University), Aya Watanabe (Institute of Developing Economies), and Gita Wirwajan (Ancora Group). Several Stanford students in the Masters of International Policy program attended the workshop and took part in the discussion, and we were pleased to welcome representatives from the Consulate General of both Indonesia and the Philippines as well.

Perspectives from Indonesia and the Philippines


The morning roundtable offered the two Indonesian scholars’ perspectives on democracy, development, and the rule of law in Indonesia. Idria, while acknowledging that Aceh in democratic Indonesia is almost a state inside a state, situated the province within larger socioeconomic and religious contexts. Wirjawan argued that Indonesia’s democracy needs to become meritocratic, which he linked to the need for improved education.

The afternoon roundtable on the Philippines focused on Bongbong Marcos’s victory in the 2022 Philippine presidential election. According to Claudio, Bongbong’s opponent had run on a good governance platform that failed to persuade voters accustomed to the dynastic personalism of Philippine politics. Kasuya augmented Claudio’s account with reference to the disinformation circulating through social media and the disintegration of political parties and other accountability institutions during Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency. Watanabe’s scope included previous Philippine presidents, specifically their efforts to obtain legislative approval of the settlements negotiated to end the Mindanao insurgency.

Understanding Global Trends


In addition to the roundtable discussions on Indonesia and the Philippines, panel presentations at the workshop used Southeast Asian cases to understand global trends. Zhang’s research on the changing fate of the China-invested Myitsone dam project in Myanmar demonstrated that a developing country undergoing semi-democratic political change would not necessarily kowtow to Beijing. Inata compared the power of monarchs and described how monarchies have contributed to autocratization in Southeast Asia.

For Prof. Emmerson, the workshop’s value reflected the crucial and generous role played by Prof. Kellam in organizing the event; the scope and quality of its findings and interpretations; its coverage of an important region that lacks the attention Northeast Asia receives; and the all too rare collaboration that the workshop achieved between differently specialized components of Stanford University.

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Scholars from Asia joined faculty and researchers from Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) to present research and reflections on various topics and cases from the Southeast Asia region, including the monarchy in politics, peace-making in the Philippines, Chinese infrastructure investments in Myanmar, illiberalism in the Philippines, and Islamic law in Indonesia.

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George Krompacky
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Although Japan’s approach to economic diplomacy under the Fukuda Doctrine initially was subject to criticism because of its stance on non-interference in domestic affairs, now some are in retrospect lauding the approach, according to Kiyoteru Tsutsui, deputy director at Shorenstein APARC and director of the Japan Program, and co-editor of the recent book The Courteous Power: Japan and Southeast Asia in the Indo-Pacific Era. This reevaluation comes after consideration of relatively unsuccessful attempts by the United States to “push” democracy onto Southeast Asian countries. 

The better approach is to focus on advancing the rule of law, which the Japanese have done by investing resources in establishing legal infrastructure in the region, Tsutsui tells Shorenstein APARC Visiting Scholar Gita Wirjawan, host of the popular Endgame video podcast. “Liberal democracy in the sense of the rule of law is a good sort of marketing ploy to sell to Southeast Asian countries because that leads to economic benefits, which is critical to making liberal democracy attractive,” he says.


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Tsutsui joined Wirjawan for an Endgame conversation about Japan’s approaches to foreign direct investment (FDI) in Southeast Asia and other topics. One issue that both scholars agreed upon is the difficulty in getting Americans to focus on Southeast Asia, which has been long recognized as a critical region by the Japanese. Part of the problem is proximity, of course, but the region also tends to be overshadowed in American eyes by East Asian countries. 

The conversation also turned to the demographic issue Japan and other Asian countries are facing as populations age and economic growth stagnates. Tsutsui pointed out that, before 1945, the Japanese Empire saw itself as multi-ethnic; it was only after WWII that the nation was perceived as homogenous, a viewpoint bolstered by Japan’s great economic success in the 1960s and 70s. Now, however, Tsutsui says there is no choice: “Japan has to become more heterogenous,” and even conservative voices acknowledge that women need a larger role in the labor force and that immigrant labor will be essential to combat the demographic crisis.

This discussion with Tsutsui is part of an "Endgame" interview series Wirjawan is recording with Stanford experts during his residency at APARC.

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Japan Must Do More, and Faster, to Avert War Over Taiwan

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Kiyoteru Tsutsui, the Henri H. and Tomoye Takahashi Professor and Senior Fellow in Japanese Studies at Shorenstein APARC, spoke with Visiting Scholar Gita Wirjawan, host of “Endgame,” a video podcast, to discuss a range of topics, including his work on human rights, the demographic problem in Japan, global democratic decline, and Japan’s approach to Southeast Asia as a projector of soft power.

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Elbegdorj Tsakhia
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As a former president who was democratically elected, I have a firm conviction in the cause of freedom, and in the power of the people, united as one, to defend it when under attack. This cause, and this faith, are now being tested on the blood-stained soil of Ukraine in a way we have not seen in many decades.

As the war in Ukraine grinds into its second year, the world’s democracies must rally with even greater resolve to declare that freedom is non-negotiable, and to give Ukraine the weapons it needs to win.

Freedom is an opportunity for all. By contrast, despots offer solutions and opportunities that only comfort themselves. They claim they bring justice. But their justice is selective. They dictate their chosen way of life to others. Their obsession is their own survival and longevity in power, not the prosperity of their people. Sooner or later, dictators become desperate, servicing their corrupted web of crooks and pleasing the vultures that are flying around them.

I know Putin does not tolerate freedom. I have sat with him on many occasions. He despises differences and competition. He fears a free Ukraine. As a deep narcissist, he could not afford to see more successful and prosperous neighbors. He envisioned that a free, democratic Ukraine could represent a grave danger for his regime. The Russian aggression against Ukraine did not happen out of the blue. It was a pinnacle of long-fought rivalries between ideas of freedom and fists of repression.

President Elbegdorj Tsakhia walks with President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia
President Elbegdorj Tsakhia walks with President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Elbegdorj Tsakhia

The frontline of this war runs well beyond Ukraine’s devastated battlefields. It runs through Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. It is raging between humanity’s best and worst instincts. Between the free world and the suppressed. It is an all-encompassing war between autocracy and democracy.

Many ask why, compared to Europe, most Asian countries tend to have a neutral position on Ukraine. The answer is simple. All they can do is watch with a heavy heart. They closely follow each breaking news bulletin to learn who has the upper hand at that moment. Sadly, the continent of Asia is also full of self-proclaimed rulers. In most cases, their governments lack legitimate representation.

Ukrainians are fighting for that very principle—not only for their country, but for our right to be free. Their fight is global. As a result, our support should be global and completely unconditional. Ukraine’s victory will give encouragement to all freedom-loving people on this planet. Autocrats everywhere will be knocked on the defensive. If Russia prevails, dictators will march in full swing.

The Kremlin propaganda machine is in full steam, blaming the other side as the ones committed to eliminating Russians. But, to my knowledge, no one wants to see Russians killed. No one is depriving Russia but the Kremlin. No one is depleting Russia’s resources and potential but the Kremlin. No one is crippling the Russian armed forces but the Kremlin. No one started a full-out invasion of Ukraine but the Kremlin. No one forced the free world to take drastic actions but the Kremlin. Finally, no one is calling for the inevitable demise of the Kremlin but—by its actions—the Kremlin.

In starting this war of aggression and then purposely brutalizing innocent civilians, the Kremlin leadership is guilty of serious international crimes. It has had no shame in bringing devastation and suffering to the most vulnerable. To the innocent children, elders, and families. And this horror is not solely present in war-torn territories. It is also present in Russia itself.

Ukrainians are suffering, shedding blood, and sacrificing everything precious to them, not just to defend their sovereignty and democracy but to restore the damaged world order.
Elbegdorj Tsakhia

Putin's so-called "partial" mobilization has brought fear and tears to Russia’s most vulnerable, its ethnic minorities who have been disproportionately drafted and thrown to the frontline. The Buryats, Kalmycks, Tuvans, and other marginalized minorities have been used as cannon fodder. In the remote regions where these ethnic minorities live, communities have almost run out of military-age men. By local accounts, the Kremlin is committing textbook ethnic cleansing under the umbrella of a “special operation.”

Under Putin's long-lasting shadow, Russia’s development has been hurled back a generation, and its politics has been frozen to the core. Yet, even in this deep freeze, there are some palpable cracks. The war in Ukraine is no longer just one man's conflict. It is inflicting pain to the countless lives his dark shadow touches. Everyone’s heart breaks when innocent families dig graves for their loved ones.

The outspoken and brightest in Russia are mostly silenced. In any nation, free-minded people are fundamental to offering different views and better solutions. But, unfortunately, this very part of society in Russia has fled in large numbers. The remaining brave people in Russia are still fighting against corruption and the deeply intimidating war while facing torture and jail. Therefore, the world is not against the Russian people but against the Kremlin's kleptocracy and atrocities.

For many, it is no surprise that the regime in Kremlin has long since relied on brainwashing and the use of criminal agents. Even their incarcerated recruits lack simple screening. The more ruthless and vicious against Ukrainians they are, the more they are welcomed. They are escapees of long-term sentences. They have been mostly rejected by their loved ones. Their mission is to kill.

Ukrainian soldiers who are fighting at the frontline describe the Wagner mercenaries as "zombie waves." The Russian supply of such waves seems unlimited. To defeat these horrendous Kremlin tactics, Ukraine desperately needs more advanced weaponry.

The Wagner Group is becoming trapped by their continued crimes for the Russian regime. The Wagner crack is widening. More countries have now deemed them an international criminal organization, a terrorist group. Justice-seeking communities worldwide scream for accountability for what they have done and continue doing against Ukrainians.

President Biden and Chancellor Scholz might have time to wait. But a wounded Ukraine has no time. The killers, rapists, and looters are not wasting their time. The Wagner Group is not waiting. Putin is not waiting.
Elbegdorj Tsakhia

There are some in Russia disappointed with other countries, including Mongolia's stance on the war against Ukraine. Due to its geography, squeezed between China and Russia, the Government of Mongolia is forced to perform a balancing act. However, public opinion in Mongolia resolutely condemns the brutal attack against this sovereign nation.

In this regard, I would like to bring a historical record to your attention. When Adolf Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, the people of Mongolia united against this fascist invader. They showed solidarity with the Soviet people and spared nothing. If nomadic herders had over 100 horses, they sent more than half of their livestock to the Soviet Union. A quarter of all the horses on the Soviet frontline during World War II came from Mongolia.

In the days following the war's end, it was not rare to see a skinny but sturdy Mongol horse standing together with victorious allied forces in the ruins of Berlin. Horses were logistical lifelines, moving heavy equipment and weaponry through mud and rough terrain, including mined ones. In challenging circumstances, Mongolian horses were the only means of a ride and sometimes a much-needed source of nourishment. The number of horse supplies from Mongolian herders to the Soviets reached more than half a million.

Also, in late 1941, the Soviets began a counter-offensive against German forces on the outskirts of Moscow. During those unusually harsh winter months, most of the Red Army soldiers and officers wore warm winter uniforms made from cattle stocks in Mongolia. In addition, with financial support from Mongolia, the Soviets produced columns of tanks and fleets of fighter aircraft. The Government of Mongolia donated its gold and hard currency reserves to the Soviet Union for four years in a row. And Mongolian lamb and meat donations to the front line outperformed those provided by the Lend-Lease Act.

When Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Mongols stood with their northern neighbor as best as we could. When Putin's Russia attacked Ukraine, from day one, the people of Mongolia stood against the brutal invasion. My point here is: The West should do what the Mongols did, and act like the Mongols acted. In support of Ukraine’s right to exist, the democracies should show solidarity and spare no form of assistance.

President Elbegdorj Tsakhia of Mongolia on horseback on the Mongolian steppe.
President Elbegdorj Tsakhia on horseback on the Mongolian steppe. Elbegdorj Tsakhia

I have wondered why most of the decisions by the West to offer support to Ukraine are always one step behind Russian aggression. President Zelensky, from the first days of the war, asked "not for a ride" but for "more weapons." War-torn Ukraine is still begging for fighter jets and longer-range missiles.

Ukrainians are paying the ultimate price for our freedom. They are suffering, shedding blood, and sacrificing everything precious to them, not just to defend their sovereignty and democracy but to restore the damaged world order.

President Biden and Chancellor Scholz might have time to wait. But a wounded Ukraine has no time to wait at all. Those who snatched Ukrainian territories, cities, and villages are not waiting. The killers, rapists, and looters are not wasting their time. The Wagner Group is not waiting. Finally, Putin is not waiting.

No country facing aggression and destruction on this scale can be asked to wait. Ukraine needs WINGS and missiles to delete, deplete, and defeat Russia’s death squads. Putin will only stop fighting when he exhausts all his murderous arsenals. The only path to peace is through Ukraine's victory.

Victory means more than expelling Russian aggression, more even than liberating all occupied Ukrainian territory. Victory requires the rebuilding of Ukraine after conflict, and total recovery from Putin's war. If Ukraine fails to achieve that, freedom and the free world will face continuous intimidation and aggression from dictatorships.

Ukraine is not just fighting for its freedom, but for freedom everywhere.

Slava Heroyam!

Elbegdorj Tsakhia

Elbegdorj Tsakhia

Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow at Stanford University and former Prime Minister and President of Mongolia
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As the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine approaches, former President of Mongolia Elbegdorj Tsakhia urges the democratic world to rally with even greater resolve to declare that freedom is non-negotiable, and to give Ukraine the weapons it needs to win.

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Noa Ronkin
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The United States can do much more to build closer partnerships with Southeast Asian countries, according to Scot Marciel, the Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow at APARC, whose previous long career in the U.S. foreign service focused on Southeast Asia and included the roles of U.S. ambassador to Myanmar and Indonesia. He notes, however, that a deeper, more consistent engagement with Southeast Asian nations requires the United States to adopt a more systematic strategic approach to the region, one that draws on a positive agenda that transcends the U.S.-China great power competition.

Marciel recently joined APARC Visiting Scholar Gita Wirjawan, host of the popular Endgame video podcast, to discuss the geopolitical evolution of the Southeast Asian countries and how their relationships with the United States have been unfolding

Marciel is the author of the forthcoming book Imperfect Partners, which provides his on-the-ground witness account of the ups and downs of critical U.S. relationships in Southeast Asia. In his conversation with Wirjawan, he urges U.S. policymakers to design a positive agenda for engaging Southeast Asian countries in areas like health, climate change, and economic development.

The wide-ranging discussion addresses multiple other issues, including the unlucky history of Myanmar and how the international community can help Myanmar’s resistance prevail; the relevance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); the dynamics between ASEAN and the Quad, the minilateral grouping comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the United States; and more.

This conversation with Marciel is part of an Endgame interview series Wirjawan is recording with Stanford experts during his residency at APARC.

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Ambassador Marciel, the Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow at APARC, joined Visiting Scholar Gita Wirjawan, host of the video podcast Endgame, to discuss the transformations Southeast Asian nations are undergoing and their implications for U.S. policy.

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Oriana Skylar Mastro
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This opinion article first appeared in the Washington Post.


 

Most world leaders, including President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, agree that the defense of Taiwan is crucial for regional security. But most options for improving deterrence will take too long. Building Taiwan’s self-defense, developing more U.S. firepower in the region, creating the economic resilience to make severe sanctions feasible: None of these will come to fruition before 2030.

Japan could change the game now. Allied forces, responding immediately and en masse, have a chance of thwarting a Chinese invasion, according to a recent report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies. But, in meetings with high-level officials in Tokyo last month, I sensed a mismatch between talk and walk. Japan must broaden its vision of self-defense to encompass priorities and declaratory policies that will avert calamity in the region. Tokyo cannot wait until war breaks out to start the tougher conversations.

Here’s why.


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First, without Japan, the United States could be outgunned in a fight to defend Taiwan, notwithstanding Washington’s new basing agreement with the Philippines. A combined U.S.-Japan fleet, on the other hand, would boast more than three times as many aircraft carriers, cruisers and destroyers as the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The quality of many Japanese ships approaches that of its U.S. counterparts. Eight of Japan’s destroyers field a state-of-the-art Aegis weapons system used by some of the more advanced ships in the U.S. Navy.

Tokyo could contribute significantly to a military effort to deny China the ability to take Taiwan by force. To do so [... it] must be willing to go after the amphibious invasion force and targets on mainland China — a very controversial proposition indeed.

Second, Japan’s involvement could mitigate some of the geographic vulnerabilities of the United States. Adding Japanese bases more than doubles the locations from which the two countries together could conduct operations. Japan’s southwestern islands are closer to Taiwan than mainland China. Take Yonaguni Island, just about 70 miles from Taiwan’s east coast. On it are intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, as well as anti-ship and anti-aircraft capabilities. Operating from these bases in the defense of Taiwan, allied forces would have more opportunities to quickly target an invading force. That would make attacks on U.S. bases in Japan, such as Kadena, at the southernmost tip of the archipelago, less attractive to the Chinese. Such strikes would no longer completely cripple an air effort.

Third, Japan has military strengths that would make a fait accompli almost impossible for China. Though Japanese diesel submarines are slower than U.S. counterparts, they could reach the Taiwan Strait in just two days. U.S. submarines departing from Hawaii would take at least a week; from San Diego even longer. This makes Japan the first line of defense for Taiwan. Japanese boats could also monitor key choke points through which Chinese navy submarines would be attempting to exit the First Island Chain in the western Pacific. This would free up the quieter submarines of the U.S. Navy to wreak havoc on amphibious vessels and escort ships.

In short, Tokyo could contribute significantly to a military effort to deny China the ability to take Taiwan by force. To do so, Japan must increase its stockpile of torpedoes and long-range strike weapons, as planned. Tokyo must be willing to go after the amphibious invasion force and targets on mainland China — a very controversial proposition indeed.

On the surface, it looks as if Japan is moving in the right direction. The government took the groundbreaking historic step of increasing defense spending to 2 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product over the next five years. This meant a whopping 26.3 percent increase in 2023 alone. The greatest increase in the past was in 1986, by nearly 50 percent.

Last year, former prime minister Shinzo Abe stated that the security of Japan is connected to Taiwan. He said a Chinese use of force against a U.S. vessel defending Taiwan could legally trigger the deployment of Japan’s military (known as the Self-Defense Force).

Indeed, a 2015 law allows Japan to engage in collective defense when presented with an existential threat. This provides plenty of flexibility for Japan to fight alongside the United States without the need for a constitutional amendment. The officials I spoke with in Tokyo were firm that Japan would respond if China attacked U.S. bases such as Kadena.

Crudely, Japan seems to be prepared to push back against only Chinese assets that are clearly poised to attack its sovereign territory. Those heading toward Taiwan? Not so much.

But all these initiatives concern self-defense. Japan does worry that military activity around Taiwan could extend to the security of its southwestern islands. Or that if China takes Taiwan, it would be emboldened to take the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, which Tokyo administers but which China also claims. There are even concerns that Okinawa, a group of 160-plus islands that is home to 1.4 million people (and dozens of U.S. bases), could then prove enticing to Beijing.

Crudely, Japan seems to be prepared to push back against only Chinese assets that are clearly poised to attack its sovereign territory. Those heading toward Taiwan? Not so much.

While a degree of strategic ambiguity makes sense, too much could backfire. If Japan is clearly unwilling to defend Taiwan, then improvements in Japanese military capabilities will do little to deter conflict across the strait. Japanese officials don’t need to say they would attack any Chinese invading forces, but they need to let their counterparts know it is a real possibility. The officials I met were unwilling to send such strong messages; some insisted reassuring Beijing was more important.

Tokyo must make clear at home and abroad that defending Taiwan is no longer off the table. The prospect of Japan engaging in offensive operations in the defense of Taiwan would stay Chinese President Xi Jinping’s hand. Only then would recent monumental changes in Japanese politics fulfill their potential in contributing to peace and security in Asia. If Ukraine has taught us anything, it is that deterrence is costly, but war is worse.

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A Resurgence of Democracy?

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Tokyo must make clear at home and abroad that defending Taiwan is no longer off the table.

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Workshop on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law in Southeast Asia

This workshop brings together scholars from Asia and the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University to discuss the state of democracy, development, and the rule of law in Southeast Asia. Through these broad lenses, the participants will present research and reflections on various topics and cases from the region, including the monarchy in politics, peace-making in the Philippines, Chinese infrastructure investments in Myanmar, illiberalism in the Philippines, and Islamic law in Indonesia.

Event Co-Chairs:

Marisa Kellam
Associate Professor, Waseda University and Visiting Scholar at CDDRL

Donald K. Emmerson
Director, Southeast Asia Program of Shorenstein APARC

9:30 – 10:00 AM — Coffee and Introductions

10:00 – 10:45 AM — Political and Social Risks of the BRI: China’s overseas infrastructure investment projects in Myanmar
Presenter: Ruosui Zhang, Ph.D. Candidate, Waseda University
Discussant: Mike Bennon, Research Scholar, Global Infrastructure Policy Research Initiative at CDDRL, Stanford University

Developing countries are not passive takers of China’s loans and investments, an oft-overlooked aspect in the political economy of China’s foreign investment. Tracing the changing fate of the Myitsone dam in Myanmar, this presentation will argue that an increase in accountability from military dictatorship to semi-democracy explains the suspension of the project by the Myanmar government in 2011. It will also argue that the change in the leadership’s ideology from the quasi-civilian to a civilian government explains why the project did not encounter further setbacks even though the accountability level increases in Myanmar in 2016. 

10:45 – 11:30 AM — Roundtable discussion on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law in Indonesia
Reza Idria, Assistant Professor, Ar-Raniry State Islamic University
Gita Wirjawan, Chairman, Ancora Group

This roundtable discussion will offer the perspectives of renowned Indonesia scholars on democracy, development and the rule of law in their country. In particular, Reza Idria will discuss the social and political responses to Sharia in Aech, and its broader implications for the rule of law in Indonesia. Gita Wira will speak about prospects and challenges for Indonesian democracy and development, including his expectations for the outcome and impact of elections next year.

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM — Lunch and Informal Discussion 

12:30 – 1:15 PM — Monarchy and Autocratization: Cases in Southeast Asia
Presenter: Kana Inata, Associate Professor, Tokyo Metropolitan University
Discussant: Francis Fukuyama, Professor and Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at CDDRL, Stanford University

Focusing on Southeast Asian monarchies, this presentation will highlight monarchs’ involvement in processes of autocratization in the region. The talk will contend that the monarchy intervenes directly as an autocratizer in Malaysia and Brunei, whereas the monarchy is used indirectly to justify autocratization by government actors in Thailand and Cambodia. In making these claims, the talk will clarify the boundaries between monarch’s de jure and de facto interventions in politics and will consider monarchical accountability. 

1:15 – 2:30 PM — Roundtable discussion on Democracy and the Rule of Law in the Philippines
Aya Watanabe (Researcher, Institute of Developing Economies-JETRO)
Lisandro Claudio (Associate Professor, UC Berkeley)
Yuko Kasuya (Professor, Keio University)

This discussion will consider the nature of democracy and its impact on the rule of law in the Philippines. Aya Watanabe will argue that the electoral prospects of politicians have complicated peace-making in the Mindanao conflict given that the negotiated settlements must be approved and implemented within the democratic political system. Both Lisandro Claudio and Yuko Kasuya will offer reflections on the May 2022 Philippine presidential election, and the pervasiveness of illiberalism, corruption, and violence in Philippine democracy more generally.

2:30 – 3:00 PM — Reflections 
Co-chairs and participants
 

Philippines Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, Central, C330
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

This event is open to Stanford affiliates and invited guests only.

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Noa Ronkin
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Despite their many differences, Taiwan and Ukraine have been portrayed as two fronts in a global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. The interrelations between the two geopolitical flashpoints took center stage at the recent Yomiuri International Conference, Taiwan and Ukraine: Challenging Authoritarianism. Cohosted by APARC’s Japan Program, the Yomiuri Shimbun, and the Asia Pacific Initiative, the conference was held on January 16, 2023 at the International House of Japan (IHJ) in Tokyo. It examined paths to addressing autocratic challenges to democracy and offered recommendations for coordinated deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region by the United States and its allies.

The forum included two sessions with Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) experts. The first session, moderated by Ken Jimbo, IHJ managing director and API president, featured panelists Oriana Skylar Mastro, FSI center fellow at APARC, and Michael McFaul, the director of FSI. They examined the fallout of the war in Ukraine, the risks of a Taiwan crisis, and their implications for security in East Asia, including Japan. The second session, moderated by Kiyoteru Tsutsui, the deputy director of APARC and director of the Japan Program, featured panelists Larry Diamond, Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at FSI, and Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at FSI. They considered the war in Ukraine and the tensions over Taiwan against the struggle to bolster the liberal international order.


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Military Miscalculations, Economic Dislocations

McFaul opened the first session by reviewing some of the lessons from the war in Ukraine. The international community underestimated the Ukrainian military, he said. Putin, however, miscalculated the response of the United States and NATO, on the military side, and the scope of the sanctions the global community of democratic states, including Japan, would be willing to impose on Russia, on the economic side. 

It turned out, noted McFaul, that it was possible to reduce drastically Russian oil and gas coming into Europe, and Russia today has significantly fewer resources to fight Ukraine than it had anticipated. “I think it is very important to look at just how much economic dislocation happened with Russia, a country that was not integrated into the global economic world in the same way that China is,” McFaul said. He pointed out that the international community might also be underestimating the political pressure and dislocation that will erupt if, unprovoked, China invades Taiwan. “It will have very deep economic consequences for the Chinese economy,” said McFaul.

It is important to remember that the international community did not make credible commitments to deterring Russia before 2022, McFaul noted. In the case of China, he emphasized the imperative of considering concrete ways to enhance deterrence against a Chinese invasion of Taiwan before military action begins. 

Rethinking Defense and Deterrence

China, however, is not easily deterrable, as Mastro explained in her following remarks. President Xi has been clear from early on that enhancing China’s role on the international stage would be a key part of the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda. Taiwan is a top priority issue in the Chinese Communist Party’s long-term thinking, said Mastro. She reminded the audience that at the recent CCP Congress, President Xi reaffirmed that China will not rule out using force to bring Taiwan under its control. He also elevated Party members with extensive expertise in the joint operational domain and with Taiwan contingencies to the Central Military Commission, the Chinese top decision-making body for military affairs.

I am convinced that if Japan were to commit to fighting with the United States in this contingency, that would be enough to deter China.
Oriana Skylar Mastro

How, then should the United States and its allies approach the question of deterring China? Mastro emphasized three conditions that U.S and Japanese defense policy must meet.

First, whatever the United States and Japan do in the defense realm must have an operational impact. For example, U.S. carriers will do nothing to prevent China from taking Taiwan in a wartime scenario, Mastro argued. “And along those lines, from the Japanese point of view, enhancing defense of the Senkaku Islands does nothing to deter China from taking Taiwan unless Japanese operations are going to be involved directly in stopping a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.”

The second condition is that China has to know about any defense changes the U.S. and its allies are making. For instance, if, in peacetime, there is no indication that the Japanese military is engaging in Taiwan Strait transits with the United States and the Chinese do not know about such activities, then they do not enhance deterrence.

Third, deterrence must happen before a war starts. It may seem an obvious point, but if the prevalent view is that, for example, the Japanese public will support the United States once a conflict over Taiwan erupts, then this approach does not deter China. “We have to let the Chinese know now that there is such support,” Mastro stated.

One issue China is concerned about, Mastro noted, is widening a Taiwan contingency. “China only wins Taiwan if the war is short, geographically limited to Taiwan, and only involves the United States, potentially in Taiwan,” she explained. “So I am convinced that if Japan were to commit to fighting with the United States in this contingency, that would be enough to deter China.”

Ultimately, the question before the United States and its allies is: “Do we want a happy China that is undeterred or an unhappy China that's deterred,” Mastro concluded. “Those are our only two options.” Deterrence is expensive and requires tradeoffs, but one thing that is costlier than deterrence is a major war, she emphasized.

“Let’s start thinking about how to actually change the environment with the sense of urgency that we need, because my biggest fear is that we're going to find ourselves in a major war with massive cost,” she urged the audience. There will be sacrifices to make, but the alternative, in Mastro's view, is worse.

Opportunities and Perils for Democracy

In the second session of the conference, panelists Larry Diamond and Francis Fukuyama examined the war in Ukraine and the tensions over Taiwan from the lens of democratic decline and its implications for the liberal international order.

Democracy has been in a global recession for most of the last two decades, yet the picture is not as bleak for democracies as it was just two or three years ago, said Diamond. In the United States, reforms at the state level have occurred, election deniers took control of Congress seats by a much smaller margin than predicted before the 2022 midterms, and extreme election deniers in crucial swing states were virtually defeated. Meanwhile, on the international stage, 2022 spotlighted autocrats’ inevitable shortcomings. In Russia, Putin has catastrophically miscalculated the war in Ukraine. In China, Xi has massively mismanaged the COVID pandemic, and the country’s economic growth is severely impaired.

It's going to be very important that the people of Taiwan see that they're not alone, that the democracies of the world — not just the United States and Japan but Australia and Europe — are with them; it will increase their will to fight.
Larry Diamond

Fukuyama said he was encouraged by the democratic solidarity shown in response to the war in Ukraine, especially in Europe, within NATO, and in Japan. Germany’s and Japan’s decisions to increase their defense budgets have been remarkably reassuring signals of strength among democracies, he noted.

But we sometimes forget that many countries in the Global South and elsewhere do not buy into this narrative, cautioned Fukuyama. Among the big disappointments in this regard is India, he stated, which raises the question of whether the issue at stake is indeed a battle between democracy and authoritarianism.

Indeed, democracies still face intractable challenges, Diamond explained. These include the corrupting influence of dirty money around the world, the trends of de-industrialization and hollowing out of the working class in advanced democracies, and social media, which Diamond sees as the single biggest driver of democratic decline. “I cannot tell you how much damage social media has done to destroy the social fabric of Truth and credibility and polarize society into tribal camps who don't have the same facts,” he said. “We have not found a way to temper that impact and win the battle For Truth.”

Taiwan and Deterrence

When it comes to the question of Taiwan, Diamond says he is worried. “There is going to be a PRC military invasion of Taiwan, probably in this decade, unless it is deterred,” he said. The three most crucial actors in deterring China are Taiwan, the United States, and Japan, he explained. Successful deterrence must involve coordination among all three in multiple arenas — from military cooperation to increased defense capacity and preparedness to impose such heavy costs in response to a Chinese invading force that will change Xi’s calculus.

Diamond observed that democracy is about uncertainty, of which there is now plenty in Taiwan as it looks ahead to a January 2024 contentious presidential election. Diamond’s prediction is that "China will intervene however it thinks it can” in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election, as Xi would certainly prefer to pick up the island peacefully than by force, he said. “I think it's going to be very important that the people of Taiwan see that they're not alone, that the democracies of the world — not just the United States and Japan but Australia and Europe — are with them; it will increase their will to fight.”

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Gi-Wook Shin and Francis Fukuyama at Encina Hall, Stanford, in conversation.
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A Resurgence of Democracy?

A Conversation with Francis Fukuyama on the Challenges of a Changing Global Order
A Resurgence of Democracy?
Elbegdorj Tsakhia
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Elbegdorj Tsakhia Appointed the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow

While at Stanford, Elbegdorj, formerly the president of Mongolia, will focus on examining strategies to support Mongolian democracy in an increasingly polarized geopolitical landscape.
Elbegdorj Tsakhia Appointed the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow
World leaders gather at The Quad summit in Tokyo
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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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At the Yomiuri International Conference, Freeman Spogli Institute scholars Larry Diamond, Francis Fukuyama, Oriana Skylar Mastro, Michael McFaul, and Kiyoteru Tsutsui examined lessons from the war in Ukraine, the risks of a crisis over Taiwan, and the impacts of both geopolitical flashpoints for defending democracy and for a coordinated approach to deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.

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Kim Namseok, Munhwa Ilbo Correspondent
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This article originally appeared in the Korean daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo on January 2, 2023. It was translated from Korean by Raymond Ha.

In an exclusive interview for the Munhwa Ilbo, Stanford University professors Gi-Wook Shin and Francis Fukuyama had a conversation on a wide range of topics including the war in Ukraine, U.S.-China competition, and North Korea policy.

The world faces a crisis of political leadership as each country pursues its own interests. Fukuyama stressed the importance of robust international institutions, instead of relying solely on great leaders. He pointed to NATO and the U.S.-Korea alliance as examples of institutions that uphold the liberal international order. In terms of the U.S.-China competition, he said without hesitation that “a democracy like Korea…has to make the decision that it is going to be on the side of democracy.” Fukuyama also noted that in the event of an armed confrontation over Taiwan, Korea would almost certainly be pulled in, given the significant U.S. military presence there. He was skeptical about prospects for progress over North Korea, pointing to the long history of failed negotiations and the lack of viable alternatives. “Not every problem has a solution,” he said.

Gi-Wook Shin, who led the interview, observed that the global decline of democracy appears to have hit a turning point, “although it’s too early to say if there will be a rapid recovery…or a more gradual shift.” As for the state of democracy in the United States, he said, “We will have to wait and see what happens in the 2024 presidential election.” Even though Trump’s political influence may be weaker, he observed, “pro-Trump forces are still part of the system.” In terms of Korea’s foreign policy, Shin emphasized that Seoul “should take [the Taiwan] problem much more seriously.” A crisis in the Taiwan Strait “could become the biggest challenge for the Yoon administration’s foreign policy, not North Korea,” and domestic polarization over China policy is one issue that could threaten to “become extremely controversial.”

The interview was held in-person for one hour at Stanford on December 8, 2022, with a follow-up interview held over the phone on December 27.  


[Gi-Wook Shin] Let’s start by looking back on 2022. How would you summarize this year?

[Francis Fukuyama] I think 2022 was a very good year, where we may have bottomed out in this global move away from democracy and toward authoritarian government. The year really started out in February with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which looked very, very threatening. China was on a roll. It looked like they were beating everybody in terms of COVID policy. Then, by the end of the year, the Russians got completely bogged down. China experienced mass protests, and there were protests also in Iran. In America’s elections on November 8, all the pro-Trump forces failed to make gains and, in fact, lost almost everywhere. I think that maybe we will look back on 2022 as the year when this democratic recession that has been going on for over 15 years finally bottomed out.

[GWS] I agree, although it’s too early to say if there will be a rapid recovery toward democracy or a more gradual shift. In the United States, we will have to wait and see what happens in the 2024 presidential election. Former President Trump may be weaker politically, but pro-Trump forces are still part of the system. As for the Ukraine war, many people thought Russia would win quite easily, but now it looks like they are struggling. It’s a big question, of course, but how do you think the war will be remembered in history?

[FF] I think that it is going to be remembered as one of the biggest strategic mistakes made by a great-power leader in a very long time. I think that the mistake is directly due to the nature of the political system. You remember that Vladimir Putin was sitting at the end of this 25-foot table with his defense minister because he was so afraid of COVID. He was extremely isolated during the whole pandemic, and he had already isolated himself in a political system where he doesn’t face checks and balances. That kind of decision-making system makes you prone to make even bigger mistakes, because you don’t have other people to test your ideas against. He was completely uninformed about the degree to which Ukraine had developed a separate national identity and that the Ukrainian people were willing to fight for it. He didn’t have any idea how incompetent his own army was. If he had been in a more democratic country that required him to share power with other people, I don’t think he could have made that kind of mistake.

 

The most important thing is the breakdown of the Chinese economic model. For the past decade, the Chinese model has been to pump a huge amount of money into the real estate sector. That model is collapsing. The other big problem is that they don’t have economic growth anymore.
Francis Fukuyama

[GWS] Putin is struggling, as you said. There are a lot of problems in China, but Xi Jinping secured a third term. Authoritarian leaders elsewhere still hold power. By contrast, I don’t think President Biden has shown powerful leadership at home or globally. I don’t see any strong political leaders in the U.K., France, or Germany either.

[FF] I think that although Xi Jinping may succeed in stabilizing the situation in China with the protests over COVID in the short run, he is in a lot of trouble. He was creating all this social instability with the zero-COVID policy. Now that they’ve started to relax it, I think the number of cases and deaths is going to go up very dramatically, but I don’t think they’ve got much of a choice. I think this has probably damaged the people’s sense of Xi’s authority and legitimacy, and I’m not sure he can recover from that.

The most important thing is the breakdown of the Chinese economic model. For the past decade, the Chinese model has been to pump a huge amount of money into the real estate sector. That model is collapsing. The other big problem is that they don’t have economic growth anymore. Some economists think that they’re actually in a recession, with negative growth. This is like what Japan went through in the 1990s. So much of the Chinese government’s legitimacy has been based on having extremely high growth rates, and that period is over. I don’t see how they get it back, and they certainly won’t by inserting the state into every economic decision and controlling their high-tech sector. Their population is shrinking now. I’m not sure that Xi Jinping, in the longer run, is actually going to look like a very effective leader.

[GWS] But in the short term, say the next three to five years, won’t authoritarian leaders be powerful in comparison? Just as “America First” shows, some say there is a crisis of political leadership among Western democracies, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

[FF] I think that apart from President Zelenskyy in Ukraine, we don’t see any really inspiring leaders in Germany or France or the United States. On the other hand, the nice thing about democracy is that it’s an institutional system for managing change. Biden has turned 80, and Trump himself is in his upper 70s. The leadership in Congress and the Democratic Party are all elderly, but they’re all about to change. In the next election cycle, there is going to be a whole new generation of people that are up-and-coming. I don’t think you need a charismatic leader with great vision, necessarily, to run any of the countries you mentioned.

[GWS] Another question is if the United States can provide global leadership. When Trump was defeated, there was a strong expectation for the Biden administration to restore global order and to do much better than its predecessor. I’m not sure whether that’s happening.

[FF] Again, I think that’s why you want to have international institutions rather than being dependent simply on leaders. This gives an institutional basis for continuity in policy. There are all of these alliance structures, like NATO. People thought that NATO was obsolete and was going to go away. It has actually proved to be very durable. The United States has security ties with Korea and Japan that also are quite old, but they’re still durable. It’s interesting that the authoritarian countries have not been able to create anything comparable to that set of alliances. There is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), but all the Central Asian states don’t want to be part of this China-Russia dominated organization. We can’t just depend on great leadership.

Korea should proactively participate in upholding and creating an international order that facilitates a resurgence of democracy. Korea has not really played this role before, but with the 10th largest economy in the world, it is now in a position to play a positive role.
Gi-Wook Shin

[GWS] To add on to that, I think Korea should proactively participate in upholding and creating an international order that facilitates a resurgence of democracy. Korea has not really played this role before, but with the 10th largest economy in the world, it is now in a position to play a positive role.

[FF] There is a set of values that underpin America’s alliances, both in Asia and Europe. Throughout the whole Cold War, the Soviet Union never actually invaded a Western democracy, but that’s what Russia did. NATO has suddenly become very relevant once more. I think that both in Korea and Japan, there is also recognition of a comparable challenge from an authoritarian China. Unless all democracies work together and show solidarity with one another, they could be picked off by these two authoritarian powers.

[GWS] There is a lot of debate about whether China is going to invade Taiwan or not. I have a two-part question. First, could the situation in Ukraine reduce the possibility of China invading Taiwan? Second, if China still invades nevertheless, what should Korea do? This is a difficult question for Korea. It cannot say no to the United States as a military ally, but at the same time, it cannot antagonize China. I think this is the most difficult question for Korea at the moment.

[FF] This is a difficult question for the United States because it’s not clear that Congress or the American people actually want to go to war with China in order to save Taiwan. I think if you ask them a polling question stated like that, probably a majority would say, “No, we’re not going to send our troops to die.” But I think it’s likely that the United States will get dragged into such a conflict one way or the other. Among other things, the Chinese would probably have to preempt some of the American forces that are in the theater. American military personnel will get killed as the Chinese attack unfolds, and I think there will be a lot of political pressure to help Taiwan.

[GWS] How much can the United States be involved? Some in Korea are skeptical that Washington will step in.

[FF] This is really the problem. During the Cold War, we had a good idea of what a war would like look like if it actually happened. The military planning was very concretely designed against certain types of escalation. With China, we don’t have a clear set of expectations for what escalation would look like. It could just start with a Chinese invasion. It could start with a blockade. It could start with something in the South China Sea. It could actually start on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea doing something. If it happens, it’s going to be much more devastating than the war in Ukraine. So much of global production comes out of Asia, and there’s a strong incentive not to let things get out of hand. Whether we have the wisdom to do that is not clear. I also think that people’s expectations and opinions will change once the conflict begins. The moment people see cities being bombed, they will change their minds.

Francis Fukuyama conversing in Gi-Wook Shin's office at Stanford University.
Francis Fukuyama. Kim Namseok/Munhwa Ilbo

[GWS] I also think that a conflict over Taiwan would affect the American people more directly than what is happening in Ukraine. What’s your view on how seriously Korea should be taking this possibility?

[FF] It is likely enough that it is absolutely important for everyone to take it seriously and plan against it. What you want to do is deter China from taking any military action against Taiwan. They’re not going to be deterred unless they see that there’s a response on the other side that is going to raise the cost for them. That’s not going to happen unless people take the scenarios seriously and start thinking about concrete ways that they could help Taiwan or stymie any kind of Chinese attack. I think it is very important for Korea to think this through and think about ways they could support Taiwan and be part of a larger alliance that can push back against China.

[GWS] I keep telling my friends and colleagues in Korea that they should take this problem much more seriously. Taiwan could become the biggest challenge for the Yoon administration’s foreign policy, not North Korea. China policy has become an extremely divisive partisan issue in South Korea, and it could tear the country apart. What advice would you have for President Yoon?

[FF] There’s two things. First is the rhetorical position. Korea should make its position clear in advance that it would oppose Chinese military action and would support the United States, for example. Korea is going to get dragged into this because so much U.S. military equipment is in Korea, and that is going to be moved in closer to the theater. I think making that position clear in advance is important.

The other thing that’s been very clear from the Ukraine war is that democracies are not prepared for an extended conflict. Everybody is running out of ammunition in Europe and the United States is running low on certain types of ammunition. The Ukrainians have used so much of it just in the 10 months they have been fighting. I think that any high-intensity conflict in East Asia is also going to be very costly in terms of supplies. South Korea is in a better position than other countries because it has been preparing for a North Korean attack for decades. Everybody needs to be prepared for an extended conflict. It may not be over in 48 hours.

[GWS] Koreans are quite nervously watching the ongoing escalation of tensions between the United States and China. In the past, the paradigm was “United States for security, China for the economy” (an-mi-gyeong-joong). Now, security and the economy are linked together. The Yoon government is promoting the strengthening of the alliance with the United States, but South Korea faces the fundamental problem of how to position itself as U.S.-China tensions escalate. Do you have any wisdom for Korea?

[FF] I don’t know if it’s wisdom, but I think Korea needs to take a clearer position. Under the previous government, there was a belief that Korea could somehow be halfway between China and the United States. That’s just not a tenable position. The tension between the United States and China has really been driven by China ever since 2013, when Xi Jinping took power. China has become a much more severe dictatorship internally, and it has become much more aggressive externally. You see the influence of the Belt and Road Initiative and the militarization of the South China Sea. In the last 10 or 15 years, China has been picking fights with India, Japan, Korea, and all of Southeast Asia over territorial issues. They built the size of their military much more rapidly than any other great power in that period of time. As a result, the United States and other countries have simply reacted to this. I think that a democracy like Korea cannot pretend that it is somehow in between the United States and China. It has to make the decision that it is going to be on the side of democracy.

[GWS] I agree that an-mi-gyeong-joong is now obsolete, but I think that South Korea must be more sophisticated in its response. As they say, the devil is in the details. On the economy, Seoul can actively work with Washington on areas closely related to security, but it can still partner with Beijing on sectors that are not. There can be a fine-tuned policy.

I now want to ask about North Korea and U.S. policy. I have been saying that the Biden administration policy is one of “strategic neglect,” not the “strategic patience” of the Obama administration. Kim Jong-un keeps testing missiles and provoking, and South Koreans are puzzled by the lack of response from Washington. Why is that? Is it because all the attention is on Ukraine and China?

[FF] Not every problem has a solution, and I don’t think this problem has a solution. You could use diplomacy. You could use military force. You could use deterrence. There are a limited number of possible approaches, and I think none of them are going to work. There has been a long history of negotiation. That has not worked. I think confrontation is not going to work. I think preemption is certainly not going to work. I just don’t think there’s a good solution, so we’ve ended up with trying to ignore the problem by default. Part of the reason North Korea is launching all of these missiles is that they want people to pay attention to them. Ignoring the problem is not much of a solution either, but it’s not as if there is a better solution.

[GWS] I agree with you that for many people in government, North Korea has been a hot potato. You don’t want to touch it because there is no clear solution, and it won’t help your career. But if we just ignore the problem, then five years later it’s going to be worse. What kind of North Korea are we going to face in five or ten years?

[FF] Everybody has been hoping that something would happen internally. It’s fine to think that, but it’s also not taking place. That said, Kim Jong-un is obese and unhealthy. Who knows what might happen?

We've had four elections now where [Trump] was playing a major role in the Republican Party. In three of those elections, he really hurt his own party. He can stir up a third of the electorate that loves him, but it’s never enough to win an election, especially in a swing state.
Francis Fukuyama

[GWS] Let’s now turn to domestic politics here in the United States. I think many Americans were relieved by what happened in the midterm elections last month. Trump’s influence was much more limited than what people thought. But he’s still there, and he’s likely to run again. I think he is still a strong candidate for the Republicans.

[FF] He declared his candidacy, but I think that he is declining very rapidly in influence. We have had four elections now where he was playing a major role in the Republican Party. In three of those elections, he really hurt his own party. He can stir up a third of the electorate that loves him, but it’s never enough to win an election, especially in a swing state. I think he’s gotten crazier in recent months. He is doing so many self-destructive things, having dinner with neo-Nazis and repeating all these conspiracy theories. These are things that no rational candidate would do. The Republicans are going to want somebody that can actually beat the Democrats, and I don’t think it’s going to be him.

[GWS] You don’t expect a rematch between Biden and Trump in 2024?

[FF] This gets into a technical issue, but the Republican primaries are mostly winner-take-all primaries. Any candidate that can get 30% of the vote is likely to be nominated. If you have a Republican field that has several people competing, they may split the alternative vote and Trump may end up winning. I think he still has a good chance of being the Republican nominee. If you’re a Democrat, that’s not the worst thing in the world. It is probably easier to run against Trump than a more normal Republican candidate.

[GWS] Two years is still a long time in politics. You said that Trump is likely to be nominated. Would Biden also run again?

[FF] I think that Biden is going to run again. Part of the problem is in the Democratic Party. It’s not clear who the successor would be. There are a lot of potential new-generation politicians, but I don’t think any of them has enough presence and attention that they can clearly take over the mantle to run as the Democratic candidate. If there is a rematch, I think Biden will win.

[GWS] Now to South Korea. Last June, I did some interviews advocating a parliamentary system, and they received good attention. There is still a lot of hesitancy among Koreans, though. I think there are a few reasons. The first is that we need a strong presidential system to deal with North Korea. There’s no stability if the prime minister keeps changing. Second is that it may drive politicians closer to big business (chaebol) because there’s less direct accountability. What would you suggest for South Korea in terms of institutional reform?

[FF] There are several possibilities even short of a parliamentary system. You can coordinate the presidential and parliamentary terms. It’s still the case that the president has a five-year term, but the legislature is on an even-year term. If you want to have strong government, you need a president that has majority support in the legislature. If they get elected simultaneously on a regular basis, you’re more likely to see strong leadership emerge. In a presidential system, the legislature itself is a check against the president. If you don’t have a strong majority in the legislature, you can’t do anything.

[GWS] That is what is happening right now in Korea.

[FF] In a parliamentary system like the British one, if you have a majority in parliament, you can do what you want. I think the presumption that somehow a presidential system is inevitably stronger than a parliamentary system is not historically correct.

[GWS] Is a parliamentary system maybe one solution to political polarization?

[FF] Sometimes a parliamentary system will have that effect, but the kind of plurality voting system that we have in the United States and in Britain tends to promote polarization. To the extent that you make it possible for third parties to run, that’s probably a better system. If you have more parties and it becomes harder to get a majority in the legislature, that forces coalitions and some degree of power sharing.

Francis Fukuyama 2022

Francis Fukuyama

Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Director of the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy, and Professor by Courtesy, Department of Political Science
Full Biography
Gi-Wook Shin

Gi-Wook Shin

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Professor of Sociology, William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea, Director of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, and Director of the Korea Program
Full Biography

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A Conversation with Francis Fukuyama on the Challenges of a Changing Global Order

Shorenstein APARC

Encina Hall E301

Stanford University

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Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow
elbegdorj_tsakhia_headshot.jpg

Former President of Mongolia Elbegdorj joins the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) in 2023 as Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow, after a career in public service to Mongolia as a Member of Parliament, Prime Minister, and President. Currently, Mr. Elbegdorj is continuing his work to improve public policy, governance, and democracy through the Elbegdorj Institute, a think tank he founded in 2008. Mr. Elbegdorj holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government (2002) and Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Land Forces Military Academy of Lviv of former USSR (1988).

While at Stanford, his focus will include democracy, disarmament, and governance across Asia.

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Noa Ronkin
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The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), Stanford University’s hub for interdisciplinary research, education, and engagement on contemporary Asia, invites nominations for the 2023 Shorenstein Journalism Award. The award recognizes outstanding journalists and journalism organizations with outstanding track records of helping audiences worldwide understand the complexities of the Asia-Pacific region. The 2023 award will honor a recipient whose work has primarily appeared in Asian news media. APARC invites 2023 award nomination submissions from news editors, publishers, scholars, journalism associations, and entities focused on researching and interpreting the Asia-Pacific region. Submissions are due by Wednesday, February 15, 2023.

Sponsored by APARC, the award carries a cash prize of US $10,000. It alternates between recipients whose work has primarily appeared in Asian news media and those whose work has primarily appeared in American news media. The 2023 award will recognize a recipient from the former category.

For the purpose of the award, the Asia-Pacific region is defined broadly to include Northeast, Southeast, South, and Central Asia and Australasia. Both individual journalists with a considerable body of work and journalism organizations are eligible for the award. Nominees’ work may be in traditional forms of print or broadcast journalism and/or in new forms of multimedia journalism. The Award Selection Committee, whose members are experts in journalism and Asia research and policy, presides over the judging of nominees and is responsible for the selection of honorees.

An annual tradition since 2002, the award honors the legacy of APARC benefactor, Mr. Walter H. Shorenstein, and his twin passions for promoting excellence in journalism and understanding of Asia. Over the course of its history, the award has recognized world-class journalists who push the boundaries of coverage of the Asia-Pacific region and help advance mutual understanding between audiences in the United States and their Asian counterparts.

Recent honorees include NPR's Beijing Correspondent Emily Feng; Burmese journalist and human rights defender Swe Win; former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Tom Wright; and the internationally esteemed champion of press freedom Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of the Philippine news platform Rappler and winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

Award nominations are accepted electronically through Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at 11:59 PM PST. For information about the nomination procedures and to submit a nomination please visit the award nomination entry page. The Center will announce the winner by April 2023 and present the award at a public ceremony at Stanford in the autumn quarter of 2023.

Please direct all inquiries to aparc-communications@stanford.edu.

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Sponsored by Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, the annual award recognizes outstanding journalists and journalism organizations for excellence in coverage of the Asia-Pacific region. News editors, publishers, scholars, and organizations focused on Asia research and analysis are invited to submit nominations for the 2023 award through February 15.

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