Article Title

Asia Pacific Perspectives Vol. 10 No. 2, November 2011

Document Type

Full Issue



Editor's Note by Joaquin Jay Gonazalez and John Nelson

Beyond the Hot Debate: Social and Policy Implications of Climate Change in Australia by Lawrence Niewójt and Adam Hughes Henry

This paper discusses the social and policy implications of climate change on the world’s most arid populated continent. Warmer average temperatures will have real, identifiable impacts on human health, marginalized sectors of the population, and the sustainability of rural and coastal communities in Australia. By analysing indicators of environmental health and social welfare we can identify emerging threats posed by a warmer climate. Policy-makers will need to devise a suite of social policy and technologically-driven mitigation programmes in order to safeguard citizens against the most complex and far-reaching environmental and policy problem of the 21st century. Furthermore, the Australian federal government has a valuable opportunity to effect positive change in the Asia-Pacific region through its leadership in this policy area and funding programmes that promote the establishment of low-emission economies in developing nations.

Public Perceptions and Democratic Development in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by Jordin Montogomery

Beijing’s slow progress in implementing a more robust democracy in Hong Kong continues to sow citizen unrest. Considering the Basic Law, what prospects exist for reform given the outcome of governance disputes? By analyzing public polling data following significant political events, citizen expectations are used to project future patterns in government behavior. While popular organizing has yielded success in civil liberties, electoral change has consistently stalled until recent negotiations. Democracy remains a primary aim of Hong Kong political groups, who will continue to pressure leadership to close this deficit. The outcomes of past confrontations offer useful blueprints for reading political change in the future.

Tensions Over Hydroelectric Developments in Central Asia: Regional Interdependence and Energy Security by Katherine J. Bowen-Williams

Hydroelectric advancements in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have led to increased tension in Central Asia over the allocation of water resources. The use of Kyrgyz Toktogul Reservoir for hydroelectricity and the construction of Tajik Rogun Dam challenge the Soviet era water quota system, which affords Uzbekistan the greatest geopolitical power. As the two upstream states explore possible ways to expand electricity markets outside Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan may permanently alter the geopolitical balance of power.

The 'China Alternative'? Chinese Counter-Norms and China's Offensive and Defensive Soft Power by Hyun-Binn Cho

To assuage fears of a ‘China threat,’ analysts have suggested that China now increasingly supports and adheres to international norms and institutions. Yet the possibility that China can promote counter-norms through the international system has rarely been considered. Similarly, as Chinese influence has grown particularly in regions such as Africa and Latin America, it has not been clear what characteristics this increased influence has taken. Together, these two pictures present a case for a ‘China alternative.’ The question is how to best conceptualize and evaluate this. This essay does so by differentiating between ‘defensive’ and ‘offensive’ soft power. The former refers to China’s policy to attract others through reassurance, such as the idea of ‘peaceful development.’ The latter refers to China’s policy to attract others to a ‘China alternative,’ such as through ‘no strings attached’ aid or counter-norms such as the ‘Beijing Consensus.’ The effects of these policies have not only been non-trivial: this essay importantly argues that the use of defensive soft power by China to reassure others has masked the extent to which China has simultaneous used its offensive soft power to quietly promote a ‘China alternative.’

Sitting in Silence: A Comparison and Analysis of Two Soto Zen Institutions in San Francisco by Jake Nagasawa

In this age of globalization—of technological development, transnationalism, and multinational corporations—the truth of interdependence that Buddhism speaks of is evident at every turn. Were it not for international trade and political relations, world travel, modern printing technology, and developments in industrial production, Buddhism may have remained exclusively in Asia or as an immigrant’s religion. In this essay, Nagasawa examines the relationship between two Sōtō Zen institutions of San Francisco: the Sōtō Zen Mission of San Francisco, Sōkōji, founded in 1934 by Rev. Hosen Isobe and the San Francisco Zen Center, founded in 1962 by Shunryū Suzuki. Field research and participant-observation lead to the conclusion that, though these two temples are of the same lineage, there is little to suggest a robust relationship between them. Indeed, there is silence between Sōkōji and San Francisco Zen Center, because of differences that extend beyond ethnicity and into the cultural, linguistic, social, and economic.